Mac and cheese is the ultimate in comfort food. Crockpots are the ultimate cooking convenience (to me anyway)…why the heck not combine the two? Because when you do…you get this Crockpot Cheeseburger Macaroni Casserole! Super easy deliciousness that’ll please everyone…
But I wanted to take it a step further. I wanted a one pot mac and cheese meal. One-pot meals are all the rage right now. And (again) why the heck not? They’re easier, faster and there’s so much LESS clean up. But there’s just something about mac and cheese in the slow cooker. It’s creamier, gooier and takes comfort food to a whole new level.
I must say…this turned out pretty darn well too!
Crockpot Cheeseburger Macaroni
You don’t babysit this recipe. You just pre-cook the meat and toss everything in. AND, You can even do that a month ahead of time and freeze it if you want.
Notes About Crock Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni
The pasta really is better if you precook it for just a couple minutes. It’s something about the starch I guess.
BUT there are some brands that work better than others. So if you spend a little more on the pasta, it still works out with no pre-cooking.
Gluten-free pastas are an option many of us have to use these days. Sadly, me included as of last year. And the gluten-free pastas are great for gluten intolerant folks. But they DON’T work for this recipe.
Gluten-free pastas are made (somehow) with beans or other legumes. And not much else besides water. They won’t hold up in this recipe.
Okay, this is a bit odd. But originally when I tested this recipe I had the seasonings set as they are now in the printable.
Then I got told the flavors were too strong. So I notched down the seasonings.
THEN the comments started rolling in that it was bland, didn’t taste like a cheeseburger. Blah, blah…and no disrespect to the folks that stated those opinions. I agreed.
SO, I recently re-updated the recipe with the stronger amounts of seasonings. Therefore, if you read the comments down below about it being bland, you might NOT want to up the spice content…I already did that in the printable.
Just fyi on all that. Enjoy the recipe, comments and suggestions are always welcome!
Printable for Crock Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni Casserole
- 1 pound macaroni uncooked (BUT it IS better if you cooked it a couple minutes)
- 3 cups milk
- ½ stick butter melted
- 1 package cream cheese (softened and cut into small chunks)
- 2-4 cups shredded cheddar
- 1 pound precooked ground beef
- 1-2 cups shredded mozzarella optional
- 3 ribs celery diced (optional)
- 1 bell pepper diced (optional)
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (optional, but adds a nice punch)
- 2-3 tsp smoked paprika (less if you prefer a milder flavor)
- 2-3 tsp garlic powder (less if you prefer a milder flavor)
- salt & pepper to taste
Mix the milk, butter and red wine vinegar. Add the paprika, garlic powder and salt & pepper. Stir well and set aside.
Butter the crock pot insert really well.
Add the pasta, ground beef, diced cream cheese pieces, half the cheddar and mozzarella, celery and bell pepper to the slow cooker. Toss to combine.
Pour the milk sauce over the top. Top with remaining shredded cheeses.
- Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
- Serve it up with a side salad and some dinner rolls...I doubt there'll be leftovers 🙂
Cook the pasta according to package directions BUT for only half the time indicated. Drain and set aside.
In a large freezer bag, combine the pasta, vegetables, cream cheese and 1/2 the cheeses.
Use a sandwich bag for the last of the cheese.
In a quart-sized bag, combine the liquid ingredients and the spices. Place the sandwich bag and the quart sized bag inside the larger bag with the pasta-meat-vegetable mixture.
Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before proceeding with cooking directions shown above.
Here are a couple more seasoning options. Just delete the paprika and go a little lighter on the garlic powder...
- 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons ranch seasoning mix
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning or keep the paprika and go with a little less taco seasoning
- 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
Want to make it a complete meal?
- Add 1 to 2 cups of defrosted, frozen peas and carrots in step #3, cover and allow it to cook another 30 minutes or so.
- If you're going for the taco seasoning then a frozen or canned corn would work great! Add a can of black beans too! These could get tossed in during step #1 without issue.
- If you'd rather do Italian then broccoli, cauliflower or Italian green beans would work great!