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Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Macaroni
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4.75 from 4 votes

Crockpot Cheeseburger Macaroni Casserole

If you're looking for a super easy, kid-pleasing crock pot recipe...give this cheeseburger macaroni casserole a try...it's yummy :)
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time6 hrs
Total Time6 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Author: Gwen

Ingredients

  • 1 pound macaroni uncooked BUT it IS better if you cooked it a couple of minutes
  • 3 cups milk
  • ½ stick butter melted
  • 1 package cream cheese softened and cut into small chunks
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar
  • 1 pound precooked ground beef
  • 1 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
  • 3 tsp smoked paprika less if you prefer a milder flavor
  • 3 tsp garlic powder less if you prefer a milder flavor
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Slow Cooker:

  • Mix milk, butter, and vinegar. Add paprika, garlic powder, and salt & pepper. Stir well. set aside.
  • Butter the crockpot insert well. Add pasta, ground beef, diced cream cheese, ½ of each shredded cheese, celery & bell pepper. Toss to combine.
  • Pour the milk sauce over the top. Top with remaining shredded cheeses. Cover & cook on low for 4 to 6 hrs. High 2 ½-3.

Instant Pot:

  • Brown the ground beef using the saute function. Drain excess grease.
  • Add remaining ingredients except for the shredded cheeses.
  • Lock the lid and close the pressure valve. Set to manual, high for half the cook time of your noodles. Natural release 5 minutes then quick release.
  • Open the instant pot and add half the shredded cheeses. Mix well. Top with remaining cheese and close lid. Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.

Stove Top:

  • Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Brown your ground beef over medium-high heat.
  • Drain pasta. Add remaining ingredients, holding out half the shredded cheeses. Mix well.
  • Cover and allow to rest 20 minutes. Note: If your pasta was cooled completely, you may need a bit of heat to melt the cream cheese. Use VERY low heat and stir constantly.
  • Top with remaining cheese and allow to set about 5 minutes for the cheeses to melt.

Oven-Baked:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Follow steps 1 and 2 of stovetop directions. Combine ingredients and pour into a well-greased 9x13 baking dish.
  • Top with remaining cheeses and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Freezer Meal:

  • 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 cooked meat, 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.

Notes

Want to completely save yourself the step of cooking the ground beef? Check out our Make-Ahead Ground Beef Recipe. It is excellent, cooks overnight, and freezes very well for quick & easy meals!

Here are a couple of 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 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!