An easy side dish or dinner idea: crock pot beer mac and cheese
I should mention from the start: The beer is optional! Whether or not you add it, this crock pot (beer) mac and cheese is the world’s BEST crock pot mac and cheese. Perfectly creamy, tender, flavorful, and easy to make. For some unknown-to-me reason, I don’t even feel like the pasta gets that gummy-ness so common when cooking pasta in the slow cooker. Maybe it is the beer performing some chemistry miracle.
I’d say that mac and cheese is up there in my top three favorite foods. I love eating it, ordering it, and making it. My standard mac and cheese recipe starts, like most, with a roue. Whisking some flour and butter over the stove, slowly pouring in the milk and letting it thicken just so before adding tons of cheese. I usually add beer to my mac and cheese this way. I’ve also been known to make mac and cheese in a muffin tin and mac and cheese in a mug.
But the easiest mac and cheese method by far is the crock pot. Just dump your ingredients in the slow cooker, give it a stir, and let it cook. I rely heavily on my slow cooker for holidays and parties, not just because it’s easy, but because it allows you to make things early in the day. Now that I have this recipe perfected, it will be my new go-to.
This recipe came about after a trip to Hagerstown, MD. My daughter and I stopped in a restaurant behind a mall. I saw mac and cheese on the menu and I hesitated. I’ve had so many disappointing mac and cheese restaurant experiences, I rarely order it anymore. But I did. And thank goodness I did. It was one of the best I had ever had. I talked to one of the restaurant owners to sing its praises, and she said she adds cream cheese and Monterey Jack. Done and done. I thought I’d give it a go, but with a slow cooker version. The restaurant version had a Ritz cracker crust. In the crock pot, one can’t quite re-create the browning. If desired, crush Ritz crackers and mix with some melted butter. Sprinkle just a bit on top before serving.
how to make crock pot beer mac and cheese
you will need:
- 2 1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni (about 10 to 12 ounces)
- 4 tablespoons butter, cubed
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
- 8 ounces freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces freshly shredded monterey jack cheese
- 2 cups milk (preferably whole or 2 percent)
- 6 ounces beer (may substitute additional milk)
- coarse sea salt
- black pepper
OPTIONAL TOPPING: Crush Ritz crackers and stir into melted butter. Sprinkle on top.
what to do:
Spray the crock pot with cooking spray. Pour in: The macaroni, butter, cream cheese, shredded cheeses, milk, and beer. Add a generous pinch of salt and some pepper. Stir the mixture. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, on low 2 to 3 hours, or until the pasta is tender.