Cheese. Bacon. Mac. You’re convinced and my job is done. Except that is to say how easy it is to have homemade mac and cheese even on a busy weekday. Because your slow cooker can help. This is like a totally grown up version of mac and cheese, except that your kids will love it too. And you will feel so awesome bringing this to the dinner table instead of the boxed version that you will want to make this Slow Cooker White Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese a regular in your dinner rotation!
You’ll start by adding the chicken, seasonings and broth and letting them cook all day until you get home. The chicken will be super juicy and fall apart tender. When you’re ready to finish up this dish, then you’ll just shred up the chicken and stir in the pasta, put the lid back on and turn the slow cooker to high for 30-45 minutes while you take care of a few chores or put your feet up and have a cold beverage (I vote for the latter!).
Give everything a little stir occasionally until the pasta is all cooked. It’s also time to crisp up the bacon. I prefer to cook it in the microwave, since it’s easy and takes only about 5 minutes. Let it cool and crumble it up. You could even use leftover bacon or just make it up a day ahead. And of course, feel free to add more than I did if you like.
Finally, cheese sauce time. Never made homemade cheese sauce? Not to worry! It’s actually very simple and takes only a few minutes. Just follow the steps and you will have the best cheese sauce that will make you never want to open a packet of cheese powder ever again.
I’ve added an optional step of adding a breadcrumb topping and baking it for a final few minutes, but this is totally your choice. It’s delicious either way and just depends on your mac & cheese preference. Give it a try and let me know… was this almost as easy as making mac from a box? Will you make it again?
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1¾ cup chicken broth
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon beer can chicken seasoning
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 4 slice bacon, later
- 8 oz pasta noodles, later
- 3 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2½ cups milk
- 2 cups white cheddar cheese, shredded
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- Add chicken, broth, vinegar and seasonings to slow cooker
- Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 until chicken is fully cooked through
- Shred chicken and then add pasta noodles to slow cooker and stir
- Cover and return to high heat for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally until pasta noodles are cooked and tender (add additional liquid ½ cup at a time if needed)
- Cook bacon in microwave until crispy and let cool on paper towels, crumble and add to pasta
- Melt butter in saucepan over medium high heat
- Whisk in flour and stir until smooth for about 2 minutes
- Very slowly pour in milk while continuing to whisk to ensure sauce stays smooth, let simmer and thicken for about 3-4 minutes
- Reduce heat and stir in cheese until melted and smooth
- Remove from heat and pour into pasta and stir to combine
- Add breadcrumbs to top of mac and cheese and drizzle with butter
- Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown on top
Important notes about this recipe:
- You can make this in any type of slow cooker, but I prefer to use a casserole style slow cooker. If you are going to add to oven at the end, just ensure your slow cooker insert is oven safe.
- I recommend using Barilla Pronto noodles in the slow cooker as they cook faster and hold up better. I used the penne shape in this recipe.
- Stir occasionally to ensure noodles cook evenly. If noodles are not fully cooked you can add additional liquid (about 1/4 – 1/2 cup at a time) and return cover for 5 minutes until done
- If you can’t find or don’t like the beer can chicken seasoning, any of your favorite seasoning blends for chicken can be subbed in it’s place (Montreal Chicken is a good option and widely available)
Want to make all the mac & cheese in the slow cooker? Here’s more!!
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