This recipe for Paula Deen’s Crockpot mac and cheese is different, but it’s amazing!
Eggs in mac and cheese? The concept may seem alien to you, but if Paula Deen says it works, you best believe it.
I have already featured several copycat mac and cheese recipes, yet here I am again with another one.
If this isn’t a testament to how much I love mac and cheese, I don’t know what is.
Here’s why Paula Deen’s recipe is a must-try: it uses a strange technique to make a ridiculously creamy sauce that’s so much easier than making the usual roux.
Trust me, it’s a fool-proof way to mac and cheese heaven. Try it and see for yourself – you won’t regret it.
Paula Deen Crockpot Mac and Cheese
It’s a southern-style mac and cheese where instead of making a roux, you’ll use 3 eggs to create a thick and creamy sauce.
It seemed odd to me too, but it worked like a charm!
This unique technique is a lot easier than the traditional method, and more importantly, it yields impressive results.
Hers is a one-of-a-kind mac and cheese that any mac and cheese addict should definitely try.
What’s the Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese?
In my opinion, there’s no wrong cheese when making mac and cheese.
But depending on the flavor and consistency you want to achieve, consider these options.
Also, don’t feel like you need to limit your choice to just one kind of cheese. Mix and match as you please.
- Paula Deen’s recipe uses just one: sharp cheddar, and for good reason. Where other cheeses result in a gritty mac and cheese, sharp cheddar yields a luxuriously smooth and creamy cheese sauce.
Its sharp flavor also balances out the richness of the butter and milk wonderfully, such that you don’t only get a one-dimensional, fatty taste.
- For ooey-gooey goodness, go for melty cheeses such as Monterey Jack, gruyere, Swiss, and gouda.
- For a stretchy, stringy experience, throw in some mozzarella to the mix.
- If ultimate creaminess is what you’re after, consider adding some cottage cheese. It has a mild flavor, so it won’t overpower the cheddar, but it does wonders in making the sauce ridiculously rich and creamy.
- Parmesan doesn’t melt well, but it makes for a great topping as it turns into a crisp, nutty exterior.
- For that unique, moldy flavor, add in a few blue cheese crumbles.
How Do You Keep Mac and Cheese Creamy?
As this is a traditional southern mac and cheese, you’ll use eggs to make the sauce rich and creamy.
If, however, you’re allergic or just not a fan of eggs, you can make a roux to thicken the sauce instead.
It sounds a bit intimidating, but a roux is simply a combination of fat (usually butter) and flour. Together, they can thicken any liquid you can imagine.
Just stir together equal parts melted butter and flour over low heat until a thick paste is formed.
Add in the liquid, which is usually milk, and whisk it constantly until thick.
Another technique is to use cream instead of milk and add yogurt, sour cream, or more cheese to the mix.
Lastly, try boiling the noodles in evaporated milk instead of water.
The milk reacts with the starches in the noodles and creates a thick coating around them even before you mix in the sauce.
Can You Make This in the Oven?
Absolutely. Not only will it take a much shorter time, but it’ll also give your mac and cheese a nice, crispy outer crust. Here’s how:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Boil the macaroni for 6 minutes and drain.
3. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt together butter and cheese.
4. Reduce the heat to low and mix in the sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard, pepper, and macaroni until well-combined.
5. Pour the mac and cheese into a 9×13-inch pan and bake for 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
Optional: take out the mac and cheese at the 20-minute mark, top it with a mix of bread crumbs and parmesan, and continue baking.
This will make it extra crispy on top.
Tips for Making the Best Macaroni
- This southern mac and cheese calls for eggs to create a creamy sauce. However, you can omit the eggs and still get a pretty tasty mac and cheese! It’s totally your call.
- Use large, elbow macaroni noodles. That way, the shells will get stuffed generously with the sauce.
- Use room temperature dairy (milk, cheese, eggs, etc.) so they’ll all blend easily.
- To keep the noodles firm and al dente, boil it for not longer than 6 minutes. Keep in mind that they’ll continue to cook in the slow cooker, for 2 1/2 hours no less. So unless you want mushy mac and cheese, don’t overcook the noodles.
- You can also rinse the pasta in cold water right after boiling to stop it from cooking further. This will also eliminate extra starches in the pasta which cause mushiness.
- If you’ve accidentally overcooked the pasta, coat it with butter to prevent it from absorbing more liquid and cooking further.
- Grate your own cheese. I know it’s so much more convenient to buy those bags of pre-shredded cheese, but don’t let the temptation get the best of you.
Pre-shredded cheese is coated with cellulose, an anti-caking agent that prevents the cheese from clumping.
Cellulose is 100% safe to eat, but, it holds back the cheese from its maximum melting potential.
So instead of a perfectly melty and ooey-gooey mac and cheese, you’ll get a gritty, unappetizing mess.
Oh, and here’s another reason to grate the cheese yourself: it’s cheaper!
- Let the melted butter and cheese mixture cool for several minutes before beating in the eggs. Otherwise, you’ll get cheesy scrambled eggs.
- Grease the slow cooker with baking spray to prevent the pasta and the cheese from sticking to the bottom.
- Overcooking is another culprit of mushy mac and cheese. If you’re using an old slow cooker, cook the mac and cheese for a shorter period.
Old slow cookers tend to run hotter than new ones, even if you set them to low heat. Cook for 1 hour and check every 15 minutes for doneness.
- Taste your mac and cheese and adjust accordingly. Feel free to add your choice of herbs, spices, and seasonings to make it your own.
- Mac and cheese Variations:
- Top the mac and cheese with a mixture of 1 cup crushed Ritz crackers and 2 tablespoons melted butter at the last 10 minutes of cooking. This will give the dish a crunchy golden crust.
- Try other pasta shells! Just because it’s called macaroni and cheese doesn’t mean you have to stick to macaroni. Any hollow, cylindrical noodle that can hold a lot of sauce is a good candidate. This includes rotini, penne, and rigatoni.
- Make your mac and cheese even more indulgent by mixing in proteins such as ham and bacon.
- Or, lessen the guilt by adding bell peppers, onions, and other vegetables.
- Add some heat with chili flakes, jalapenos, or sriracha sauce.
- When storing leftovers, be sure they’re completely cooled to room temperature. Transfer them into an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Microwave them until they’re warmed through.
What to Serve with Mac and Cheese
While it’s technically a side dish, I can eat mac and cheese on its own, all day, every day.
But if you want to make a more substantial meal out of it, you can’t go wrong with these pairings:
- Garden salad with vinaigrette – something light and refreshing to counterbalance the richness and heaviness of the pasta. Choose whatever greens, veggies, nuts, and vinaigrette dressing you like.
- Pigs in a Blanket – together, they create the ultimate appetizer combo. A word of warning, though – both apps are extremely addictive!
- Chili – save this combo for when you need a major pick-me-up! This is the epitome of comfort foods, folks. Together, there’s no problem they can’t fix.
- Protein – anything from shrimp and fish to pork chops and steaks.
More Macaroni Recipes You’ll Love
- Trisha Yearwood Mac and Cheese
- Cracker Barrel Mac and Cheese
- Patti LaBelle’s Mac and Cheese
- Paula Deen’s Goulash
- Amish Macaroni Salad
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