A healthy eating plan doesn’t mean that you have to save macaroni and cheese for your cheat day! While the classic comfort dish has a notorious reputation for carrying its weight in fat and calories, we’ve brought you a lightened up version of the iconic meal with our mouthwatering Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese! Each bite is bursting with cheesy, creamy goodness!
Does Guilt-Free Macaroni and Cheese Actually Exist?
Imagine a healthier version of mac and cheese that actually tastes good. Couldn’t you just squeak with excitement? With our slow cooker recipe, this version exists, and you seriously won’t believe your taste buds! This family-friendly dinner offers rich flavor and hearty consistency. Not to mention, it’s a cinch to make. Just bust out your handy-dandy slow cooker and let the appliance work its magic!
This slow cooker macaroni and cheese recipe will become a regular in your household. Making healthy mac and cheese the conventional way can get a little tricky. Fortunately, using your slow cooker ensures an ultra creamy, uber-flavorful finish each and every time. It makes for a super exciting weeknight dinner, and we promise all you cheese lovers will rejoice.
Our Recipe Uses Lighter Ingredients
Without skimping on flavor, we’ve lightened up this recipe by subbing in lighter alternatives for heavier ingredients. For example, our macaroni dish uses 1% milk instead of full-fat milk, shaving off a hefty chunk of calories. Meanwhile, it lightens the fat content by incorporating egg whites instead of whole eggs. This drool-worthy dish spotlights sharp cheddar cheese, one of our absolute favorites, and ditches the butter entirely.
Finally, whole-wheat pasta serves as the backbone of this yummy comfort dish. This healthier pasta option contains more nutrients than white pasta such as magnesium, iron, and zinc. At the same time, it packs in more protein, complex carbs, and fiber than white pasta. That said, whole-wheat pasta will satisfy so much better than white pasta, and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Each serving of our crave-worthy slow cooker macaroni and cheese clocks in at just 244 calories. Conventional macaroni and cheese recipes can carry upwards of 500 calories per serving, so this version is pretty darn impressive. It packs a protein punch, and will definitely hit the spot when you need your cheesy fix.
The Slow Cooker Creation Process
This recipe is almost too easy. It basically just involves whisking together milk, egg whites, and cornstarch in your slow cooker. Next, stir in the grated cheese and pasta shells and cook on low for up to two hours. Now the key is to stir on a pretty regular basis after the first hour- we recommend every 15 minutes or so. This ensures that pasta cooks evenly, and allows you to keep an eye on everything.
For extra sauce that tastes absolutely delectable over a side of veggies, double up on the milk! Finally, if you crave that crispy, crunchy top, place your dish in a broiler oven for 3-5 minutes afterwards.
Pair This Dish With A Tasty Veggie Side!
We believe there is room in anyone’s diet for a special treat on occasion. So enjoy this as a side dish with a serving of lean protein and a nice big heap of veggies.
Pair your mouthwatering macaroni and cheese dish with one of these fantastic recipes for a delicious, well-balanced meal!
Also, if you liked this healthy slow-cooker recipe, make sure to check out these 21 Healthy low-Carb Meals to Make In The Slow Cooker!
Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 1/2 cups milk low-fat
- 2 egg whites
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch optional: tapioca starch
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese grated, 2% sharp cheddar works best
- 2 cups whole wheat penne pasta
- Whisk together the milk, egg whites and cornstarch in your slow cooker insert. Be sure to whisk well.
- Stir in the grated cheese and pasta shells.
Cook on low for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
NOTES ON THE RECIPE:
- After the first hour, stir the food on a semi regular basis. About every 15 minutes or so. This will do 2 things. It will allow the pasta to cook evenly. It will also allow you to keep any eye on the pasta and see when it's done. Every slow cooker is different, so the timing for this recipe may be slightly different on this for you. Pasta goes from "cooked" to "mush" very quickly. So be sure to keep stirring on occasion to keep an eye on things.
- This was made in a 3 quart slow cooker. Should you wish to double the recipe, double everything except the cornstarch (use 1 tbsp.) and cook in a 4 or 5 quart slow cooker (we used a 5 quart for doubling the recipe). Time and temp does not change when doubling the recipe.
- Also, if doubling the milk, you will most likely end up with extra sauce. This sauce is wonderful over a side of veggies.
- For a crispier top, place under broiler oven for 3-5 minutes.
- We recommend penne pasta with this slow cooker version. Smaller shells don't hold up well in the slow cooker.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on 1/13/2012.