When you cook up perfectly tender, creamy macaroni and cheese in the slow cooker, it can feel you've won the dinner Olympics. You've got a dinner everyone will love while the slow cooker did all the work. Pasta in the slow cooker has a few pitfalls, though — it can either be undercooked or overcooked, depending on just a few subtle changes.
These three tips will protect you from sad slow cooker pasta and make you a champion of dinner once again.
1. Make sure you have enough liquid.
The secret to mac and cheese in the slow cooker is plenty of liquid, but not too much! If you're planning to cook pasta low and slow, make sure there's just enough liquid — milk, broth, or water — for the pasta to soak up. Too little liquid and the pasta will be dry and chewy instead of tender.
Get the recipe: How To Make Mac and Cheese in the Slow Cooker
2. For soups, add dry pasta after cooking.
Broth-based slow cooker dinners need their dry pasta added at just the right moment — add the pasta too early and your noodles will be mushy before they get to the table. Adding dry pasta 30 to 4o minutes before serving means you'll have perfectly cooked pasta in your soup.
3. Cooked pasta can be added just before serving.
If you're ever in doubt of when to add your pasta to the slow cooker, try this: Cook the pasta separately and add the drained pasta to the slow cooker just before serving. This works especially well with hearty stews like chili mac that might not produce enough liquid too cook the pasta properly.
Get the recipe: Slow Cooker Chili Mac and Cheese
How do you make pasta in the slow cooker?