One of the meals that my *almost* (sniff) eight year old loves is mac and cheese. In fact, when you ask her about her favorite dish at holidays, she almost always say mac and cheese. Like a lot of dishes, mac and cheese is one of those dishes you can make a million different ways. And Miss Add thoroughly enjoys everything from the store bought stuff to all the different homemade varieties. However, when you ask her what she prefers, she will often say “the one with bubbles” which always means mac and cheese from scratch… because she likes the way the elbow macaroni makes bubbles in the cheese ;).
So when Barilla® asked me to make a recipe using their elbow macaroni and talk about being a mom with you, I knew it had to be about a mac and cheese recipe. Why? Well of all the recipes that Miss Add will remember Mommy making her, I really think it will be mac and cheese she will be one she connects to her mommy/daughter memories. You know those recipes don’t you? The recipes that take you back to mom’s or grandma’s kitchen? Mac and cheese is definitely a dish that she and I share on a regular basis and one I would be happy that she remembers.
Crock Pot Beefy Mac
So once I knew what I wanted to make, I ran to my local Walmart and picked up a box of Barilla® Elbow Macaroni and got down to the business of recipe development. Since this is a site for Slow Cooker Recipes, I knew I was going to have to make sure that I created a recipe that respected my pasta ;). What do I mean by that? Well, I wanted to make sure I didn’t turn my macaroni to mush in my slow cooker.
So I turned to my trusty friends over at America’s Test Kitchen to research some tips and tricks on how to best work with macaroni specifically when developing recipes and their advice definitely worked for me. They actually advised microwaving your pasta in a little olive oil (not water??) before putting it in the slow cooker. It seemed really odd but it definitely worked! So now I knew how I wanted to handle my pasta.
I also knew I wanted to make a dish that could be served as a side or as the main dish. So, I thought about one of our favorite ground beef recipes– Crock Pot Cheeseburgers— and decided to turn it into a yummy Beefy Mac dish. Boy, oh boy did they love it! We just love those cheeseburgers and now I love that I have another way to capture those same flavors in another dish! I hope you guys enjoy it as much as we did!
Quick Prep Tip: If you enjoy a lot of meals that call from browned ground beef, you might try our Crock Pot Make Ahead Ground Beef. These bags of pre-cooked ground beef with my onion and garlic already mixed in are such a life saver for me and are so easy to defrost and throw into great crock pot meals like this one.
Crock Pot Beefy Mac
- Cook ground beef, onion and garlic together until fully cooked. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile place macaroni in microwave safe bowl and toss will olive oil. Cook at 50% power for 3 minutes until the pasta is toasted and some of the noodles begin to blister.
- Place pasta in the slow cooker and pour boiling water on top of it. (Pasta will sizzle.)
- Top with remaining ingredients and stir well.
- Cook on high for 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.
Slow Cooker Recommendation
This recipe will do well in any 5-6 qt slow cooker.We liked using our all-in-one slow cooker that has a browning setting to allow you to cook up your onion and garlic while you brown your ground beef IN the crock pot without having to use another skillet. LOVE that it can switch from browning to slow cooker by the push of a button!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Barilla. The opinions and text are all mine.