This study developed a comprehensive system to evaluate the intensity of cropland use and evolution of cropland use in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain. Delphi-entropy methods were adopted to determine the weight of the index, and the GeoDetector model was established to explore the influencing factors. The results are summarized as follows: (1) The intensity of inputs, degree of utilization, and production increased continuously, but the intensity of continuous conditions experienced an overall decline followed by a rebound towards the end of the study period. The number of counties with high and moderately high intensity increased by 56.8% and 14.6%, respectively, from 1996 to 2011. The number of counties with moderately low and low intensity declined by 35.9 % and 11.9 %, respectively. Areas with significant increases in intensity were mainly distributed in northeast Hebei Province, northwest Shandong Province, and north Jiangsu Province. The intensity is high in northern Jiangsu and Anhui; the output effect remained above moderate intensity mainly near Beijing, Tianjin, Tangshan, and counties in the suburbs of Shijiazhuang. (2) Natural disasters, elevation, slope, and road networks were the main factors influencing the intensity of cropland use in this region, with influence values of 0.158, 0.143, 0.129, and 0.054, respectively. Areas with moderately high and high levels of intensity were distributed in low-lying areas. Uneven distribution of precipitation, seasonal drought, and flood disasters can directly affect the stability index of croplands and reduce the intensity of cropland use. Developed road networks are associated with moderately high intensity. Our results suggest recommendations such as promoting agricultural intensification and large-scale management, promoting the construction of road networks, improving early warning systems for drought and flood disasters, and promoting moderate and intensive use of arable land, and focusing on restoration and sustainable use of cropland.