15 Best Milk Substitutes for Mac and Cheese

Published Categorized as Ingredients, Guide

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It is the holiday season, and one of the dishes that your guests look forward to the most is mac and cheese. Unfortunately, however, allergies exist in the world, including lactose intolerance. If you have guests with this condition, you may want to learn how to make your mac and cheese with something other than milk.

Milk substitutes for mac and cheese also give the dish a unique taste. They help you change up your age-old recipe. You can continue reading below to learn more about some of the best milk substitutes that you can use in mac and cheese. These will work for prepared meal kits and homemade dishes.

Table of Contents

What Can You Substitute for Milk in Mac and Cheese?

Most milk substitutes for mac and cheese are creamy and come from either a plant or animal. Some of the most popular options include almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk, for instance. There are benefits of each alternative in the list below, described in detail.

1. Can You Use Almond Milk in Kraft Mac and Cheese?

If you need to avoid using dairy in your mac and cheese, consider using almond milk. This delicious alternative is sweet to the taste, and the nuttiness will always come through. It is not overwhelming, however. In turn, you will still have a neutral flavor that will not overpower the paste.

Almond milk is thinner in consistency than the standard dairy product. For this reason, your mac and cheese will be less creamy than on a typical basis.

Many individuals choose to use a thickener, however, such as butter, cheese, or flour. There are vegan and dairy-free kinds of butter and cheeses if you want to stay away from lactose. You can also opt for almond flour, for instance, if you desire to remain vegan.

Most individuals will use unsweetened almond milk. It does not have heavy sugar content, so your mac and cheese will not be overly sweet.

Try to avoid the vanilla form of almond milk too. The artificial flavoring will leave a strange taste to your mac and cheese, which may turn you off from it. In total, you need unsweetened, unflavored almond milk to complete your recipe if you want to stay away from dairy.

2. Can You Substitute Water for Milk in Mac and Cheese?

If you want a simple alternative, consider using water as your substitute for milk in mac and cheese. This ingredient will not add any flavor to your dish, however. It is truly neutral.

Water also does not have any fat content. Many chefs, however, believe that for the flavor of mac and cheese, you need at least some fat.

Without fat, mac and cheese may taste bland and unimpressive. The dish may lose a significant portion of its flavor, and it will be runny. You can add in your own fat and thicken your mac and cheese by adding in double the amount of butter the recipe requires.

Most experts agree that you should not use plain tap water when incorporating it into mac and cheese. They believe that you should save the water that you used for boiling the noodles.

The water that is leftover in the pot will have starch in it. This feature will help your mac and cheese become thicker and will add a bit of flavor.

Do not add more water to the mac and cheese than you need either. Start with a small amount, slowly pouring in more until you achieve the perfect consistency.

3. How Do You Use Yogurt in Mac and Cheese

If no one is lactose intolerant in your family, and you only want to try something different, try to use plain or Greek yogurt into your mac and cheese. The result will be creamier and tastier than what you achieve using regular milk.

Yogurt will burn when you add it to the pot on too high of a heat setting. You should also slowly stir this ingredient into the mac and cheese mixture. Again, this process will prevent your food from burning.

If yogurt gets too hot too quickly, it can also become lumpy and watery. Some cooks, for this reason, choose to heat the yogurt before adding it to the mixture. It will already have a creamy consistency when you add it to the pot.

Greek yogurt will be even more creamy than the plain variety. It has a higher amount of protein, making it healthier for you too.

It is essential that you only add a little bit of Greek yogurt to your mac and cheese dish at a time. Otherwise, the sauce may become lumpy and overly watery. The high protein count can lead to the chunkiness of the mixture when cooked too quickly.


4. Can You Substitute Milk with Cream Cheese in Mac and Cheese?

If you choose to use cream cheese instead of milk, you will still have dairy in your meal. There are vegan varieties, however, which come from soy and other natural ingredients.

No matter the type of cream cheese you want to add to your recipe, you will retain the traditional flavors of mac and cheese. The mildness of this ingredient does not overwhelm the flavor profile. You will notice that the sauce is much thicker, adding an extra level of creaminess that many individuals love.

Some individuals do like thinner sauces, however. If you prefer this option, it would be best to choose one of the other substitutes provided in this article.

Many individuals choose to use cream cheese and milk in their mac and cheese. Instead of butter, they use the ingredient mentioned in this section. Cream cheese has a very high-fat content, but it does not have high protein.

Due to the high-fat content of cream cheese, you want to add it to the pot slowly. Taking your time will prevent lumpiness and other consistency issues. You want your mac and cheese to have a good texture and a good taste.

5. Can You Use Sour Cream in Mac and Cheese instead of Milk?

Sour cream functions very similarly to cream cheese when you add it to your mac and cheese recipe. It will make the food much creamier, leaving behind a thicker sauce that you will love.

Sour cream leaves a more noticeable taste difference after you put it in your mac and cheese. It tastes almost tangy, giving the dish some bite. Many mac and cheese lovers transitioned to only using sour cream after experimenting with this ingredient for the first time.

Sour cream is also a viable replacement if you need to make a meal that requires Greek yogurt. It is similar in texture and consistency to the latter ingredient, making it interchangeable. Each also has a tangy taste that will be sure to excite any bit of any recipe you want to try.

Sour cream can also work as a substitute for individuals who are lactose intolerant or have other allergies. Several dairy-free options taste almost the same. Keep everyone in your family happy when you bring this entirely new flavor to your next pan or pot of mac and cheese.

6. Can You Use Evaporated or Powdered Milk in Mac and Cheese?

You can use evaporated milk as a substitute in your next batch of cream cheese. This ingredient is just regular milk with the water taken out from it. It is thinner than the traditional option.

Before you add evaporated milk to your recipe for mac and cheese, however, you should put water back into it. If you neglect to do this step, the ingredient will start to caramelize quickly. This process will leave an unpleasant taste for the mac and cheese that will make it inedible.

You will start by mixing the evaporated milk with water, as aforementioned, in equal parts. After, measure out how much regular milk you would need for the recipe. Eventually, you will notice that your mac and cheese is quite creamy and thick,

You can also use powdered milk as a substitute for cow milk in your mac and cheese. This ingredient comes in a can and will last for years in your pantry. Again, all you have to do to put powdered milk in your mac and cheese recipe is mix it with water.

Just as you do for evaporated milk, you will measure out equal parts powdered milk and water and stir them together. Pour the same amount of mixture in your mac and cheese as the recipe calls for milk. After, again, you will have a creamy and delicious dish to serve to your loved ones.

7. How Do You Use Heavy Cream as a Milk Substitute in Mac and Cheese?

Heavy cream will leave your mac and cheese the thickest out of all of the other substitute options listed thus far. This ingredient, in most instances, still contains dairy. It is best if you want to experiment with the flavors that exist in your mac and cheese.

Heavy whipping cream contains much more fat than cow milk, however. The content produces a decadent cream that you will be unable to get enough of it. Typically, chefs use less heavy cream than the amount of milk required by the recipe.

You will add the heavy whipping cream to the pot slowly. While someone pours, you should constantly stir the contents in the dish, ensuring you will eventually reach the consistency you need. Some chefs also add a small amount of water to the heavy whipping cream before putting it in the pot.

When using a mac and cheese kit, such as those made by Kraft, you will have a cheese package to add. The heavy whipping cream will take away some of the orange colorations of the ingredient, however. The result will more closely resemble a white cheese sauce than the standard pre-boxed option.

8. How Do You Use Chicken Broth as a Substitute for Milk in Mac and Cheese?

If you do not want to use dairy in your mac and cheese, consider using chicken broth for your milk substitute. Remember, you will have to use vegan cheese too to make it truly lactose-free.

The chicken broth will affect the taste of the mac and cheese. This ingredient will go into the sauce, changing the flavor of the entire meal. It will add a bit of spice to the dish if you want something a little bit more savory.

Try to taste test a small portion of the chicken broth before adding it to your entire dish. Pour out a small amount of warmed-up chicken broth with the appropriate spices, and place it to the side. Take some of your noodles, cheese-coated or not, and dip them in the broth.

Your mac and cheese sauce will be much less creamy than it is when you use milk. If you want to thicken the dish up, however, add a small amount of flour. Some recommended sprinkling in parmesan cheese for added bulkiness, but this method will not work if you want to be completely dairy-free.

9. Can You Use Cashew Milk as a Substitute for Milk in Mac and Cheese

Cashew milk is a similar alternative to almond milk for your next dish of mac and cheese. It is not suitable if you have a nut allergy, however. Use one of the other substitutes if you have health concerns.

Cashew milk is like almond milk when considering how much to incorporate into your dish. You will use it in a one-to-one ratio in comparison to cow milk. Pour as much of this ingredient as you would traditional milk as listed in your mac and cheese recipe. It is an even substitution.

This alternative ingredient is more popular than ever before in American kitchens, however. It is very similar in taste to traditional milk, and the sweetness is not overwhelming. The nuttiness is not immediately noticeable when you first try out this alternative for yourself.

Cashew milk also has a wide variety of health benefits for you and your loved ones. Cashew milk can improve immune system health and can help your cardiovascular system function as it should. It also has a long list of vitamins and micronutrients that will give you and your children the daily support you need.

Cashew milk will make any mac and cheese dish irresistibly creamy. Many love and know this ingredient because of its thickness and smoothness. When used in mac and cheese, you will achieve a cheese sauce that you cannot resist.


10. How Do You Use Coconut Milk as a Substitute for Traditional Milk in Mac and Cheese?

Coconut milk is another alternative dairy-free ingredient. It, however, has a more prominent flavor than the cashew milk aforementioned. When you add this substitute to your macaroni and cheese, you will immediately notice the flavor of the coconut.

This ingredient comes from the flesh of a coconut, as you make expect. The manufacturers, however, blend it with water to create the liquid. It is full of vitamins and nutrients, as long as you only use the unsweetened version. Plus, this latter option will prevent your mac and cheese from becoming sticky and messy.

Many chefs enjoy the sweetness that the coconut flavor brings to mac and cheese, however. There are many recipes online that show how you can use this alternative and make it taste great. Ensure that you use canned coconut milk, however, as it has a much higher concentration.

Mac and cheese that uses coconut milk is creamy. You can select a product with high-fat content, however. Making this choice will get you the thick sauce you need for your dish. Again, the canned version is slightly thicker than that the coconut milk that is in a bottle.

11. Can You Use Soy Milk as an Alternative to Traditional Milk in Mac and Cheese?

The rest of the alternative options listed are a variety of alternative milk products. Soy milk, for instance, is a mixture of soybeans and water. The manufacturers also add thickeners to this option so that it lasts longer.

Due to the presence of thickeners, you can expect that soy milk will make the sauce in your mac and cheese heavier and creamier. Make sure that you choose the unflavored options, however. You want to avoid additional ingredients that you do not need for your mac and cheese.

Unflavored soy milk is not as strong as a vanilla option, for instance. This ingredient does have an acquired taste that you will eventually learn to enjoy. You can add extra butter and salt to your mac and cheese recipe to lessen the effects of soy milk.

Like with other dairy-free milk alternatives, soy milk uses a one-to-one ratio. For every one cup of traditional milk the recipe calls for, you will add one cup of soy milk, for instance. These substitutes are some of the easiest that are in this article for that reason.

12. How Do You Use Rice Milk as a Substitute in Mac and Cheese?

If you want a unique dairy-free option for your mac and cheese, use rice milk. It comes from a mixture of water and milled rice. Milled rice is solely the kernels of this grain, where manufacturers remove the bran.

Rice milk tastes extremely sweet. This fact makes sense since the ingredient comes from grain. You should be careful about how much you add to your dish, as the sweetness can overpower your mac and cheese.

Rice milk is much thinner than cow milk. The sauce that results from your mac and cheese is fluid and light. You can add any of the thickeners listed in the information above to thicken the sauce. Remember, these include flour and butter, to name a couple of options.

Remember, if you want your rice milk mac and cheese to be vegan, you will need to buy dairy-free cheese. There are other pre-packaged kits, however, that do not contain any dairy. Most of these have a milk alternative included in them. These could be rice milk or almond milk, for instance.

13. How Do You Use Hemp Seed Milk as a Substitute in Mac and Cheese?

Hemp seed milk is rare in comparison to the previous dairy-free milk-like alternatives. Hemp-based products are on the rise, however, so you will likely soon see this substitute in a grocery store near you.

Hemp seed milk has a significant level of nuttiness, and it will come through in your mac and cheese. Some individuals think that this taste gives an edge to their dishes, but some would rather keep traditional flavors. You will use 3/4 of the amount the recipe calls for cow milk.

This product is much thicker than cow milk, however. You will need to use less of the ingredient, as mentioned above. If you want it thinner, all you have to do is add water. Only add small amounts at a time, however, as it can dilute the flavors of the hemp seed milk in your mac and cheese.

Hemp seed milk has a variety of health benefits for you and your loved ones. This product has the same amount of healthy fats as a carton of traditional milk. It is also almost an allergy-free product, as it is a viable option for anyone allergic to soy or gluten.

14. Can You Use Oat Milk as a Substitute for Regular Milk in Mac and Cheese?

Oat milk is one of the most popular dairy-free options. It has a natural level of sweetness. If you are allergic to gluten, however, you cannot use this ingredient.

When you use oat milk in mac and cheese, you will want to use the unsweetened variety. Again, as mentioned, the product is naturally sweet. The pairing of the oat milk with the pasta will impress you and your loved ones who eat the mac and cheese.

Oat milk has about the same creaminess as you can expect to achieve with cow milk. To make the mac and cheese sauce thicker, you can add a thickener, including those listed above. If you want to keep on the trend of products with gluten, consider adding a small portion of flour, for instance.

Since oat milk does have a natural sweetness, you will need the same amount of ingredients for your mac and cheese. The recipe will list how much milk you need, and you will add however much of this substitute it says.


15. Can You Use Goat Milk as a Substitute for Traditional Milk in Mac and Cheese?

Goat milk is, to some, the most outrageous alternative on the list. It still has lactose, however, but there is significantly less. Some say that goat milk is easier to consume, however, causing fewer problems in the gut.

Goat and cow milk have very similar flavors. You can switch them in and out of your mac and cheese recipe as you want to, always using the same amount. Remember, however, if you or a loved one have lactose intolerance, you cannot use this alternative.

Goat milk creates a much more decadent cheese sauce for your dish. It also does not have the tanginess that exists when you choose to use traditional products. If you want to go all out, consider using goat cheese in your recipe.

There are many other animal-based kinds of milk as well, and they only contain a small amount of lactose and are generally healthy. The next most popular is sheep milk, but you can cook with and drink the milk of a camel too. Each of the listed options has a unique flavor that you will have to test out. Follow this step before adding the ingredients to your mac and cheese.


Can You Make Mac and Cheese without Milk?

As seen above, there are a variety of alternatives to traditional milk in mac and cheese. These range from plant-based milk alternatives to heavy whipping cream, for instance. You can also start with evaporated or powdered milk if you want a more concentrated flavor.

Each of the ingredients listed in this article comes with a different taste and texture. Some make the sauce in your mac and cheese thicker, for instance, while others have a thinner base. Some of the ingredients have a tangy taste, while some are extremely sweet, however.

Start Cooking Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is a beloved dish worldwide, no matter the ingredients you use to make it. Many individuals want to stay away from dairy, or they are lactose intolerant. For that reason, you need to use one of the dairy-free alternatives in the list above.

Many of the ingredients will add a unique taste to your mac and cheese too. Even if there are no allergies in your family, you can experiment with the taste differentials in each of the above foods. You are sure to find a recipe that you love and want to hold onto for special occasions.