what can you substitute for milk in mac and cheese

Have you ever felt hungry and tried going down the kitchen in the middle of the night to make your favorite dish of mac and cheese but found out that there’s no milk anymore which then made you question, “What Can You Substitute For Milk in Mac and Cheese?”

Are you sick and tired of getting held back from creating the best mac and cheese dish just because milk is missing?

If your answer is yes to both questions, then you better stick around because you’ll love what’s in store for you! 

Whether it’s baked or not, Mac and cheese generally require milk to make the dish creamier and tastier.

But what happens when you don’t have one? Read on below to know more about this! 

What Can You Substitute For Milk in Mac and Cheese? 

substitute milk in mac cheese

Mac and cheese are some of the most popular dishes that many people around the world love.

Whether you’re a full-grown adult or perhaps a little kid, mac n cheese is considered the best meal that can bring us comfort and satisfaction.

The recipe isn’t that hard to make, and often times, you can even create one using only three ingredients. 

However, among those critical ingredients required in making the dish is milk. Milk helps the mac and cheese achieve a creamier, flavorful and richer taste, so it’s just common to consider it one of the core to achieve a mouth-watering dish.

But what if you don’t have one? Or you’re on a diet that restricts you from any dairy? There’s no need to worry because we got you covered!

Milk can actually be substituted for mac and cheese, and there are many substitutes you can use to make your dish achieve the same taste of regular mac and cheese: perhaps even better.

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However, before you go and make one, just remember that using a substitute may alter your dish’s taste lightly, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be delicious!

The Substitutes: How Can You Make Mac and Cheese Without Milk? 

options substitute

While milk is a source of nutrients and calcium for vegetarians, many people are frequently exploring dairy-free and vegan diets because of food allergies, a drive to lessen cholesterol and fat intake, or perhaps an animal or environmental welfare.

Although milk may be useful to some, it can be threatening to others, which is why it’s good that you know what possible substitutes you can use to replace dairy in your recipes. 

Among the most popular dish that is known to use milk is the ever-loved macaroni and cheese.

Whether you’re mixing it up with other ingredients or trying new things to spice it up a bit, dairy is always involved when making the meal.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t cook one if you don’t have any dairy. 

So, what are excellent substitutes for dairy when cooking mac and cheese? Any milk-based or creamy product is an excellent substitute, be it plant or animal-based.

Dairy-based products may include sour cream, cream cheese and yogurt. Plant-based options can include almond, coconut, and soy milk.

Today, we will discuss the substitutes you can opt to use and even how to use them properly. So check out below! 

Substitute Options Using Dairy-Based Products

Plain Yogurt 


Yogurt is among the best alternatives when it comes to replacing dairy. Not only is it creamy and full of flavor, but it goes well with the cheese in the macaroni.

If you’re a bit uneasy with the thought of using yogurt, then don’t be! The ingredient is commonly used in several varieties of mac-n-cheese, and it’s undeniably tasty. 

 If you want to take it to a whole other level, then go a step further. Use freshly made home yogurt, creating exactly how you like it.

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On the other hand, Greek yogurt is going to taste tangier than plain yogurt, and it’s also going to be thicker, so be sure to be cautious when opting to use it. 

The Process:

Grab a pot that’s deep enough to fit a whole pack of macaroni and add in 3-4 cups of water. Place it on the top of your stove top and turn the heat to high.

As you wait for the water to reach a boiling point, grab a box or pack of your mac and set it aside as you wait.

Be sure that the opening of your pot is big enough to avoid spilling any macaroni. 

Once you see the water is boiling, place in your mac, take some oil and pour in a few drops. This will help stop the mac from sticking into each other.

Then take some pepper and salt and sprinkle a fair amount into the water; doing so will help set in a mac’s flavor.

Take a wooden spatula and keep on stirring the mac, so it won’t clump up. 

Your macaroni should be ready after 7 minutes. When the waiting time is up, take a single mac and check if it is al dente. If it is, take a strainer and drain out your mac.

Wash it with cold water to take out the heat that might cause overcooking. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 

Now begin making your sauce. Grab the stated ingredients in your recipe and just replace the dairy with yogurt.

This will help your sauce catch a tangy flavor and creamy at the same time. If ready, mix them all together as stated in the instructions.

If the sauce already fits your taste, add in the cooked mac and enjoy your tasty meal! 

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Whipping Cream

whipped cream

Heavy cream or whipping cream will operate as a substitute for dairy. However, be reminded that doing so is going to result in a dish that’s heavier in calories and fat.

When utilizing whipping cream as an alternative, the cheese will possibly appear lighter in color. 

So if you prefer the orange appearance, using the heavy cream will look more orange compared to whipping.

Be reminded that using whip cream will make your sauce creamier and richer, so if you want your mac and cheese to taste incredible, consider using this! 

The Process:

In a big pot, pour in some water and wait for it to boil. Once you see that it has reached the boiling point, add in the pasta and frequently stir it with a wooden spatula to avoid any macs sticking to each other.

As you’re stirring, add in some salt and pepper to taste. 

After 10 minutes, the macaroni should be cooked. Be sure you don’t overcook it since mushy mac isn’t delightful to eat. Take your pot and drain the water. 

Place the pot back on the stove and set it to low heat as you make the sauce. Place 2 slices of butter and 2-3 cups of whipped cream.

Stir it slowly until the cream has fully covered the macaroni. Slowly add your cheddar cheese while stirring as you do so.

Adjust the heat to thicken the sauce and transfer to a bowl once done. 

Sour Cream

sour cream

If you’ve got sour cream in your fridge, then you’re fortunate! This can be both an addition or substitute for macaroni and cheese.

There isn’t a significant difference when using sour cream or yogurt since both of them offer a tangy taste and creamy texture. The two can even be interchangeable for many recipes.

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However, the most significant difference they have is the fat and cholesterol content.

Sour cream tends to be higher in calories and fat compared to yogurt, especially if you are using regular sour cream and not the low-fat one.

This is why if you’re trying to lose some weight, we suggest you skip this alternative. 

The Process:

Cook the macaroni depending on the instruction of its package. Ensure to add 1/4 tsp pepper and salt once the water reaches the boiling.

It may seem like an unnecessary step, but it has a significant impact on the taste of the macaroni (or any pasta for that matter).

While the macaroni is still cooking, you can start making the cheese sauce.

For the cheese sauce, take a deep and wide pot and place it on the stove top. Turn the heat into a low setting and place in 2 slices of butter.

Once it melts, add 3-4 tablespoons of sour cream or, depending on the given instruction of the recipe you’re following.

Slowly stir to mix them together. Then, add in shredded cheddar cheese, a little sprinkle of pepper and salt and stir properly to bring them all together. If the sauce thickens, it’s now done! 

After the macaroni has been cooked, drain it and pour it into the cheese sauce. Mix and enjoy! 

Substitute Options Using Plant-Based Products

Just because you’re on a vegan or paleo diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a dish of mac and cheese.

You can use several substitutes to replace milk in this dish, and luckily, some are even plant-based!

If you’re a die-hard fan of this pasta, knowing the main alternatives would be a holy grail for you. 

Many people who can’t consume anything dairy are because they opt to go on a vegan/paleo diet, or perhaps they’re just lactose-intolerant.

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But whatever the reason, it shouldn’t hold you back from enjoying any food you want.

In our modern-day, several companies have begun creating alternatives for milk, giving everyone the chance to enjoy their meals without risking allergic reactions! 

Cashew Milk 

cashew milk

Among the best plant-based alternatives you can use in your pasta dish is Cashew. Cashews tend to bring a nutty yet creamy flavor to your macaroni, making the recipe a lot better if you want to try something new.

Furthermore, the best thing about cashews is that they aren’t really sweet, so if you’re not a fan of sweets, then this alternative would be best for you. 

However, one down-side found in cashew milk is it can’t be utilized by someone who hates or is allergic to any kind of nuts.

But don’t worry! You can still use a cereal-based dairy for your dish.

The Process:

Prepare the macaroni as instructed in the recipe. Take a pot with some water in it and let it boil. Once it does, place in the macaroni and add in salt and pepper to taste. 

After 10 minutes, the macaroni should reach al dente. Then drain the macaroni and wash it with cold water to avoid it being overcooked by the heat. Set aside after. 

For the sauce, take out a clean pan and pour in 3 cups of the cashew milk. Add in the spices as called for in the recipe and slowly stir them together. 

Then put in some dairy-free cheese (this can be easily bought at the supermarket) and mix it with the other ingredients. Lower the heat and wait until the sauce thickens to turn it off.

Then take your cooked macaroni and pour it right into the pan. Blend it with the sauce and enjoy it while it’s hot! 

Rice Milk

rice milk

One benefit of using this alternative is that it tastes a whole lot like cow’s milk, so it doesn’t really alter the after results of your mac and cheese. You can still enjoy your dish with its flavorful and creamy taste! 

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However, Rice milk is a bit more watery compared to regular milk. Using this will not result in creamy mac and cheese, so it’s good to add more dairy-free butter or cheese.

The Process: 

Start off by cooking your macaroni in a pot of boiling water. Add in some oil, so the pasta won’t stick together and a few sprinkles of salt to give the macaroni a great flavor.

Often stir the macaroni, so it won’t stick together and form a large clump. After 10 minutes, check if the pasta has reached al dente and drain once it does. 

To make the sauce, take a clean pan and melt some dairy-free butter. Ensure that the heat is set to low, so you won’t end up burning the butter.

Then add in the rice milk, spices (such as pepper, garlic powder, salt) and dairy-free cheese. Blend them all by stirring the mixture continuously. 

Although this is optional, you can add in some flour or cornstarch to thicken the sauce. 

Once the sauce has thickened, turn off the stove top and place the cooked macaroni in the pan. Mix it and enjoy! 

How To Make Kraft Mac and Cheese Without Milk or Butter 

craft mac and cheese

For several years, Kraft mac and cheese have given many individuals food-comfort when you need something easy to fix.

Not only is it a product that’s easy to make, but it’s also quite fast because their boxes already come with a packet that gives you a full flavor. 

However, if you’re trying to avoid dairy consumption, it’s good to know what alternatives you can use when there’s no milk or butter on hand.

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There are several ways to cook pasta without butter and dairy, but this method below is the very best! So, be sure to check it out: 

The Process:

Begin by cooking the macaroni as stated in the box’s instructions. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the macaroni once it does. Sprinkle a fair amount of salt to give the pasta some flavor.

Stir it frequently to avoid it from sticking to each other or the sides of the pot. Once you feel the mac is tender, you may now turn off the stove and drain it. 

In a separate pan, begin making the cheese sauce. Take 2 tablespoons of nut butter and place it in the pan.

Nut butter is a great substitute since it gives a creamy and rich taste to the sauce, just like butter. Lower the heat to ensure your nut butter won’t burn. 

Then add in dairy-free yogurt as a substitute to your milk. Because it’s creamy, thick and flavorful, it’s used by many home cooks.

Stir both the ingredients and sprinkle some needed spices (such as garlic powder, salt and pepper) 

Once you see the sauce has been adequately mixed, place your grated dairy-free cheese and stir until the sauce thickens. 

After the sauce is done, pour in your cooked macaroni and enjoy your meal without any worries! 


Knowing what can you substitute for milk in mac and cheese is true knowledge that would be helpful in the kitchen.

Not only does it make you aware of the possible alternatives, but it also helps you experiment and discover new tastes! 

If you ever find yourself with no dairy or butter on hand, then be sure to save this guide, so you can recheck it anytime you want. 

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