How To Make Mac And Cheese Without Milk

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Macaroni and Cheese or popularly known as Mac and Cheese or Mac n Cheese is the best comfort food. It’s main ingredients includes of course the macaroni and the cheese as well as milk and butter. Making homemade mac and cheese is very simple and easy but what if there is no milk in the kitchen will you still be able to make the delicious mac and cheese recipe? Yes you can still make mac and cheese without milk and the taste will still be the same, you would not even notice that there’s no milk in it. In today’s guide, learn about the different milk substitutes for your mac and cheese recipe.

Make Mac And Cheese Without Milk

Milk substitutes can be used for different reasons and that includes egg allergy or cannot tolerate milk (lactose intolerance), you ran out of milk at home, on a vegan diet or simply wants to be on a healthier diet. No matter what you’re reasons are for not using milk in your mac and cheese recipe, listed below are milk substitutes that you can use instead.

But before that, let us learn what milk can do to your mac n cheese dish and why do you really need to use alternatives.

As previously mentioned, milk is one of the main ingredients in making mac and cheese. It helps make the dish creamy therefore if there is no milk in mac and dish, it will not be creamy. Aside from that, milk also helps in melting the cheese. But why can you not add more cheese instead? That is not always the case, as with mac and cheese adding more cheese to your recipe will not only make the mac and cheese sauce to become lumpy but the cheese will also form into a sticky ball. We do not want that to happen.

Ingredients and Alternatives

There are also instances when some of the ingredients when making mac and cheese is not available (not only milk), listed below are some of the commonly used ingredients and their alternatives as well.

  • Elbow Macaroni Pasta is usually used in mac n cheese recipe for best results but you can also use other type of noodles if elbow macaroni pasta is not available such as farfalle, penne and pasta shells. Just make sure to use short pasta than long ones such as linguine or Spaghetti.
  • Whipped Cream: used as milk substitute.
  • Vegetable broth: if you want an extra flavor to your mac n cheese, choose vegetable broth. Though pasta broth and chicken broth works well too. But if you do not have broths available at home, water will do just fine.
  • Butter and Flour: these are the ingredients that make up the Roux mixture that will help thicken the cheese sauce on your mac and cheese.
  • Salt and pepper: used to taste. Since broth is already salty, make sure to add just a pinch of salt.
  • Extra Seasonings: Garlic powder and Mustard powder.

Mac and Cheese Milk Substitutes

Cream Cheese

Similar to Mayo, cream cheese is usually used as your base for most of mac and cheese recipes or other cheese-based dishes for that matter. Therefore, cream cheese is one of the best substitute for milk

Cream cheese can make a dish smooth, thick and creamy. And since it also has a neutral flavor, it does not overpower the flavor of your mac and cheese. When you use cream cheese as milk substitute, use a 1:1 ratio.

But when using cream cheese, it is advisable to lessen the amount of flour since cream cheese is already thick. But you can also do it the other way in which consistency of cream cheese is thinned out, you can do this by simply whipping cream cheese first before adding it to your mac and cheese sauce. Also, since cream cheese already has a considerable amount of fat than most milk do, switch to a low fat or even fat free cream cheese instead for weight conscious individuals.

Shredded cheese

You can also use shredded cheese as substitute for milk to make mac and cheese. By using a 1:1 ratio of your shredded cheese as substitute for milk, it’ll make your mac and cheese more thicker while not changing the flavor of the dish.

There are different types of cheese that you can use. Make sure that cheese is of good quality and that includes sharp cheddar cheese and white Cheddar cheese. Other good quality cheese that you can use are Colby Jack Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese and Parmesan Cheese.

Although there are pre shredded cheese, it would be best if you can purchase the cheese by block and then you can shred on your own.

Heavy cream

Heavy cream is one of the best milk substitute in your mac and cheese recipe. It will make your dish more smooth and more creamy. Use a 1:1 ratio of heavy cream as milk substitute when you are making mac and cheese.


Butter is also a great ingredient as milk substitute in your mac and cheese, since milk and butter basically have the same rich and creamy consistency it gives to dishes when used. Aside from that, butter also helps smoothen the cheese, similar function as that of milk.

In order for mac and cheese to not become very greasy, use a 1:2 ratio of butter to milk.

Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is made by condensing the milk and removing its water content, therefore evaporated milk has lesser water content that regular milk does. To use evaporated milk as substitute for milk in mac and cheese, use at least 2 tablespoons of evaporated milk and equal parts of water to dilute and then use the same amount as you would with cheese in your recipe.

Evaporated milk and condensed milk are two different ingredients. Condensed milk is much more sweeter than evaporated milk.


A roux is used as a thickening agent that is made by whisking together butter and flour. To make roux, simply heat 1 tbsp. of butter in a sauce pan over medium heat, then add 1 tbsp. of flour (you can either use a regular flour or a gluten free flour). Then use the mixture into your mac and cheese the same as you would with your milk.

Olive Oil

Although olive oil can also be used a non dairy milk substitute, it is rarely used since it can make the dish too slimy but one good thing is that is does not overpower the flavor of the dish. To use Olive oil to replace milk, use at least 1 tbsp. of Olive oil and mix in your mac and cheese recipe.

Pasta Water

Another easy and budget friendly substitute for milk is pasta water. After you cook the noodles in the boiling water, set aside the water used and you can use it a milk substitute. Although pasta water usually thins the cheese, resulting to a soup mac and cheese.

Soya Milk

Soy milk can also be used as substitute for milk , it is a non-dairy substitute for mac and cheese. Although soy milk is more sweeter than regular milk, therefore mac and cheese will definitely taste sweeter too. Use 1:1 ratio of soy milk to milk. .

Aside from Soy milk, unsweetened oat milk, and canned coconut milk are also a great milk alternative to make mac and cheese creamy, you can also use almond milk, rice milk, cashew milk, macadamia milk and hemp seed milk instead.

Almond milk

As mentioned above, almond milk is also another good non-dairy substitute, although it is more sweeter than cashew milk.

Use a 1:2 ratio of almond milk to regular milk. Make sure to use half the amount than you would with milk to prevent altering the flavor since almond milk tastes like almond. It is rarely used as an alternative in your mac and cheese but you can do so if you are used to the flavor.

Sour cream

Sour cream is another suitable ingredient as milk substitute for mac and cheese recipes. Although sour cream has a lesser thick consistency than yogurt and cream cheese does.

Similar to mayonnaise, sour cream need to be thinned out by mixing it with water unless you want to a more thicker mac and cheese with a little bit of tangy flavor. But make sure though not to add too much water when trying to thin out sour cream as it can also become too watery.

To use sour cream as milk substitute, Use 1:1 ratio of sour cream to milk.


If you are wondering why yogurt is in the list when yogurts are usually eaten for breakfast. Over the years, more recipes started to use yogurt as an ingredient and most of the time used yogurt as milk substitute or cream in their recipes.

For you mac and cheese, you can either use a plain yogurt or a plant-based yogurt as milk substitute. But if you prefer to use yogurt for mac and cheese, make sure to choose the unsweetened type.

Similar to sour cream, yogurt will also have a tangy flavor. Also, you may want to thin out the yogurt by mixing it with water unless you want an even more thicker mac and cheese.

Yogurt cannot really make mac and cheese more creamy as other substitutes in here mentioned, that is why using yogurt as milk substitute is rarely used.

But if you do want to use yogurt, use the plain Greek yogurt. Mix 1 tbsp. of yogurt and cheese until the cheese completely dissolves.

Chicken Broth

Pasta broth was previously mentioned as milk substitute, this time we have chicken broth or chicken stock. Using chicken broth as milk substitute for mac and cheese will make the flavor rich less the calories that other ingredients such as butter and milk does.

Although mac and cheese without milk will be less creamy, you also have the option to add yogurt, mayonnaise or sour cream to add creaminess to mac and cheese. However, if you are okay with less creamy mac and cheese, you can use chicken broth at 1:1 ratio of chicken broth to milk.

Coconut milk

Coconut milk is an important ingredient when you want to make coconut cream and other flavored desserts. Most of the time, coconut milk is used as milk substitute whatever dish that requires milk as an ingredient. And since coconut milk basically comes from coconut, of course it will have a coconut flavor.

To substitute milk, use 1:1 ratio of coconut milk to milk for mac and cheese.

Powdered milk

Since the pasta used in mac and cheese are cooked in its sauce, you only be using a single pot for cooking mac and cheese. Using powdered milk to replace milk is a great option.

Mac and Cheese without milk recipe

Make mac and cheese without milk recipe for that extra creamy and flavorful mac and cheese. The ingredients are easy to find, and the steps are easy to follow. You will have your very own homemade mac and cheese in less than 30 minutes.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 450 grams uncooked elbow pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 5 cups water (chicken broth or any broth)
  • 1 1/2 cups whipped cream
  • 3 cups white cheddar cheese (freshly grated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Optional ingredients: 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder.

Cooking instructions

  1. Make your Roux mixture (butter and flour mixture)

    Melt butter in a large sauce pan or large stockpot over medium-high heat. If the butter completely melts, add flour and whisk to mix them together. Cook mixture for another 2-3 minutes, don’t forget to occasionally whisk the mixture. Continue whisking until it turns slightly brown in color.

  2. Pour only a cup of broth to butter mixture.

    Whisk together until it becomes smooth and starts to thickened. Once thickened and smooth, add the remaining cups of broth or water and cream. Continue whisking to mix them all together.

  3. Add elbow noodles, black pepper, salt, garlic powder and mustard powder. Make sure pasta is fully submerged to the liquid.

  4. Cover sauce pan or pot. Turn up the heat to high and bring mixture to boil. When it starts to boil, decrease heat to low heat. Make sure to stir occasionally for at least 5 minutes each time.

  5. Remove the lid and allow to simmer to another 5 minutes until pasta is completely cooked.

  6. Remove pot from the stove and add cheese.

  7. Season with salt and pepper

  8. Serve when still hot.

Storage Instructions

Leftover mac and cheese should not be put to waste as it can still be eaten if properly stored. To place leftover mac and cheese inside the fridge, make sure mac and cheese is completely cooled down before placing in an airtight container. Refrigerated mac and cheese can still be eaten within 2-3days.

If you want to freeze mac and cheese, place inside a zip-to bag or a container safe for freezer use. It also needs to be cooled completely before storing inside the freezer. Mac and cheese placed in the freezer can still be eaten within 3 months.

If you want to eat frozen mac and cheese, thaw it for overnight inside the fridge. Using the microwave to thaw mac and cheese is not recommended as it can dry the dish out.

Once has already thawed completely, reheat using the microwave or over a stovetop on medium to low heat only.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the milk substitutes mentioned healthy and nutritious?

Most of the milk substitutes mentioned here are nutritious than other ingredients also in here. You know whether it is nutritious, you may want to check its individual packaging for nutrition facts.

How do you make boxed mac and cheese without milk?

Similar to making homemade mac and cheese, same goes with making boxed and cheese without milk. You have to choose milk substitute that works well for you. From there, you can follow the recommended ratio of milk substitute to milk.

Can I use Mayo instead of milk for mac and cheese?

Yes, may can be used as milk substitute and it is beneficial to use mayo instead of regular milk because of its longer shelf life.

What works best, pre grated cheese or freshly grated cheese?

Freshly grated cheese definitely works well with mac and cheese than pre grated cheese. The latter are usually coated with starch so that it will not stick together.


Whether you have milk allergies, lactose intolerance or run out of milk at home, you can still make a delicious mac and cheese without that can still result with a taste similar to when milk is used. Choose from the different substitute for milk in this article.

Try using the substitute for milk mentioned here to make mac and cheese without milk and let us know which one is best for you.

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