What to Substitute for Milk in Mac and Cheese: Creamy Alternatives

Mac and cheese is one of the ultimate comfort foods, and it’s a crowd-pleaser for both adults and kids. The creamy sauce is the key to its success, but not everyone can or wants to use milk in their recipe. Luckily, there are many tasty alternatives to milk that will yield a luscious and satisfying mac and cheese. In this article, we’ll explore the different cream substitutes that you can use in your recipe and how to prepare them to achieve the perfect consistency.

Why Substitute Milk in Mac and Cheese?

Milk is a common ingredient in most mac and cheese recipes. It helps to create a creamy sauce that binds the pasta together. However, there are many reasons why people may need or want to substitute milk in their mac and cheese recipe. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.
  • Vegan or plant-based diets.
  • Running out of milk or wanting to try something new.

Creamy Alternatives to Milk in Mac and Cheese

If you don’t have milk or don’t want to use it, there are plenty of alternatives to achieve that creamy texture in your mac and cheese. Here are some of the most popular substitutes:


Cream is the closest substitute for milk when making mac and cheese. It has a higher fat content and can produce an even creamier and richer sauce. There are different types of creams available, such as heavy cream, half-and-half, and light cream, and it’s best to choose the one that best suits your needs. For a richer and creamier sauce, use heavy cream or half-and-half, while light cream is best for a lighter sauce.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is a great plant-based substitute for milk in mac and cheese. It has a slightly sweet flavor and a thick and creamy texture, which makes it perfect for creating a rich and flavorful sauce. Coconut milk works well with any type of mac and cheese recipe, including vegan and gluten-free versions.

Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is another dairy-free alternative to milk that can be used in mac and cheese. It has a neutral flavor and a creamy texture, making it a perfect substitute for milk in creamy sauces. You can easily make cashew milk at home by soaking raw cashews overnight and blending them with water until smooth.

Soy Milk

Soy milk is a popular plant-based milk alternative that can also be used in mac and cheese. It has a neutral taste and a creamy texture that lends itself well to cheese sauces. Soy milk is a great option for those who are allergic to nuts or coconut milk. However, it’s important to use unsweetened soy milk to avoid any added sweetness to the sauce.

How to Substitute Milk in Mac and Cheese?

Using a cream substitute in mac and cheese is relatively easy, and it usually requires only a few tweaks to the recipe. Here are some tips to help you substitute milk in your mac and cheese recipe:

Adjust Liquid Ratios

When substituting milk in mac and cheese, it’s important to consider the liquid ratios. If the recipe calls for one cup of milk, you’ll want to use an equivalent amount of your substitute. However, keep in mind that some substitutes can be thicker or thinner than milk, so you may need to adjust the quantity to achieve the desired consistency.

Add a Thickener

If you’re using a thinner cream substitute like soy or almond milk, you may want to add a thickener like flour or cornstarch to the sauce. This will help thicken the sauce and prevent it from becoming watery. Mix the flour or cornstarch with a small amount of water to create a slurry before adding it to the sauce. Stir the sauce until it thickens.

Use the Correct Cream Substitute

The type of cream substitute that you use in your recipe will affect the final taste and texture of the dish. Heavy cream or half-and-half will produce a rich and creamy sauce, while lighter options like coconut milk or cashew milk will yield a lighter sauce. Be sure to use a substitute that complements the flavors and textures of the other ingredients in the recipe.

Taste Test as You Go

As with any recipe, it’s important to taste as you go. This will help you adjust the seasoning or add more of your substitute if needed to achieve the desired taste and consistency. Remember that with cream substitutes, a little goes a long way, so start with a small amount and add more if necessary.


Substituting milk in mac and cheese doesn’t have to be a challenge. With the right cream substitute and a few tweaks to your recipe, you can create a rich and creamy sauce that is just as delicious as the milk version. Experiment with different alternatives to find the one that works best for you and your dietary needs. Happy cooking!

Most Common Questions and Answers

  • Q: Is it possible to substitute water for milk in mac and cheese?
  • A: Yes, you can use water instead of milk in your mac and cheese recipe. However, the sauce will not be as creamy or rich as it would be with milk or a milk substitute.
  • Q: Can I use evaporated milk in mac and cheese?
  • A: Yes, evaporated milk can be used as a substitute for regular milk in mac and cheese. It has a slightly thicker and creamier consistency than regular milk, which will give the sauce a richer texture.
  • Q: Can I use cheese instead of milk in mac and cheese?
  • A: No, you cannot use cheese instead of milk in mac and cheese. Cheese is an integral part of the dish, but it doesn’t have the liquid content or consistency needed to create a smooth and creamy sauce.
  • Q: Can I use non-dairy cheese in mac and cheese?
  • A: Yes, non-dairy cheese can be used in mac and cheese, but you’ll still need a milk substitute to achieve a creamy and delicious sauce. Non-dairy cheese can be used in place of regular cheese to create a vegan-friendly and lactose-free version of the dish.
  • Q: Does the cheese type make a difference when substituting milk?
  • A: The cheese type can affect the final flavor and texture of the mac and cheese, but it doesn’t have a direct impact on the milk substitute. However, some cheeses, like cheddar or Colby, may curdle when mixed with certain milk substitutes, so it’s best to experiment with different cheese and milk combinations to find the one that works best for you.


  • https://www.food.com/recipe/my-mac-n-cheese-no-milk-251393
  • https://lovingitvegan.com/vegan-mac-and-cheese/
  • https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/238691/easy-mac-and-cheese-with-evaporated-milk/
  • https://minimalistbaker.com/vegan-jalapeno-popper-mac-n-cheese/
  • https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/slideshow/milk-substitutes/

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