Can You Make Mac and Cheese Without Milk? ANSWERED

Published Categorized as Journal, Ingredients Tagged

Avid mac and cheese lovers know the struggle of missing ingredients when trying to whip up a delicious batch of macaroni and cheese. But can you make mac and cheese without milk?

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You certainly can!

In fact, we’re willing to bet that you’ve got two or three substitutes for milk already stashed in your fridge or cupboard. Don’t believe us? Read on to find out more about (delicious) substitutes you can use for milk in mac and cheese.

Table of Contents

What Can I Use to Substitute Milk in Mac and Cheese?

Surprisingly, there are many options to use when substituting milk in mac and cheese. The substitutes include the following:

  • Butter (or Vegan Butter)
  • Cream Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Sour Cream
  • Plain Water (Or Reserved Pasta Water)
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Additional Shredded Cheese (With a Little Extra Water)
  • Chicken Stock

As you can see, the main idea is that you add something to your mac and cheese that is of a liquid consistency. You’ll want to add something that is a neutral flavor. However, if you want the flavor to be rich, you’ll likely want to opt for something that contains dairy. Examples are butter, yogurt, or additional cheese. You can even use vegan butter as this often tastes very much like butter without the extra dairy.

Will these substitutions yield a flavor similar to regular mac and cheese? In most cases, yes! But be advised that while many milk substitutions will yield virtually no difference in taste or flavor, some will change the flavor – slightly.

In some cases, you may like the change in flavor even better than the original!

mac n cheese

Can You Make Mac and Cheese with Water?

Can I Use Water Instead of Milk?

So, you’ve run out of milk for your mac and cheese. Will water work?

Surprisingly, yes! But with a few caveats.

You’ll want to remember that replacing milk with water will yield a difference in taste. Having said this, some like the flavor of adding water as it causes the taste of the cheese to more readily shine through. Meanwhile, some prefer the richness that milk adds to the mac and cheese.

modern kettle on white background

Can You Use Butter and Water Instead of Milk?

If you’re a person who likes mac and cheese to be creamy but you only have water on hand, try adding your water at a 1:1 ratio for milk and melting a little butter in the mix. Try up to 2 tablespoons of melted butter for the richest flavor.

You’ll also want to mix in your water and butter in slowly. Dumping them all in at once will make it difficult for all the ingredients to meld together the way they would with milk.

Moreover, when it comes to adding water to your mac and cheese, you may consider doing the above method with reserved pasta water rather than plain water. Why? Pasta water retains some of the starch from the noodles. So this results in a thicker and creamier textured pasta without the added milk.

Simply reserve however many cups of pasta water you need after you’ve cooked your pasta, and set it aside. When the time comes, slowly stir the reserved water into your pasta in place of milk.

Can I Substitute Mayo For Milk in Mac and Cheese?

If you’re a mayo lover, you’re in for a surprise. Mayo can actually be used as a substitute for milk! In fact, there are several mac and cheese recipes that use mayonnaise as part of the base ingredients.

So, how do you add mayo to mac and cheese?

Well, if you plan to forgo milk, we recommend you only add the mayo a tablespoon or two at a time and to mix that through until it becomes the desired consistency. Remember that mayo is much heavier than milk, and as a result, you’ll need to add only a little at a time to get the cheese, mayo, and any seasonings or add-ins fully incorporated.

The taste of mac and cheese made with mayo will be heavier and more mayo-like (obviously) but for those who enjoy mayo, it is likely to be a real treat. If the mac and cheese turns out to be a little too heavy for your liking, you may wish to try adding a little additional water just to help thin things out a bit.

Can I Replace Milk With Sour Cream in Mac and Cheese?

Sour cream is a stealthy contender in the world of mac and cheese milk substitutes, although, like mayonnaise, it may need to be thinned a little with water, as using it to substitute may produce thicker results.

Still, if you don’t mind the thickness (or the tang) then sour cream can be easily added to mac and cheese as a replacement for milk.

To do so, be sure to only add one tablespoon of sour cream to your mac and cheese at a time, and stir thoroughly. As mentioned previously, you may need to thin your sour cream a bit to help with mixing. Just be sure not to add too much water as you may end up with too much liquid that ends up turning into a mess.

Stir in gently, over low heat, to prevent curdling and separation. The result will be a similar tasting mac and cheese, with a bit of tang that may be a little different from mac and cheese that you are used to.


Can You Make Mac and Cheese with Almond Milk?

Can you make mac and cheese with almond milk? You sure can, but you may not like it!

As with any dairy-free milk you try, you may or may not like the flavor combination of adding almond milk, soya milk, coconut milk, and the like to mac and cheese. Believe it or not, the flavor of these milks really shine through after being heated and you’ll be able to taste it more than you like.

When using almond milk, the result is a almond-y flavor that isn’t typical of mac and cheese. It also may not be as creamy as you’d hope. The same goes for coconut milk – you might really taste the coconut in the dish! If this sounds like your thing, go for it–otherwise, you may wish to steer clear of using dairy-free milks in mac and cheese.

Note: Soya milk, although sweet, has a more neutral flavor than coconut or almond milk. Because of this, you may be able to get away with substituting almond milk for your mac and cheese without much of a weird aftertaste. Just be aware that your mac and cheese may taste slightly sweeter than it usually does with the addition of soya milk.

Can You Make Mac and Cheese With Added Cheese Instead of Milk?

Yes, you can add cheese in place of milk in a mac and cheese recipe. In fact, you may be surprised to know that this is one of the tastiest ways to jazz up your mac and cheese without the addition of milk.

Simply add some additional cheese at a 1:1 ratio to replace the milk in your recipe along with a bit of water to help thin the mixture.

That’s it! You can use anything from shredded cheddar to parmesan, and this works particularly well when attempting to make Kraft box mac and cheese. It will not only maintain the rich mac and cheese flavor, but depending on what blend of cheese you use, it may just take your mac and cheese to a whole new delicious level!

grated cheese

Can You Use Evaporated Milk Instead of Milk?

Evaporated milk can be used in mac and cheese instead of milk. Just use half evaporated milk and half water before replacing whatever amount of milk is called for at a 1:1 ratio.

Since evaporated milk is simply regular milk with more of the water removed, you can reconstitute evaporated milk to traditional milk by adding water to it. It is for this reason that we recommend stirring water into your evaporated milk before adding it directly to your mac and cheese.

The result will be a creamy and delectably delicious mac and cheese that doesn’t taste much different from the real thing!

Can I Substitute Milk For Yogurt?

Yes, yogurt can be substituted for milk in a mac and cheese recipe. Like sour cream, yogurt will add a tangier flavor than would regular milk. Yogurt may actually prove even tangier than sour cream! As such, you’ll want to be sure that you like the tang that your yogurt brings, or opt for a less tangy yogurt, like Greek Gods Plain Greek Yogurt, to keep the yogurt flavor from being too overpowering.

When adding, be sure to mix in slowly and add a little water or broth to the mix to thin it out if needed. Add the yogurt only a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. Balance out the flavor with any additional spices or seasonings such as garlic, salt, pepper, or even smoked paprika.

mac n cheese fair food

Can I Use Chicken Stock Instead of Milk in Mac and Cheese?

You can use chicken stock instead of milk in mac and cheese. The flavor will be richer but without all of the calories that the richness of butter and milk brings. Simply add your chicken broth at a 1:1 ratio for milk.

Of course, your mac and cheese will be less creamy, so if that’s a problem for you, feel free to add a dollop of either sour cream, yogurt, or mayo, to enhance the creaminess. If you aren’t too concerned about creamy mac and cheese, you may find chicken broth to be the perfect substitution for milk when you don’t have any milk on hand– or even when you do!

Can You Use Cream Cheese Instead of Milk for Mac n Cheese?

Like mayo, cream cheese is often used as a base in many mac and cheese and other cheese-based recipes. As such, cream cheese is the perfect addition to mac and cheese, but not at a 1:1 ratio.

If you’ve cooked with cream cheese before, you know that it can be rather thick. Because of this, it is important that you thin your cream cheese before adding it to your mac and cheese at a 1:1 ratio for milk.

To do this, use some water (or broth) to make the cream cheese thinner and easier to incorporate into your mac and cheese dish. How much or how little water you use will depend on the consistency you’re looking for. Once added, feel free to jazz up your mac and cheese with additional spices, or leave it as is.

noodle for mac n cheese


Can you make Kraft mac and cheese without milk?

You certainly can, but be sure to avoid substitutes like olive oil, condensed milk, and some dairy-free milks. According to our research, oils, dairy-free milk, and condensed milk each have their qualms when used to replace traditional dairy milk, and you may be left with a weird tasting or oddly textured mac and cheese that you may not find to be very appealing if you use them. Instead, try out a few of our aforementioned substitutions for the perfect mac and cheese without milk every single time! 
By the way, here’s how to make Kraft mac and cheese without butter on our blog.

Can You Make Mac and Cheese Without Milk or Butter? Yes!

Yes, mac and cheese can easily be made without milk or butter, and oftentimes, the results are delicious! Try substituting yogurt, sour cream, chicken broth, additional cheese, butter, or even plain water to your next pasta dish the next time you don’t have any milk on hand. These substitutions will act as the liquid to your mac and cheese. Though you may need to add each substitute differently, as some require dilution and other processes.

So, go ahead and nix milk in your mac and cheese the next time you are feeling adventurous. You may just be surprised at the results!

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By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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