17 Substitutes for Milk in Mac and Cheese

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Is there any simple dish better than a good plate of homemade macaroni and cheese? Absolutely not. A dish cheap and quick to prepare has variations in recipes, and you can’t help yourself with the deliciousness of this meal.


In other instances, however, macaroni and cheese can turn out to be somewhat boring and repetitive; therefore, you need to change this up? Of course, the smartest way is by substituting milk. So, what are the best substitutes for milk in mac and cheese


Any milk-based or creamy product works out as an ideal substitute for milk in mac and cheese, irrespective of whether it is animal or plant-based. Dairy-based products include cream cheese, yogurt, and sour cream as well. Plant-based options may include coconut, soy, and almond milk.


In our post today, we’ll focus on some of the 17 best substitutes for milk in mac and cheese that you can try out. It has to be interesting!


Mac and cheese (What is it)

Mac and cheese is basically a dish containing cooked macaroni pasta and cheese sauce, which is melty and a little bit creamy.


In my opinion, sauce is the most essential ingredient in the dish. We use the mornay sauce to make Mac and cheese – famously called the Cheese bechamel sauce.


The mode of preparation of this dish is subject to variation. However, to ensure that your mac and cheese is crunchy, garnish it with grated cheese or breadcrumbs.


Milk Substitutes in Mac and Cheese

As a professional chef, here are my favorite substitutes for milk in mac and cheese. Let’s dive in!


1. Cream Cheese

In case you don’t know, cream cheese is one of the best substitutes for milk you can ever get It has a very close resemblance to milk, save because it is a little bit mild and slightly sweet. 


So why go for cream cheese as a substitute for milk in mac and cheese then? It is much thicker, and it spreads consistently.


To employ cream cheese as a substitute, you simply have to replace the milk with even parts of cream cheese. The reason why I use cream cheese in my house is because of:

  • Its consistency in spreading.
  • You don’t require butter. Cream cheese is thick enough.

Interesting right! At the end of the day, you’ll still have your piece of very thick, creamy, and cheesy sauce.


2. Plain Yogurt

Plain yogurt is another very efficient substitute. Plain yogurt, like sour cream, is consistent in spreading and has a similar taste too. You can therefore use plain yogurt in place for sour cream.


I can’t leave behind plain yogurt anytime I go shopping. It leaves my pasta: 

  • creamier 
  • not forgetting that delicious taste that can be cheaply adapted.

I would advise you to go for plain yogurt to substitute milk to bag creamier and thicker results on your sauce.


However, have it in mind that any time you are using yogurt, heating is to be carried out slowly. If heated quickly, the water and fat will separate. Constantly stir your yogurt while heating it, and do this under low heat as you prepare the sauce.


However, you’ve to ensure that you use a ratio of 1.1 when substituting milk with plain yogurt. An equal measurement is what I mean.


3. Sour Cream

Sour cream! Another remarkable choice for a milk substitute, especially at the instance where you want the texture unaltered. Something interesting about sour cream that you should know is that, unlike milk, it has a thicker consistency and a little bit thicker than cream.


Your taste buds will be left craving for that almost sour flavor that makes your mac and cheese taste superb. You can use sour cream and plain yogurt interchangeably.


To break the acidity of the sour cream, add dried herbs or freshly minced garlic.


4. Soy Milk

Soy milk happens to be one of the initial non-dairy milk substitutes, so it will also be a great deal in substituting milk in mac and cheese too. Compared to milk, it is:

  • less sweet 
  • more consistent.

Most people dislike the distinctive soy milk taste in their mac and cheese. I prefer using additional ingredients to balance the taste.


I would recommend you to use unsweetened and unflavored soy milk. Flavors will create unnatural sweetness that does not balance well in pasta.


5. Oat Milk

Oat milk is another non-dairy milk substitute. However, having used it a few times, I have to refute that it is exemplary, sweet, satisfying, and remains one of the best non-dairy substitutes.


It is sweeter than milk, and it does not have unpleasant flavors. You know what? You will love using Oat milk.


Avoid using the sweetened versions, however.


6. Rice Milk

I have to surprise you by telling you that rice milk has an exact similar flavor to that of cow’s milk! You won’t recognize the difference in the mac and cheese.


Rice milk is not consistent, however, since it is water-like. This should not alarm you, though. You just have to add a little more cheese to the recipe. The cheese is very efficient as it will bind the sauce together.


7. Hemp Seed Milk

Hemp products are gaining popularity today, especially in recipes like mac and cheese. Hemp seed milk is the most nutritious of other hemp products.


Hemp seed milk happens to be thicker and creamy, making your sauce way creamier when it is mixed with cheese.


It is less consistent compared to milk, and consider adding roux to it while substituting.


8. Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is one of the best nut-based milk substitutes. Something peculiar about cashew milk is that rich and milk-like flavor and a little bit consistent.


You will not even read the difference in your macaroni and cheese after using it as a milk substitute. Instead, substitute cashew milk in equal parts.


However, avoid using the sweetened versions to prevent strange flavors from being formed.


9. Powdered Milk

One of the main reasons I prefer using powdered milk as a substitute is its longevity. In addition, it makes for the best substitution once your fresh milk is finished.


I highly advocate for people ensuring that they do not lack even a single tin of powdered milk in their kitchens. It helps.


Powdered milk is prepared by mixing the milk powder with a sizable amount of regular water.


Powdered milk produces much creamier milk that is way sweeter than normal milk. The sweetness is well-balanced, meaning that you will be compelled to use it over and over again.


10. Whipping Cream

Whipping cream commonly referred to as heavy cream also works out as a great substitute for milk. It is:

  • extra creamy, and this means that it harbors more calories than regular milk. 
  • extra fatty 

Do you know what this means, therefore? You don’t have to use butter. Whipping cream gives you distinct results whereby your cheese will be lighter in color. Using cream instead of milk makes your cheese and macaroni creamier and richer.


When using whipping cream, a little extra water may be needed while mixing, as this makes your cream less thick.


You cannot miss your way when you substitute milk with cream. First, however, make sure that it is whipping cream.


11. Macadamia Milk

Macadamia Milk chances to be a cheap and effective milk substitute for your mac and cheese. Macadamia milk has less flavor than dairy milk, and when it comes to consistency, it is very consistent but not as creamy as normal milk.


You just have to use equal amounts as you would with dairy milk while substituting. You will realize that its taste will be like that of regular milk, also called the butter-like taste.


I can assure you that Macadamia Milk will be one of your best milk substitutes, and you won’t regret it.


12. Pea Milk

Pea milk is that ingredient you can’t afford to miss in your kitchen owing to its high protein content. Pea milk resembles soy milk. Its taste is bitter, and to ensure that it does not go to waste, just ensure that you use the regular sweetened flavor.


The problem with using regular unsweetened pea milk is that its taste will not be appealing. This, however, should not send you into a panic when making your cheese and macaroni. The cheese will definitely mask the undesirable flavors.


Pea milk is darker than regular milk, however. When substituting it, you may follow the following guidelines:

  • Ensure that you use equal measurements as regular dairy milk.
  • You might want to add in some little cheese to mask the bitter-like flavor.

13. Hazelnut Milk

Hazelnut can be another immediate option if you make macaroni and cheese while avoiding dairy milk at all costs. Unlike other nut kinds of milk, the taste of hazelnut milk is less bitter, implying that it has a sweet and nutty taste, therefore.


The creaminess level of hazelnut milk compares to that of dairy milk. When using hazelnut milk as your substitute, ensure that you don’t use sugar at all, and its level of thickening should not alarm you.


Hazelnut milk is more expensive compared to milk from other nuts.


14. Coconut Milk

I think that we should now set our eyes on a perfect non-dairy vegan substitute. It has to be coconut milk, obviously. Coconut milk is unique because, unlike other milk substitutes, its flavor will stand out distinctively. You will notice the difference, yes, but it will not be over-pronounced.


In case you dislike coconut flavors, consider diluting the coconut milk with some water or, either way, adding strong aromatics like garlic. To bag the best results, use coconut cream instead of coconut milk because it is way creamier.


Consider using unsweetened and full-fat coconut milk for the best results. As much as possible, use the canned versions as they are:

  • thicker and
  • creamier compared to the bottled versions.

15. Almond Milk

Almond milk is another cheap and easy to access dairy-free milk that makes one of the best milk alternatives in mac and cheese. Like coconut milk, almond milk has a distinctive flavor too.


Almond milk is diverse. Whether unsweetened or sweetened, the choice is up to you. Both versions work out well, though.


From a personal point of view, I would campaign for the sweetened versions when making your mac and cheese sauce because of the sweetness. After all, it’s your preference that matters!


It’s way thinner than milk and will therefore produce a less creamy and thick sauce. To boost its thickness, you can add:

  • Roux
  • Cheese 

Who doesn’t love even more cheese, anyway?


16. Other Dairy-Based Milk

When I mention Other Dairy-Based Milks, I mean animal-based milks, including camel, sheep, and goat milk.


You’ve to concur with me when I say that each of these milks has different, yet unique flavors, which might not be good for everyone. However, this does not mean that you can’t give each of the three a try! You just have to be experimental to come up with your new favorite.


Compared to cow’s milk, they tend to be richer through the consistency that happens to be the same. To come up with your sauce, you will be required to substitute these milks in equal parts.


If the taste isn’t fulfilling and appealing to you, consider thinning the milk with water to neutralize its flavor. You’d also add garlic and spices. Some cheeses, however, tend to neutralize the taste completely, so starting by only substituting the milk is highly advisable.


Goat milk has a reduced lactose content implying that people struggling with lactose intolerance might not portray the same problems with this milk.


17. Quinoa Milk

Quinoa milk continues to gain popularity among people, and I feel that it lacks the hype that it really deserves. It is much harder to come by, though.


Now imagine coming by it? I presume that the first recipe you should employ it on is macaroni and cheese. Quinoa milk is prepared from quinoa seeds and water, just like other nut milks are prepared.


Quinoa milk has the characteristic of being slightly sweeter, having that distinct quinoa flavor. Quinoa milk is generally flavor neutral, and I believe this is the perfect milk to use when you want to experiment with anything on cheese.


Substitute regular milk with your quinoa milk in even parts and prepare your macaroni. A delicious meal, I tell you.


Final Thoughts

From our post above, it is worth concluding that any creamy or plant-based component would serve as a great substitute for milk in mac and cheese.


You just have to play around with your milk substitutes to come up with the best cheese and macaroni.


Obtain the substitute of your preference today and enjoy the process!

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