Can You Make Mac and Cheese Without Milk? 27 BEST Substitutes


Likely if you’ve come here, you’re looking for the answer to the question, “Can you make mac and cheese without milk?” And the answer is yes. Yes, you can make macaroni and cheese without milk.

There are many dairy and non-dairy substitutes you can use that will overlap in taste that as some say you’ll not even miss the milk, because the flavor is still delicious.

How to Make Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Without Milk (Step-by-step)

Following are step-by-step instructions of how to make Kraft macaroni and cheese without milk.

Can You Make Mac and Cheese Without Milk

What You’ll Need To Begin

A Box of Kraft mac and cheese

Your choice milk substitute either dairy or non-dairy. See our table below of possible substitutes.


Follow the package instructions and bring the water to boil. Once boiling, add the noodles, stirring regularly until they reach that perfect al dente stage.

Add the cheese, butter and your milk substitute at the perfect ratio. Stir until well mixed. Serve warm and enjoy!

Can I Make Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Without Milk or Butter?

Yes, it is possible to make Kraft macaroni and cheese without milk or butter.

For the best milk substitute, just make your ideal selection from our table of substitutes below.

For the best butter substitute, use ghee, mascarpone, margarine, roux, heavy cream, cream cheese or margarine.

Macaroni Without Milk or Butter

Perhaps you have a dairy allergy or you’re needing to provide a meal for someone who does.

Macaroni and cheese has been a long time staple of households for generations. It is one that kids and adults both enjoy.

If you’re able to make it without butter or milk as we suggest, then you’ve still got a good traditional dish for the people who gather around your table.

What Are The Best Milk Substitutes To Make Mac and Cheese With?

The best non-dairy milk substitutes for mac and cheese include: plain oat milk, soy milk, non-dairy cream or whipping cream, cashew milk, goat milk and coconut milk.

Some of these have stronger flavors than others and will potentially alter the flavor of your mac and cheese in a subtle way and others will not alter the flavor at all.

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting any of these non-dairy milk products.

Milk Substitutes for Mac n Cheese

If the reason that you’re making the substitute is just because you don’t have milk or aren’t able to obtain milk, then sour cream, cream cheese, butter or margarine are all good substitutes for milk in your mac and cheese.

These substitutes will not work, however, for those who require a non-dairy diet.

What Else Can I Add To My Mac & Cheese?

There are many add-ins that can go into mac and cheese. If it sounds good to you, then the flavor combinations will probably taste good too.

Some of our favorite add-ins for mac and cheese are:

salad croutons
green onions
green peppers

…But not all at the same time. What add-ins do you like to put in your mac and cheese?

Maranda's Mac and Cheese with Corn
Miranda Lambert’s Corn and Mac & Cheese Casserole by CookThink

Meat Lover’s Mac & Cheese

To create a meat lover’s mac and cheese, you might like to try adding ground sausage, bacon bits, and hamburger crumbles. Or you can use whatever your favorite meats are to create your own meat lover’s specialty.

All meats should be pre-cooked before adding them to your dish, and should be added after the noodles are drained and you’re ready to add the cheese.

Veggie Lover’s Mac & Cheese

If you’re someone who loves vegetables like I do, you might like to create a veggie lover’s mac and cheese. My favorite is to add oven roasted cauliflower, broccoli and carrots.

You might like to add your favorite vegetables to create a custom favorite.

Vegan Mac & Cheese

To make vegan mac and cheese, use vegan cheese slices or shreds. Exchange milk for any of the non-dairy substitutes listed here. 

Mac and Cheese Recipe – No Milk 5 Star Recipe

Below are instructions to make a no milk, 5 star recipe for mac and cheese. If you’re someone who needs this recipe, we hope you find it both helpful and enjoyable.

How To Make Mac and Cheese With No Milk Recipe

To make this recipe, you’ll need 2 cups elbow macaroni, 3 cups water, 1 tbsp butter, 2 cups shredded cheese, 8 oz package of cream cheese.

After you’ve boiled the noodles in the water and drained them, you’ll want to add the butter, shredded cheddar and cream cheese and mix them well.

Then, you’ll place it in an oven safe baking dish and bake in the oven until browned.

If you require a non-dairy milk substitute, simply trade out the cream cheese for one of the alternatives mentioned below.

How To Make Mac and Cheese Without Milk Easily

Below are two straightforward methods to make mac and cheese without milk easily. One includes baking and the other is a no-bake method.

Method #1:

No Bake. Follow the directions above and serve immediately from the saucepan.

Method #2:

Bake. Follow the directions above and add to a 375F degree oven and bake until the top turns brown. Serve and enjoy.

Kraft Mac and Cheese Without Milk –Best Substitutes

If you’re looking for the best substitute for milk in your Kraft macaroni and cheese or in your homemade mac and cheese, here are some ideas for you.

The Best Milk Substitutes for Mac and Cheese

We’ve included dairy options as well as non-dairy options to accommodate both groups of eaters. Let us know which one’s your favorite.  

1. Shredded Cheese

Use a 1 to 1 ratio when using shredded cheese in place of milk.Substituting shredded cheese for milk will not alter the flavor of your mac and cheese, but makes it a bit thicker.

What Types of Cheese Should I Use?

Our favorite kinds of cheese to use for mac and cheese are ones that are rich, good quality and they melt well.

Sharp cheddar cheese and white cheddar cheese are at the top of the list. Using a combination of the two is delicious.

But we’ve also been known to use Colby Jack cheese or Mozzarella cheese if that’s what we have on hand. And other thing that makes real cheese wonderful is if you buy a block that you can shred yourself.

2. Cream Cheese

Cream cheese is delicious in mac and cheese. It adds a wonderful creamy aspect that combines well with the cheese. And the flavor is not overpowering. It can make your dish a little bit thicker.

How Much Cream Cheese Should I Substitute for Milk?

Use a 1:1 ratio of cream cheese for milk when preparing your dish.

3. Heavy Cream

Heavy cream is one of my favorite substitutes to use for milk in mac and cheese.

The reason I like it is because it adds a rich dimension, makes the cheese nice and smooth and it doesn’t alter the flavor.

How Much Heavy Cream Should I Substitute for Milk?

Use a 1:1 ratio of heavy cream for milk when preparing your dish.

4. Butter

Butter is another good substitute for milk. Butter continues the same rich aspect. And it helps to smooth the cheese as it melts. It doesn’t alter the flavor much.

How Much Butter Should I Substitute For Milk?

We recommend using a 1:2 ratio of butter to milk, so that your dish doesn’t become too greasy.

5. Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is created by condensing milk and removing most of the water content. Its benefit is longer shelf life.

Evaporated milk makes a great substitute for milk in mac and cheese.

How To Substitute Evaporated Milk For Regular Milk in Mac and Cheese?

To use evaporated milk in place of regular milk in mac and cheese, use 2 tbsp evaporated milk with a bit of pasta water to dilute it.

6. Roux

Roux is a homemade combination of butter and flour whisked together to form a thickening agent. It works quite well in mac and cheese.

How To Use a Roux To Replace Milk In Mac and Cheese

Add 2 tbsp butter to a saucepan and melt the butter. Then add 2 tbsp of flour and whisk into melted butter. And that’s it. This can serve as a replacement for milk in your mac and cheese.

7. Olive Oil

Olive oil can be used as a non-dairy substitute for milk. But in our opinion, using olive oil causes the dish to become a bit slimy. It does not add any additional flavors though, which is a good factor.

How Much Olive Oil Should I Use Instead of Milk?

Use 1 tbsp of oil and mix it until the cheese powder is dissolved.

8. Pasta Water

After cooking the noodles in boiling water, you can reserve some of the water and use it as a milk substitute. The only downside of using pasta water is that it thins out the cheese more than milk does, so it can seem a bit soupy.

How Much Pasta Water Should I Use?

Add 2 tbsp of pasta water.

9. Soy Milk

Soy milk is a non-dairy option that might work well for you. The only drawback is that it is sweeter than regular milk. And so your mac and cheese will taste sweeter as a result.

How Much Soya Milk Should I Use In Place of Regular Milk?

Use a 1:1 ratio of soy milk to regular milk. Soy milk maintains a consistent texture that you’d expect with using regular milk.

10. Almond Milk

As you might expect, almond milk tastes like almond. It is more so than just plain old milk. 

If you’re choosing to use almond milk, you’ll want to use about half as much so that you don’t alter the flavor too much. And we don’t recommend you use it for mac and cheese unless you’re accustomed to the flavor.

How Much Almond Milk Should I Use As A Milk Replacement?

Use a 1:2 ratio of almond milk to milk. A little bit goes a long way as far as flavor is concerned.

11. Sour Cream

Using sour cream in place of milk helps to create a nice creamy texture. But the flavor is a bit tangier with the use of sour cream.

How much sour cream should I use as a milk substitute?

Start by using 1 tbsp of sour cream and mix it in until the cheese dissolves. Add a little more at a time if needed.

12. Yogurt

If you choose to use yogurt, use a plain yogurt that is not sweetened and has no additional flavors. Start by using 1 tbsp of yogurt, mixing it in with the cheese until the cheese dissolves.

13. Chicken Broth

Using a few tablespoons of chicken broth can also be a good solution as a substitute for milk in mac and cheese.

It gives it a savory flavor that doesn’t include any weird tangy aspects. If you need a good dairy free option, you might consider using chicken broth.

14. Half and Half

If you’re a coffee drinker or do a lot of baking, you might have some half and half on hand. While this is not a non-dairy alternative, it provides a nice creamy outcome even better than milk does in our opinion.

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting half and half in place of milk in your mac and cheese.

15. Coffee Creamer

When determining if you should use coffee creamer as a substitute for milk in your mac and cheese, you’ll want to check and see if the creamer you’d be using would be a plain creamer.

In other words, a non-flavored creamer works best for this. After all, you don’t want your mac and cheese to have a strange hint of hazelnut or some other coffee creamer flavor.

Again, use a 1:1 substitute.

16. Lactose Free Milk

If you, or those who gather around your table, are lactose intolerant you can use a lactose free milk.

If you consume it regularly you’ll know your favorite brands. But if you’re not sure what to look for, Fairlife and Lactaid are popular brands.

You might note if you’re used to drinking regular dairy milk, a lactose free milk might taste strange comparatively speaking.

Use a 1:1 substitute when using lactose free milk in place of regular milk.

17. Organic Milk

Organic milk is a great substitute for regular milk in mac and cheese. The difference is organic milk comes from cows that have fed on grains or grass that are pesticide and fertilizer free.

The cows also haven’t been treated with hormones or medications. Therefore the milk that has an organic label is better for human consumption.

Use a 1:1 substitute when using organic milk.

18. Instant Dry Milk

Instant dry milk can be used in place of milk for mac and cheese. The key with instant milk though is that it needs to be made into a liquid form before it’s added to the mac and cheese.

Follow the box instructions for mixing the instant dry milk which usually involves adding a specified amount of water and mixing it until the powder is dissolved. Do not add the powder directly into the mac and cheese.

Use a 1:1 ratio when using prepared instant dry milk.

19. Macadamia Milk

When using Macadamia milk as a milk substitute, we recommend using the unsweetened version for better results.

Macadamia milk is a dairy free product that is also vegan friendly, keto friendly, and is sugar free. It is plant based. It has a vanilla aroma and tastes like macadamia nuts.

Use a 1:1 ratio when substituting macadamia milk in place of milk for mac and cheese.

20. Hemp Seed Milk

Hemp seed milk or hemp milk is a plant based non-dairy option that’s created by grinding and soaking hemp seeds. The process results in a milky liquid in color and flavor.

You can also use a 1:1 substitute when using hemp seed milk.

21. Coconut Milk

Coconut milk can be a favorite ingredient to have on hand when making coconut cream pie and other coconut flavored desserts.

And some folks even use it regularly in place of regular dairy milk. Coconut milk indeed comes from coconuts and therefore has a coconut flavor.

A 1:1 ratio can be used when using coconut milk for mac and cheese.

22. Cream Milk Powder

Cream milk powder can be found and purchased in many larger grocery stores. It is perfect to have on hand for rural excursions and adventures such as hiking or camping.

If using cream milk powder, you’ll want to be sure to mix it according to package instructions before adding it to the mac and cheese in its liquid form.

A 1:1 ratio works well when using cream milk powder as a substitute.

23. Oat Milk

Oat milk is a non-dairy plant based milk. It’s made from soaking whole grain oats in water and extracting the plant material. It creates a milky substance that can be purchased in various flavors.

We recommend using unsweetened oat milk if you’re wanting it for a milk substitute in mac and cheese. Using flavors alters the mac and cheese flavor too much.

A 1:1 ratio works fine for this substitute.

24. Banana Milk

Banana milk can be made homemade or purchased from some specialty stores that sell groceries.

Banana milk is of course made from bananas and can include other ingredients such as sweetener and flavorings. When working with mac and cheese, however, we’ve found that unsweetened and unflavored products work best.

A 1:1 ratio is fine if using banana milk as a substitute for mac and cheese.

25. Buttermilk Powder

Buttermilk powder should be mixed and prepared according to the package instructions before adding it to your mac and cheese. You’ll want to make sure that the powder is fully dissolved first.

Buttermilk powder is a good pantry staple to have on hand for length of shelf life as compared to milk that needs to be refrigerated.

The flavor of milk prepared with buttermilk powder is quite decent for use in dishes such as mac and cheese.

A 1:1 ratio works well using prepared buttermilk from buttermilk powder.

26. Rice Milk

Rice milk is a dairy-free plant based milk made from rice. It can be sweetened and flavored, which is not ideal for use in mac and cheese.

But if you’d like to use rice milk as a substitute we recommend using unsweetened rice milk for better results.

Use a 1:1 ratio for substitution when using rice milk for mac and cheese.

27. Goat’s Milk

Goat’s milk of course comes from domestic goats. It can be quite creamy compared to other non-dairy options.

The flavor of goat’s milk can be a bit tangy. But don’t let that rule it out as a viable substitute for dairy milk. We recommend using an unsweetened version so as to not alter the flavor too much.

Use a 1:1 ratio when using goat’s milk as a substitute in your mac and cheese.

milk substitutes for mac and cheese graph
Best milk substitutes for mac and cheese

Nutritional Breakdown of Mac and Cheese Without Milk

The nutritional breakdown of your mac and cheese without milk will vary depending on the milk substitute you choose to use.

Substitutes such as cream cheese or sour cream will add more calories and fat than a chicken broth substitute.

You’ll want to calculate the nutritional breakdown of your mac and cheese based on the ingredients you use and the number of servings that come from those ingredients.

Related Questions

Following are questions related to using a milk substitute for mac and cheese.

outback mac and cheese
Outback Mac and Cheese Recipe

What Is a Good Substitute for Butter in Mac and Cheese?

Good substitutes for butter include the following ideas. Each of these can be used as a 1:1 substitute ratio according to your mac and cheese recipe or box instructions.

heavy cream
cream cheese
olive oil
coconut oil
Greek yogurt
nut butters

1. Ghee

Ghee is a class of clarified butter that has a longer shelf life than dairy butter and can be stored at room temperature until it’s opened.

2. Mascarpone

Mascarpone is a soft set cream cheese that has a good flavor for use in mac and cheese. It adds a bit of tang but can work well as a substitute.

3. Roux

A homemade roux can be made from cooking and whisking equal parts of flour and fat together to form a nice, thick and flavorful roux.

4. Heavy Cream

Using heavy cream can help maintain a nice, consistent creamy texture to your mac and cheese. It also doesn’t alter the flavor too drastically from using butter.

5. Cream Cheese

Have a little cream cheese on hand? The fat content of cream cheese can make an effective solution to replace butter in your mac and cheese recipe.

6. Margarine

Back in the day, people used to cook with a lot of margarine. And still today, margarine can make an effective substitute for butter in mac and cheese.

7. Olive Oil

Olive oil, or any cooking oil for that matter such as canola, vegetable oil or whatever your favorite cooking oil is can make a good substitute for butter in mac and cheese.

8. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil can be used for a lot of recipes. If you’re a baker, you might keep some coconut oil around. And using it in place of butter in your mac and cheese can be a viable solution.

9. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt can add a bit of a tang to the flavor, but sometimes that can be desirable too. Greek yogurt has the thickness and fat content to replace butter.

10. Nut Butter

Nut butter is of course butter made from nuts. If you’re looking for a non-dairy substitute you might check out nut butter for your use.

butter substitutes for mac and cheese

Do These Substitutes Work With Any Variation of Mac and Cheese?

Yes, most likely the substitutes that we’ve listed for milk or butter will work with most any variation of mac and cheese.

Just choose the one that best fits your dietary needs and taste preferences.

Are These Substitutes Nutritious?

Some substitutes are more nutritious than others. You’ll want to check the labels for individual items that you plan to know more about the nutrition facts for each substitute.

Nutritional facts vary from brand to brand and from item to item.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some questions that are asked frequently in regard to points mentioned in this article.

How Do You Make Boxed Mac and Cheese Without Milk?

The best way to make a box of mac and cheese without milk is by choosing the substitute that you think will work the best for you. And then follow the recommended ratio for that substitute.

Can I Sub Water For Milk in Mac and Cheese?

Yes, you can use water for milk in mac and cheese. However, we recommend using pasta water instead of plain water. Pasta water is the leftover water that you drain off the noodles after boiling them.

This will help keep your noodles from seeming to be so watered down, like they might be with just plain water.

Can You Use Water Instead of Milk for Kraft?

Yes, but we recommend using pasta water rather than plain water if possible.

How Can I Make Kraft Mac and Cheese Better?

You can make Kraft mac and cheese better by selecting your favorite add in and including those in the dish.

We like to incorporate real shredded cheese in the mac and cheese, rather than just the powdered cheese. It’s also delicious to sprinkle parmesan cheese and bacon bits on top.

Read our paragraph above to learn more about add-ins for mac and cheese.

Can You Make Mac and Cheese With Just Water?

Yes, it’s possible to make it with just water. It might seem more watery, but to do this you’ll want to reserve about ½ cup of the cooking liquid to use.

Can You Use Mayo Instead of Milk in Mac and Cheese?

Yes, you can use mayo instead of milk in mac and cheese. We recommend starting with just a tablespoon or two and going from there. Mix it with the cheese until the cheese is completely dissolved.

Is Mayo a Good Substitute For Milk?

Mayo can be a good substitute for milk, but depends on the recipe and dish as to whether it’s the best solution. One of the benefits of using mayo instead is that it has a longer shelf life than fresh milk.

Can You Put Mayo In Kraft Mac and Cheese?

Yes, you can. But try a little bit first to see if you like it before doing a whole bunch.

How Do You Make Mac and Cheese More Creamy?

The ingredients that help to make mac and cheese creamier are to add cream, yogurt, or mascarpone, and select a good quality cheese.

What is The Most Popular Mac and Cheese?

According to research, Kraft Mac and Cheese is the most popular instant mac and cheese. Other results are as follows:

1. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
2. Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese Lean Cuisine
3. Shells & Cheese, Original Kraft Velveeta
4. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Original Flavor Dinner

How To Reheat Mac and Cheese?

Mac and cheese can be reheated in the microwave, on the stovetop or in the oven. Just a few minutes will do the trick.

Since the noodles have already been cooked, your goal is just to heat it through and then it can be enjoyed again.

Is Mac and Cheese Creamy Without Milk?

Mac and cheese can be creamy without milk. It will depend on the other ingredients used that will potentially compensate for the creamy aspect that the milk provided or replace the milk.

Can I Use Soft Cheese To Make It Creamier?

Yes, cheese can be used to make your dish creamier. For best results choose a good quality cheese or combination of cheeses that you can shred yourself.

If I Use Whole Wheat Pasta Will It Change The Dish?

Using whole what pasta can slightly alter the flavor of the dish. Whole wheat pasta will also provide more fiber in the dish. Read the nutrition facts on the brand of pasta that you choose.

Can I Use My Choice of Protein In This?

Yes, feel free to add protein in your mac and cheese. Bacon bits, ham, ground sausage, hamburger, chicken and more can be delicious additions.

Can I Use Sour Cream?

Yes, sour cream can be used in your mac and cheese. You should know that the tangy aspect you can taste in sour cream will carry through to your dish.

How To Store Leftovers

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

More Mac and Cheese Recipes

A Homemade Touch

If you’re considering making homemade mac and cheese, you should go for it. Any of the above recipes make wonderful homemade mac and cheese.

I’m talking about the kind made from scratch, not the kind that comes from a box with that powdered artificial cheese. There’s something about a homemade touch that is so delicious.

Why Make Mac and Cheese From Scratch?

The main reason to make mac and cheese from scratch is because it’s so much more delicious.

It is rich and creamy and everything you hoped for when you make it with good cheese and good ingredients.

What Type of Pasta Is Best?

You can use your favorite kind of pasta, but I typically just use regular elbow macaroni noodles.

They’re not fancy, but they’re the foundation of a delicious dish to come. You can use whatever noodles you have on hand.

What Is The Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese?

Our favorite is a combination of both sharp cheddar cheese and white cheddar cheese.

Just make sure you shred your own cheese for best results and that the cheese is a good quality.

Shred Your Own Cheese

Shredding your own cheese is an important step to making delicious mac and cheese that matters.

It allows you to bypass the artificial powders that are added in factory shredded cheese that are used to keep the shreds from sticking together.

My Secret Ingredients For The Best Mac and Cheese

My favorite things to add in homemade mac and cheese are, raw garlic, ground mustard, and cream cheese or sour cream.

Variation Ideas

Some wonderful additions to mac and cheese are bacon bits, green onions, caramelized onions, roasted cherry tomatoes, ham or cooked chicken. Try one or two and see what you think!

How To Make Homemade Roux For A Creamy Sauce

Use butter, milk, salt and pepper, flour, and cheese. Melt the butter and whisk the flour, bringing it to a boil add salt, pepper and cheese until mixed well.

Milk Alternatives (Vegan)

Below are some milk alternatives for vegan diets:
Sesame Milk
Hazelnut Milk
Pea Milk
Macadamia Milk
Coconut Milk
Rice Milk
Oat Milk
Hemp Seed Milk
Quinoa Milk

How to store leftover mac and cheese?

After you’ve made the best macaroni and have determined there are leftovers to be stored for later, you’ll want to store it well so that it can be eaten fresh later on. This is important to any cheese lovers.

For baked mac and cheese, you can store it in a casserole dish with a lid. This way you can use medium-high heat to reheat the dish when you get ready to eat the leftovers.

If your mac and cheese seems a little dry, you can add a small amount of milk as well as some fresh pre-shredded cheese.

What are the best substitutes for a creamy consistency?

Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food at any time of year. To make a creamy consistency, our go-to option is to use a cup of milk or heavy whipping cream typically speaking and use a low heat.

But as a substitute for cow’s milk, you could use vegetable broth along with your favorite cheeses to make creamy mac. You might also want to add a small amount of butter for flavor and moisture.

For a vegan diet, you might choose to make dairy-free mac using unsweetened almond milk.

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

3 thoughts on “Can You Make Mac and Cheese Without Milk? 27 BEST Substitutes”

    • Everyone is entitled to their own preferences. However, we’ve found heavy cream to be a good alternative solution when a rich, creamy aspect is appropriate.


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