How to Make Mac and Cheese Without Milk

Mac and cheese is a well-known, comfort food and is commonly chosen as many people’s favorite food. The rich, creamy flavor of the dish makes it a well-loved dish all over the world, whether it’s from a box of Kraft mac and cheese or mom’s homemade mac and cheese. There are times when you may want to make it without milk though.

In this article, we’ll go over stovetop mac and cheese recipes and the best milk substitutes for milk-free mac and cheese to accommodate people who are lactose intolerant, those who have no milk in their fridge, or people who just want something different!

How do you make mac and cheese without milk? You can make mac and cheese without milk by using cheese, water, or even alternative milks as a substitute for regular milk from a cow. You can also personalize the dish further to suit your own tastes and available ingredients.

What can I use in place of cow’s milk in mac and cheese?

There are multiple milk alternatives that will still give you a delicious mac and cheese. You can use:

  • Sour cream
  • Cream cheese
  • Plain yogurt
  • Greek yogurt
  • Whipping cream or heavy cream
  • Non-dairy milk substitute (such as oat milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc.)

The best substitute is cream cheese if you have it and can consume dairy products. But you should keep in mind that using any of these ingredients in place of milk will slightly alter the taste and texture of your mac and cheese.

In some cases, this will provide you with a better dish or one that’s more to your personal preference, but it is something to keep in mind if you are after a smoother or thinner cheese sauce.

For example, using cream cheese instead of milk will give you a much thicker mac and cheese but provide you with the same flavor profile.

However, using sour cream will give you the same texture as milk but the flavor will be significantly more complex and will have a slightly sour note to it.

How to make mac and cheese (vegan version)

For those who have a milk protein or lactose intolerance, here is a recipe for fantastic vegan mac and cheese:


1.5 cups of cashews
3 tbsp lemon juice
0.75 cup water
1.5 tsp salt
0.25 cup nutritional yeast
0.5 tsp chili powder
0.5 clove garlic
0.25 tsp turmeric
0.5 tsp mustard
16 ounces macaroni pasta

Preparation method:

  1. Start boiling the pasta. Follow the instructions on the box.
  2. Combine the lemon juice, cashews, water, nutritional yeast, salt, chili powder, garlic, turmeric, and mustard in a blender. Blend until completely smooth. Add more water as needed to get a smooth texture.
  3. Drain the pasta and combine with the blended mixture.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Even if you are not a vegan, you are sure to find this recipe delicious as the cashews make the sauce thick and creamy.

If you are lactose intolerant, then this recipe is sure to become a staple in your recipe collection.

How to make mac and cheese (no milk)

If you are not lactose intolerant or still want to use cheese in your mac and cheese (it is in the name after all!), then there are alternatives. Cream cheese is a good substitute for milk. This will give you the creamiest mac and cheese of all!

Here is the best recipe for mac and cheese using cream cheese.


2 cups of macaroni pasta
1 tbsp of butter
2 cups of cheese of your preference such as cheddar
8 ounces of cream cheese


  1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package
  2. Drain the pasta and put it to the side
  3. In a saucepan melt the butter and add in the cream cheese (allow to melt but not burn)
  4. Add the cheese and pasta into the pan
  5. Mix until combined
  6. Serve and enjoy!

This recipe requires a careful eye as you do not want to cook the butter and cheese for too long. Otherwise they will begin to burn.

This is an easy recipe made with simple ingredients, but remember that you can add more ingredients that you like to make the dish truly your own.

An example of things that you can add are toppings such as bread crumbs, bacon bits, chives, and black pepper. You can add anything that your heart desires!

If the dish appears runny after mixing the sauce with the noodles, add a little bit of pasta water to thicken it.

Related questions

What is the best cheese for mac and cheese?

A variety of cheeses work well for mac and cheese. Cheddar cheese is most commonly used in traditional mac and cheese and comes in mild, medium, and sharp flavors. You can use parmesan, mozzarella, gruyere, Monterrey jack, fontina, brie, or a combination of the cheese. Use your favorite cheeses!

Does Kraft macaroni and cheese need milk?

The instructions on the Kraft mac and cheese box include using 1/4 cup of milk, but you can make it without the milk by using a milk alternative. Cream cheese is the best alternative for flavor and texture. You can use sour cream, plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, heavy cream, or a non-dairy milk substitute such as cashew milk, but the texture and flavor will be different.

How do I make mac and cheese without butter?

Mac and cheese looks like it’s oozing with a stick of butter, but you don’t need butter to make the dish or make it taste good. It just adds extra flavor and richness to the dish. You can use a butter substitute, one of the substitutes for cow’s milk mentioned above, or more cheese. Here are some popular alternatives: margarine, ghee, olive oil, extra cheese, heavy cream, cream cheese, regular yogurt, Greek yogurt, and mayonnaise.

As with substituting milk, remember that substituting for butter may give you a different texture and flavor than regular, standard mac and cheese. If you decide to use olive oil, be cautious in how much you add.

While it’s a healthy alternative to butter, the end result may be too oily if you use too much. The dish may be blander as well.

How do I store leftover mac n cheese?

Mac and cheese should be kept out no more than 2 hours or bacteria may start to grow. To store it safely, put it in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 3-4 days. If it’s close to 3 or 4 days, check the mac and cheese by looking at it and smelling it before eating it.

You can keep mac and cheese from drying out upon reheating by adding a small amount of milk or milk substitute to moisten it until it gets to the desired consistency.

Is mac and cheese better the next day?

Yes! Mac and cheese is just as delicious or even better the next day, so be sure to make a big enough batch for leftovers. You also have to store it correctly in an airtight container overnight, but it’s worth it because you’ll enjoy eating it again the next day.

You can microwave the mac and cheese until it’s the desired temperature. Or reheat the leftovers in a casserole dish covered with aluminum foil at 350 degrees until it reaches the desired temperature.

Final thoughts

Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, and you can make it without milk. Skip the classic recipe, and use milk or butter alternatives based on what you have at home and what you love to eat. Bon appetite!

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