Today, let’s talk about the best milk substitutes for mac and cheese! A very obvious question that comes to most of our minds is, who doesn’t love mac and cheese? It’s a belly and soul-filling comfort food that most of us enjoy!
However, are you bored of the same old mac and cheese flavor? Tried adding various other ingredients to mac and cheese and still find the taste repetitive? Why not try substituting one of the main ingredients, milk? This will amp up the flavor of your mac and cheese for sure!
So what are good substitutes for milk in mac and cheese? The best milk substitutes for mac and cheese are cream cheese, sour cream, yogurt, whipping cream, powdered milk, and various non-dairy-based milk.
However, before I introduce you to the best milk substitutes for mac and cheese, let us talk about mac and cheese a little more in-depth and see what milk actually does to this wonder of a dish! So, let’s get started!
What’s In The Post
Quick Peek: Milk In Mac And Cheese
This section will help you understand mac and cheese and exactly is the purpose of milk in the same. However, before I talk about the properties of milk, in particular, let me start by talking about mac and cheese itself.
What Is Mac And Cheese?
Macaroni and cheese, commonly referred to as mac and cheese in the US, is a pasta dish made with the macaroni variant of pasta and cheese sauce. The most commonly used cheese to make mac and cheese is cheddar.
The base recipe might be macaroni and cheese sauce. However, many new inventions and variations of mac and cheese are available and possible to make. The most commonly added ingredient to a classic mac and cheese is breadcrumbs to add some texture.
While the exact origin of mac and cheese is unknown, it is said to most likely have hailed from Northern Europe. The earliest recorded recipe is said to be from 1769!
Mac and cheese was primarily reserved for the upper class. However, the industrial revolution made pasta production easier, and hence, the dish got accessible to more people.
Describing Mac And Cheese: Flavor And Texture
Mac and cheese has a gooey texture because of the milk and cheese. The cheese sauce is creamy, rich, gooey, and silky. The macaroni is cooked to al dente, making it perfect to the last bite. Breadcrumbs are usually added on top to give it a crunchy texture. o
When I talk about the flavor of mac and cheese, it predominantly has one flavor: cheese. The salty flavor of cheese, when combined with various other added ingredients like bacon or any other meat or vegetable, makes a well-balanced dish.
Mac And Cheese On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope
A traditional recipe of macaroni and cheese is generally high in calories. This is because of the amount of cheese and butter added to the dish. Around one cup or 233 grams of mac and cheese typically contains 510 calories.
Out of these calories, most are from fat. Mac and cheese usually also contains a high amount of saturated fat, along with cholesterol and a small amount of proteins, carbohydrates, and dietary fibers.
It also contains a high amount of sodium. It contains minute amounts of vitamin A, calcium, iron, and potassium.
Due to its high calorie and fat content, mac and cheese should definitely be eaten in moderation. This is especially for people with cardiovascular issues and for those who are trying to watch their weight.
What Does Milk Do In Mac And Cheese?
Milk is generally used in mac and cheese to make the body of the cheese sauce. The cheese sauce is made by adding cheese to white sauce, also known as bechamel sauce. The white sauce is made by heating equal amounts of butter and flour, which is called a roux.
Further, milk is added to this roux. The amount of milk added to the roux is usually 10 times the quantity of butter and flour. Once the milk is added, and the sauce is cooked sufficiently, it results in a thick, creamy white sauce which is the base for the cheese sauce.
Why Substitute Milk In Mac And Cheese?
This is a question that may have popped into your head. While there is no hard and fast rule to substituting milk with something else, there are a few reasons you could consider using a milk substitute.
One of the main reasons for using a milk substitute is if you are bored of the same old mac and cheese flavor. Adding extra ingredients to your mac and cheese will surely make a difference to the dish, no doubt about that.
However, using a milk substitute will change the base flavor of your dish. If you try using a different type of milk, whether dairy or non- dairy-based, it will definitely change the flavor of your cheese sauce. This, in turn, will change the entire flavor profile of your food.
Moreover, in case you are vegan or lactose intolerant, non-dairy milk, cheese, and butter substitute would work well for your dish. The last reason is that if you do have any of the substitutes handy, you can easily use them instead of running to the store to get some milk!
I think I have given you enough information on mac and cheese and what exactly milk does to the recipe. Now, let us quickly jump to the main attraction of this article, the best milk substitutes for mac and cheese!
15 Best Milk Substitutes For Mac And Cheese
This section lists all the best substitutes you can use in place of milk in mac and cheese. Moreover, you will also get an idea of how to use each substitute. Read on to know all about the best substitutes for milk in mac and cheese!
1. Sour Cream
Sour cream has a thick, creamy consistency and a naturally sour taste. It can make a good substitute for milk in mac and cheese.
The slightly sour flavor of sour cream adds an interesting flavor profile when used in place of mac and cheese. However, if you find the sour taste too overpowering, you can use it along with milk.
You can use half the amount of milk, with the other half being sour cream. Another way to bring down the flavor of sour cream a bit is by adding some garlic to your mac and cheese. This will definitely bring out an extremely interesting flavor to your dish.
2. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese has a mild and slightly sweet taste that resembles the flavor of milk to quite an extent. Hence, it makes a great milk substitute for mac and cheese.
The very obvious difference between cream cheese and milk, however, is the consistency. Cream cheese has a thick and creamy consistency. However, it will end up giving your sauce an extra creamy and rich flavor.
You can use cream cheese as a substitute for milk in a standard 1:1 ratio. It would be wise to soften the cream cheese a bit before adding it to the sauce. This way, it will be easier to handle the same.
3. Whipping Cream
Whipping cream, also known as heavy cream, has essentially the same taste as milk, only with a thicker consistency. Hence, it makes a good substitute for milk in mac and cheese.
However, since the consistency of whipping cream is thicker than that of milk, you can use a little less quantity of whipping cream as compared to milk. Moreover, you can also thin it down with some water.
This is if you want your sauce to have a thinner consistency. Moreover, double cream is another variant of cream you can use if you cannot find any whipping cream. Both of them are easily interchangeable in mac and cheese.
4. Plain Yogurt
Plain or Greek yogurt has a consistency very similar to that of sour cream. It can easily be used as a substitute for milk in mac and cheese.
Plain yogurt will give an extremely creamy texture to your sauce. However, if you want the texture to be creamier than normal, greek yogurt works best instead of low-fat or medium-fat yogurt.
This is because Greek yogurt has a higher fat content than plain yogurt. An important thing to remember while using yogurt as a substitute for milk, whether Greek or plain, is to make sure not to expose it to very high heat.
Yogurt tends to split under a very high amount of heat. So, when using it as a substitute for milk, make sure you add it bit by bit and make sure the heat is low. Keep stirring the sauce continuously to avoid splitting.
5. Powdered Milk
Powdered milk is the best substitute in terms of storage. When combined with water, it creates a milky liquid that is slightly sweeter than normal milk. This can be used as a substitute for milk in mac and cheese.
The sweetness of powdered milk generally balances really well with any standard mac and cheese recipe. However, if you find the mixture a bit too sweet, you can always increase the amount of cheese or salt in your recipe to balance the flavors.
Powdered milk can be used in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for milk in mac and cheese. Usually, the packet has instructions on how much powder you can mix with water to make milk with perfect consistency and taste.
6. Evaporated Milk
Evaporated milk is milk that has a lower water content but is not in a powdered form. It can work as a great substitute for milk in mac and cheese.
As evaporated milk has a thick consistency, it generally can be thinned down with some water and then used as a substitute for milk. Diluting evaporated milk is also recommended because evaporated milk tends to have a sweeter flavor than even powdered milk.
Evaporated milk is often confused with condensed milk. However, they are definitely not the same! Condensed milk is much sweeter than normal evaporated milk.
So, make sure you use evaporated and not condensed milk, as the latter will end up making your sauce too sweet. Evaporated milk can be used as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
7. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is a great vegan and dairy-free option for milk. It can easily be used as a substitute for plain milk in mac and cheese.
Coconut milk does have a strong coconut flavor that can be a great addition to your mac and cheese. However, if you don’t want the flavor of coconut to be too prominent, you can dilute the milk with some water.
Another great substitute with the same flavor profile is coconut cream. Coconut cream will actually give you a much thicker and richer sauce as compared to coconut milk. You can use both coconut milk and cream in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute.
8. Almond Milk
Almond milk is another great dairy-free option. Just like coconut milk, it works as a great substitute for milk in mac and cheese, especially if you are lactose intolerant or a vegan.
Almond milk is available in both sweetened and unsweetened forms. So you can decide which one to use based on your preferred flavor profile. It has a strong and nutty taste which can, however, be diluted with some water.
Almond milk also has a thinner consistency than that regular milk. So, it might not produce an extremely creamy sauce. To balance this out, you can add extra cheese to your mac and cheese.
9. Soy Milk
Soy milk has a consistency very similar to that of regular milk. Moreover, it is also dairy-free! This makes it a good substitute for milk in mac and cheese.
It has a very distinctive flavor that might not please everyone’s flavor palate. However, you can easily balance that out with the help of some extra added aromatic herbs and flavorings.
While using soy milk as a substitute, remember to use unsweetened soy milk. This is because flavored or sweetened soy milk might make your sauce too sweet, which will later be difficult to balance out. You can follow a 1:1 ratio for substitution.
10. Cashew Milk
Cashew milk is another great dairy-free alternative. It has a mild flavor similar to milk and a creamy consistency. Hence, it can be used as a substitute for milk in mac and cheese.
Cashew milk blends really well, especially in mac and cheese. In fact, it blends so well because of its neutral flavor that you can barely tell the difference. Make sure you use an unsweetened version of cashew milk.
This is because a sweet version might end up making your sauce too sweet. You can use cashew milk in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for regular milk in your mac and cheese.
11. Rice Milk
Rice milk is milk extracted from rice. It has a flavor very similar to that of regular milk, making it a great milk substitute for mac and cheese.
However, an important thing to remember with rice milk is that it has a much thinner consistency than that of regular milk. However, this can easily be corrected if you add extra cheese or make a thicker roux (the butter and flour thickening agent).
The roux or cheese will add to the creaminess and, overall, will balance the flavor of your mac and cheese. Rice milk can be used in a standard 1:1 ratio.
12. Oat Milk
Oat milk is another great dairy-free milk substitute for mac and cheese. It blends extremely well in a cheese sauce.
One great thing about oat milk is that it does not have a very distinct flavor, unlike various other types. It has a slightly sweeter flavor than milk. However, there isn’t too much of a difference.
Oat milk generally blends well without having to make too many changes or additions to the recipe. You can use it in a standard 1:1 ratio.
13. Quinoa Milk
Quinoa Milk is derived from quinoa and is another plant-based milk alternative. Quinoa milk has a natural sweetness and nutty flavor that goes really well with mac and cheese. Hence, it can be used as a milk substitute for the same.
Quinoa milk is generally hard to find. However, if you do get your hands on it, the first thing you should try it in is definitely mac and cheese! The neutral flavor of the milk balances extremely well with various types of cheese.
Quinoa milk is a great option if you want to experiment with various types of cheese. You can use it as a milk substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
14. Hemp Seed Milk
Hemp seed milk is made by soaking help seeds in water and grinding them. It has a creamy texture and works very well as a milk substitute for mac and cheese.
Hemp seed milk is extremely nutritious. It has an earthy and nutty flavor that works extremely well with mac and cheese. Moreover, its thick consistency will make your sauce extremely creamy. In case you find the flavor bitter, you can always add some additional sugar to balance it out.
Usually, when using hemp seed milk as a substitute for plain milk, try using a little less than the amount of milk you would use. This is because it has a thicker consistency. You can thin the sauce down with some water in case it gets too thick.
15. Chicken Broth
Chicken broth is another dairy-free substitute for milk in mac and cheese. In case you are trying to reduce your dairy intake, chicken broth really works well as a milk substitute for mac and cheese.
One important thing to remember while using chicken broth is that it has a very thin consistency as compared to milk. Moreover, it will also change the taste of your mac and cheese, which might not appeal to some.
However, the thickness can be adjusted by adding extra cheese or making more roux. Generally, chicken broth can be used as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio.
Those were definitely a lot of milk substitutes for mac and cheese! However, are you still confused about which one would work best? For that, I have broken it down further for you into three categories. Have a look!
Most Suitable: Whipping cream is the most suitable substitute for milk in mac and cheese.
Easily Available: Plain yogurt is the most easily available substitute for milk in mac and cheese.
Best Flavor Profile: Cashew milk will give the best flavor profile when used as a milk substitute for mac and cheese.
As we have come to the end of this article, I hope it helped you find the best substitutes for milk in mac and cheese. Milk is definitely an integral part of the dish. But, using the right substitute will work wonders for you if you are bored of the same old flavor.
All the substitutes given above are extremely worthy alternatives for milk in mac and cheese. You can choose what suits your recipe best as per your personal flavor preferences. I am sure that the next time you use one of these substitutes, you will end up cooking some great mac and cheese!
Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)
Is milk needed for mac and cheese?
Milk makes up the base for the cheese sauce in mac and cheese, hence it is an essential ingredient in mac and cheese.
Is it better to make mac and cheese with milk or water?
Milk makes a thicker sauce for mac and cheese, hence it works better than water in a mac and cheese recipe.
Can you cook macaroni in milk?
Yes, you can cook macaroni in milk.
Can I use half and half instead of milk?
Yes, you can use a combination of milk and water or milk and cream in your mac and cheese.
Why is my mac and cheese so dry?
If the sauce is too dry or less in quantity, it can make the macaroni and cheese dry.