Substitute for Milk in Mac & Cheese

Sometimes you might find yourself needing a milk substitute for making mac and cheese. Fortunately, there are a few substitutions that will make excellent alternatives.

Milk is a crucial ingredient in mac and cheese for making cheese sauce. The all-important cheese sauce that can either make or break the entire meal!

You can easily substitute milk with something else for making your cheese sauce, and there are a lot of options too. No matter why you need to substitute milk in your macaroni cheese, there is a good alternative on this list.

Best Substitutes For Milk in Mac & Cheese

1. Cream

You can use cream in place of milk when making mac and cheese with relative ease.

A lot of macaroni cheese recipes call for using cream alongside milk and that is because of the richness of flavor. It adds a lot of depth and is so creamy!

You do need to keep in mind that these recipes use it alongside milk to account for both consistency and taste. 

If you use too much cream it can be too sickly, equally using cream alone will result in a thicker cheese sauce. So a good alternative to that is adding a little water to help get the sauce to the right consistency without overpowering the sauce with the cream.

Get it right and you might be making all of your mac and cheese with cream in the future instead.

2. Sour Cream

Like with regular cream, you can also substitute milk with sour cream. This alternative offers a tangy and unique flavor that can take your mac and cheese to the ‘out of this world’ level that we all want our food to be.

There are dozens of top chefs who prefer using sour cream over milk, or alongside it in their mac and cheese. So you’ll be in good company and that is why it is a top pick.

As above with regular cream, in the absence of milk, you can use water to control thickness and richness.

3. Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is another excellent substitute for cow’s milk when making mac and cheese.

While cashew milk is a little creamier you can still follow the recipe 1:1 in terms of amounts of liquid used. It is also a good option for those with lactose intolerance, vegan diets, and so on!

You should choose unsweetened if you don’t want the added sugar and I’d recommend that as it won’t add anything important to the flavor since the cheese will add most of that.

Important: This is a nut-based alternative so don’t substitute it if you have a nut allergy.

Some recommend using almond milk in place of milk, but I am recommending this as it isn’t as sweet and is less nutty tasting. This will allow you to create a more authentic dish with as similar of a taste as possible.

4. Oat Milk

Oat milk has an oaty flavor with notes of earthiness and for this reason, you shouldn’t expect it to taste identical to regular mac and cheese.

Oat milk is an excellent alternative to regular cow’s milk in mac and cheese.

One thing about this substitution is that it gives a unique sweet and earthy flavor to your macaroni cheese that works well with spices like cayenne pepper, and celery salt, among other common additions to mac and cheese.

You should add a little extra cheese to account for both the additional sweetness and slight lack of creaminess compared to regular semi-skimmed or full-fat milk.

5. Water

In case of emergency, water is a real option that you can use when making a roux as the foundation of your cheese sauce. Your mac and cheese will still be tasty, but of course, a different alternative would be better if possible.

You should remember to use more butter while making the cheese sauce, adding it later in the cooking process as well as in the beginning. This will help add some much-needed creaminess to the sauce. Make sure to add plenty of extra cheese as well.


You should be able to find a substitute for milk in mac and cheese with one of the above alternative options. You can use delicious creams, non-dairy milk options, or even water when you need something cost-effective or simply have nothing else available!