You grab your boxed mac and cheese out of the cupboard, get a pan ready, and then BAM.
You’ve run out of milk.
SURELY there’s a quick and easy fix without that tastes nice and doesn’t involve going to the store?
There is. I’ve personally tried and tested 15 different milk substitutes in mac and cheese, so you don’t have to.
Some of them were disgusting (I’m looking at you sweetened condensed milk) and some were actually better than plain old milk.
So, what’s the best substitute for milk in Kraft Mac and Cheese?
The best milk substitute for kraft mac and cheese is finely shredded cheese. Add a handful of shredded cheese for a standard box of Kraft mac and cheese. Other milk substitutes for mac and cheese include cream cheese, heavy cream, butter, evaporated milk, olive oil, pasta water, and stock.
UPDATE: I originally tried 12 substitutes, but have recently tested 3 more.
Overall my verdict remains the same and shredded cheese still reins supreme. I’ve added a brief summary of each of the new substitutes to the bottom of the article.
Substitutes for milk in Kraft Mac and Cheese – the 15 options
- Shredded Cheese – 1:1 ratio, mix some water in to thin the sauce
- Cream Cheese – mix with water then mix in a tablespoon at a time
- Cream – 2 tbsp of cream and 2 tbsp of water
- Butter – melt the butter and add 2 tablespoons
- Evaporated milk – 2 tbsp of evaporated milk and 2 tbsp of water
- Roux – 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of flour
- Olive oil – add 1 tbsp at a time
- Pasta water – up to a 1:1 ratio, but mix in slowly
- Soya milk – up to a 1:1 ratio, but mix in slowly
- Almond milk – up to a 1:1 ratio, but mix in slowly
- Sour cream – add 1 tbsp at a time
- Yogurt – add 1 tbsp at a time
- Powdered milk – mix with water, then 1:1 ratio
- Stock – up to a 1:1 ratio, but mix in slowly
- Mayonnaise – add 1 tbsp at a time
Read on for my thoughts on each substitute.
A note about my experiment
For the purposes of this experiment, I cooked up a few boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese and divided it into equal portions. I used the standard measurements of butter and water to cook the macaroni.
I then incrementally added small amounts of the milk substitute to each dish and noted down the results.
If the sauce needed thinning out a bit, I added a splash of water.
The Best Milk Substitutes For Mac and Cheese
I’ve listed all of the substitutes I tried in the table below, along with my thoughts on how each one impacted the dish.
Overall, I was most impressed with the shredded cheese or cream cheese.
Pasta water, stock or an alternative milk (oat or soya) would be my go-to vegan or non-dairy options.
Milk brings a creaminess flavor to Kraft Mac and Cheese, so whatever substitute you use needs to replace that.
|Shredded cheese||Cheesy||Slightly thicker||Great|
|Cream cheese||Creamy & slightly cheesier||Thicker||Great|
|Heavy cream||Not much difference||Creamier||Great|
|Butter||Rich & less cheesy||Slightly thicker||Great|
|Evaporated milk||Not much difference||Creamier||Great|
|Chicken stock||Meaty and yummy||Not much difference||Great|
|Powdered milk||Very similar||Not much difference||Great|
|Roux||Slightly richer||Thicker||Good (a bit of effort)|
|Mayonnaise||A bit sweeter||Slightly thicker||Good|
|Pasta water||Less cheesy||A little thin||Good|
|Soya milk||Slightly sweet||Not much difference||Good|
|Sour cream||Tangy||Not much difference||Good but different|
|Yogurt||Sweet & Tangy||Slightly thicker||Good but different|
|Olive oil||Possibly to oily||Slightly slimey||Wasn’t a fan|
|Almond milk||Distinctive||Not much difference||Tasted strange|
|Condensed milk||Too sickly and unpleasant||Creamier||Not recommended|
Honestly, if you have some cheese going spare, this is the ultimate way to substitute milk in your mac and cheese.
I made sure to finely grate the cheese as this helps it to melt quickly when adding it to the cheese powder and butter mixture.
How much cheese should I use?
I shredded 90g of parmesan cheese to replace the 1/4 cup of milk for an entire regular-sized box of Kraft mac and cheese.
This is roughly 50% more cheese than the equivalent weight of milk, but hey, I love cheese.
I recommend adding at least 60g of shredded cheese to replace the milk at roughly a 1:1 ratio.
If you want to thin the sauce a little, just add a tablespoon or two of water.
What types of cheese should I use?
Any hard block of cheese will work for this. I personally used parmesan, but cheddar and virtually all other hard cheese varieties will also work wonderfully.
Taste: Cheesylicious. (Is that even a word?).
Texture: A little thicker, but not so much that it’s an issue.
Overall: This is the next best thing for replacing milk. Heck, this is now going to be added even when I have milk on hand.
Okay. So maybe shredded cheese just isn’t for you. Or maybe you don’t have any but do have a lonely tub of Philadelphia cream cheese just begging to be used.
This is the solution for you.
The best thing about using cream cheese is the variety and creaminess it adds.
Anyone for garlic cream cheese or cream cheese with sundried tomatoes?
Yes, I know the point is to not go to the store. But once you’ve tried cream cheese in your boxed mac & cheese, I doubt you’ll ever go back.
How much cream cheese should I substitute for milk?
I mixed my cream cheese with some water and then mixed in 3 tablespoons of the mixture in place of Kraft’s recommendation of 1/4 cup of milk (60ml).
This worked well to not make the dish overly thick.
(measurements for a regular 7.25oz box of Kraft macaroni and cheese)
Taste: The mellow cheesiness within the cream cheese adds a subtle but delicious flavor to the dish.
Texture: Thicker. I recommend adding the cream cheese in a hot pan to ensure it melts and mixes well with the cheese powder and butter.
Overall: Honestly, this is so good that I’ll be deliberately subbing in cream cheese going forwards.
Heavy cream is a great alternative to milk, mostly because it doesn’t impact the flavor of the mac and cheese.
If you don’t want to make the dish too heavy or calorific, consider using less cream and mixing in some water as well.
How much heavy cream should I substitute for milk?
I mixed 2 tablespoons of cream with 2 tablespoons of water to replace the 1/4 cup of milk called for.
But feel free to change the ratios, more cream will give you a richer dish.
Taste: Honestly, no noticeable difference in taste. (Great for mac and cheese purists).
Texture: Slightly creamier. Not much thicker than milk though, just a tad.
Overall: If you weren’t told that the milk was substituted, you probably wouldn’t know.
Using extra butter makes the mac and cheese quite rich and slightly less cheesy. But it’s still delicious.
Go easy with how much extra you add. The dish already has a decent amount in it.
Butter works well as long as you make sure it’s all melted by adding it to a hot pan and mixing it thoroughly.
How much butter should I substitute for milk?
Start by adding 2 tablespoons (28g) of butter and ensuring it melts and blends in with the cheese powder/butter mixture.
This works out at roughly a 1:2 substitution ratio of butter to milk.
You may choose to add more butter than me which is perfectly fine. Just make sure to stir it thoroughly enough so that it melts and blends in with the cheese powder before adding more.
Taste: A bit richer, can mask the cheese flavor if you’re not careful and add too much
Texture: A little thicker, not much.
Overall: Does a good job overall.
OK. Public Service Announcement: Evaporated milk and condensed milk are NOT the same.
This is mostly for my partner which accidentally got the wrong can from the store.
But don’t worry, after noticing the error – I still decided to try the condensed version as some bloggers claim you can use it. Hint: they 100% have not tried it. Yuk!
I tested the evaporated version after taking the photos of the initial batch. Here’s what I found.
Evaporated milk works well as a milk substitute, especially when you mix it with water beforehand.
Evaporated milk is made by heating it to remove half of its water content, so it makes sense to substitute regular milk for a 50:50 mix of evaporated milk and water.
The end result is a dish fairly similar in taste and consistency to using regular milk.
How to substitute evaporated milk for regular milk in mac and cheese
Mix2 tablespoons of evaporated milk with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl.
Next, add the evaporated milk and water mixture as you normally would to the mac and cheese, butter and cheese powder mix.
Taste: No noticeable differences.
Texture: No noticeable differences.
Overall: Works fine. A great option if you have some evaporated milk ready to be used.
After reading some comments on a few food forums, I decided to try using a roux to replace the milk in the mac and cheese.
As you probably already know, a roux is normally used to thicken up a dish or sauce.
Therefore, the mac and cheese ended up thicker (as you would expect) but with a little less richness compared to just adding butter alone.
If you like your mac and cheese creamy and thick, using a roux in place of milk is a great way of achieving that. All you need is a little extra flour and butter.
How to use a roux to replace milk in mac and cheese
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a pan and melt.
- Add 1 tablespoon of flour and whisk into the melted butter mixture until smooth.
- Cook for at least 60 seconds (to cook off any raw flour flavour).
- Add the mac and cheese to the pan and mix with all other ingredients (cheese powder, butter, macaroni). Add a few tablespoons of water to thin the sauce if you wish.
Taste: Slightly richer than with milk, but less so than just adding pure butter.
Texture: Thicker than usual.
Overall: Works well and doesn’t impart too much of a flavor change, but more effort than most of the other subs.
Olive oil is OK at replacing milk. Nothing special though, but fine in a pinch if used sparingly.
I much prefer the methods I’ve listed above. This is where the substitutions either depend on:
- Personal preference
- Lack of other ingredients available to you
So with that warning out of the way, what did I think about using olive oil as a milk substitute in my mac and cheese?
The mac and cheese felt a little oily and dare I say it – a bit slime-y.
There’s potential that I went a little overboard on adding the oil. I definitely wouldn’t recommend subbing it in using a 1:1 ratio as with most of the ingredients so far.
How much olive oil should I use instead of milk?
Start by adding 1 tablespoon of oil in with the cheese powder and butter. Mix well until all of the cheese powder has blended into a sauce.
If the cheese powder hasn’t fully dissolved, add another tablespoon (or a little less) and continue to mix until the cheese powder has fully dissolved and coated the macaroni.
Taste: I could taste the oil, which I didn’t like.
Texture: A little oily – I probably added too much oil initially.
Overall: meh, I wasn’t a fan.
Pasta water. Some call it ‘liquid gold‘.
It’s the water left behind after you’ve cooked the macaroni – which means everyone should have some.
Slightly cloudy and gray looking, it’s filled with starch and helps to bind the sauce to the pasta.
For best results, use the minimum amount of water possible to cook the pasta.
This helps concentrate the starch.
Why don’t they tell you this on the box?!
How much pasta water should I use instead of milk?
I added the pasta water in place of milk in a 1:2 ratio. For a regular 7.25oz box of mac and cheese, this means adding 2 tablespoons of pasta water.
Continue to add extra tablespoons of pasta water if necessary until the cheese powder mixture has fully emulsified.
Taste: enhances the butter taste slightly, overall good though.
Texture: A little thin. You can combat this by continuing to heat the macaroni for a few seconds after you’ve mixed the ingredients in. As some of the water in the mixture evaporates, the dish will thicken slightly.
Overall: A good substitute, especially considering that you don’t need any other ingredients.
Note: ANY vegan milk will do. I didn’t try it but I think oat milk would be really nice.
Soya milk is an interesting one.
It adds a touch of sweetness to the mac and cheese and has virtually the same consistency as milk.
It makes a great vegan substitute for milk in Kraft Mac and Cheese.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to make this substitution, but it works well enough when you don’t have regular milk to hand (or don’t drink regular milk).
How much soya milk should I use in place of regular milk?
Use a 1:1 ratio, making sure you’re using a plain unsweetened milk.
As soya milk is quite similar to regular milk in many ways, it doesn’t make sense to change the ratio of what you add to the dish.
Taste: slightly sweet. Personal preference comes into play here. Not my favorite.
Texture: no difference.
Overall: If you already have soy milk at home, chances are you’ll like it enough to use it as a substitution.
Almond milk is one of the many types of alternative milks you may have in your refrigerator or cupboard. But unlike others, almond milk has quite a distinctive taste.
Along with soya milk, this is the only other alternative milk I’ve tried as a substitute.
And I didn’t like it.
The flavor is just way too distinctive to go well in such a savory and cheesy dish.
That said though, you may personally love almond milk.
If you do, there’s no harm in giving it a shot. Just be sure you use plain almond milk, not the sweetened version.
How much almond milk should I use as a milk replacement?
I would start by using a 1:2 ratio and adding in more almond milk if necessary.
That way, you get the benefit of the milk binding the sauce and also introduce the new flavor gradually.
Taste: Not for me. But if it’s in your cupboard, my guess is you like the taste. Avoid using almond milk that’s been sweetened.
Texture: No real difference.
Overall: This options really down to personal preference.
Initially, I couldn’t really taste the difference between sour cream and using regular milk.
However, after trying another few mouthfuls a few moments later, the dish tasted quite tangy.
I loved it, but my partner wasn’t so much of a fan.
If you like sour cream – go for it.
How much sour cream should I use as a milk substitute?
Start by adding a single tablespoon and mixing it thoroughly into to dish.
If the cheese powder has formed into a nice, emulsified sauce, there’s no need to continue adding any more sour cream. Have a taste and decide if you’re happy.
Taste: Slightly tangy.
Texture: A tad thicker than usual.
Overall: I would use it again if I was in the mood for something different.
Yogurt is another milk substitute that will divide people.
My partner preferred yogurt to sour cream, but could still taste a strong tang and additional flavor within the dish.
If you choose to substitute milk for yogurt, unflavored, unsweetened is best. I used an unflavored Greek yogurt for this test.
How much yogurt should I use as a milk substitute?
Adding a tablespoon at a time and mixing it into to dish until you’re happy with the taste and consistency.
Taste: Noticeable flavor, tangy.
Texture: Not much difference. Very slightly thicker.
Overall: A fine substitute.
Powdered milk is a great stock ingredient to have on hand in your cupboard.
If you don’t have any, pick some up with your next shop and you’ll never run out of milk again.
You can mix powdered milk with water and you have… you guessed it, milk!
How much powdered milk should I use as a milk substitute?
Mix the powdered milk with water according the the packet instructions, then replace the milk in a 1:1 ratio.
This was a perfect substitute, you’d be hard pressed to tell that I hadn’t used regular milk.
I used chicken stock, but any kind of stock or broth will do.
I recommend looking for a low-sodium version otherwise the dish can taste overly seasoned.
How much stock should I use as a milk substitute?
Replace the milk in a 1:1 ratio with stock.
If you don’t want too much extra flavor added, dilute the stock before adding it.
I really like the flavor the stock added to the mac and cheese, it wasn’t that similar to milk but it certainly wasn’t bland.
A good substitute.
Mayonnaise… everyone has a jar hanging out in their fridge.
If it hasn’t been touched for months (years?!) then I’d suggest getting a new jar, but if it’s pretty fresh it can help add some creaminess into your mac and cheese.
Tip: mix in a pinck of mustard or ketchup along with the mayonnaise for some extra flavor.
How much mayonnaise should I use as a milk substitute?
I would add a tablespoon at a time of mayonnaise at a time until you’re happy.
I’m not a fan of mayonnaise in general, so I didn’t like the sweet taste it gave my Kraft Mac and Cheese dinner.
But like other more flavorful substitutes, if you like the taste, you’ll probably love it in your mac and cheese.
How to make kraft mac and cheese without milk
To make Kraft mac and cheese without milk, cook the pasta as normal and measure out the required amount of butter and your milk substitute (see below for exact measurements).
When the pasta is cooked, mix in the butter, cheese powder and your chosen milk substitute until you’re happy with the taste and consistency of your mac and cheese.
Best vegan milk alternatives for Kraft Mac and Cheese
Milk substitutes for Kraft Mac and Cheese
- 60 g Shredded cheese add slowly
- 2 tbsp Cream cheese mix with water
- 2 tbsp Cream mix with water
- 2 tbsp Butter add slowly
- 2 tbsp Evaporated milk mix with water
- 1 tbsp Roux butter and flour
- 1 tbsp Olive oil add slowly
- 1/4 cup Pasta water add slowly
- 1/4 cup Soya milk add slowly
- 1/4 cup Almond milk add slowly
- 2 tbsp Sour cream add slowly
- 2 tbsp Yogurt add slowly
- 1/4 cup Powdered milk mix with water
- 1/4 cup Stock add slowly
- 2 tbsp Mayonnaise add slowly
- Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions
- When the pasta is done, mix in butter, cheese powder and your milk substitute.
- Mix until all combined and you're happy with the consistency and serve.