I made this incredibly delicious mac and cheese without milk, yet it is still wonderfully creamy and loaded with flavor! Best of all, unlike traditional homemade mac and cheese, my recipe even reheats well without the sauce breaking! The secret is in my milk substitute!
I promise if you are looking for an easy no milk mac and cheese recipe that uses simple ingredients, this one is fantastic... even if you have regular milk on hand! Expect this to quickly become a family favorite! Plus, you can have it ready in under 15 minutes!
Can you make mac and cheese without milk?
Milk is typically an essential ingredient in any homemade mac and cheese recipe because it (or similar liquids such as heavy cream) forms the backbone of the cheese sauce. This is true for regular dairy milk or any non-dairy milk substitute such as soy milk, rice milk, and coconut milk. Without some sort of milk, the sauce has to be completely recreated using different ingredients and methods.
However, you can make the best mac n cheese without milk by melting your favorite cheeses into a mixture of cream cheese, sour cream, and pasta water. It actually works very well!
This is the best substitute because the cream cheese serves as a binder and thickening agent, the sour cream lightens the mixture and adds tanginess, and the pasta water (you could also use chicken broth) thins it out into a creamy consistency while adding binding power. Best of all, adding cream cheese to your cheese sauce allows leftovers to be reheated without the sauce breaking into an oily mess!
- Elbow macaroni noodles
- Mild cheddar cheese - Mild cheddar melts best and makes a creamier sauce, but sharp cheddar cheese can be used for added flavor. The best cheese is going to be the one you enjoy eating most.
- Monterey Jack cheese - Other mild cheeses, such as Provolone cheese, can be substituted.
- Sour cream
- Cream cheese
- Pasta water - Reserved from boiling the noodles.
- Ground mustard powder
How to make Mac and Cheese without Milk
Begin making this macaroni and cheese recipe without milk by boiling a large pot of salted water. Add the elbow noodles and cook macaroni according to the package instructions.
While the noodles boil, melt the cream cheese and sour cream in a separate large saucepan over medium-low heat (reduce to low heat if the sauce starts bubbling). Add in the ground mustard, and the pasta water once the noodles are almost done boiling.
Note: You want to wait to use the pasta water until the noodles have almost finished boiling because you want the water to be loaded with starch for its binding power.
Stir the cheese shreds into the sauce mixture until melted and well combined. At this point, the noodles should be finished boiling, so the cooked noodles can be drained from the water and combined with the sauce.
Note: You can actually make this a one-pot homemade mac and cheese by draining the noodles and combining all of the sauce ingredients with the noodles, however, I prefer the added control of making the sauce in a separate pan.
Customize this recipe
This recipe yields a wonderfully creamy mac and cheese, but for more texture, you can melt butter in a saucepan with bread crumbs and sprinkle the mixture on top of the mac and cheese, set it in a baking dish or casserole dish, and broil it in the oven until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
Feel free to change up the types of cheese used to fit your personal tastes. Any cheddar works great, as does any mild-tasting cheese such as Pepper Jack, Provolone, or even Mozzarella cheese. Parmesan cheese can be added in addition to the cheeses included in this recipe.
Flavorings such as black pepper, onion powder, hot sauce, or even horseradish can be added to the cheese mixture to bring the flavor in a new direction.
How to Reheat Mac and Cheese
The cream cheese used in this recipe helps the mac and cheese reheat really well. Simply place leftover mac and cheese in a bowl and set it in the microwave. Reheat for one minute at a time, stirring after each minute, until it is heated through. The leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoyed within five days.
More Mac and Cheese Recipes
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Mac and Cheese without Milk
- 12 ounces elbow macaroni noodles
- 8 ounces mild cheddar cheese shredded
- 4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese shredded
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- ¼ cup pasta water reserved from boiling the noodles
- ¾ teaspoon ground mustard
- Boil the elbow macaroni noodles in a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat according to the package instructions until al dente.
- In a separate medium saucepan melt the 2 ounces of cream cheese and quarter cup of sour cream together over medium-low heat. Add in ground mustard powder, and ¼ cup of pasta water when the noodles are almost done boiling.
- Stir sauce together and add handfuls of shredded cheese. Repeat, adding more cheese as the cheese melts into the sauce.
- Drain the macaroni noodles from the water and place in a large bowl. Pour cheese sauce over the noodles and gently combine everything with a wooden spoon.
- Serve immediately.
This recipe was originally published on October 6, 2021 on FoxValleyFoodie.com.
This was just what I was looking for! No milk and lots of leftover elbow macaroni. Had to substitute some plain yogurt for part of the sour cream. Best Mac and cheese I’ve had in years!
May I substitute the ground mustard with a liquid one? If so which one would you recommend? I have everything but ground🙄
Fox Valley Foodie
Yes, using yellow mustard is fine.
I like to use chicken bone broth instead of the pasta water. Just adds another level of flavor.
Fox Valley Foodie
I like that idea!