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Using water in mac and cheese

Can You Use Water Instead of Milk for Mac and Cheese?

If you are standing in the middle of your kitchen trying to find out if you can make mac and cheese with water instead of milk, you are in good luck! 

Water is indeed a possible and common substitute for milk when making mac and cheese, though the resulting dish might not be as creamier or thick as with milk. 

Water is an excellent alternative for milk when making mac and cheese, especially if you are counting calories, are lactose intolerant, vegan, or just looking for alternative ways of making the age-old mac and cheese.

In this article, we will look at how you can use water as an alternative to making your favorite mac and cheese and suggest some other alternatives that we found suitable for this yummy delicacy.

About the Macaroni and Cheese Delicacy

Mac and cheese delicacy

Macaroni, like most pasta, traces its roots back to ancient Rome, Italy. Pasta was, and still is a staple for most of Italy and parts of Europe. The dish’s recipe, however, found its way to the Americas thanks to Thomas Jefferson and his slave James, after a trip to Paris.

Thomas Jefferson found the dish as comforting as it was delicious, and he made it a regular serving in his home.

Since then, mac and cheese has become both a common and popular food in most American households. 

Its versatility allows it to be both a family meal served for many during events such as Thanksgiving, and a simple comfort dish served in a bowl for one. 

How is Mac and Cheese Made?

Initially, mac and cheese was made in the oven and was served either as a casserole or pie. Before the many innovations to its recipe, the original mac and cheese consisted of only the two named ingredients. Mac and cheese can be baked or cooked on a stovetop.

For the baked casserole, macaroni and cheese would be layered alternately in the baking tin and then served in slices. 

In the mac and cheese pie, the two ingredients would be used as the filling for a dough crust or pocket.

Now, mac and cheese can be prepared in as little as 20 minutes with just a pan/pot and stove. There are also pre-made instant mac and cheese options, such as Kraft Dinner that require little time and expertise to make.

 If you are adventurous, you can replace the macaroni with other types of pasta or noodles. One can also add as many ingredients to the dish as preferred to tune it to a specific taste. 

Additional ingredients range from bacon, butter, vegetables, and spices, to toppings such as bread crumbs. 

Simple Mac and Cheese Recipe

Simple mac and cheese recipe

The simplest way to make mac and cheese from scratch on a stovetop is to get your preferred macaroni (shaped or plain), cheese, and sauce base (milk or substitute).

With these three core ingredients, you can make a pot full of delicious mac and cheese in just a few steps:

  • Boil the macaroni until soft. Drain and set it aside. Make sure the macaroni is soft enough to have soaked the water but not too soft to break into mush. You can add salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Take your cheese, shred it, and melt it in a pan. You can use more than one type of cheese depending on your preferences and how creamy you would like the dish to be.
  • Add the melted cheese to the previously boiled macaroni and carefully stir to ensure the cheese is evenly spread and mixed. If the macaroni is too soft, it will break during the stirring.
  • Once ready, put the mixed mac and cheese back in a pot or pan on medium heat. Add in the milk (commonly) or substitute, while gently stirring to create a thick creamy sauce. Add spices if needed.
  • Let the mixture cook for a few minutes, and then remove it from the stove. 
  • Serve while hot or after a while of cooling.

What Does Mac and Cheese Have in It?


As the name suggests, mac and cheese has macaroni and cheese as the two main ingredients. 

However, since different people have different tastes and preferences, there are many possible additional ingredients that you can add to the dish. 

These include peppers, ground beef, peas, chicken, mushrooms, and carrots. Mac and cheese also contain milk, water, or other substitutes for making the sauce.

Can You Make Mac and Cheese with Water?

In case you do not have any type of milk in your kitchen, or you simply don’t like it, you can still make this scrumptious meal with just water. The sauce might not be as creamy and thick, but you can fix that by using extra cheese. 

What to Use in Mac and Cheese Instead of Milk

Most people make mac and cheese with milk as it gives the dish a thick and creamy sauce that holds the dish together while giving it fullness. Not everyone likes milk, however. 

More so, not everyone can take milk. What then are the possible alternatives? Here is a list of great substitutes for milk in your mac and cheese.

Coconut Cream

Coconut cream for mac and cheese

Coconut cream is a great alternative for milk in mac and cheese because it provides the same creaminess and thickness that milk does, and also adds a lovely coconut flavor to the dish.

Coconut cream is also rich in vitamins and is an excellent vegan option. 

I usually prefer the organic coconut cream varieties. You can find the organic cream above on Amazon.


Greek yorgut for mac and cheese

If you don’t have milk, but you have yogurt, you can still make an awesome mac and cheese meal. Add a tablespoon of yogurt while stirring until you reach the consistency you prefer, and then enjoy your delicious meal.

Yogurt gives the mac and cheese a heavier touch that leaves you feeling fuller for longer. Use Greek Yogurt for the best results.

Olive Oil

Olive oil as a substitute for mac and cheese

Oil is another great alternative to milk as it makes the mac and cheese soft and nonstick. The only problem with oil is that if overused, it can cause high cholesterol.

I’d highly recommend this Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil that is USDA approved as a milk substitute for mac and cheese since I find it smooth and healthy.


While you can use plain water as a substitute for milk in mac and cheese, the better option would be the water that you just used to boil the pasta.

After draining the boiled pasta, keep the water and use it to make the sauce. Plain water only boils the pasta afresh, which only runs it down in taste and texture.

Read Also: Can You Eat Weetabix with Water? (Read This First)


Roux as a substitute in mac and cheese

Whenever you want thickness for your sauce, making a roux is the best, easiest and cheapest option. All you need is flour, water, and salt to taste.

Prepare the roux to your preferred consistency, and then add in the mac and cheese while stirring to achieve the perfect mix.

So, don’t panic the next time you run out of milk. Just use water or any of the alternatives mentioned above.

1 thought on “Can You Use Water Instead of Milk for Mac and Cheese?”

  1. Pingback: Creamy Delights: 10 Ingenious Substitutes for Milk in Mac and Cheese - Tastespire

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