Butter plays a pretty important part when making homemade mac and cheese. If you’re whipping up boxed mac and cheese, in the instructions, butter is usually added after the noodles have cooked. Butter is mainly added into the boxed mac and cheese purely for added flavor.
In the case of homemade butter, butter is used to make a roux together with flour, as a thickening agent for the milk and cheese. After all, we’ll need the cheese sauce to coat the beautiful macaroni! Butter, as a fat, plays an integral role in keeping the mac and cheese moist, flavorful and creating texture for it.
But what if you run out of butter or simply want a lower calorie count mac and cheese (yes, that’s possible)?
There are many substitutes for butter in mac and cheese. Not all will keep the same flavor as butter in mac and cheese but it could be a surprisingly good palate.
Here’s our list of best butter substitutes for mac and cheese.
This is the most common substitute for butter in anything so it could be used as a substitute for butter in our beloved mac and cheese. Margarine and butter roughly have the same fat content and they look similar and almost have the same creamy and smooth texture. Margarine is typically made of vegetable oil instead of dairy. It contributes almost the same flavor as butter but it serves its purpose as a texture enhancer and moisturizer in mac and cheese.
Ghee is the closest substitute to butter in general. Ghee is generally clarified butter so you don’t really have to worry about the fat solids. Ghee could be used as the thickener for the roux and it’ll definitely add the same buttery flavor that normal butter does to mac and cheese. The roux may not thicken the same as butter but it’s a good enough substitute for butter in mac and cheese.
I know what you’re thinking. How can yogurt keep its form when added to mac and cheese? The key is to believe. Yogurt could be a replacement for butter in mac and cheese because of its dairy and fat content. It’ll add sourness to the mac and cheese and it’s surprisingly delightful in the palate. If using yogurt, you don’t need to add both butter and milk. The yogurt will serve as the partner of cheese in the mac and cheese.
4. Sour Cream
Just like yogurt, sour cream’s fat and dairy content makes it a good substitute for butter in mac and cheese. Unlike yogurt, the sour cream will help retain the form of the saucy cheese. It’ll have a bit more body than the yogurt. It’ll make the mac and cheese a little sour but we like the added zing!
An abomination? Not really. Mayonnaise is used in a variety of dishes to help moisten the dish and add flavor. Mayonnaise is even added to chocolate cake to retain moisture. Mayonnaise may sound evil but really, it’s just oil and eggs. Mayonnaise could be a good substitute for butter in mac and cheese to retain moisture. Don’t use too much of it because the mayonnaise might overpower the flavor of the cheese. Although it could balance out the flavors, it might be overpowering when used too much.
6. Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is a good substitute for butter in terms of flavor. If you don’t want to use butter and prefer a different kind of flavoring, cream cheese is a sure win. It’ll give that cheesy zing that the cream cheese forever promises. However, it cannot be used to make a roux. You’ll need to use a different kind of fat for that.
7. Heavy Cream
Another good substitute for butter flavoring in mac and cheese is heavy cream. It is a decadent and delicious substitute that is higher in fat content. It’s a good substitute because it is after all where butter came from. Add heavy after mixing the cheese in to create a good textured sauce. Do not use heavy cream to make roux because it won’t work.
8. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is high in fat therefore it makes a good roux! It’s a good agent for thickening sauces. However, the flavor of coconut oil is quite strong so you should expect a difference in flavor for the mac and cheese.
9. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is also high in fat and absolutely delicious. You might be wondering if the flavor of your mac and cheese will totally be altered with the peanut butter flavor. It won’t be totally altered but there will be a difference in taste. The oil on top that separates from the peanut butter is good for making roux. The rest of the peanut butter should be added after the roux has been made.
Tahini is made from toasted sesame seeds, turned into a paste. It is also high in fat. The fat on top that separates from the tahini is good to make roux. Just like with peanut butter, the rest of the tahini should be added after the roux has been made. Tahini’s nutty nature will bring out the nuttiness of the cheese even more making it a delicious substitute for butter in mac and cheese. Tahini is a great substitute for butter when making vegan mac and cheese.