Skip to Content

14 Amazing Butter Substitutes In Mac And Cheese With Flavorful Taste

Mac and Cheese is a classic of western cooking. It may not be the fanciest dish, but it is a staple of bars, cafés, and any mom’s kitchen. It is easy to see why when you look at the ingredient list for the simplest butter substitutes in Mac and Cheese.

Best Butter Substitutes In Mac And Cheese

The dish can be as simple as butter, pasta, cheese, flour, and milk, and, although it is not the most recommended recipe, it still fills a hole.

On the occasions when we come home, maybe after a long day, maybe after a long night, and in need of something quick and easy, we turn to Mac and Cheese. Yet, when we open the fridge door, there is no butter.

You may not think that this is a big deal, it’s not called ‘Butter, Mac, and Cheese’ after all. However, this one small ingredient is vital to making a good Mac and Cheese, forming the glue that holds the sauce together.

Without it, your dinner would be nothing more than a gloppy mess. So, what do you do without it? You do what every college student has done since the dawn of time, you experiment with substitutes.

Quick Table: Alternatives Of Butter

SubstitutesCalories (Per 100 Grams)
Heavy Cream345
Cream Cheese342
Sour Cream193
Vegetable Oil884
Coconut Oil862
Nuts And Nut Butter (Especially Cashew)581
Mashed Vegetables81
Nut Butter588
Mashed Bananas89
Olive Oil884
Plain Greek Yogurt120
Mashed Avocados160

In this list, we are going to tell you the best butter substitutes in Mac and Cheese.

1. Heavy Cream

As they are both made from cream, a good butter substitutes in Mac and Cheese is heavy cream. Being incredibly rich and indulgent, heavy cream forms an incredible sauce which can be applied in almost any way.

The fat content means it can be made into a roux, a sauce made from equal parts fat and flour, in this case just add half as much cream as you would butter.

Should you feel obliged, you can make your own butter from it, although this takes some effort and can get messy when you need to wash the butter.

You could also use cream at the start by cooking the pasta in a half cream, half water mixture before adding cheese. This provides a creamy, rich sauce, while having enough starch to coat the pasta in a superb, textured layer.

How To Substitute

Heavy cream is the most versatile ingredient in the world. The thick, creamy liquid is used to make everything from a decadent cheesecake to a classic macaroni and cheese.

2. Cream Cheese

A substitute I’m sure we all tried, or at least added to our Mac and Cheese, at some point: cream cheese. Substituting butter for cream cheese is an instant flavor booster, adding a level of depth and creaminess to your Mac and Cheese.

The problems arise with cream cheese when trying to make a roux for the foundation of your dish. A roux needs a malleable fat to adhere to the butter, which cream cheese doesn’t do.

As such, if you plan to use cream cheese, the best option is to forgo making the roux. Instead, use a different foundation, such as heavy cream or milk, bring it to a gentle simmer before incorporating the cream cheese.

Adding the cream cheese this way will thicken and flavor the sauce, then you can reduce it down to your desired consistency and add your main cheese. In this way, you can create a beautiful dish without using butter or even a roux.

How To Substitute

The substitute for mac n cheese is cream cheese. This dish is a must-try if you love the creamy, cheesy taste. This is a popular dish for a special occasion, or for when you are feeling extra indulgent.

3. Sour Cream

Sour Cream

At this point, we are moving away from standard substitutes that most people think about and into unknown regions, starting with sour cream.

The tangy flavor of sour cream makes for a vibrant flavor profile, as it mixes with the saltiness of the cheese and starchiness of the pasta.

Similarly to heavy cream, it can be used to make a roux with the same proportions, adding half as much cream as you would butter. However, it struggles a little when cooking pasta in it.

Therefore, the best option when using sour cream is to cook the pasta and save about half a cup of the pasta water. Then, gently heat the cream in the water until it is incorporated, before adding your main cheese off the heat.

It is not the best sauce on the list, but it is good for a five-minute meal.

How To Substitute

There’s nothing better than the classic mac n cheese, but if you’re trying to cut back on carbs, substitute sour cream for the milk and cheese. A thick, rich, and flavorful cream is made with fresh and all-natural ingredients.

4. Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils are a fantastic option for a Mac and Cheese. Even though they may not give the depth of flavor as some of the other choices do, they give you the freedom to cook Mac and Cheese the way you know how, and they are suitable for most dietary needs.

Since vegetable oils are an edible fat, it can be used to form your roux, although you only need a small amount – much less than butter – or your roux will be thin and far too oily.

With neutral flavored oils like canola or sunflower, you will need to add more flavor boosters, as all the flavor you would normally get from fat will not be there. Try mustard powder, paprika, or extra cheese to even out the flavor.

You could also use a more prominently flavored oil, like olive or sesame, which would make your sauce hearty and much more robust in flavor. However, do be aware that these flavors will be prominent, so when adding cheese or seasoning try to make it match.

How To Substitute

Hoping to make a change for the better, substitute mac n cheese with vegetable oils and butter in the first round of a meal, like in the comfort of your own home.

RELATED: 6 Amazing Butter Substitutes For Your Toast

5. Coconut Oil

Of most of the substitutes on this list, I believe this is one of the two most surprising. A staple of Asian cuisine, as food has globalized, so has this humble oil.

With its growing following in the west and the multiple ways people have found to use coconut oil, seeing it in Mac and Cheese may become more common than you would think.

There are two main benefits of Coconut oil: one is that it remains solid at room temperature, acting as butter would, two is that of the oils it is the most similar in texture to butter.

With these benefits, you can reasonably replace butter in your roux with coconut oil for the same amount.

The only real downsides are the distinct flavor of coconut oil overpowering you dish. The solution to this is to add flavorings that compliment coconut oil and balance this with the cheese in your sauce.

If you wanted, you could try and make a variation of Mac and Cheese using flavors from Thailand or Sri Lanka, though I am unsure how this would go.

How To Substitute

You can substitute mac and cheese with coconut oil to give a slight different flavor to the recipe. Coconut oil is a popular cooking oil used to make many types of foods. It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, as well as baked goods.

RELATED: 12 Tasty Applesauce Recipes To Substitute With Butter

6. Nuts And Nut Butters (Especially Cashew)

When I said earlier about the two most surprising, I prepared you for this entrant. Nuts are incredibly high in fat, making them a perfect substitute for a creamy sauce.

I have been told many times about their benefits, especially about Cashew Mac and Cheese, which is meant to be insanely creamy and tasty.

How this was first created or discovered I can only put down to sorcery or mad science, but no matter its origins, I am happy it is here.

As with other entrants, nuts and nut butters will not create a roux. The way around this is to make a sauce first using milk on its own or a milk substitute with a small amount of another fat and reduce it down to a thicker consistency.

Then, put the sauce in a blender with your nut or nut butter of choice, add whatever other spices or herbs you want, then blend to a thick, creamy consistency free of lumps.

Once finished, you can add your cheese or cheese alternative, and you have your Mac and Cheese, ready to eat.

The one problem with nuts is their strong and pronounced flavors, similarly to the coconut oil. The best way around this is by adding spices or strong flavor profiles that complement the nuts themselves.

Mustard often works well in regular Mac and Cheese, and it isn’t a bad choice here, either.

How To Substitute

Nut butter is a popular choice for a go-to snack that can be easily packed for lunch. It is also a filling food, providing a healthy alternative to high-fat, high-calorie snacks. This recipe for mac n cheese with nut butter is a healthier version of a classic dish.

7. Mashed vegetables

Mashed vegetables are a simple, easy to make side dish that can be made in a variety of ways. 

They can be served with almost any meal and are a perfect complement to main dishes such as soups, stews, and braises. 

They can be served hot or cold and in a variety of different ways. Mashed vegetables are a simple, easy to make side dish that can be made in a variety of ways. They can be served hot or cold and in a variety of different ways.

This is a delicious, savory vegetable-based dish that is perfect for meatless mondays or as a side dish to your favorite entrée.

Healthy and hearty, this creamy mac and cheese has a secret ingredient that will change the way you think about mac and cheese forever. Made with potatoes, cauliflower, and cauliflower rice, it is low-carb, gluten-free, and vegan.

 It is a perfect dish for the people who want to cook a quick dinner but don’t want to put too much effort in it.

How To Substitute: You can substitute mashed vegetables for butter and mac and cheese by cooking them in a saucepan, then mixing them into the pasta. This way, you get a vegetable-based dish that still tastes like the original.

8. Nut Butters

A product that is made from a mixture of nuts and oil, and has a consistency similar to peanut butter. It is often used as a spread on breads, crackers, or in baking recipes.

The smooth, thick texture and sweet, nutty flavor will make you wonder as they have the same texture and consistency as butter, so they make a perfect swap.

The ingredients make it an easy spread that can be used for cooking, baking, or even eating straight out of the jar. 

A delicious and nutritious spread made from raw nuts and seeds that tastes great on breads, crackers, vegetables, and more. Ingredients: almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and coconut oil.

How To Substitute

Butter and mac and cheese are a classic comfort food. Nut butters are a healthy, alternative to the classics. Nut butters are a great substitute for butter or mac and cheese. Nut butters contain high amounts of healthy fats and can be used in many ways. Some of these ways include cooking and baking, but nut butters can also be spread on bread, cereal, or added to oatmeal.

9. Mashed Bananas

With no butter or cheese, this dish is packed with natural sugars, protein, and fiber. This dish is a good way to cut down on carbs.

The Keto-friendly recipe for mashed bananas has a creamy texture and it is a healthy alternative to butter or mac cheese.

It also contains a lot of other yummy ingredients like almond milk, honey, and cinnamon that help the flavor and texture. This recipe is perfect for when you are craving something sweet and creamy.

Mashed bananas are a popular and healthy substitute for butter or macaroni and cheese. This is a tasty dessert option that can be enjoyed by anyone.

How To Substitute

Mashed bananas are a healthy alternative to mac and cheese or butter because they’re a good source of potassium, vitamins, and iron. They’re also easy to make, and can be eaten by themselves or in other recipes. Bananas are a great substitute for mac and cheese, butter, or other dishes that call for a cream sauce. When you mash bananas with some sugar, they are a creamy substitute for a sauce, just like the original.

10. Applesauce

Most people will probably say it is impossible to make a recipe without butter or cheese. However, if you are on a strict diet, there are some tricks that can help you cook without the need for these ingredients. 

Many recipes call for applesauce, or other fruit puree. This is a great substitute for butter or cheese because it is lower in calories, cholesterol, and saturated fat than butter or cheese. 

Applesauce in place of butter or mac cheese is a vegan, gluten-free, and healthy alternative to your usual indulgent meals. This easy to make recipe can be made in less than 10 minutes.

How To Substitute

To avoid adding extra calories, swap in applesauce for the usual mac and cheese or butter. This recipe for applesauce is quick and easy to make and tastes delicious with cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

11. Olive Oil

Olive oil is a key ingredient in many popular dishes. Its flavor is savory and unique, and is often used to add depth to dishes. 

The oil is a healthy alternative to butter and mac cheese. It is also great for cooking vegetables, bread, and meat.

The olive oil and the basil leaves give a unique taste to the macaroni and cheese.

Olive oil is a healthy and tasty alternative to butter or mac cheese. In place of butter, you can use olive oil to sauté vegetables or sear meat. In place of mac cheese, you can use this oil in a pasta dish, or to dip vegetables in.

Olive oil is not just a great cooking oil but it can also be used as a healthier alternative to butter and other oils. With a mild flavor and rich texture, olive oil has a lot of uses, from cooking to cosmetics.

How To Substitute

Olive oil is a great substitution for butter, and is much healthier. You can replace mac and cheese with an easy and healthier option. If you can’t resist the temptation, you can swap mac and cheese with olive oil. Olive oil is made from olives and can be used in place of butter.

12. Plain Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt has been around for centuries, dating back to ancient Greece. It is a low-fat dairy product that is more dense and thicker than regular yogurt. 

It can be used in a variety of dishes including salads, pastries, desserts, and main dishes.

Plain Greek Yogurt is a low-fat yogurt that is often used as a replacement for butter or mac cheese. 

It is a tasty and healthy way to change your breakfast routine. It is often used in cooking and baking as a replacement for butter, but can also be eaten as a snack.

How To Substitute

Greek yogurt can be used as a substitute for macaroni and cheese and butter. The reason why it works so well is because greek yogurt has a higher protein content than macaroni and cheese and is made with milk instead of water. Greek yogurt is also much lower in saturated fat than macaroni and cheese, so it has a much lower impact on cholesterol levels.

13. Mashed Avocados

The only thing better than mashed avocado is mashed avocado and cheese. With an entire stick of butter. And then, with an entire stick of butter.

Avocado is a rich, creamy, buttery, and nutty spread that is an excellent alternative to butter or margarine. 

It is used in countless dishes and is a great source of healthy fat and fiber. The avocado has a unique texture that makes it perfect for mashed potatoes and pasta.

In a need for a healthy meal, mash avocados to use in place of butter or mac cheese. This will reduce the amount of calories and fat in the dish.

How To Substitute

The Perfect Substitute for Mac and Cheese It may be hard to imagine, but mashed avocados can replace the creaminess of mac and cheese in recipes. In a traditional mac and cheese recipe, the sauce is made with heavy cream, butter, and flour. The avocados replace the cream, butter, and flour, which creates a healthier and more vegan-friendly dish. To create a creamy sauce, mix mashed avocado with an equal amount of mayonnaise and mustard.

14. Buttermilk

Buttermilk has a slightly sour flavor, which helps to balance the sweet ingredients in a cake. The slightly tangy flavor of buttermilk also helps to keep baked goods moist.

This creamy, dairy-free alternative is a popular choice for those who are lactose intolerant, vegan, or simply want to avoid dairy products. Made with non-dairy milk and cashews, it’s an indulgent treat that’s also healthy.

Milk with a distinctive buttermilk flavor, it is a liquid that is high in fat and has a mild, slightly acidic flavor.

Buttermilk is traditionally made by adding cultured milk to a pot of warm water and butter. The result is a light and tangy, buttery-flavored liquid that’s delicious on biscuits, pancakes, and in baked goods.

How To Substitute

Buttermilk is one of the main ingredients in a traditional mac and cheese recipe. It’s easy to substitute buttermilk for the liquid in a recipe that calls for milk or cream. Simply take the weight of a cup of buttermilk and divide it by four to get the amount of milk or cream to use in place of it.


Before this list, I bet you didn’t realize the importance of butter to a dish. Further still, I bet you didn’t know of so many alternatives available for our favorite yellow spread.

But as diets have become more varied and the world has become more closely connected, we have had to come up with new ingredients or draw from other cultures to match the changes.

As such, even a dish as simple as home cooked Mac and Cheese can become an indulgent extravagance, if you choose to forgo its simplest ingredient.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do I Even Need Butter For Mac And Cheese?

Butter is a core component to the sauce or roux that you choose to make for your Mac and Cheese. Roux needs that fat for the flour to bind to and, effectively, dissolve when you add another liquid.

If you don’t make a roux, then it becomes a key flavor component and often mellows out more aggressive flavors. Not only that, but it adds additional flavor and salt to your final dish by effectively being the base that your Mac and Cheese is built off.

Can I Just Not Use Butter?

You do not have to use butter if you use an alternative, but not using any kind of butter or butter substitute means that the dish you’re making is probably not Mac and Cheese.

Butter is a key ingredient and also dictates the cooking process, you can’t make a roux without some form of fat. The best this dish would be is cheese on macaroni pasta.

I Can’t Use Butter Or The Ingredients Here. What Should I Do?

Experiment! The way a lot of these alternatives were found was through trial and error.

There are probably many, many more butter alternatives that were tested for Mac and Cheese and were a disaster, but without that experimentation we would not have got the items on this list.

First, find a type of fat that is edible and can replace butter. Then, add it in the places where the butter should be or where you feel it should go best, you may get a few wrong turns, but eventually you will strike gold.

Best Butter Substitutes In Mac And Cheese

Prep time


Cooking time


Total time



Butter is a common ingredient in macaroni and cheese, but it’s not the only option. Learn about the best butter substitutes for macaroni and cheese here.


  • Heavy Cream

  • Cream Cheese

  • Sour Cream

  • Vegetable Oils

  • Coconut oil

  • Nuts And Nut Butters (Especially Cashew)

  • Mashed Vegetables

  • Nut Butter

  • Mashed Bananas

  • Applesauce

  • Olive Oil

  • Plain Greek Yogurt

  • Mashed Avocados

  • Buttermilk


  • Choose your favorite substitute from the list given above
  • Follow the directions given in the recipe after having substituted the ingredient in the correct ratio

Recipe Video

Jess Smith