Want to cook some hearty mac and cheese but you’re out of butter? No need to freak out yet! In this article, we’re discussing what’s a good substitute for butter in mac and cheese so you can whip up your favorite meal without waiting.
Butter in mac and cheese is there to add flavor, nothing else. So a good substitute for it can simply be other types of fat such as margarine, coconut oil, ghee, cream cheese, or heavy cream. The choice depends on how you like your mac and cheese. You can use only one or mix a few of these substitutes together.
Keep reading to find out more about these butter substitutes, how they affect mac and cheese, and how much you should use when making this delicious dish.
As we mentioned above, you can use different types of fat in place of butter including margarine, ghee, cream cheese, heavy cream, or oil. There are also some vegan alternatives such as nut butter (for example homemade peanut butter and tahini) and coconut oil.
Keep in mind that a change in the final flavor of your mac n cheese should be expected, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a welcome one! Here’s a breakdown of each of these substitutes and how you can add them instead of butter in mac and cheese:
First up on our list is margarine, which also happens to be the most common substitute for butter out there. It’s even approved by vegans!
If you’re not familiar with margarine, it’s actually quite similar to butter when it comes to texture and performance. The major difference between the two is that margarine is a fat sourced from plant-based materials, while butter is animal-based fat.
Margarine is made from vegetable oil and water as opposed to butter which is made from milk. This is why it’s often referred to as “vegan butter”, but it’s not exclusive to vegans.
Interestingly enough, margarine is packaged, sold, and widely used as butter for baking and cooking purposes. In this article, our main focus is mac and cheese, and we’re pleased to report that margarine works like magic.
Besides thickening your roux and making it oh-so-creamy, margarine will also deliver a rich, buttery flavor to your mac n cheese. As such, margarine is definitely the best way to go if you wish to replace butter in your recipe.
Regardless of being vegan or not, margarine will get you as close as possible to the taste of the real deal. If you’re looking for extra flavor, you can add some nutritional yeast. A bit of heavy cream is also great for extra richness.
As far as the flavor part of mac and cheese goes, cream cheese has got you covered.
When used instead of butter, cream cheese will make your dish thicker and more creamy, with a lovely tang that can only improve the taste of mac and cheese.
However, cream cheese won’t cut it if you’re making a roux. In this case, you’ll have to use either butter, margarine, ghee, or oil.
If you don’t have any butter left and you have no restrictions against using dairy products, then you consider adding ghee to your mac and cheese instead of butter.
Ghee is the product of melting or clarifying butter. It’s high in fat content and very rich, yet it’s less oily. It works excellent as a butter substitute.
Heavy cream is another great substitute for butter in mac and cheese. It’s a nice choice if you’re looking to add some serious richness to the dish. It’s a bonus that heavy cream is actually what butter is made from.
You put heavy cream in a very tightly closed container then shake it vigorously for a little while. Before you know it, the whey will separate and the fats and proteins will clump together producing butter.
So if you don’t have the time or you’re not in the mood to make butter, you can simply use the heavy cream as is.
Oils are a great dairy-free option that also works for vegans. Most of us already have some kind of oil in our pantries that’ll substitute for butter just fine.
For example, you can use coconut oil to make mac and cheese since it behaves like butter. It’ll also make you a good roux. Regular cooking oil is another reliable solution but it doesn’t pack much flavor so you’ll need to make up for it with seasoning.
Peanut butter and tahini are pretty oily as well, so they’ll add both fat and protein when cooking mac and cheese. They’ll even highlight the nuttiness of the cheese.
Use the oils that tend to separate to the top when you’re making the roux, and throw in the rest once it’s done.[Related Article: 5 Best Pizzelle Maker To Buy In 2021]
Now that you know what’s a good substitute for butter in mac and cheese, you need to also know how much of each substitute you should use.
If you opt for margarine or ghee to make a homemade mac and cheese sauce, then you should treat it just like butter. This means using the same amount and the same technique as butter.
For example, if your recipe calls for adding 3 tablespoons of butter, then you should add 3 tablespoons of margarine or ghee instead.
If you’re making boxed mac and cheese, you can use cream cheese or mayo to get an extra kick of creaminess. In this case, you should add 1 cup of either of these substitutes for every 4 tablespoons of butter.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to turn out perfect from the first try. It’s okay to mess up every here and there as long as you know how to fix things.
For example, if your mac n cheese turns out too oily, adding starch or something acidic can help. This means cream cheese or sour cream can do the trick. Also, if your dish is too dry, just add some more milk or heavy cream.
While mayo can be a good option for adding extra creaminess in boxed mac n cheese, it’s not recommended as a butter substitute when making the sauce or roux for homemade mac and cheese.
What’s more, mayo has a really intense flavor that can easily overpower the flavor of the cheese. So, we advise against substituting butter with mayonnaise.
Well, yes and no. The majority of boxed mac and cheese on the market don’t come with butter because of its short shelf life. Adding butter in this case is optional after the cooking is done to add some flavor and richness to the final dish.
Here, you can use cream cheese or heavy instead of butter to make it more creamy. So, if you want to ditch the butter, you can certainly do so.
However, if you’re making homemade mac and cheese, you need to use butter or any other fat source to prepare the roux or the base sauce. This isn’t just for flavor, but also to help thicken the sauce.[Related Article: 10 Best Glass & Ceramic Bakeware Sets For Baking And Cooking]
Before running to the store to stock up on butter, you may want to have a look in your pantry. Chances are, you got a butter alternative right there but didn’t realize it!
What’s a good substitute for butter in mac and cheese? Well, margarine is your best bet, but you can also use ghee, cream cheese, heavy cream, or oil to save the day.