7 Substitutes for Butter in Mac and Cheese (Including a Healthier Choice)

Making mac and cheese but you have no butter? Or, you simply want a healthier alternative? Here’s what to use.

Some of the best options for substituting butter in macaroni in cheese include margarine, oil, heavy cream, cream cheese, and more. A healthier alternative would be yogurt.

1. Margarine

Margarine is made of water and oil, which actually makes it a good substitute for vegan and vegetarian eaters. 

The good news is that margarine and butter have close to the same flavoring and texture. Margarine is a healthier option too with no cholesterol or saturated fat. Using margarine consistently means eating fewer trans fats and potentially improving your long term health.

2. Oil

As we referenced above, margarine is made of a combination of oil and water. Oil will be a bit more difficult to make into a really good homemade or otherwise mac and cheese. This is in part because it depends on how you like it, and because you can choose between vegetable oil, canola oil, coconut oil and more. 

Don’t add too much oil. Add it slowly when you are at the sage of adding butter. Mix it in and see how your cheese sauce looks. Otherwise, oil can be a good imitator of butter.

3. Heavy Cream

Butter is a product of heavy cream, so this makes total sense! You might have heavy cream around if you bake frequently too. You might need less heavy cream than you would butter, but the result wlil be a creamy sauce that makes your macaroni and cheese stand out. 

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Knowing that butter is made from heavy cream, you can also experiment a little. Churning heavy cream makes butter. Try adding something before you churn it to make your own homemade butter for mac and cheese.

4. Cream Cheese

Cream cheese works with other, lighter options in replacement of butter to add some flavor. Cream cheese is tangy and heavy, and can balance out oil with something creamier.

Cream cheese can be kind of hard out of the fridge. You could consider heating it up a little bit before adding it to your sauce.

Sour cream and cream cheese are also comparable in some ways. One big difference is that cream cheese replaces the milk flavoring with a potentially sweet flavor. On the other hand, you can find lots of different cream cheese flavors that might be more herby if you want that.

5. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil wiil add a plant sweetness to your macaroni and cheese. Often used in baking, this isn’t measured the same way as butter. Add this slowly to avoid diluting your sauce.

Coconut oil otherwise has vitamins and minerals, and is generally considered healthy.

Consider adding another flavoring or less liquidy base with coconut oil to balance the sweet.

6. Mayo

Mayo can be used to replace butter, but it’s better when combined with another less creamy item on this list. Mayo will make your macaroni and cheese creamy quickly. You won’t need to use much to get that effect either!

Mayo is not as healthy as other options. The food product contains egg yolks, vinegar, and other additions. 

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7. Yogurt

You have a couple of choices for yogurt, plain or greek. Greek yogurt will be creamier and tangy. Regular yogurt will be a little less creamy, but retain tangy. Honestly, this sounds good either way. 

Yogurt is also a bit better for you than butter. It’s difficult to know exactly how much to add since yogurt will fill the cup more. Add and keep stirring.

Also be careful with yogurt if you plan to add your cheese mixture while the macaroni is being heated. Yogurt can separate under heat. Add slowly!

Final Thoughts

You don’t have to follow the recipe! Whether you are out of milk or looking for a different approach to your homemade or boxed mac and cheese, you have many options. 

We suggest trying what’s in your fridge. You can also ensure you have a larger variety of butter like products in your fridge when visiting the grocery store next time.