Out of butter while making macaroni and cheese? Don’t be sad, in this article we are sharing some 100% working butter substitute in mac and cheese!
Mac and cheese is undoubtedly the most favorite comfort food of the Americans. You can have it as a snack, lunch, dinner or basically any time of the day. Apart from cheese, do you know what gives you mac and cheese an amazing flavor and texture? It’s butter!
Butter is an essential ingredient for making heavenly mac and cheese. But what if you run out of butter? Or what to do if you’re a vegan? Is there any substitute for butter in macaroni and cheese?
Well, yes! There are some other substitutes that will not only replace butter but will also add a unique flavor in your macaroni and cheese. Let’s discuss all these ingredients in detail.
Substitutes for butter in mac and cheese
You can substitute butter for different types of fat, like margarine, ghee, oil, heavy cream, or cream cheese.
Vegan options include nut butters like tahini or homemade peanut butter, and may also include coconut oil.
Depending on what you’re looking for in your mac and cheese, you can use one or several of the ingredients above. Some of these ingredients will definitely change the final flavor of mac n cheese, but it might be a welcome change.
Now let’s discuss each of these ingredients and how they can be used instead of butter.
The first and the most common butter substitute that’s solely trusted by vegans is margarine.
For those who don’t know, margarine is very similar to butter in terms of resemblance and texture. It is a plant based fat source, also known as “vegan butter”, but is not exclusive to vegans.
It is prepared from vegetable oil and water instead of milk. Moreover, it is packaged, sold and even widely used as butter in baking and cooking.
Talking specifically about mac and cheese, margarine works like a charm. It will not only make your roux thick and creamy but will also impart a nice buttery flavor to your macaroni and cheese.
This is by far the best option you have for replacing butter, whether you’re vegan or not. It’s the closest you will get to the flavor you’re looking for.
You can throw in a little nutritional yeast for extra flavor, or some heavy cream if you’re looking for extra richness.
2. Clarified Butter / Ghee
If you’re simply out of butter and if you’ve no restrictions for dairy, then you can use ghee instead of butter. Ghee is made by melting or clarifying butter and it works totally fine in the place of butter.
It has high-fat content but it’s more rich and less oil, making a perfect butter substitute.
3. Cream Cheese
For the flavoring part, you can replace butter with cream cheese. It will make the mac and cheese creamy and thick, and will add a nice tang to the final dish.
However, for making roux, you have to use either butter, oil, ghee or margarine.
4. Heavy cream
If you’re looking for richness and a really decadent, calorie-rich alternative to butter then go for heavy cream. This is what butter is made out of, actually.
You get some heavy cream in a very tightly closed container, and shake it vigorously for several minutes. The fats and proteins will clump together, and the whey will separate.
Voila, butter !
If you don’t feel like making butter, just add the cream as-is and you’re good to go. Don’t try to make a roux though, it won’t go well.
5. Plant-based options
As in, options that are definitely dairy free and most vegans probably already have in their pantries.
Coconut oil behaves like butter, so it will make a good roux as well.
Regular cooking oil will work well too, though it won’t being too much flavor and you will have to compensate with seasoning.
Tahini and peanut butter are very oily and will provide both protein and fats to make the mac n cheese really creamy. In fact, they both might bring out the nuttiness in cheese even more.
When making the roux, use the oils that separate to the top, and add in the rest after the roux is done.
Can I Use Mayo Instead of Butter In Mac and Cheese?
Mayonnaise is again good for adding the creaminess in boxed macaroni but not ideal for making the sauce for homemade mac and cheese.
Another concern while using mayonnaise is that it overpowers the flavor of the cheese. So, it is not an ideal butter substitute in mac and cheese.
How Much Butter Substitute To Use?
If you’re using margarine or clarified butter for making homemade macaroni sauce, then you can use it in the same way and same quantity as butter. Suppose if your recipe calls for adding 4 tablespoons of butter, you can replace it with 4 tablespoons of ghee or margarine.
However, if you’re making boxed macaroni, then you can use either sour cream, mayonnaise or yogurt for getting the creamy texture. For this, you can substitute 4 tablespoons of butter with 1 cup of either of these substitutes.
Keep in mind that when cooking it’s okay to mess up every now and then, and if the final texture isn’t to your liking you can always fix it.
If it’s too oily, add something acidic or a starch, so sour cream or cream cheese will work.
If it’s to dry, add more milk or heavy cream.
Is Butter Really Important For Cooking Mac And Cheese?
The simple answer lies somewhere between yes and no! Confused? Let’s make it clear.
If you’ve ever tried making boxed macaroni and cheese, they don’t come with butter. This is because of its short shelf life. A majority of packaged mac and cheese can be made without butter.
You can use milk or cream instead to make it more luscious and creamy. Although butter has its own amazing flavor, if you want to cut it down, you’re absolutely free to do so.
In fact, most of the health-conscious and vegan folks cut down butter in order to make their macaroni a bit healthier.
Moreover, the only cooking involved in making boxed mac and cheese is boiling the pasta. Butter is added after the real cooking part is done. So, it’s only purpose is to impart a nice flavor and richness to the final dish.
So, apart from flavoring the macaroni, butter also adds a richness to it. This means, if you’re not adding butter, you’re compromising on its richness. Hence, you have to find some other fat source to fill that void in your lovely cheesy macaroni.
What does butter do in mac n cheese ?
As we already discussed, the main purpose of adding butter in the boxed mac and cheese is providing an additional flavor. So, you can get that richness and flavor by adding full-cream milk or heavy cream.
However, in case of homemade mac and cheese, you have to use butter or any other fat source for preparing the base sauce or the roux. Further, butter also helps in thickening the sauce.
The basic step for making the roux is adding flour to the heated butter and mixing it together while adding milk. Afterwards, cheese and seasoning is added to this mixture to prepare a rich and creamy sauce for the macaroni.
Another role of butter is to prevent the mac and cheese from getting too dry. It keeps the macaroni nice and moist and gooey.
If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.