Grocer to Table | Pasta

Milk free Mac & Cheese

This Milk Free Mac and Cheese is not technically dairy free, although it can be made dairy free by using vegan butter & cheese substitutes. I have made a bechamel for my Mom using these substitutions. She loves it! But let’s face it, it’s better with real butter and cheese, if you tolerate them!

Lobster Milk free Mac & Cheese in clear casserolePin
Milk free Mac and Cheese

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This may seem silly but I am so very excited about this Milk Free Mac and Cheese! I haven’t eaten macaroni and cheese for at least 30 years!

It never really dawned on me to use the vast array of lactose free milks available now in the grocery stores, partly because they didn’t exist 30 years ago.

Even 10 years ago the only choice was soy milk and the flavor of a nice creamy white sauce suffers. It is just not thick enough and lacks the neutral flavor of cow’s milk (or cream), in my opinion.

So, on a trip to the grocery store last week I saw a plain Cashew milk on the shelf. I thought that it was about time to eat Mac and Cheese again.

What is Cashew Milk?

The cashew milk is much smoother and creamier than the Almond milk varieties that have become widely available. Lending itself perfectly to the white sauce.

Obviously, this is not lactose free but I can eat butter and hard cheeses! I am sure that there are many others who can’t drink cow’s milk but can easily deal with the hard cheeses.

The Method for Milk Free Mac and Cheese

Grated cheese on bamboo cutting board with flour in small bowlPin

Measure the flour, and grate the cheese. Use gluten free flour and vegan cheese substitute to render dish vegan, gluten free and lactose / dairy free.

Cashew milk warming in separate panPin

In a separate pan, over medium high heat, heat the cashew milk, (This step cuts down your stirring time by at least 75% as opposed to using cold milk.)

butter melting in another panPinbutter fully meltedPin

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. (Use vegan margarine for vegan and dairy free)

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Add flour all at once.

cashew milk bubbling in panPin

The milk should be bubbling.

flour incorporated into butter. Let bubble a few minutesPin

Stir or whisk until very smooth. (Full disclosure; this picture is not representing all of the flour incorporated. I can’t manage to get a good picture with all the flour mixed into the butter. You have to work quickly.) Check out our YouTube video for full instructions on Easy Foolproof Cheese Sauce.

milk added to the butter and flourPin

The milk can be added all at once or in a few additions. This version of cheese sauce is very forgiving. Don’t panic if you get lumps of flour beading up at the start! Keep stirring and smash the lumps of flour against the side of the pot.

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Add pepper. ( I usually use white pepper but I was out today, so I subbed black pepper.) Wait until cheese is added to add salt. Different cheeses have different salt content.

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Once sauce has started to thicken, add cheese about 1/2 cup at a time so that the temperature of the sauce doesn’t drop too quickly.

sauce coating the back of wooden sppon is donePin

Keep stirring constantly after cheese is melted until you see a few bubbles at the edge of the pan. Now is when it will start to thicken quickly so don’t leave it at this stage. The sauce should coat the spoon when it is thick enough. Taste to adjust spices now.

Now Cook the Pasta for Milk Free Mac and Cheese

pasta added to boiling waterPinBring water to boil in a separate pan and add macaroni. Cook according to package directions until al dente.
drained pasta added back to pot it was boiled inPinThen drain.

I always add the pasta back to the pan it cooked in. Saves an extra bowl to clean up!

Cheese sauce mixed with pasta in casserolePin

Add Cheese sauce to moisten all the pasta. Pour all the pasta and sauce into an oven safe casserole. Add the rest of the cheese sauce and top with bread crumbs, if desired. I also like crushed corn flakes for a change.

Baked, browned milk free mac and cheesePin

Bake for 30 minutes or so until edges are bubbly.

Lobster milk free mac and cheesePin

Honestly, I’ve tried this recipe on numerous separate occasions to make sure that I wasn’t crazy.

The pickiest eater of all is my 14 year old. His comment (of course I didn’t divulge the substitution) was “Mom, this is the best Macaroni and Cheese you have ever made!” High praise from this self proclaimed Mac and Cheese Connoisseur!

So, I believe, to my good fortune, I now can indulge on creamy and scrumptious Milk Free Mac and Cheese in the near future! SWEET! Hope you enjoy! Our next post uses nut milks also! Check out Lactose Free Blueberry Smoothie!

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Recipe

Close up of macaroni and cheese.Pin

Milk- free Macaroni & Cheese

Easier on those who have an allergy to milk!
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 613kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni , use GF to make recipe gluten free
  • 4 Tbsp margarine or butter , use vegan to make recipe vegan, dairy free
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour , use GF all purpose to make recipe gluten free
  • 3 c cashew milk unsweetened
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 3 c Shredded mild or sharp cheddar , swiss, gruyere or a mixture of your favorite, use vegan to make recipe vegan, dairy free
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs or corn flakes , if desired

Instructions

  • Heat cashew milk in a medium high saucepan over medium heat,
  • Heat 4 quarts of water in a large pot over high heat for macaroni
  • Melt butter in a separate medium saucepan. When melted, stir in flour, until smooth.
  • Add the cashew milk about 1 cup at a time and stir after each addition until nice and smooth. Don't panic if you get lumps after the first addition, it's very common. Smash any lumps of flour against the side of the pan. Keep stirring, it will smooth out. After the sauce is smooth, increase heat to medium high
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • Stir constantly, until the sauce is bubbly. (depending on the heat level, 10 to 15 minutes.)
  • Heat oven to 350°F.
  • Add Macaroni to the boiling water. Cook according to package directions.
  • Add cheese about 1/2 cup at a time so that the sauce doesn't loose temperature.
  • When cheese is fully melted, the sauce should stick nicely to the back of a spoon.
  • Drain pasta. Once drained, replace pasta back to the same pot it was cooked in.
  • Cover the pasta with most of the cheese sauce, stir.
  • Transfer to at least a 4 quart baking dish. Add the rest of the sauce, if needed. Freeze leftover sauce, if applicable.
  • Top with bread crumbs, if desired,
  • Bake 30-40 minutes, until bubbly.
  • Serve with a side salad.
  • Enjoy!
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Notes

Leftovers can be refrigerated for 3-4 days.
Reheat in microwave, until hot.
To freeze, best to freeze before baking. Make a large batch and freeze it for busy nights.
Thaw in refrigerator. Bake per above instructions.
For cooked mac and cheese, freeze up to 1 months.
Thaw in refrigerator. Reheat per above instructions.

Nutrition

Calories: 613kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 79mg | Sodium: 899mg | Potassium: 223mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 825IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 428mg | Iron: 2.1mg
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Originally Published 3/6/2015

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