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Mac 'n Cheese With Evaporated Milk?

Can I substitute evaporated milk for regular milk in a mac and cheese recipe?
It’s one of Ina Garten’s (Barefoot Contessa) recipes found on the foodnetwork site. I thought the evaporated milk might make for a creamier dish but if anyone has any input on this or has tried this recipe using regular milk, please let me know. Thanks!

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  1. Evaporated milk can be diluted so it has the consistency of regular milk, though it still has a 'cooked' taste. But undiluted evaporated milk is often used to provide a creaminess or body without the fat of real cream.

    I am not familiar with the recipe that you have in mind, but most call for making a cream sauce (flour, butter, milk), and adding the cheese to that. Evaporated milk can be used in making that sauce base.


    4 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      Does the "cooked taste" of evaporated milk really matter since you're going to cook the macaroni and cheese anyway? Fresh milk would get "cooked."

      1. re: MakingSense

        Right, the cooked taste of evaporated milk is only a problem if you are drinking it, and for kids who grew up on it (say in the tropics) it might even be what they expect. In a savory sauce, or even a sweet one, it shouldn't be noticeable.


        1. re: paulj

          Not just the tropics. I used to turn up my nose at recipes that included evap. milk until an older friend of mine who's a writer and fab cook told me to take a second look at those recipes. In much of America, particularly the South, many people didn't get to stores as often as we can and a lot of people lived without electricity. No refrigeration. Rural. Small "iceboxes" in cities. Pet Milk was shelf stable and everyone used it for cooking so a lot of "authentic" American recipes specify it. The best classic caramel cake icing. Soul food makes frequent use. Sometimes the recipes turn out better using it than substituting fresh milk or other dairy.

          1. re: MakingSense

            i've been using evap milk in my coffee for years now in lieu of 1/2 & 1/2

            cheaper, keeps longer, and just as creamy

    2. I have adapted a recipe for mac and cheese from America's Test Kitchen Family cookbook that calls for evaporated milk and a eggs. It was excellent!!! Here it is --

      Cheesy and Gooey Mac and Cheese

      8 ounces of pasta
      1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
      1/2 cup grated Monterey jack cheese
      1/2 to 3/4 cup evaporated milk
      2 eggs, beaten
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1/2 teaspoon pepper
      1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
      1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
      1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
      4 tablespoons butter, divided

      Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, combine 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk, eggs, salt, pepper, chicken bouillon, mustard and nutmeg in a medium sized bowl. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and stir to melt. Add the egg mixture and 1/2 of the cheeses and stir to combine. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the remaining butter, cheeses, and the evaporated milk to adjust to the right consistency. Enjoy!

      my blog http://www.dinnersforayear.blogspot.com

      1. Cookillustrated's verion of mac and cheese uses evap milk...VERY creamy and well recieved.

        1. I love the CI recipe as mentioned above that uses evaporated milk and eggs but it looks like Ina's recipe is one with a white sauce so I'd dilute evaporated milk first.

          1. Ina's recipe calls for 1 quart of milk so I really don't know how much evaporated milk I would sub with. Any ideas?
            Also, the CI recipe looks very straightforward and simple and with all the positive reviews, maybe I'll use this one instead. Thanks all.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Augusta

              I'd probably use half of a quart of evap milk and equal amount of water. The CI recipe is really creamy mac and cheese and much easier than doing a white sauce.

            2. a friend of mine makes an amazing mac n cheese in the most interesting way...

              she basically boils the noodles, makes the bechamel and cheese sauce, and tosses with the noodles. places the mixture in the baking dish and proceeeds to just about cover it all with buttermilk. yes, straight up buttermilk, and lets it soak for as long as she has time for.

              then she pops it in the oven, sometimes with some more cheese scattered, or crumbs...decadantly thick and creamy, with a nice top

              1. John Thorne's recipe in Simple Cooking uses evaporated milk, and this is the recipe I've used for 20 years.

                1. Evaporated milk will work just fine, and is often used in institution environments due to its shelf stability, although in a watered-down form.

                  My Blog: http://www.epicureforum.com

                  1. My mother ALWAYS made her mac and cheese with evaporated mik. In fact, that was the only thing she ever did with evaporated milk; we always had cans of it in the pantry on standby for the mac. And her mac and cheese was one of the best I have ever tasted. If we had leftover ham, she would put some ham in it as well.
                    I could go for a plate of that right now, come to think of it.

                    1. If you like a creamy, stove top-style mac 'n cheese, then Alton Brown has a good recipe using evaporated milk. I made this a long time ago and remember adjusting the ratios a bit.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Carb Lover

                        Alton's recipe is really excellent! Very creamy and cheesy!

                        1. re: Val

                          I've never used a recipe for my family favorite. I use regular milk (I might think about trying evaporated) but I make a roux with Wondra then add the milk and cheese. This makes a consistently creamy and smooth sauce, seasoned with Worchestershire and Tabasco, topped with seasoned breadcrumbs and baked.

                      2. Evaporated milk is all my grandmother ever used for cooking because she didn't drink milk. I ONLY use evaporated milk now myself for baking, especially for mac and cheese. It has no phantom flavor that other people make claims about. Around the last 10 minute cooking period for mac and cheese I add some more milk straight out of the can to the casserole if I feel it needs more creaminess. Obviously without any topping, which I add at the end under the broiler. It won't break down like a traditional milk bechamel might... although I also like a traditional bechamel base. Alton Brown also has a recipe using evap milk so it's not just my imagination :)