substitute for flour in mac and cheese

Flour plays a crucial role in mac and cheese recipes, acting as a thickening agent to create a creamy and velvety sauce. However, various dietary preferences and sensitivities may call for alternatives to flour. Exploring these substitutes allows for a comforting mac and cheese experience that caters to a wider range of needs.

Purpose of Flour in Mac and Cheese:

  • Sauce Thickness: Flour forms a roux with butter to create a thickened base for the cheese sauce.
  • Creaminess: The roux helps emulsify the cheese and liquid, resulting in a smooth and creamy texture.
  • Binding Agent: Flour aids in binding the sauce ingredients together, preventing separation.
  • Consistency: It gives the mac and cheese sauce a consistent texture that coats the pasta evenly.
  • Flavor Neutral: Flour’s neutral taste allows the cheese flavors to shine while maintaining stability.

Why Replace Flour in Mac and Cheese:

  • Gluten-Free Diet: Individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease require flour alternatives.
  • Low-Carb or Keto Diets: Those following low-carb or keto diets seek alternatives to reduce carbohydrate content.
  • Grain-Free Lifestyle: People avoiding grains may prefer substitutes that align with their dietary choices.
  • Experimentation: Substituting flour allows for innovative mac and cheese variations with unique flavors.
  • Dairy-Free Preferences: Some substitutes cater to dairy-free diets while maintaining the creamy texture.

Substitute: Cauliflower Puree

Details: Cauliflower puree is a nutritious and creamy base that mimics the texture of a roux-based sauce.

It offers a mild flavor that complements the cheese.

Nutrient Amount per 1 cup
Calories 27
Total Fats 0.3g
Carbohydrates 5.3g
Proteins 2g

How to Make: Steam cauliflower florets and blend them into a smooth puree to replace flour in the sauce.

Substitute: Cornstarch

Details: Cornstarch is a potent thickening agent that works well in cheese sauces.

It creates a glossy and velvety texture.

Nutrient Amount per 1 tbsp
Calories 30
Total Fats 0g
Carbohydrates 7g
Proteins 0g

How to Make: Create a slurry by mixing cornstarch with cold liquid, then add it to the sauce and heat until thickened.

Substitute: Potato Starch

Details: Potato starch is a gluten-free thickener that offers a velvety texture.

It’s particularly suitable for creamy sauces.

Nutrient Amount per 1 tbsp
Calories 40
Total Fats 0g
Carbohydrates 10g
Proteins 0g

How to Make: Mix potato starch with a small amount of cold water to create a slurry, then add it to the sauce and cook until thick.

Substitute: Arrowroot Powder

Details: Arrowroot powder is a versatile thickener that works well in dairy-based sauces.

It creates a clear and glossy sauce consistency.

Nutrient Amount per 1 tbsp
Calories 29
Total Fats 0g
Carbohydrates 7g
Proteins 0g

How to Make: Mix arrowroot powder with cold liquid and add it to the sauce, stirring until thickened.

Substitute: Rice Flour

Details: Rice flour is a gluten-free option that can provide a smooth and consistent texture.

It has a neutral taste that won’t overpower the cheese.

Nutrient Amount per 1 cup
Calories 578
Total Fats 1.4g
Carbohydrates 123.4g
Proteins 8.9g

How to Make: Mix rice flour with cold liquid to create a smooth paste before adding it to the sauce.

Nutritional Facts Summary Table:

Substitute Calories Total Fats Carbohydrates Proteins Source Works Best In
Cauliflower Puree 27 0.3g 5.3g 2g Veggies Creamy and veggie-forward mac and cheese
Cornstarch 30 0g 7g 0g Grains Smooth and glossy sauces
Potato Starch 40 0g 10g 0g Starchy veggies Creamy and thick cheese sauces
Arrowroot Powder 29 0g 7g 0g Tropical plants Clear and glossy consistency
Rice Flour 578 1.4g 123.4g 8.9g Grains Neutral thickener for various dishes


Q: Can I taste the cauliflower in cauliflower puree?
A: No, cauliflower puree has a mild flavor that blends well with the cheese sauce.

Q: Will rice flour alter the color of the sauce?
A: Yes, rice flour can contribute a slightly different color to the sauce.

Q: Can I use these substitutes in other creamy dishes?
A: Absolutely, these substitutes work well in various creamy recipes beyond mac and cheese.

Q: Will arrowroot powder create a sticky texture?
A: Arrowroot powder creates a clear and glossy texture without the stickiness of some other thickeners.


Replacing flour in mac and cheese opens up a world of culinary possibilities, allowing you to cater to various dietary needs while maintaining the creamy and indulgent essence of this beloved dish. Whether you choose cauliflower puree for a veggie twist, cornstarch for smooth glossiness, potato starch for thickness, arrowroot powder for clarity, or rice flour for a neutral touch, each substitute brings its own character to the mac and cheese experience, ensuring that everyone can enjoy a comforting bowl of goodness.

Yuki Tanaka

Written by Yuki Tanaka

I'm from Utashinai and I love tasty food and nice words. I also write blogs, take pictures of food, and create recipes. Cooking and baking are my favorite things to do!

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