Swiss Macaroni and Cheese with Applesauce (Älplermagronen)


A classic Swiss Macaroni and Cheese with Applesauce (or Älplermagronen mit Apfelmus).

swiss macaroni cheese with applesauce

The ski season is upon us again and I can’t wait for our annual family retreat to the Swiss alps for some downtime in the snow. Our son is finally old enough to take skiing lessons with the other tiny tots, which means it will only be a matter of time before he will be zooming down the black slopes while I am still trying to master my snowplough.

Another reason why I love being in the mountains is the alpine food. There’s something about the crisp air and wooden chalets which makes one crave rich food like Cheese Fondue, Raclette, and this Swiss Macaroni and Cheese with Applesauce.

swiss macaroni cheese with applesauce älplermagronen

In Swiss-German, it is called Älplermagronen, which roughly translates as alpine macaroni. It is the Swiss version of the American macaroni and cheese, but heartier and with bolder flavours.

Like a classic macaroni and cheese, you start this dish by making a white sauce. For the cheese component, I like to use a really strong and aged Gruyère cheese, but any mild Gruyère or Emmental cheese would work too.

Crumbled crispy bacon is an obligatory garnish for meatlovers, and I particularly love this dish served with fried onion rings which add a lovely sweetness and crunch against the soft pasta. Some restaurants give this dish an extra carbohydrate kick with the addition of diced boiled potatoes.

But what makes this dish truly Swiss is the small bowl of applesauce (or apple compote) served alongside. Upon observing my Swiss friends and colleagues eat this dish, there seems to be no hard and fast rule about whether the applesauce should be eaten together with the main dish or as a dessert. I personally prefer to eat it as a dessert; the tart sweetness of the applesauce is a nice end to a rich and creamy meal.

swiss macaroni cheese with applesauce älplermagronen

Swiss Macaroni and Cheese with Applesauce

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 3-4


For the bacon topping

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 200g (7 oz) pancetta or thick bacon, sliced into thick batons

For the fried onion topping

  • vegetable oil for shallow frying
  • 1 large brown onion, thinly sliced

For the Applesauce

  • 2 Braeburn apples (or other cooking apples)
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar, to taste

For the Macaroni and Cheese

  • 75g (3 oz) butter
  • 75g (3 oz) plain flour
  • 1/2 chicken stock cube
  • 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 litre (4 cups) full cream milk
  • 100g (3.5 oz) Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 100g (3.5 oz) cheddar cheese, grated
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 300-400g (10-14 oz) macaroni pasta
  • 3-4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
  • parsley and/or chives, finely chopped


For the bacon topping

  1. Heat the oil in a medium frying pan.
  2. Cook the bacon or pancetta until it is golden and crispy.
  3. Remove the bacon or pancetta to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.

For the fried onion topping

  1. Fill a small saucepan with vegetable oil to about 2.5 cm (1 inch) depth and heat until the temperature is about 180°C (350°F).
  2. Fry the onion over medium-high heat until it is golden and crispy.
  3. Remove the onion to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.

For the Applesauce

  1. Peel, core and chop the apples.
  2. Place the apples into a small saucepan, together with the water.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples soften and break down. Some apples release a lot of water upon cooking, whilst others absorb a lot of water. So keep a close eye on the pan to make sure the apples do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Add more water if necessary.
  4. Once the apples have completely cooked down, either mash the apples with a wooden spoon or purée the apples with a stick blender. Some types of apples cook and break down more easily than others so you may not need to always use a blender. However, the Swiss like to serve their applesauce very smoothly puréed.
  5. Taste for sweetness to see how much sugar you want to add.
  6. Set aside to cool slightly.

For the Macaroni and Cheese

  1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Once the butter starts to melt, add the flour, stock cube and Dijon mustard.
  3. Stir until everything comes together into a paste. Cook this paste for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously so that the flour can cook off.
  4. Slowly whisk in the milk. I do this a bit at a time to make sure there are no lumps in the sauce.
  5. Once all of the milk has been added, use a wooden spoon to stir the sauce continuously over the heat until it has thickened nicely. If the sauce is too thick, add some more milk to thin it out.
  6. Take the saucepan off the heat and mix through the grated cheese.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions in a lot of salted boiling water, together with the potatoes. Alternatively, boil the potatoes separately. Drain well.
  9. To serve, mix the cooked pasta and potatoes through the sauce while it is still hot and over low-medium heat.
  10. Garnish generously with the fried bacon or pancetta, fried onions, and herbs.
  11. Serve with a bowl of applesauce alongside (I prefer to serve the applesauce warm).

Share your photos!

If you have tried this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using #eatlittlebird



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  1. Tina 6 February 2017

    Must be so exciting your son is ready to ski! Our little one is just one, and I’m already waiting for that day 🙂

    • Eat, Little Bird 6 February 2017

      Everyday, I tell myself that our children are growing so quickly … too quickly! As much as I miss the time with them when they were tiny babies, it is actually very exciting and fulfilling to see them grow and blossom. And when you see the happiness they get from trying something new like learning to ski, it’s just an awesome feeling 🙂

  2. Jane 6 February 2017

    Oh boy that looks awesome, and my fella would LOVE it! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Jane x

  3. Deanna 6 February 2017

    Oh wow! This looks so good! I love Gruyere cheese. Congrats on being in Home and Gardens 🙂

  4. Jillian 6 February 2017

    Definitely fancier than American mac & cheese, lol. Love the fried onions and Gruyere!

    • Eat, Little Bird 6 February 2017

      Nothing wrong with American mac & cheese! But Gruyère cheese and fried onions does take it to another level 😉

  5. Shashi at RunninSrilankan 6 February 2017

    Wow – am so intrigued by the applesauce eaten alongside “Älplermagronen” aka “alpine macaroni” or American mac and cheese!

    • Eat, Little Bird 6 February 2017

      It feels a bit unusual at first, but now I’m used to it. In fact, I love apple sauce so much that I often order this dish just because there is apple sauce!

  6. […] is apple compote, or applesauce; so much so, that it is an obligatory side dish to their version of macaroni and cheese. So when I came across a recipe some years ago for a traditional Swiss bundt cake using apple […]


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