Älplermagronen is our favourite traditional Swiss comfort food recipe, popularly served in the alps at ski resorts during the cold winter season.
Älplermagronen, also known asAelplermagronen, Alplermagronen,Swiss Alpine Macaroni, Alpen Macaroni or Herdsman’s Macaroni, is Switzerland’s unique take on macaroni and cheese.
Macaroni (or ziti tubular pasta) is tossed with diced potatoes in a creamy gruyere cheese sauce. The decadent pasta dish is topped with crispy bacon, caramelized onions and a side dish of sweet applesauce.
While most locals in Switzerland eat this rich dish after a long day of skiing or snowboarding in a cozy Swiss chalet, our family loves to enjoy it as a treat year round.
Älplermagronen’s combination of al dente pasta, creamy cheese sauce, crunchy bacon, fragrant fried onions and sweet stewed apples is nothing short of sublime! Serve it with a healthy salad and your favourite glass of chilled white wine.
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Travel to Switzerland by Eating Älplermagronen at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
I’ve had the opportunity to visit Switzerland four times to discover the best authentic Swiss dishes, which are served everywhere from cozy local restaurants to luxurious Michelin starred dining rooms. I’ve explored the best Swiss Chocolate Shops and even learned to make traditional Tartiflette Reblochon at home.
Over the years I’ve written numerous stories on popular Swiss travel destinations such as Geneva, Lugano, Gruyere, Montreux, Lausanne, Bern, Andermatt, Zermatt, Basel, Burgenstock, Lucerne, Zurich, Interlaken and St. Gallen.
What I find most fascinating is Switzerland’s distinct regional food cultures. Much like the regional cuisines found in France, Germany, Italy or Spain, each city and town seems to have its own local speciality.
My favourite trip was a French themed adventure that took me from Geneva to Gruyere. The itinerary ended in the small town of Gruyere, famous for producing Gruyere cheese. There’s also the haunting HR Giger Museum, which is dedicated to the creative genius behind the movie Aliens. It’s one of the most magical holiday destinations for lovers of film and cheese!
If you’re a Gruyere cheese fan I highly recommend planning a weekend getaway to Gruyere in Switzerland. You can stay at an agriturismo on a family-run cheese farm. Guests also have an opportunity to visit a fun Gruyere Cheese Museum and dine at famous Swiss Fondue restaurants.
When visiting the world headquarters of gruyere cheese production you must order a steaming bowl of Aelplermagronen.
Once back home you’ll have a newfound appreciation for Swiss cuisine and can impress friends and family by making our easy homemade älplermagronen recipe!
What Is Älplermagronen?
Invented in the 1930s, Älplermagronen is a rustic Swiss dish that can be translated as “Alpine macaroni,” but is also commonly known as herdsman’s macaroni.
The ingredients used in the dish were easily available to Swiss herdsmen who were keeping an eye on their cows grazing along scenic Alpine pastures.
The main ingredients in authentic aelplermagronen include macaroni pasta (or ziti, a tubular variety), Gruyere cheese, onions, and potatoes, although there are numerous variations on this comforting Swiss main dish. Alpine Macaroni is commonly served at restaurants with a dish of applesauce, which you’re encouraged to spoon over your plate.
The hearty meal is sure to make you feel cozy on a is a cold winter night.
My Family LovesSwiss Alpine Macaroni
I love cooking pasta for my family!
I first tasted this traditional Swiss pasta dish after taking the famous Gornergrat alpine train to Zermatt’s spectacular Matterhorn viewpoint.
After running around outside in a blizzard to take photos of the jaw-dropping mountain views I found a cozy chair by a window at the Kulmhotel Gornergrat restaurant.
I will never forget the comfort food coma I encountered after feasting on my first ever bowl of cheesy älplermagronen.
My local guide couldn’t stop laughing at me as my eyes bulged while ravenously forking through cheesy pasta muddled with smoked bacon and crispy fried onions.
I’ve always found it so funny when I visit Switzerland and meet locals who are always so slim and trim. The most famous Swiss dishes are incredibly decadent, such as cheese fondue, raclette, rosti, Zürcher Geschnetzelte and all that chocolate!
Locals always tell me that the rich dishes Switzerland is known for, such as Gruyere Fondue and älplermagronen, are recipes they only make at home once or twice a year. They consider them to be a treat to enjoy on special occasions like New Years Eve or during a family ski holiday.
After returning to Switzerland I wanted to create my very own aelplermagronen recipe to share with family. I knew my parents would love älplermagronen because they love comfort food dishes featuring pasta, cheese, cream, bacon and caramelized onions.
It may seem a bit odd at first to eat a savoury pasta dish with sweet applesauce, but once you try the combination you will be hooked!
The culinary flavour combo makes sense, just look to northern France, where the dish Pork Normandy delights with its use of apples, pears, bacon and cream.
Aelplermagronen Health Benefits
While älplermagronen is a rich dish it offers the perfect fuel to feed a family after a long day spent exercising on ski slopes.
Pork is an excellent source of protein and provides several important vitamins and minerals. It’s an excellent source of thiamin, selenium, niacin, vitamin B-6 and phosphorus, zinc, riboflavin and potassium.
Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
A useful source of vitamins C, K and B6, apples support your immune, skeletal, and circulatory systems. Phytochemicals in apples may also keep your eyes healthy and help reduce bad cholesterol.
Potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Studies have linked potatoes to a variety of impressive health benefits, including improved blood sugar control, reduced heart disease risk and higher immunity.
Consuming dairy products (such as milk and cheese) provides health benefits — especially improved bone health. Dairy foods provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.
Nutmeg is said to relieve pain, soothe indigestion, strengthen cognitive function, detoxify the body, boost skin health, reduce insomnia, increase immune system function and improve blood circulation.
Älplermagronen Pasta Cooking Tips
Our Alpen Macaroni recipe is quick and easy to make at home.
- We suggest preparing homemade aelplermagronen in a Dutch Oven to avoid splatter while cooking.
- You can purchase ziti pasta at your local Italian grocer or online. You can also substitue for another tubular pasta like penne or hörnli.
- We suggest using a dry white wine like Riesling, Pinot Gris or Gewürztraminer.
- We’ve used Spanish cooking onions in this recipe but you could substitute white or sweet Vidalia onions.
- We used McIntosh Apples in this recipe but you could substitue for Granny Smith, Gala or Ambrosia.
- While this recipe contains pork you can make vegetarian älplermagronen by omitting the bacon and it still tastes delicious!
- Our quick & easy älplermagronen recipe is served straight out of the pot. Many Swiss alpine macaroni recipes include instructions to broil the dish with shredded cheese on top to create a bubbly gratin.
- Cheesy gratin alpine macaroni recipes are typically served out of a casserole dish and instruct you to layer the dish with pasta, cheese, potatoes, bacon and fried onions. You can try both methods but we prefer topping the pasta with onions and bacon as it looks more attractive on the dinner table. Your guests will be impressed!
What To Serve With CheesyAlplermagronen
There’s nothing more comforting than cozying up to a bowl of homemade älplermagronen on a cold winter day.
If aelplermagronen is the star of the show, since it’s such a decadent dish, we suggest pairing it with a healthy salad such as Toasted Pecan Parmesan Pear and Rocket Salad, Cambozola Currant Pear and Fennel Salad, Romaine Salad With Tahini Caesar Dressing, Cilantro Ginger Lime Cajun Shrimp Salad, Vegetarian Roasted Pumpkin Feta Salad with Beetroot & Pine Nuts, Roasted Beetroot Salad and Healthy Garlic Lemon Chickpea Avocado Salad.
After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Kardemummabullar Swedish Cardamom Buns , Gevulde Speculaas, Turmeric Pumpkin Spice Indian Cake, Chewy Easter Toffee Cadbury Mini Egg Cookie Bars, Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe or Cinnamon Babka.
Other Pasta Recipes You May Enjoy Cooking…
- Maccheroni al Ferretto Pasta with Beef Ragu
- Creamy Prime Rib Pasta Recipe
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- Orecchiette with Sausage and Kale
- Garlic Boursin and Lemon Linguine with Grilled Chicken
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How To Make Traditional Swiss Älplermagronen
Alplermagronen Swiss Alpine Macaroni
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- cheese grater
- French knife
- Dutch Oven
- 5 Strips of Bacon
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 2 Spanish Onions thinly sliced
- Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
- 3 Granny Smith or McIntosh Apples
- 4 tbsp Water
- 275 g Yukon Gold Potatoes peeled and diced
- 300 g Ziti Pasta
- 1 1/3 cup Table Cream
- 1/4 cup Riesling Wine
- 300 g Gruyère Cheese
- 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- In a nonstick skillet over medium heat add bacon strips and fry on both sides until crispy, approximately 8 minutes. Remove crispy bacon strips with tongs and cool on a paper towel-lined plate. Leave 1 tablespoon of bacon fat in then pan and discard the rest.
- Return the skillet to medium heat and melt the butter. Add the sliced onions, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring regularly until crispy and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Set aside.
- Place the apples in a medium pot with water and cover. Simmer gently on medium-low heat, stirring once or twice, until the apple is completely tender, about 20 minutes. Mash with a fork until smooth. Set aside.
- Add the diced potatoes to a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, add the macaroni and continue to cook until the macaroni is barely al dente and the potatoes are tender, approximately 7-10 minutes. Drain in a colander.
- Return macaroni and potatoes to the pot and add the cream and white wine over medium heat. Once the sauce is simmering add the grated cheese and freshly grated nutmeg. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted into a thick and velvety sauce.
- Serve the cheesy Alpine macaroni in individual bowls topped with caramelized onions, and crispy bacon lardons. Serve with applesauce on the side.
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