Älplermagronen is a Swiss comfort food

Älplermagronen (Alpine macaroni) is considered a traditional dish of the Swiss Alps and a classic Swiss comfort food.

Älplermagronen consists of pasta, potatoes, cream, gruyère cheese and onions. It can also be served with fried bacon or ham. Apple sauce gives a finishing touch to the culinary delight.

Eating pasta became more common in Northern Switzerland in the late 1800s, when Italian migrant workers were used as help to build the Gotthard Tunnel. They brought along dried pasta as a snack.

Pasta became popular in Switzerland, especially among Alpine herdsmen, because pasta preserved well, contained plenty of energy and weighed little when carrying it to the mountains, where they normally only had access to milk and cheese.

To make the pasta last longer, it was mixed with potatoes, enriched with cream and cheese and seasoned with onions. The dish was easy to cook in a pot on an open fire, and provided a rich meal after a hard day’s work. Therefore, the dish gets its name from “älpler”, as they would call the Alpine herdsmen, and “magronen”, loaned from the Italian word “maccheroni” (macaroni).

The dish exhibits regional variations. In some regions, ham or fried bacon is added to the dish. In the canton of Uri, potatoes are left out. In the canton of Obwalden, the dish is called Hindersi-Magronen. In the French-speaking parts of Switzerland, Macaronis du chalet is a very similar dish but without potatoes.

The rich, easy to prepare Älplermagronen is found on the menu of the Swiss army and is popular in the scouting circles. Älplermagronen is served in traditional Alpine restaurants and sold as a ready-made food in supermarkets.

Älplermagronen (Alpine macaroni)
four servings
2 yellow onions
2 cloves of garlic
150 g bacon
400 g potatoes
5 dl vegetable stock
2 dl cream
250 g pasta (e.g., rigatoni)
100-200 g Le Gruyére AOP cheese, grated
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
For serving
apple sauce
  1. Cut the peeled onions into rings, crush the garlic cloves and dice the peeled potatoes.
  2. Slice the bacon. Fry the onions and garlic with bacon on a Teflon pan until the onions become brown. Set them aside.
    If you wish to offer a vegetarian version of the dish, leave out the bacon or fry until crispy and serve separately.
  3. Heat the vegetable stock and cream into boiling on a sauté pan. Add the potatoes and, after 5 minutes, the pasta. Boil on low heat under a lid until the pasta is al dente, i.e., still feels a bit chewy.
  4. Add the grated cheese to the potato-pasta mix. Season with pepper and nutmeg.
  5. Divide the Alpine macaroni onto plates and place some bacon-onion mix on top. Serve with apple sauce.
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