This Is the Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese

Give this unique cheese a chance.

The time has come to graduate from Cheddar. Don't get us wrong, Cheddar's rich mouthfeel and sharp and mild varieties make it a wonderful cheese to use. But, there is a better (more sophisticated) cheese that you should be using to revolutionize your mac and cheese: Gruyère. This traditional, hard Swiss cheese comes from pasture-fed cows and is aged for months to develop fine aromas and complex flavors. Still not convinced? We'll explain why Gruyère is so delectable, plus how to use it in your mac and cheese recipe.

Why Gruyère is Best for Macaroni

Gruyère is a Swiss cheese known for its creamy, nutty, and earthy flavor. While Cheddar is punchy and bold, Gruyère is smooth and at first offers tangy-sweet fruit notes before lending rich subtle hints of mushrooms and nuts.

Not only is the flavor unique, but cheese experts agree that the "Alpine cheeses" (a class of cheeses originally made in the Alpine region including Gruyère) are the ideal cheeses for melting because little salt is added in the cheesemaking process, allowing the cheese to retain its meltability. In baked dishes like mac and cheese, this characteristic texture of Gruyère means that it will meld into the rest of the ingredients, creating a lusciously smooth cheesiness in every part of the dish. To put it simply, swapping in Gruyère for Cheddar (or whatever cheese you typically use) makes for an aromatically complex and extra-creamy mac and cheese.

Substitute Gruyère in Your Macaroni Recipe

Are you ready to take the Gruyère leap? Simply follow our Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe and where the recipe calls for Cheddar, use 10 oz. of Gruyère instead. Make sure you buy a block of the cheese and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheeses contain additives and preservatives that take away from the flavor and texture of once excellent cheese. (Subpar cheese will not pass in a mac and cheese recipe—it's the main flavor of the dish!) Also, see our Secrets for Cooking Pasta before preparing your mac and cheese.

Mix Cheeses for Delicious Results

It must be noted that a mix of different cheeses also makes for an excellent mac and cheese. Use 5 oz. of Gruyère and 5 oz. of Cheddar for a marriage of creamy and nutty with tangy and punchy. You can even top the whole dish with some salty, grated Parmesan for a trifecta of glorious cheesy flavor.

Our Macaroni Pie recipe uses a trifecta of cheeses—Gruyere, extra-sharp white Cheddar, and fontina—plus fresh thyme for savory layers of flavor. The mixture creates a creamy, silky macaroni baked in a flaky pie crust. If you're looking for a more distinctive flavor, try mixing in a pungent goat cheese, a smoky gouda, or even a spicy pepper Jack.

Other Gruyère Recipes to Try

If you enjoyed Gruyère in your mac and cheese, just wait until you try this smooth, nutty cheese with super-melting properties in other dishes. Try our Turkey Grilled Cheese Recipe with Gruyère and Caramelized Onion. Gruyère is just begging to be put in a panini, and you don't even need a panini press. Gruyère is also excellent in a Mashed Potato Casserole, enriched with cream cheese, sour cream, and half-and-half. We give you permission to try Gruyère as a substitute for Cheddar or Swiss cheese in any recipe.

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