Bacon Mac & Cheese with Wisconsin Gruyère

by Alice Currah on October 18, 2010. Updated November 11, 2014

[donotprint] I’m smitten with Chef Michael Symon. Not because he is an Iron Chef, Food Network host, or owner of acclaimed restaurants – Lola and Lolita. I actually don’t subscribe to cable so I’ve never watched him on TV. Come to think of it, maybe I’m not actually smitten with him, but I am in love with his bacon mac & cheese. You should know, I’m not a huge mac & cheese fan, so this is saying a lot.

I’ve tried all sorts of mac & cheese recipes and I’ve never tried one this good. It instantly becomes memorable, from the first to the last bite. This recipe by Chef Michael Symon is heavenly, and it even called for rosemary, which I found odd to pair with a bacon mac & cheese. By the way – I’m not a huge rosemary fan either. I don’t mind adding the herb to soups but would never consider adding it to pasta…not ever. And then there were the four cups of heavy cream this recipe called for. I thought this surely was a typo. Four cups of heavy cream for one pound of dry elbow pasta – what the heck??!! But I learned through this recipe that heavy cream can be reduced with prolonged simmering into a very thick sauce without any added thickener.

Finally, there was the Wisconsin Gruyère cheese, which was unbelievably amazing. Yes… I said Wisconsin, Gruyère, and unbelievably amazing.

The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board has teamed up with Chef Michael Symon to showcase its award-winning Wisconsin Cheeses and his creative recipes on a series of webisodes titled Favorite Foods with Chef Michael Symon. Each week a new webisode and recipe are aired with Chef Michael walking you through each dish from start to finish.

Today’s new webisode is featuring his bacon mac & cheese, which I am also showcasing here on Savory Sweet Life. Let me repeat myself: I love this bacon mac & cheese. It’s all that and then some.

The rosemary was subtle and not overpowering, which I was convinced it would be. I used thick, high-quality applewood-smoked bacon, which is a must if you plan on making this dish. It doesn’t necessarily need to be applewood-smoked bacon, but it does need to be thick and high quality. If you are going to invest the time in this amazing dish then use top-quality ingredients because, in this case, it matters. For this recipe I chose Upland’s Pleasant Ridge Reserve Wisconsin Gruyère, found at Whole Foods. This rich and smooth cheese just won Best of Show at the American Cheese Society Competition in Seattle a few weeks ago, deserving so. It pairs so well with the smoky applewood-bacon.

This dish tastes like something you would order at a very fancy expensive restaurant. It must be served as a main course because it’s just too good to be served as a side. So don’t even try it.

I highly recommend this recipe for mac & cheese lovers and skeptics alike. It will have you smitten, too.

Lastly, to me, this recipe is very gourmet. Young children may find the rosemary and Gruyère cheese too strong for their liking – but Michael states his nephews love it! Adults will surely love it! Enjoy!

Bacon Mac & Cheese with Wisconsin Gruyère
by Chef Michael Symon

Chef Michael Symon revamps this classic comfort food into a grown-up version, enjoyed by all. This recurring request at holidays and parties is simple to make and bursting with flavor. Featuring nutty Wisconsin Gruyère, bacon, macaroni, and rosemary, this smooth and smoky American essential will captivate the taste buds.

Place cream in large saucepan with rosemary. Add salt and pepper. Bring to boil and keep at boil until reduced by half (be patient, this takes some time).

Stir in bacon and pasta and simmer until hot; add the Gruyère cheese and 3 teaspoons pasta water.

Stir until cheese is melted. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve immediately.

Disclosure: Even though this post was sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, I thought this bacon mac & cheese recipe was AMAZING!

For more information about Wisconsin Cheese:


Bacon Mac & Cheese with Wisconsin Gruyère
Serves: 6
No.of Servings: 4–6
  • - 1 quart (4 cups) heavy cream
  • - ½ tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • - Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • - ½ pound bacon, diced, fried crisp and drained
  • - 1 pound elbow macaroni or short hollow pasta, cooked according
  • to package directions and drained, reserving 3 teaspoons pasta water
  • - 2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin Gruyère cheese, grated
  • - Chopped chives for garnish
  1. Place cream in large saucepan with rosemary.
  2. Add salt and pepper.
  3. Bring to boil and keep at boil until reduced by half (be patient, this takes some time).
  4. Stir in bacon and pasta and simmer until hot; add cheese and 3 teaspoons pasta water. Stir until cheese is melted. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve immediately.
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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica @ How Sweet October 18, 2010 at 9:29 am

Bacon AND gruyere?! Those are 2 of my favorite things!


Jenny Flake October 18, 2010 at 9:40 am

Wow, that bacon and cheese have me drooling at 6:30 in the morning for mac and cheese! YUM!


Mikayla June 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Lol. I want mac and cheese now. I think i will make some. YES!


Daryl Callahan October 18, 2010 at 9:41 am

This looks delicious. I love bacon and would never think to add it to mac & cheese but I am definetly going to make this recipe. Love your site!


Maria October 18, 2010 at 9:41 am

Wow, this mac and cheese is loaded with goodness! Nice!


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon October 18, 2010 at 9:50 am

Oh Alice, this recipe may make me fall in love with mac n cheese all over again.


Jim (frugalchef) October 18, 2010 at 10:11 am

Mac & cheese is something I just don’t eat and don’t understand the fascination but this looks tremendous! I love gruyere, bacon, rosemary and reduced cream sauces all so why not add a bit of mac to hold it all together so I can get it on a fork!

Thanks Alice (and Michael too!)


Heather in SF @HeatherHAL October 18, 2010 at 10:50 am

So glad you posted this, I am planning a mac’n cheese experiment with a friend and Michael’s recipe uses an approach I’ve never seen before. This is so different from the béchamel or the Southern cheese custard style. Fun! (and you know how I feel about bacon)


Julie @ Willow Bird Baking October 18, 2010 at 11:32 am

OH MY GOSH. Just ohhhh my gosh!


Melynda@Moms Sunday Cafe October 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm

This DOES look so good, I love bacon as well, maybe this is dinner tonight. Thanks.


Hilary October 18, 2010 at 1:03 pm

WOW. Must make, must make….


Cookin' Canuck October 18, 2010 at 1:05 pm

You’re killing me, Alice! Gruyere and bacon – yeah, I’m sold. Your photos are gorgeous, as usual, particularly the baking sheet full of ingredients.


Heather (Heather's Dish) October 18, 2010 at 1:17 pm

please overnight this to me. i need it :)


Aimee @ Simple Bites October 18, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Perfect fall food, especially up North here where there is a definite chill in the air!

LOVE the mise en place photo. Want it framed for my kitchen….


Rachel @ The Avid Appetite October 18, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I have been on the hunt for a great mac ‘n cheese recipe to serve at a dinner party that I’m throwing in a few weeks. I knew gruyere would be the first step!


Pretty. Good. Food. October 18, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Wow, just the title of this recipe makes me hungry! Great photos :) Love the cheese choice :)


kotomi October 18, 2010 at 4:06 pm

i have an entire cookbook dedicated to mac & cheese that I still need to get through, but this HAS to be my next recipe. It looks and sounds delicious!! Your photos are gorgeous too. Thanks for sharing!! xoxo


ShawnsPlate October 18, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I love rosemary but would have never included it in mac & cheese. I can’t wait to give it a try!


Laura October 18, 2010 at 8:25 pm

This looks really yummy but I’m vegetarian. I’d be happpy to make this without the bacon but maybe someone can think of something else to add instead of the bacon? Or would it be good sans bacon?


alice October 19, 2010 at 12:19 am

Hi Laura: Yes, you could make this without the bacon and it would still be really good. You might consider adding a touch of smoked sea salt as a flavor enhancer on top to substitute the bacon.


Maykong October 18, 2010 at 9:24 pm

This looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it this holiday -


joudie's mood food October 19, 2010 at 5:06 am

This looks GOOOOOD. I love this idea. Add a smokeyness to it. Yumm!


Cheri October 19, 2010 at 10:23 am

Oh dear, after seeing these photos I don’t think I’ll be able to stop thinking about this dish. I love macaroni and cheese but have yet to find a tried and true recipe. This definitely looks perfect.


SouthWest Sister October 19, 2010 at 3:53 pm

OK – that looks so rich and yummy. Thanks for sharing!


Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen October 19, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Looks totally yummy! Most everything is better with bacon!


Amanda October 19, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Oh my gosh that looks sooo good. I don’t think mac and cheese can get better than that. I’ve got to make this!!


Barbara Bakes October 20, 2010 at 8:34 am

My daughter loves rosemary, so I’m definitely trying this one soon.


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction October 20, 2010 at 9:52 am

Oh, that mac and cheese does look amazing! I love gruyere, and I’m sure the rosemary adds a lovely flavor. I definitely need to try this!


Mariko October 20, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Yeah, I’m pretty sure we could get along, this recipe and I.


james October 20, 2010 at 6:40 pm

it says to serve immediately…any reason why you can’t bake it for a bit? i think this would be great with some toasted breadcrumbs on top


Lori October 20, 2010 at 7:39 pm

You had me at bacon, and then I saw the Gruyere! This looks delicious and my palate and brain are working this out right now…Drooling!


Michelle October 20, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Ooh, I’m a big fan of his too, and I really enjoy watching him on FN. This mac and cheese looks delicious (the photos rock!) .


Cheryl | BlackGirlChefsWhites October 20, 2010 at 10:23 pm

I am a lover of macaroni and cheese, and naturally think my recipe is the best. . . but this recipe sounds really, really good. I may have to do a side by side comparison. Which just means I get to eat more mac and cheese!


Gina October 21, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Oh my gosh…I will have to try this. Looks and sounds amazing. I love gruyere. :)


Nutmeg Nanny October 21, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Wow…this looks amazing! I’m so craving some mac and cheese now!


Joanne October 22, 2010 at 8:28 pm

I’m cooking through Symon’s cookbook with a few other bloggers right now and I can tell you, my love for him has grown exponentially since doing so. That man is a master. This mac and cheese recipe isn’t in his book but I am so bookmarking it. Looks like it turned out gloriously for you.


alice October 23, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Hi Joanne: I read somewhere this recipe isn’t in his cookbook as it’s written but a variation of it is. Not sure which one though. Are there any ‘must make” recipes I should know of?


Natasha @ Saved by the Egg Timer October 22, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Oh yes! With rosemary! I have a recipe post similar to this that I made up and topped with chives so now I feel all talented ;) Love the rosemary addition.


Jean October 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm

Do you read minds?? Because this is my into my ultimate fantasy dinner. Amazing!


Jules October 25, 2010 at 2:36 am

Wow, your food looks amazing and I really like the look of your photos. Great blog!


Heather @ The Single Dish October 25, 2010 at 10:25 am

Great pictures! I love mac and cheese! I also love finding new and great recipes to revamp an old classic. Delish!


Blondie October 26, 2010 at 5:06 am

“Finally, there was the Wisconsin Gruyère cheese, which was unbelievably amazing. Yes… I said Wisconsin, Gruyère, and unbelievably amazing.”

“Even though this post was sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, I thought this bacon mac & cheese recipe was AMAZING!”

I’m confused. Are Wisconsin cheese and milk bad things normally? It seems like you’re talking about them like you would if the recipe called for some lowly cheese product like Velveeta!


alice October 26, 2010 at 10:14 am

Hi Blondie: No, there is nothing shocking about Wisconsin Gruyère. Personally speaking, I usually don’t think of Wisconsin cheese in particular when buying Gruyère which and to my surprise, it was really really good. I plead ignorance.


Mike Gainer October 26, 2010 at 3:13 pm

My 12 y.o. and I made this right after we saw it posted. Couldn’t do the heavy cream, but did 50/50. It turned out very good, so I can only imagine what it would be like following the recipe. Your photos and description really made it easy to prepare and the results were wonderful. I can still pull up that flavor memory just thinking about it. I had never tasted Gruyere or thought to add rosemary to pasta, but it really worked well. Thank you foryour posting.


Donna - Dishy Goodness October 29, 2010 at 4:13 am

I am a mac ‘n cheese fanatic, and I’ve been using Alton Brown’s stovetop mac ‘n cheese recipe as my go-to recipe for potlucks; it is very simple and always gets raves. Rosemary isn’t a favorite of mine either, so I completely relate to your initial hesitance. Thought the recipe would be more complicated . . . except for waiting for the cream to reduce, it seems almost as easy as Alton’s recipe. Thx for the great post & lovely photos!


Katie | GoodLife Eats November 4, 2010 at 9:37 pm

It has been way too long since I’ve made Mac n Cheese. I think I need to remedy that next week with this recipe – it looks SO GOOD! I love all your beautiful photos too.


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon November 7, 2010 at 10:56 am

Alice, I made this last night and it was DECADENT. Somehow I didn’t actually have any bacon but even without it, this mac was incredible. I’m definitely making room on my UnTurkey Day table for this dish.


Amy @ Serve At Once December 6, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I have been lamenting my own mac and cheese disasters on my blog, and I’ve never seen a recipe quite like this one. I’m so curious to try it. Thanks for the recipe!


Valerie G June 28, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Made this, LOVED it! Teenage sons went for seconds and thirds. My only disappointment was that I had no leftovers :)


Kathy August 23, 2011 at 11:56 am

Made this the other night. It was a big hit. We did find the rosemary a little overwhelming. For my family we would use half of what is called for. I might also mix in a little Fontina cheese next time. We used the Wisconsin cheese and loved the apple wood smoked bacon (where have I been?)
My family rated it a 9 out of 10.
thanks for the great recipe.


superfrancy97 September 12, 2011 at 3:44 am

Mac & Cheese doesn’t exist in italian kitchen. Usually italians uses Besciamella sauce. I know this because i’m italian :)


Shannon December 18, 2011 at 9:37 am

Made this recipe last night and it is absolutely delicious! The downside (if one can call it that) is that I’ll probably never like “regular” mac-and-cheese again!


Rosie Smith December 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Every Christmas, I prepare two new dishes. Michael Symon’s mac and cheese was to die for!!


Jenessa September 4, 2012 at 2:37 am

Can you replace the cheese with like cheddar or marble jack and still make the sauce the same way or no ?


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