Gruyère Cheese Substitute in Mac and Cheese and other dishes



Hi, I'm Maggie. I love cooking for my family and sharing my experiences from the kitchen.
Blocks of gruyere cheese on a wooden cheeseboard. Main image for the article Gruyère Cheese Substitute in Mac and Cheese and other dishes.

Any day is good if you start it with a bowl of homemade mac and cheese. Although nearly any cheese can be used for this simple dish, Gruyère is a popular choice for people who prefer nutty flavors over salty and grassy tastes. 

Although Gruyère Mac and Cheese is easy to get addicted to, you may want to try changing your recipe a bit by using a different kind every once in a while. If you’re wondering what is similar to Gruyère cheese for Mac and Cheese, you’ve come to the right place. 

Today, I’ll recommend some of the best alternatives with similar flavor and texture and my favorite Gruyère cheese substitutes with a milder taste, as well as keto-friendly variations for Mac and Cheese.

What is Gruyère Cheese?

Gruyère is a Swiss cheese with a firm texture and a taste that can be characterized as salty, nutty, earthy, and creamy, depending on how old it is. 

It hails from Switzerland, or more specifically, the Swiss cantons of Jura, Vaud, Fribourg, and Neuchâtel. Its unique, fairly mild taste and great melting properties make it a good fit in any recipe, especially Mac and Cheese. Gruyère is a lactose-free type of cheese with approximately 32% fat content. 

Gruyère Cheese Alternatives for Mac and Cheese

Since its flavor largely depends on its ripeness, people who are ordering their Gruyère online rarely experience consistency in terms of taste. 

As a main component of various Mac and Cheese-type dishes, it can be easily replaced with cheeses with similar taste & texture, or the kinds that have a milder or stronger flavor, such as:

No Cheese Substitutes Taste Texture Fat Level Lactose Level
0 Gruyère Creamy, salty, nutty Hard 32% 0%
1 Jarlsberg Mild, sweet, nutty Semi-soft 27% 0%
2 Raclette Salty, mildly nutty & sweet Semi-hard ≈28% 0%
3 Mature Fontina Sharpish, sweet & nutty Semi-soft to semi-hard 45% <1%
4 Emmental Mild, nutty, somewhat fruity undertones Semi-hard ≈45% 0%
5 Gouda Somewhat sharp, nutty Semi-hard 48% 0-2.2%
6 Summer Comtè Sharp, nutty, smoky, fruity aftertaste Semi-hard ≈10% <1%
7 American Cheese Mild, distinctly salty Semi-hard ≈45% 0-14.2%
8 Almond Gruyère Creamy, salty, nutty but mild Semi-hard ≈50% 0%
9 Daiya Cheddar Slightly sharp, nutty Semi-soft but smooth 30% 0%
Comparison of Gruyère Cheese Substitutes

Gruyère Cheese Alternatives with Similar Texture and Flavor

Gruyère’s taste can be described in dozens of ways and finding a substitute that can deliver the same multi-layered flavor with hefty undertones can be quite a challenge. If that’s what you’re after, I recommend trying Jarlsberg, Raclette, or Mature Fontina cheese. 

Jarlsberg Cheese

When Gruyère cheese is not an option for your Mac and Cheese dish, you can easily switch over to Jarlsberg if you don’t want to change the recipe too much. Its moderately-strong nutty taste is quite similar to Gruyère, although Jarlsberg has a slightly softer texture.

Just like Gruyère, Jarlsberg melts extremely well and is therefore an excellent choice for Mac and Cheese. If you’re using an abundance of cheese in this dish, you will also notice a positive difference in terms of your calorie intake, since Jarlsberg’s fat content is slightly lower than Gruyère’s (approximately 27%). 

Raclette Cheese

There’s hardly a better Gruyère cheese replacement for Mac and Cheese than Raclette. Its salty, nutty, and somewhat sweet taste and aroma are quite close to what Gruyère tastes like. 

Even though its texture is quite creamy, Raclette is a firm cheese that melts as great as Gruyère cheese. With 28g of fat content per 100g, Raclette is just slightly “heavier” than Jarslberg while being a light alternative to Gruyère. 

The only flaw of Raclette is that it is not as rich in protein content as Gruyère. The latter boasts roughly 30% protein levels while Raclette has only 22% on average. Even so, its all-rounded flavor and easy-grating properties make Raclette a good choice for any Mac and Cheese meal. 

Mature Fontina Cheese

While regular Fontina is a semisoft cheese at best, Mature Fontina has a firm texture similar to Gruyère’s. The flavor of this kind of cheese mainly depends on where it is made. Since Gruyère has a relatively mild taste, I recommend buying Fontina sourced from the US, Denmark, or Sweden. 

Originally, Fontina comes from Italy, and the oldest recipes Italian cheesemakers still use today usually yield cheese wheels with a distinctly sharper taste. 

Even though it is a better substitute for Gruyère in Mac and Cheese than dozens of types not included in this list, it is the weakest of the three mentioned so far because of its sky-high fat content (around 45%). For every 100g of Gruyère you’d use in Mac and Cheese, I recommend using 60-70g of Fontina. 

Gruyère Cheese Alternatives with Milder Flavor

Although it’s far from being a weak-flavored cheese, Gruyère isn’t known for its overly-intense taste. There are many kinds of cheese that have a much milder flavor, which can “boost” the taste of your Mac & Cheese instead of ruling over it. 

Emmental Cheese

Emmental has a slightly softer texture compared to Gruyère, and its flavor is slightly milder. The main reason why Emmental can easily replace Gruyère in Mac and Cheese is that it has a unique, highly recognizable flavor that can be characterized as sweet with fruity undertones. 

Close up of piece of emmental cheese on a wooden board for the article Gruyère Cheese Substitute in Mac and Cheese and other dishes
Close up of piece of emmental cheese on a wooden board

This cheese melts great, and it will retain its original shape until the last ounce is dropped into the skillet. This means that you can freely use it for your Mac and Cheese toppings and simply pack or even freeze the rest.

This might also be interesting for you: Emmental cheese substitutes.

Gouda Cheese

Gouda comes in various shapes and flavors, but it is generally a mild, sweet-tasting kind of cheese that melts fantastically well. If you’re usually preparing Mac and Cheese with Gruyère and want the cheese to be slightly less noticeable, I warmly recommend Gouda as a substitute. 

Grated Gouda cheese and a grater on a stone table.
Gouda cheese makes an excellent substitute for Gruyère

Gruyère Cheese Alternatives with Stronger Flavor

When you want to take the “cheese” in Mac & Cheese to the next level, you shouldn’t use Gruyère. Try Summer Comtè or American Cheese instead:

Summer Comté Cheese

Summer Comté (Comté cheese produced during summertime), is known for its sharper, stronger taste compared to its winter-born relative. Its flavor can be characterized as buttery with a dash of fruity, making it quite close to Gruyère. 

Depending on its age, the texture of Summer Comtè can be semisoft and crumbly or dense and even crystalline. The ideal replacement for Gruyère in Mac and Cheese is ripe Summer Comté if you are looking to make this meal a bit more colorful and sharper in terms of taste. 

American Cheese

Although many people would argue that processed cheese makes a poor substitute for the natural Gruyère, I’d argue that this cheese is great for Mac and Cheese simply because of its exquisitely salty taste. 

Slices of american cheese
Slices of American cheese

Its melting properties are distinctly different from other cheese types. American Cheese becomes very sticky once melted, so if you don’t mind the extra work when it comes to washing the dishes, this will probably be your favorite Gruyère alternative. 

Dairy-free and Vegan Gruyère Cheese Alternatives

Gruyère cheese has a very low dairy content, but certain brands producing this kind of cheese sometimes use certain ingredients that can add about 0.5-1% lactose to it. If you’re looking for a vegan substitute for Gruyère, let me recommend Almond Gruyère and Daiya Cheddar cheese.

Almond Gruyère

Traditional Gruyère is made from Swiss cow’s milk. However, if you are looking for a vegan substitute for Gruyère cheese in Mac and Cheese, you may want to try Almond-cultured Gruyère. 

You can buy pre-made Almond Gruyère, or make your own by mixing a teaspoon of nutritional yeast, a teaspoon of organic miso paste, half a teaspoon of salt, and home-grown vegan-cultured almond. 

Its taste is slightly sharper and its texture a bit crumblier, but it’s the closest substitute for cow’s milk Gruyère on the list. 

Daiya Cheddar Cheese

Daiya is a long-running company specializing in vegan products, such as gluten-free pizzas, vegan burritos, lactose-free cheese sticks, and such. You can buy pre-made keto-friendly Cheddar Mac & Cheese in their store, but I also warmly recommend checking out their recipes. 


What Cheese is closest to Gruyère?

Jarlsberg is one of the best 1-to-1 substitutes for Gruyère, sharing a similar texture and flavor. Alternatively, you may also want to try using Raclette or Mature Fontina cheese in your Mac and Cheese recipes. 

What is a cheap substitute for Gruyère in Mac and Cheese?

Emmental, Comtè, and Raclette are all cheaper than Gruyère while being close enough to be used as substitutes for Mac and Cheese.

Can you Freeze Gruyère Cheese?

Yes, you can freeze it. The consistency might change a bit, but you can definitely extend its shelf life. For more information, see our guide to freezing Gruyère cheese.


Gruyère is not the most versatile cheese, and even though many people love its rich, full-bodied flavor, it’s easy to see why it doesn’t always work in Mac and Cheese. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a milder-tasting cheese, something with a bit of extra punch, a 1-to-1 Gruyère alternative, or a vegan substitute, I’m sure you’ll find what you’re searching for in this list. 

Did you find your favorite replacement yet? Let us know in the comments.


About Maggie

Hi, I'm Maggie. I love cooking for my family and sharing my experiences from the kitchen.
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