- Food and Cooking
Best Cheese Fondue Recipe
Cheese fondue is the perfect warm winter food
A traditional cheese fondue recipe is basically to take a whole lot of cheese and slowly melt it in a pot of warm white wine.
The melted cheese is then scooped up using small cubes of bread held on the end of a fork. It is a gorgeous concoction that tastes like a melted cheese sandwich and a glass of lovely wine all at the same time. Only with the cheese being on the outside of the bread and the wine enveloping everything. Actually that doesn't make it sound so appealing. The thing is, you will just have to try it for yourself, a fondue only tastes like a fondue.
You should be able to prepare all the ingredients in 15 minutes and cooking time is only around 10 minutes. So in less than 30 minutes you could have everyone around the table enjoying a warm and filling feast.
A fondue is very much a social event. Sharing the pot of melted cheese is great fun and a great talking point. Tradition states that first person to drop their bread in the pot has to do the washing up - so don't be too keen too soon.
Image used under Creative Commons from Alfesto.
Before We Start Our Fondue
Some background on cheeses, wines and fondue cookware
In order to make a fondue just right you have to make sure that you get the ingredients right and that you mix and stir them just right. Nobody likes a lumpy fondue and a runny fondue isn't much fun either. So while you are learning, take your time and get it right.
Traditional fondues use an equal mixture of two cheeses. The two most popular cheeses are GruyÃ¨re and Emmental. Emmental is the traditional Swiss cheese with holes in it that we have all heard about and along with GruyÃ¨re it helps to make fondues of just the right consistency.
You will always need to use some GruyÃ¨re, but you can substitute your Emmental for similar cheeses that might be stocked in your local store. The cheese I prefer to use is Norwegian Jarlsberg to add a Nordic mix into my Alpine dish. Like Emmental, it too is quite holey.
The ideal wine for your authentic fondue is the Swiss Fendant dry white. This is made from the Chasselas grape variety grown in Switzerland, France, Germany and New Zealand.
It is very hard to source proper Swiss Fendant wine outside of Switzerland. I've been known to buy up bottles to bring to the UK whenever I've been on business trips to Zurich and Geneva just to have a fondue stock in the wine rack.
If you can't get hold of genuine Fendant wine then look for other wines that are made from Chasselas grapes. Failing that, go for the driest white wine you can get your hands on.
Finally, you need the right kit to be making your fondue in. A traditional earthenware pan is what you need. This pan is known as a Caquelon or caclon. I prefer to use a pan for cheese fondues, and a purpose built fondue pot for Bourguignon (meat) fondue or chocolate fondue. See the notes further down this page for more information.
You can melt your cheese in the Caquelon on the stove, but when you transfer it to the table it still needs a heat source so a methylated spirit burner and stand is also required.
Let's Cook The Best Cheese Fondue
You are only 30 mins away from a gorgeous fondue
Ingredients are for two people. Just increase the amounts pro rate for more people.
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup (235ml) dry white wine, the dryer the better
- 1/2lb (225g) GruyÃ¨re cheese
- 1/2lb (225g) Emmental cheese, or Norwegian Jarlsberg
- 2 tbsp (30g) cornstarch
- 1 tbsp (15ml) Kirsch, or Vodka if you are being daring
- 1/4 tsp (4g) dry mustard powder
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 large baguette
1. Cut (or tear) the baguette into bite sized chunks of bread. Each chunk needs some crust so that it can be 'speared' by a fork.
2. Grate all the cheese, or cut it into small 1/4" (10mm) blocks. Grating is usually quicker and easier
3. Put the grated/cubed cheese in a bowl and mix in half the cornstarch. This is to stop the cheese sticking together too quickly. Do this by hand and ensure the cheese has a white power covering on every last piece.
4. Cut the garlic clove in half and wipe it around the inside of your fondue pot, to leave the essence of garlic in there. You can now throw away the garlic.
5. Mix the remaining cornstarch, the mustard powder and the Kirsch together.
6. Pour the wine and lemon juice into the pot and slowly bring it to the boil.
7. Keep the heat low, and wait until bubbles start appearing in the wine at the base of the pot.
8. Now start to add the cheese, a small handful at a time. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, or perhaps a strong chopstick, stir the cheese in the pot in a figure of eight pattern.
9. Once you start stirring you cannot stop until all the cheese is added. But don't rush, just keep adding the cheese a small handful at a time and wait until it has melted before adding more.
10. Your fondue mixture should now be thick and creamy. At this stage pour in the cornstarch, mustard and Kirsch mixture into the pot.
10a. If your fondue is too runny add some more cornstarch, but only a little at a time. Next time you make a fondue use just a little less wine, or a little more cheese.
10b. If your fondue is too lumpy then, alas, there isn't much you can do. You can still enjoy your fondue but next time make sure your cheese is in smaller cubes or grated pieces and that the cornstarch really is on every single piece. Also add the cheese a little more slowly so that it all gets the chance to melt.
10c. If your fondue starts to separate, just continue stirring in a figure of eight. It will come together eventually.
11. Remove the pot from the stove and put it on the table, with a heat source underneath it. You can stop stirring now - as your guests will continue to churn the cheese with their bread.
12. Grate some nutmeg into the pot and you are ready to serve.
Cheese Fondue Recipe - Step By Step
Spear the small bread chunks using a fondue fork - a special fork like a small toasting fork - and dip your bread into the pot. Swirl the bread around to pick up the cheese and then eat. Simple and delicious!
You can try other vegetables and even meats to dip into your fondue. Try various things from cauliflower, celery or even sausages. You might find that some things just don't get any purchase with the cheese and it simply slips off. But it is fun to try to find new foods and innovative ways to get to the cheese.
Have a side salad to go with the fondue. Nothing too heavy as the fondue will certainly start to fill you up.
White wine, but not too cold, is the best drink to have with your fondue. If that isn't your thing you might want a nice red wine on a cold winter's evening. There are many people who say that beer with a fondue is a bad thing as the cheese and beer just don't sit well in the stomach - but you might find something different in your experience.
Fondue A La Bourguignon Recipe
When cheese isn't meaty enough
If a cheese fondue, with bread and a side salad, seem a little too vegetarian for you then allow me to introduce the Fondue Bourguignonne.
This is the famous meat fondue. It is just as sociable as the cheese fondue but replace the melted cheese with boiling oil and the cubes of bread with cubes of beef.
It makes for a wonderful meal, very hearty and filling. If you have enough guests for dinner you can have a cheese fondue and a meat fondue at the same time and share the cheese, bread and meat around.
A la bourguignonne indicates that the fondue hails from the Burgundy region of France, which historically was also a part of Switzerland.
For four people you will need the following:
- 1lb (450g) beef (tenderloin or sirloin steak)
- enough oil to fill 1/2 the fondue pot
- various dipping sauces (ketchup, tartar, cocktail sauce, mayo, aioli, creme fraiche etc.)
- various dipping spices (crushed pepper, paprika, dry mustard, chilli etc.)
And preparation is this easy:
1. Cut the beef into 1" (25mm) cubes, or slices of that size. Don't go too small otherwise you won't be able to spear the meat and keep it on the fork
2. Head the oil in the pot until it is boiling, and then keep it boiling throughout the meal.
3. Spear a piece of beef with your fork and place it in the boiling oil.
4. When you think your beef is cooked you can remove it. This is the beauty of this dish, you can have the beef as rare or as well done as you like, every time.
5. Dip the beef in to the various sauces and spices then remove it from the fork and place it on your plate. Unlike a cheese fondue you do not put the meat on the fork into your mouth. The metal fork has just been in boiling oil and it is hot and may burn your mouth and lips!
Enjoy the meat with a side salad, some fried potatoes, vegetables etc. anything that you enjoy with regular steak.
Serve with red wine, beer, or anything else that takes your fancy.
For Dessert: Chocolate Fondue
You still have room for more? And you love chocolate? Read on...
OK, so you still haven't had enough fondue yet? Well let's make a delicious chocolate fondue. Think of the cheese fondue but have melted chocolate as the liquid, and marshmallows (or fruit - because you are healthy!) in place of the bread. You can use a regular fondue pot to make a chocolate fondue but they might be a little large so you can buy smaller pots specifically for chocolate fondue.
To maintain the authentic Swiss style you might want to follow this recipe that uses Toblerone bars and creates a fondue for 4 people.
- 10oz (280g) of Toblerone (chocolate, not white)
- 1/2 cup (125ml) cream
- (optional) 2 tbsp (40ml) brandy, or whiskey, or Baileys, or any liqueur you like
1. Break the Toblerone into the triangles - you might want to get multiple small bars so that the triangles are smaller and easier to melt. Put the triangles into the fondue pot.
2. Pour the cream over the chocolate.
3. Using a low heat, and stirring all the time, melt the chocolate into the cream until the liquid is smooth.
4. Stir in the alcohol
5. Transfer the pot to the table, above a heat source, and start to eat!
Use marshmallows, strawberries, bananas, candy, apple slices, etc. to dip into the chocolate and eat to your heart's content.
Organic Chocolate Fondue Recipe - With chocolate martinis!
Fondue Cookbooks - Now you know the basics you can try all kinds of wonderful fondue recipes
More melted cheese fun
So you've made it this far and want even more of a fondue fix. How about a raclette?
Raclette is a Swiss secret that hasn't made it far beyond the country's borders but if you go to the right places you can find it.
The word raclette comes from the French verb racler which means "to scrape" which might give you an idea of how this dish works. Raclette is also a Swiss cheese similar to Gruyere and Emmental.
Basically the cheese is held very close to a heater, as shown in the image. This melts the exposed part of the cheese. It might be allowed to melt and fall onto a waiting plate, to be scraped up, or it might be scraped directly from the block of cheese.
This lovely warm gooey slice of melted cheese is then placed on warm bread, or may be used to smother boiled potatoes.
On the side you might have a regular salad, along with pickles (onions and gherkins are great), meat slices, tomatoes, etc.
Wine and beer go really well with the raclette. If you ever get the chance to have one then treat yourself. It is also great fun to watch a professional scraping the cheese when it is just at the right melting point.