If you are looking for an elegant French appetizer that is easy to prepare, the baked camembert is it. Soft and creamy, it is slightly tangy but still mild enough to not overwhelm. It can go well as a starter with sweet accents like jam and honey, or savory ones like pesto, depending on your preference.
While the cheese is wonderful as is, baked camembert is a different (and delicious) way to enjoy it, with an easy recipe that takes only 15 minutes in the oven. It is perfect for parties and get-togethers. Living in France and having been to more than one apéro, I can tell you that this dish is a firm favorite with hosts and guests.
The cooking process is very similar to baking brie or other soft cheeses. And with that, you’ll get a creamy, gooey, and delicious cheese in the end! So let’s get to it, shall we? Allons-y!
What is Camembert?
If you are not sure what a camembert is, it is a light white cheese is from Normandy, specifically the village of Camembert. It is usually unpasteurized and generally comes in a wooden box. The cheese develops a strong pungent taste and smell when it becomes overripe.
It has a white rind made of mold (called penicillium camemberti or. P. candidum) and a yellow interior. The rind is completely edible and there is no need to try to take it off before baking the cheese. It will just melt when served and add to the flavor.
One of the most famous of the classic French cheeses, camembert became widely known during World War II, when it was included in the soldier rations. Soldiers took home memories of their “tangy cheese” and a new French delicacy was born.
When selecting a camembert cheese, try to get one that is as fresh as possible. Camembert that is going bad typically will develop a hard cracked texture around the edges, have a very strong smell. (This will not taste good.)
When buying camembert look for cheeses that have the following letters on their packaging as a sign of quality:
- AOC – Appellations d’origine contrôlée
- AOP – Appellations d’origine protégée
- IGP – Indication géographique protégée
The name “camembert” is protected, and you want one of the artisanal cheeses, not an industrial-grade replica. You can buy Camembert de Normandie here.
Accompaniments and Toppings
Luckily for us, camembert goes well with a lot of different flavors. You can decide to either go for sweet or savory options, depending on your preference (and what is in your fridge)!
|Sliced fruit (pear or apple slices)
|Pesto sauce or pistou sauce
|Fresh herbs (thyme, basic, and rosemary)
|Cooked bacon lardons
Note: the mushrooms and bacon lardons must be precooked over a hot pan for 10-15 minutes before you put it in the oven with the camembert. Otherwise, it will not be properly cooked.
You can mix and match the above ingredients as you want, however, I recommend not mixing the sweet with the savory.
What to dip and serve with Baked Camembert?
The baguette is always a classic with the baked camembert, but you can also use other breads such as pain de campagne, garlic bread, or ciabatta. Other options are tortilla chips, toasted pitta, breadsticks, or salted crackers.
Raw veggies like carrots, cherry tomatoes, or blanched broccoli (anything from a crudité platter really) will also go really well. Along with baked camembert, you can also serve a charcuterie platter to alternate flavors.
Other cheeses to use instead of camembert
I will admit that the strong taste of camembert is not for everyone. Alternative French cheeses you can use brie or goat cheeses, which have a similar baking time, and are slightly less strong in flavor.
If you are having a party, you can also serve several combinations of baked cheeses, or include the camembert on a full French cheese board.
Should you bake camembert in the wooden box and wrapper?
You can bake the camembert directly in the wooden box it comes in, but you should remove the plastic and paper wrapper beforehand.
Place the cheese directly in a wooden box and the wooden box on an oven-resistant tray to catch any overage spills, when putting it into the oven. Once baked, you can serve it to your guests directly in the wooden box.
What drinks to serve?
Baked camembert goes really well with sparkling wines like crémants from the Loire Valley, or if the budget allows, champagne. It is a rather creamy cheese and so goes well with tranquil and dry red wine from Bordeaux, like a Saint Emilion or a Graves.
☞ READ MORE: Easy Guide to the French Wines
Similar appetizer recipes
Baked Camembert Recipe
- 1 box of camembert
- 1 loaf of bread eg. baguette, garlic bread, ciabatta, tortilla chips, toasted pita, breadsticks, or salted crackers.
Optional Sweet Toppings
- sliced fruit eg. pear or apple slices
- fig jam
- cranberry sauce
Optional Savory Toppings
- fresh herbs eg. thyme, basic, and rosemary
- pesto sauce
- cooked mushrooms
- cooked bacon lardons
- chili flakes
- Preheat oven to 180°C /350°F.
- Remove the plastic and paper packaging and place the camembert cheese back in its wooden box, or in a small baking dish.
- With a knife, score crosses or a crosshatch pattern on the top white rind of the cheese.
- (Optional) If adding bacon lardons or mushrooms, cook them in a frying pan on the stove for around 10 minutes.
- Add any toppings and accompaniments you wish to on top of the cheese or beside it, (other than fresh fruit which should be added after cooking).
- Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and serve with bread.
Please note: We are not certified nutritionists and these estimates are approximate. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual.
You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This website is written and produced for entertainment purposes only.
Other cheese appetizers
Note, you might think that the longer you leave the Camembert in the oven, the softer and gooier it will be, however after 15-20 minutes of cooking, it will harden up again. So keep the timer on and pull it out as soon as the 20 minutes is up.
If you enjoyed that, check out our other classic French appetizers and starter recipes that are easy to prepare. Bon appétit and à bientôt !