Just imagine a cold winter evening, after a long day of skiing in the Alps mountains. Alright, you don’t need to be in the mountains, but if you are spending a wintery evening at home with family and friends, this is definitely a cheese fondue type of moment.
There is some debate as to where the traditional cheese fondue comes from, the Swiss call it a Swiss Fondue, while French people call it a fondue Savoyarde from the Savoy region around the Alps. (I live in France, so I’m going to stand up for our claim to this cheesy dish and call it a fondue savoyarde!)
Whatever it is called, is this melted cheese dish is a winter classic and actually quite easy to make at home. There is a beef version of the fondue which is called a fondue bourguignonne, and of course everyone knows the chocolate fondue.
Anyway, as you can imagine, the cheese fondue recipe requires a lot of fromage. But there are also variations depending on which type of cheeses you use. You can even add things like pesto, mushrooms, or cognac for extra flavor.
So let’s find out how to make your fondue a roaring success, shall we? Allons-y!
☞ READ MORE: French Comfort Food: 9 Hearty Recipes you will love
I. Fondue Equipment
Now the whole point of the fondue is to cook it on the table in front of you, so we are going to need some equipment. There are two types of fondue sets. Fondue sets can be made of many different materials such as:
- ceramic – cooks evenly at a lower temperature without burning
- metal – cooks very quickly and can also be used for meat fondues
- cast iron – traditional fondue set that cooks evenly.
a) Traditional Burner Fondue set
The traditional one that you will usually see in restaurants is the one with a candle burner underneath. There are no wires or trip hazards with this one.
It is usually made of cast iron or ceramic, because cheese fondues tend to clump together when they are too hot. Traditionalists will prefer the cast iron or the ceramic which cooks evenly and looks gorgeous to boot.
b) Electric Fondue set
The more practical fondue set that heats faster and lasts longer, is the one which heats with electricity. (Which is not to say you can’t just change out the candle in the traditional one.)
The electric fondue sets that are available for sale these days can also be used for meat fondues and as asian hot pots. For cheese fondue, get one with a good temperature control, to avoid overheating the cheese.
c) Cheese grater
One of the most underrated pieces of equipement you need to make a good cheese fondue is a heavy-duty cheese grater. For the cheese to melt evenly without clumping, you will get the best results if you grate the cheese instead of just cutting it into chunks. A good cheese grater will be worth its weight in gold.
II. Cheese Fondue Ingredients
a) The Cheese
And now for the clou du spectacle (meaning “the star of the show”), the cheese of course. There are many different types of cheese combinations that you can put together, depending on your personal preference.
The most popular varieties of fondue are:
|Type of Cheese Fondue||Recipe Ingredients|
|Fondue Savoyarde |
(from Savoy, France)
| 1/2 Gruyère or Emmental de Savoie, and 1/2 Beaufort or Comté. |
(Can use any combination of the above cheeses)
(from Alps Mountains)
|1/3 Comté, 1/3 Beaufort, 1/3 Gruyère.|
|Fondue with goat cheese|
(from Alps Mountains)
|1/3 Beaufort, 1/3 Emmental, and 1/3 Tomme de chèvre de Savoie (goat cheese).|
(from Normandy, France)
|1/3 Camembert, 1/3 Neufchâtel, and 1/3 Pont-l’Evêque cheese. |
With 1.5 cups of cider and 2 tablespoons of calvados.
|1/2 Gruyère and 1/2 Vacherin (Mont d’Or) cheese.|
(from Valois, Switzerland)
|1/2 Vacherin, 1/4 Gruyère, and 1/4 Raclette cheese.|
(from Alps Mountains)
|1/3 Comté, 1/3 Beaufort, and 1/3 Gruyère. |
With 200g of mushrooms forestière.
|Fondue Provençale with tomato|
(from Valois, Switzerland)
|2/3 Gruyère and 1/4 Emmental. |
With 1 can of tomato pulp and a touch of garlic, pepper, and herbs of provence (basil, thyme, oregano, and bay leaves).
|Fondue au pesto|
(from Alps Mountains)
|1/2 Gruyère, 1/4 Emmental, and 1/4 Goat cheese or Parmesan. |
Add in a couple of spoons of pesto sauce and 1/4 cup of crème fraîche to taste.
Yes, the fondue provençale with tomato is actually from Switzerland, not Provence. (Fondue is usually an après-ski treat, so there is not much skiing and snow in the south of France!)
You can read more about each classic French cheese here. For quantities, count around 250g of cheese per person or 1kg for 4 people.
For a cheesier fondue savoyarde, you can add a small amount of reblochon to make your mixture creamier. If you like a bit of spice, add a bit of freshly grated pepper and garlic into the cheese mixture. For a sweeter fondue, add a touch of nutmeg.
b) Cooking Wine in the Fondue
Along with the cheese, the classic fondue recipe involves a lot of wine. If the cheesy mixture is too thick, it is usually wine that is added to dilute the pot.
Dry white wine from Apremont is preferred for the Savoyard fondue, while white Alsace wines such as Riesling can also be mixed in. You should plan for around 50 cl of wine for 1 kg of cheese (around 2/3 a bottle) for 4 people.
Don’t pour in all the wine in one shot, add around 1/2 bottle and mix in more as necessary if the cheese is too thick. For additional flavor, add a couple of spoonfuls of cognac into the fondue.
c) Cheese Fondue without alcohol
A fondue with wine might be great if you are sharing it on a romantic date with your honey bunny, but if you are dining en famille, it is not exactly the thing you can feed your underage children. The wine does not have sufficient time to cook off.
Instead of wine, you can the white wine with apple juice, vegetable broth, or a light grape juice. You can also use skim milk with a touch of garlic and nutmeg for extra flavor.
If you are looking to dilute the cheese fondue without wine, try adding a tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of water to the melted cheese.
Another option, if you like the idea of cheesy goodness without the wine, is the French/Swiss dish called the raclette. With lots of cheese, potatoes, and charcuterie, it is also a big winner on cold wintery evenings in the Alps.
d) What to dip in fondue
Cheese Fondue is usually eaten with bread, although fondue à la provençale with tomatoes sometimes is eaten with potatoes.
The typical bread that is used in France is the baguette, but you cat try different breads like pain de campagne or ciabatta.
Ideally, try to buy it the day before so that it can have time to stale and become hard. Cut the bread into small cubes that you can pierce with your fork and dip into the cheese fondue.
You can also include lightly boiled vegetables so that they are still crunchy such as broccoli or cauliflower to dip into the cheese. Basically, anything from a crudité platter will do.
Frequently asked questions
What to serve with a cheese fondue?
Fondue tends to be quite a heavy meal, so keep your pairings light. A nice salad with vinaigrette or a charcuterie board is a lovely way to round off the meal. Add some fruit for color and for a touch of sweetness.
What drinks to serve with cheese fondue?
If you have a fondue that includes goat cheese, try a sauvignon blanc or a pouilly fumé with it. For other options, try a citrus Blanche (white) beer or an artisanal apple juice.
☞ READ MORE: Easy Guide to the French Wines
- 340g Gruyère
- 340g Beaufort
- 340g Comté
- 50 cl (2/3 bottle) of dry white wine like Apremont or Reisling
- 1 clove of chopped garlic
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 baguettes
- 200g of mushrooms forestière
- Pinch of paprika
- Grate all the cheese so that it melts easily without clumping.
- (Optional) Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth and chop them into small pieces.
- (Optional) Start by cooking the mushrooms lightly in a stovetop pot in olive oil and garlic.
- Add approximately 1/2 bottle of white wine into the pot and simmer.
- Slowly add in the cheese and mushrooms as it is melting.
- Mix the cheese by forming 8 with a wooden spatula. Note: keep temperatures low as the cheese fondue must never boil.
- Chop the baguette into bite-size square cubes.
- Add additional wine into the pot if the cheese fondue is too thick.
- Once the cheese has completely melted, move the mixture to the fondue pot and serve.
Note: Depending on your fondue set, you may be able to put your fondue pot directly onto your stovetop.
The above portions have been outlined for a family of 4. You can adjust the serving size as you wish, depending on the number of people.
Serve with a simple salad with vinaigrette.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 2726Total Fat: 63gSaturated Fat: 34gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 187mgSodium: 2302mgCarbohydrates: 137gFiber: 5gSugar: 27gProtein: 71g
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 informational purposes only.
If you enjoyed that, check out our other classic French foods that are much loved by the locals. Bon appétit and à bientôt !