Cheese Fondue

Always a hit, this classic cheese fondue recipe is easy to make. Melt Jalsberg, Emmenthaler, and Gruyere cheeses with wine, plus a few seasonings for a subtle kick. Don’t forget bread and veggies for dipping!

Cheese Fondue
Elise Bauer

Being a quintessential Swiss dish, cheese fondue conjures up images for me of alpine ski huts, deep snow, and 20°F weather. Well, we don't get much snow or cold weather in the California Central Valley, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy a good fondue party!

The trick to a successful fondue (other than the obvious one of having wonderful people around with whom to share it) is to ensure that the cheese dipping sauce stays smooth.

Cheese has a propensity to get stringy or to "seize up" into clumps—the fat separating from the proteins.

cheese fondue
Elise Bauer

5 Tips to Making Perfect Cheese Fondue

  • Use the right cheese: Avoid cheeses that are stringy when melted, like cheddar or Mozzarella. Use a good Gruyere for a classic fondue, or Monterey Jack. Aged cheeses do well. Raclette is classic for fondue.
  • Coat the grated cheese with cornstarch: Coating the grated cheese with a starch like cornstarch or flour will help stabilize the sauce and keep it from separating.
  • Don't over-heat the cheese after it has melted: Cheese tends to ball up and separate at higher temps, so once the cheese has melted, just heat it enough to keep it warm.
  • Don't over-stir the cheese, doing so will encourage stringiness or cause the cheese to clump.
  • Serve the fondue warm: Don't let the cheese cool down too much before serving, as it tends to get stringier and tougher as it cools.

Wine and Cheese in Fondue: A Perfect Pairing

Food science author Harold McGee suggests several things in his book On Food and Cooking to ensure a perfect fondue:

The combination of cheese and wine is delicious but also savvy. The wine contributes two essential ingredients for a smooth sauce: water, which keeps the casein proteins moist and dilute, and tartaric acid, which pulls the cross-linking calcium off of the casein proteins and binds tightly to it, leaving them glueless and happily separate. (Alcohol has nothing to do with fondue stability.) The citric acid in lemon juice will do the same thing. If it's not too far gone, you can sometimes rescue a tightening cheese sauce with a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of white wine.

What is Fondue? 

The word fondue comes from the French word "fondre" which means to melt. While it's most often associated with cheese, fondue is also made from chocolate, tomato and even oil. Cheese fondue was probably the first type, though, created in Switzerland in the 1800s to stretch out food during the lean months.

The Best Pot for Cheese Fondue

Cheese fondue doesn't start out in a fondue pot. It's made in a heavy bottom pot on the stovetop and transferred into a fondue pot that's designed to keep the cheese warm and melted. Some use a flame underneath to keep the fondue warm. Others are electric.

Fondue pots can be metal or earthenware. While both are effective, the earthenware ones may distribute the heat more evenly. If you're in the market for a fondue pot, check out thrift stores and garage sales. There always seems to be one or two someone is getting rid of.

What To Serve With Fondue



From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Cheese Fondue

Total Time 0 mins
Servings 4 servings

Recipe inspired by reader comments in Epicurious and adapted from a fondue recipe by Tyler Florence of the Food Network.

Ingredients

For the Fondue:

  • 8 ounces Swiss-style cheese such as Jarlsberg or Emmenthaler, shredded

  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded

  • 2 tablespoons flour or cornstarch (use cornstarch if cooking gluten-free)

  • 1 garlic clove, halved crosswise

  • 1 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon kirsch (cherry brandy)

  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

For Serving:

  • Assorted dipping foods such as cubed day-old French bread (skip for gluten-free version), cubed ham (skip for vegetarian option), blanched broccoli, carrots, or cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, chopped green bell peppers, peeled and chopped apples or pears

Method

  1. Toss the grated cheese with cornstarch:

    Place the shredded cheese and cornstarch in a plastic zipper bag. Seal, shake to coat the cheese with flour or cornstarch. Set aside.

    cheese-fondue-method-1
    Elise Bauer
  2. Rub the inside of pot with garlic and then add wine, lemon juice:

    Rub the inside of a 4-quart pot with the cut garlic, then discard. Add the wine and lemon juice to the pot, and bring to a low simmer on medium heat.

    cheese-fondue-method-2
    Elise Bauer
  3. Slowly stir the cheese into the wine:

    Bit by bit, slowly stir the cheese into the wine. Stir constantly in a zig-zag pattern to prevent the cheese from seizing and balling up.

    Cook just until the cheese is melted and creamy. Do not let boil.

    cheese-fondue-method-3
    Elise Bauer
    cheese-fondue-method-4
    Elise Bauer
  4. Add the kirsch, mustard, and nutmeg:

    Once the mixture is smooth, stir in kirsch, mustard and nutmeg.

  5. Transfer to a serving pot and keep warm:

    Transfer the cheese to a fondue serving pot, set over a low flame to keep warm. If your pot is thin-bottomed, a lit candle will probably do. If thick-bottomed, you can use a small Sterno.

  6. Arrange the dipping foods around the pot:

    Arrange various dipping foods around the fondue pot. (A lazy Suzan works great for this.)

    To eat, spear dipping foods with fondue forks or small forks. Dip to coat with the cheese, and eat.

Cheese Fondue
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
529 Calories
36g Fat
6g Carbs
33g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 529
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 36g 46%
Saturated Fat 21g 105%
Cholesterol 115mg 38%
Sodium 515mg 22%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 33g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 1086mg 84%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 142mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.