Chilly winter is the ideal time to indulge in a decadent and delicious bubbling pot of creamy cheese fondue. A delectable Swiss delicacy that began as a way to use stale bread and hardened cheese in the winter, fondue consists of melted cheese, herbs, and wine, brandy, or cognac enjoyed in a communal pot with a variety of dippers. Follow these eight cheese fon-dos and don’ts to ensure your next fondue night is velvety-smooth.
DO: Use the right pot.
The proper pot is key to the perfect fondue. While you need a stainless steel, copper, or cast-iron pot for broth and oil fondue, cheese (and chocolate!) fondue calls for a ceramic or earthenware pot with a flat bottom. In a pinch, a slow cooker or double boiler will do, too.
DON’T: Cut corners on ingredients.
Not all cheeses are fondue friendly—the type and quality of cheese you use can make or break your dish. For best results, opt for one to three high-quality, high-fat, buttery, and creamy cheeses. Our go-to melty cheeses include:
Alcohol is also often mixed into fondue to add flavor and prevent stringiness and curdling. So, if you’re using alcohol, make sure that it’s high-quality, too. Choose a dry, crisp white wine, like a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. For beer, use a lager or amber ale. In short, the better the ingredients, the better the taste.
What makes beer a chief ingredient in fondue? Read Beer Decoded: Understanding the Basics to learn what's in the different types of beer.
DO: Skip pre-shredded cheese.
We know it’s tempting, but you should never use pre-shredded cheese for fondue. These packaged cheeses are covered in a starchy, anti-clumping substance that hinders the melting process. Instead, buy a block or chunk of cheese, bring it to room temperature, grate it yourself, and toss it in cornstarch. While it takes extra time and work, the results are worth it!
DON’T: Rush the process.
When it comes to fondue, slow and steady wins the race. Don’t rush the process—slowly add your cheese to the pot in small handfuls, gently stir it, and let it melt before adding the next batch. Then, continue to cook it low and slow—careful not to bring the cheese to a boil.
DO: Stir clockwise.
It’s customary to stir fondue in a clockwise, zigzag, or figure-eight motion. Some people believe this will keep the cheese homogenized and well-mixed; for others, it’s a superstition.
DON’T: Skimp on the dippers.
Almost anything goes with cheese fondue. While bread is the standard dipper, feel free to get creative—just cut or dice everything into small, bite-sized pieces and arrange them for easy access. Some of our favorite dippers include:
- Crusty bread
- Soft pretzel bites
- Roasted potatoes
- Apples and pears
- Steamed carrots, cauliflower, or broccoli
- Cooked chicken, beef, or shrimp
DO: Use fondue forks.
Always use fondue forks when dipping and dunking. These stainless steel, long-handled, two- or three-pronged tools are created for spearing and have heat-resistant handles. Plus, they’re usually color-coded so people can keep track of which is theirs. When fondue forks aren’t an option or are in short supply, long bamboo skewers can be substituted.
DON’T: Double dip.
Since fondue is a communal meal, etiquette says to avoid double-dipping. Also, don’t put the fondue fork in your mouth. Simply dip your skewer once, twirl to coat the dipper in cheesy goodness, and let excess drip off. Then bite off the piece using only your front teeth or place the morsel on your plate and use your dinner fork to eat it.
Classic Cheese Fondue Recipe
If you've ever wondered how to make cheese fondue, the best cheese fondue recipe is right here.
⅓ lb gruyère, grated
⅓ lb gouda, grated
⅓ lb fontina, grated
2 Tbps cornstarch
1 cup dry white wine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1½ Tbsp, kirsch
ground pepper, to taste
nutmeg, to taste
- Combine all grated cheese in a bowl. Toss with cornstarch, thoroughly coating all pieces.
- Add white wine, garlic, and lemon juice to a fondue pot and bring to a simmer.
- Slowly add grated cheeses to the simmering liquid in small handfuls. Stir well between each batch.
- Once the cheese is completely melted and smooth, reduce heat and add kirsch, ground pepper, and nutmeg.
- Dip assorted dippers into the fondue and enjoy!