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Traditional Fondue


I promised you my Traditional Cheese Fondue Recipe and a few other fondue tricks and tips.  Fondue can be done anytime anywhere, with all ages!  It forces people to eat slow and enjoy each others company….and because of this, it’s usually only done for special occasions , or perhaps for friends on a Friday night ; )!

This would be me melting some cheese for friends….I know I look so serious…ignore the troubled look, and the old lady turkey neck and get a gander at the CHEESE!  So easy, so delicious!  Don’t have a fondue pot?  Well ask for one for Christmas already!  You can get a really nice one for under $30.  I am a hoarder of fondue pots, well maybe that’s a bit drastic…I think I have 5.  Well one might be my sisters….are you missing a fondue pot Seestor?

And yes if you are wondering sometimes I have them all going at the same time!  That’s what you call a fondue party people ; ) I have been known to offer up a party or two for a good cause!

So enough about me, lets get you fonduing!  This recipe is a traditional Swiss fondue.  I also make a Blue Cheese Rosemary Fondue, and a Cheddar Stout Fondue, but this one is always the favorite!

Traditional Fondue ~ Swiss

1 clove Garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 cup Dry White Wine (drinkable)
1 pound Gruyere Cheese, grated
1/2 pound Swiss, Emmental, or Raclette grated (you can use just one of these or a combination of all)
2 tablespoons Cornstarch
Splash of Kirsch Liquor (If you can find it, if not no worries.)
fresh ground Pepper
pinch of Nutmeg
Savory Dippers: Cubes of French Baguette, Sweet Gherkins, slices of Apple, roasted Fingerling Potatoes, roasted Mushrooms, Sausages cut into bite sized pieces. These are just a few of our favorites…feel free to get creative!

1. Grate cheese and toss with cornstarch. Set aside. (This can actually be done hours before and stored in the refrigerator.)
2. When you are ready to start, make sure you have all your ingredients out and ready. Set up your fondue pot, and light the burner.
3. Take the fondue dish, while it is off the burner rub the garlic clove all over bottom of the dish. Discard clove.
4. Place dish over heat. Add 1 cup white wine to the pot. Add in grated cheese.
5. Using a large spatula or a wooden spoon, begin to carefully stir cheese. Take hold of pots handle while you do this so you don’t send your pot flying off it’s burner. Continue to stir, this process will take up to 10 minutes (or longer). At first it will look like your cheese and wine are not incorporating….no worries keep stirring I promise you it will all come together in a beautiful golden, ooey gooey cheese dip.
6. Once your cheese has started to bubble and  come to a good dipping consistency give it a couple cracks of fresh ground pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, and if you happen to have it a splash of Kirsch Liquor. Mix this in and there you have it, Cheese Fondue!


TIP: It is hard to move the fondue pot once you have it lit, so make sure you make your cheese fondue where you will be eating it. This is an interactive meal remember ; )!

Note: Sometimes the above cheeses I mentioned are hard to find and can get expensive. I would say if you can find Gruyere this is my fondue cheese of choice, if not then use Swiss Cheese. I think a combination of cheeses makes the best cheese fondue. If you can only find Swiss then use all Swiss, it will still be very delicious. Also this is a must, you must grate your own cheese, no pregrated cheese. There are additives and somehow this messes with the consistency, makes is globby. So take the time to grate your own cheese please.



 Step by Step:

Step 1:  Grate your own cheese, by hand or in your food processor.   This is a must, fondue turns out so much better when you fresh grate your cheese.  You can do it the day before….love that day before prep!

Gruyere (pronounced gray-air)  is my fondue cheese of choice, if you cannot find it then use Swiss Cheese. I think a combination of cheeses makes the best cheese fondue. (Here’s a bit of fondue history!  Fondue began in Switzerland when farmers took the end bits and pieces of cheese melted them together in a pot over a fire and dipped pieces of their stale bread in it.)  If you can only find Swiss then use all Swiss, it will still be very delicious. Here is a must, you must grate your own cheese, no pregrated cheese. There are additives and somehow this messes with the consistency, and makes is globby. So take the time to grate your own cheese please.


Step 2: This step can also be done ahead of time, a couple hours at least.  Toss grated cheese with cornstarch.



Step 3: Prepping the dippers.  Dippers are what I call all the things that you want to dip into your cheese fondue.  The list is endless, it can be anything you like it to be.  Some of our favorites are listed in the recipe print out.  It is helpful to prep these ahead of time and have them out on plates or platters before you start the melting of the cheese.



So you have your cheese grated your dippers ready to dip now it’s time to get melting!!

Step 4:  Get all your ingredients out and ready to be added to the pot.  Then light your fire.  You can use liquid fuel, I prefer the sterno pots.  Sterno pots are sometimes tricky to find.  They’re out there.  The trick is finding where your grocer has decided to hide them.  Sometimes they are actually by the fondue pots(imagine that), sometimes they are in the camping section.  If it’s a small grocery store they might be by the butcher.  I can always find them at Bed Bath and Beyond, or of course Amazon!

One more very important tip about fondue fire. Light the pot in the location you are going to be eating.  It is very hard to move a hot pot of cheese with fire under it.  Learned this one the hard way.


Step 5: With the pot off the fire, take the garlic clove and rub it all over the inside of the pot.  Discard.  Smell your fingers.  Wash hands if this smell bothers you.  Return to your regularly scheduled fondue program.  Set pot over fire.



Step 6: Pot is now over the burning implement.  Pour wine into pot.  The pot will get hot quickly, so it may sizzle when you pour in the liquid.

Step 7: Add cheese to pot, and start stirring.  This step takes time and patients.  The cheese is not going to immediately melt and be perfectly smooth.  It’s not American cheese ;).   Take hold of the handle, using a pot holder if you need to and stir gently.  Keep moving the cheese around.  It will look like this for a long while….



Don’t worry just keep stirring, you can give it a rest for a minute or two, but then pump up those biceps and get back to work.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and sip while stirring, this always makes the time pass, or take turns letting others stir.  Unless you are a control freak like myself, then lord over the pot and stir your cheese WOMAN!



Sorry about the picture quality…poor lighting and possibly the photographer had  few too many brewskies ;).  This would be me lording over my cheese.   But you’ve seen that already haven’t you….I had to show you  sans turkey neck and furrowed brow.



See that it’s getting bubbly and smooth, now add in the nutmeg, pepper, and Kirsch if you have it.  Give it a stir, take a piece of bread and dip it in making sure it’s the right consistency.  If not give it a few minutes more.  No hurry.

Kirsch is a traditional German liquor made from cherries.  It has a subtle sweetness, and slight nutty almond flavor if you get a good one.  Like I said, I thought it was hard to find.  I happened to stumble upon it in a German delicatessen in Chicago a few years ago.  Until then I just left it out.  I think it’s more for presentation than anything, I don’t really taste a huge difference.  Better yet you could just have a shot of it before you start fonduing, it’s good for the digestion Ja-hey!


So now your cheese is all ooey gooey and ready for eating, LET THE FUN BEGIN!!!

Here are a few things I have learned over the years of fonduing.

1. This one’s a RULE.  NEVER let your lips touch your fondue fork.  You should carefully and daintily, I might add, bite your food off the fork with our letting it touch your mouth.  Because if it does, well then this is like the worst double dipping of all.   An exception to the Rule would be when we are fonduing with our kiddos, I remind them of this, but I am not a fondue nazi about it, you want it to be fun for them, and hey double dipping amongst family is ok right?!

2. PROPER DIPPING TECHNIQUE= spear food, dip & swirl, lift slowly while twirling cheese around food.  Voila! A perfect bite!

My favorite food to dip in cheese is sweet gherkins.  MMMmmm this is a very lovely thing.  I realize it doesn’t look lovely, but it tastes lovely.  Did I say sweet gherkins dipped in cheese are lovely?  Oh I did…well that’s lovely.  sorry, I’ll stop there.

3. If something falls in the pot, don’t go digging your fingers in there.  Don’t worry about it, eventually the cheese will get low enough and you will be able to retrieve it.  BUT whoever drops something in the pot must give the closest person of the opposite sex a smooch.  Fondue rule #2.

4. LET YOUR NOSE tell you if the pot is getting too hot, if you start to smell burnt cheese then cover up the fire partially with a snuffer outer.   Don’t put the flame out completely, just tone it down a bit.  Cheese will burn a bit on the bottom, that’s ok it’s part of the process, you just don’t want it to get black and make the rest of your fondue cheese taste burnt.

 5. This is the La courte or La religuese or the Grandma, it is the hard crust left at the bottom of the pot, it’s considered a delicacy in fonduing circles.  Are there really fonding circles you ask?  No, but it sounds fun doesn’t it?!  So pry the old Gran-maw out of the bottom of your pot, a table fork works best for this chore.

Crack Gran-maw up and pass her around!  It’s a delicacy I tell ya!  What does it taste like? Well like burnt cheese of course, you silly!

So there you have it!  Your first fondue lesson.  I hope you give fondu a try.  It’s so fun, and delicious!  Besides the fact that I love cheese, what I love most about our fondue tradition is that it forces us to sit down and enjoy each others company.  The conversation around the fondue pot are always more animated and lively than around any other meal shared throughout the season!

What's your favorite Holiday tradition?  I would love for you to share 🙂


Broth & Oil Fondue this post is old, but if you want to move past cheese fondue and do more of a meal this post is for you!!

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