Whether it’s for a romantic evening, a dinner with friends at the chalet or after a good day of skiing, cheese fondue is always a treat.
Here are all our tips and advice, as well as 3 recipes, for a perfect cheese fondue: the quantities and varieties of cheeses to choose, the accompaniments, etc.
Like raclette, it is a convivial dish that requires little preparation and allows you to enjoy your time at the table!
To learn all about the art of making the perfect cheese fondue, we went to meet the experts at the Atwater cheese shop and Marc Bolay, owner of Auberge Saint-Gabriel, which serves one of the best cheese fondues in Montreal.
Here we give you their best tips, advice and recipes for preparing a cheese fondue at home!
How many varieties of cheese to choose and the quantity per person?
The choice of cheese varieties and the amount per person is the basis of the cheese fondue.
At Atwater Cheese Factory, we suggest choosing between 2 and 3 varieties of cheese for the fondue.
It’s important to have a pressed cooked cheese (Gruyère or Emmental) and a pressed uncooked cheese such as Vacherin Fribourgeois.
Which quantity of cheese should I use per person?
If the fondue is served as a main course, we recommend about 200g of cheese per person, without the crust.
If the fondue is served as an appetizer, about 100g of cheese per person is recommended.
White wine, beer or broth for fondue?
Some purists will only put cheese in their fondue, but generally a liquid is added to the cheese mixture for more flavor and a more interesting consistency.
Traditionally, white wine is used, preferably dry, but other alcohols can also be used:
- beer (blonde or white);
- brandy or kirsch.
A fondue without alcohol
For a non-alcoholic fondue, you can use :
- vegetable or chicken broth;
- a non-alcoholic wine or beer.
For liquid proportions: you should plan on about 100 ml of liquid per person.
But since this amount can vary depending on a multitude of factors such as the cheeses used or the cooking temperature, it is best to add it gradually, in small quantities, while the cheese is melting.
What to serve other than bread with fondue?
Bread is the classic accompaniment to cheese fondue.
Bread that has a firm texture is preferred to hold the melted cheese, such as day-old bread that has hardened a bit.
You could very well serve only pieces of baguette with your cheese fondue.
But for a little more variety, here are some other suggestions for side dishes:
- previously blanched vegetables that go well with cheese: baby potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts;
- other vegetables such as mushrooms or cherry tomatoes;
- fruits: apples or pears in quarters, grapes;
- cold cuts such as grison meat;
- pickles, pickled onions.
Other ways to enjoy a cheese fondue
Marc Bolay, from Auberge St-Gabriel, serves his cheese fondue with a small bowl of kirsch and black tea.
You should therefore dip your piece of bread in the kirsch before dipping it in the cheese.
The dryness of the kirsch blends very well with the creaminess of the cheese, resulting in a very tasty (and alcoholic!) bite.
What about black tea instead of water? It would have the effect of facilitating digestion.
What to serve as an appetizer or dessert with cheese fondue?
As we know, cheese fondue is a rather heavy dish;
As with raclette, light accompaniments are recommended:
- a green salad or vegetable soup as a starter;
- a light dessert such as a fruit salad, a dessert board, chocolate-covered strawberries or sorbet.
Cooking tips to make a successful cheese fondue every time
How to avoid having a fondue that is too thick or too liquid?
At the Atwater cheese shop, they suggest gradually adding the cheese and wine to the fondue pot while melting it.
This ensures that you can stop when the texture is perfect and avoid using too much liquid.
If the fondue is ever too liquid, you can add a little cornstarch diluted in the chosen liquid or more cheese, if you have any left. If the fondue is too thick, simply add more liquid.
Why add cornstarch?
The starch allows to bind together the ingredients of the fondue. This avoids having a fondue where the cheese separates.
For best results, mix the cornstarch with the unmelted grated cheese so that it sticks to all the pieces.
When eating the fondue, avoid letting the tines of the fork protrude from the piece of bread so as not to scrape the bottom of the fondue pot and thus release pieces of cheese stuck to the bottom (called la religieuse, french fo the nun). This could alter the taste of the fondue.
The best way to do this is to stick the piece of bread into the crust.
3 cheese fondue recipes
Here are three variations of the cheese fondue:
- the half and half fondue
- the Fribourg fondue
- Marc Bolay’s fondue, served at Auberge St-Gabriel.
For the half and half fondue
- ½ part grated Gruyère cheese
- ½ part vacherin Fribourgeois cheese cut into cubes
For Fribourg fondue*
- ⅓ part Gruyère
- ⅓ part Emmenthal
- ⅓ part Appenzeller
For both recipes
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- Clove of garlic
- White wine (or broth, beer)
- Ground pepper (to taste)
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Mix cornstarch with unmelted grated cheese so that it coats all the pieces.
- Rub the fondue pot with a clove of garlic.
- Add a little wine in the pot and bring to a simmer.
- Add some of the cheese and lower the heat.
- Stir gently to melt the cheese**.
- Add chopped garlic clove (optional).
- A handful at a time, continue to add the cheese, gently melting it.
- When cheese is melted, gradually add remaining wine (or liquid of choice) until smooth and not too liquid.***
- Add pepper and nutmeg. Increase heat slightly and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.
- Serve immediately.
* We can also change the mix for ½ gruyere, ¼ emmenthal and ¼ appenzeller.
** You can also stir the cheese with a fork to emulsify it and make it more aerated.
*** It' s best to add the liquid a little at a time to avoid having a fondue that is too fluid. If this happens, you can correct it by adding more cheese (if you have any left) or by adding cornstarch diluted in a little liquid.
- 2 cloves of garlic, cut in half
- 200 ml (¾ cup) sparkling wine
- 5 turns of the pepper mill
- 700 g (6 ¼ cups) grated Swiss Gruyère cheese
- 300 g (2 ¼ cups) Vacherin Fribourgeois cheese, diced
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp brandy
- 1 tsp baking soda
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 baguettes, cut into cubes
- Rub the garlic pieces against the sides of the fondue pot.
- Add sparkling wine and pepper.
- As soon as the sparkling wine is simmering, add the Gruyère, Fribourg cheese and cornstarch.
- Mix gently until the cheese is completely melted and smooth.
- When it boils slightly on the sides, combine the brandy and bicarbonate in a bowl and pour over the cheese.
- Mix gently and place on a stove as soon as the cheese foams.
Ready-to-go cheese fondue mixes
Several cheese shops now offer bags of cheese already grated for cheese fondue.
Atwater cheese shop, for example, offers two blends, the Swiss fondue and the Boss fondue. Another variation of the fondue is also offered at their Ontario Street location.
The fondues are for 2 people at prices ranging from $9 to $15 / person.
It’s also possible to buy the Auberge’s fondue mix (order in advance) or to eat the fondue at the restaurant.