Classic Cheese Fondue Recipe

Fondue became a must-do foodie fad in the '70s for a reason: literally translating to "melted," this melted cheese specialty hailing from the Alpine region bordering France and Switzerland is a delicious, interactive meal for any dinner party or special occasion supper. And thanks to Tricia Wheeler of Peaceful Dinners, you have all the secrets within your grasp.

Fondue is traditionally served with toasted or slightly stale bread for dipping, but Wheeler doesn't stop there. "I have had fondue in Lucerne, Switzerland, and it was served with vegetables, little boiled potatoes, mushrooms, and bread," she explains, noting that she made sure to choose veggies that pair well with cheese for this recipe.

The easiest way to prepare and serve fondue is in a fondue pot, but if you don't have one, don't let that stop you. "What is helpful about a fondue pot is the ongoing heat source to keep your fondue warm and allow for a more leisurely experience," she explains, noting that you could still use a heavy saucepan, like stainless steel or copper, which both boast better heat retention than other metals. Simply heat the cheese mixture on the stovetop, then set on a trivet to serve, moving it back to the heat as needed to keep the cheeses molten and melted.

Gather the ingredients

To make this cheese fondue, you will, of course, need cheese: three different kinds, all native to the Alps. Jarlsberg has the nutty sweetness one associates with most market-variety Swiss cheese. It's an excellent counterbalance to the richer Gruyere. Fontina, meanwhile, is an exquisite melting cheese from Italy that helps bring everything together.

The cheeses are seasoned with white wine, garlic, dry mustard, nutmeg, and a hint of cornstarch for texture.

To serve, Wheeler opts for a mixture of sliced baguette, baby potatoes, nutty asparagus, earthy mushrooms, and crisp, slightly spicy radishes. Each of these veggies is prepared to showcase its unique flavors and textures when combined on the platter with all of the other dippers. Some sliced watermelon radish and a few tiny French cornichons are the perfect finishing touch, with an acidic bite that sets off the richness of the cheese to perfection.

Prepare the potatoes for the cheese fondue

The cheese for this cheese fondue comes together quickly, so we'll begin with the dippers. For the potatoes, first preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, then place the potatoes in a saucepan of cold water seasoned with salt. Boil until just tender, about 5 to 10 minutes, before draining and arranging on a sheet pan. Season with olive oil and salt, and then pop the potatoes in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Parboiling, explains Wheeler, "speeds up the cooking process and allows the potatoes to be already softer when they go into the oven, allowing them to cook in half the time." She adds, "This is particularly helpful when you have bigger potatoes. If you have small fingerlings or tiny potatoes, you could roast directly in the oven."

Prepare the asparagus for the cheese fondue

Next up: time to prepare the asparagus. Break off the woody ends by bending and discarding the portion that naturally snaps off. If the asparagus are particularly thick, you may also want to peel them with a vegetable peeler. Arrange the spears on a sheet pan with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt, and roast in the same oven with the potatoes: 8 minutes for pencil-thin asparagus or up to 14 minutes for thicker ones should do the trick.

Prepare the mushrooms for the cheese fondue

Last up: the portabella mushrooms. Wash them with a damp cloth rather than running them under the tap, which could lead them to absorb water and become, well, watery. Sear them in olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet until nicely browned, about 5 minutes per side.

While the mushrooms cook, prepare the remaining veggies: trim the radishes, leaving a little bit of stem, and slice the watermelon radish, if using.

Prepare the cheese for the cheese fondue

It's finally time to turn our attention to the cheese! Grate all three and, in a large bowl, toss the shreds with mustard powder, ground nutmeg, and cornstarch.

"The cornstarch helps to bind the cheese, allowing for less separation and an overall better texture," explains Wheeler. Without it, the cheese could separate and become stringy or oily — not all that appetizing!

Next, warm the wine and garlic in the fondue pot set over the Sterno, if your fondue pot has one, or in a small saucepan on the stovetop, if it doesn't. When the wine comes to a simmer, add cheese by the handful, letting it melt fully before adding more. Add more wine if needed to achieve the consistency you want.

Serve the cheese fondue

When the cheese is melted, it's time to serve! Place the cornichons in a small bowl, and slice the baguette into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange these ingredients, as well as the veggies, on a serving platter. Place both this and the fondue pot in the middle of the table, so everyone can reach their long fondue fork into the cheese. Enjoy with a glass of chilled white wine, preferably from the Jura region of France — another Alpine treat!

Classic Cheese Fondue Recipe
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If you thought fondue was only something you could get in the Swiss Alps, think again -- we'll walk you through melting the cheese and preparing your spread!
Prep Time
Cook Time
fondue in fondue pot
Total time: 50 minutes
  • 12 small potatoes
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 12 stalks of asparagus
  • 12 portabella mushrooms
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bunch of radish
  • 1 small jar of cornichons
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces Jarlsberg cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces fontina cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • 6 grinds fresh nutmeg (or 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
  • 1 ⅓ cup white wine
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
Optional Ingredients
  • 1 watermelon radish
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the potatoes in a medium-sized saucepan, cover with cold water and a three-finger pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the potatoes are soft but not cooked through. Drain the potatoes, and place them on a sheet tray. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.
  2. If the asparagus stalks are thick, cut off the bottoms and peel the outer layer with a vegetable peeler. Place on a sheet tray and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with 1 teaspoon salt. Roast at 425 degrees (with the potatoes) for 8 minutes for thin asparagus and 12-14 minutes for thick asparagus.
  3. Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth, and cut off the bottom of the stem. Sear the mushrooms in a heavy-bottomed skillet tossed with the remaining olive oil and seasoned with the remaining salt and the pepper. Don't stir; let mushrooms sear for about 5 minutes per side until they are softened.
  4. Clean radishes and then slice tops off, leaving a little stem on top. Peel and slice the watermelon radish if using, and place the cornichons in a small bowl. Slice the baguette into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange the roasted potatoes and asparagus, the seared mushrooms, baguette, radishes, cornichons, and optional watermelon radishes on a platter.
  5. In a large bowl, toss the grated cheeses with the cornstarch, mustard powder, and ground nutmeg.
  6. Warm up fondue pot and simmer the wine and garlic. Add cheese in handfuls, letting it melt before adding more cheese; add more wine if needed for consistency. Keep the cheese warm in the fondue pot over low heat as you dip different ingredients in the warm cheese.
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