The most popular Swiss winter foods have one thing in common: they are shared experiences. Cheese fondue is the epitome of this: it’s a simple, enjoyable, and varied winter dish that has to be shared almost by definition.
Many newcomers have asked us over the years: “When it’s so easy to prepare cheese fondue at home, why don’t you show us how?”
Wait no more! Today, I'm going to pull back the curtain and share a practical guide on how to fix a delicious cheese fondue at home.
How to prepare cheese fondue at home 🫕
Step 1: Select a fondue blend
In Switzerland, there are almost as many fondue blends as there are cheese dairies. That’s because many cheesemakers offer unique blends containing some local cheese varieties. Simply ask at the cheese counter of your local grocery shop for their house blend. (Hausmischung)
Now, we’ve already devoted a post to the most popular cheese in Switzerland. The best cheese fondue blends contain a balance between a mature hard cheese and a softer, creamier cheese for consistency.
The hard cheese is grated while the softer cheese is diced. This ensures they both melt at the same time after applying heat.
Aim for 150 to 200 g of cheese per person.
The main fondue blends are:
- ½ Gruyère, ½ Fribourg Vacherin cheese (Moité - moité)
- ⅓ Emmental, ⅓ Gruyère, ⅓ Sbrinz (Central Switzerland)
We love the selection of premium fondues by Les Fondues Wyssmüller, available at Migros, Manor, and Volg. Our favorite premixed moité-moité blend is also a timeless classic: Fondue Création du Maître Fromager.
Each portion of Les Fondues Wyssmüller serves 2 to 3 persons. Since the ingredients are premixed, these fondues already contain starch.
Step 2: Buy the right type of bread
You might think that delicious cheese fondue is all about cheese. That’s not entirely true as the right type of bread makes a big difference.
The key is that the bread should be firm enough not to fall apart in the melted cheese. Yet it should be lofty enough to keep it easily digestible.
In the end, fondue bread comes down to personal preference. Some like white bread such as baguettes, others swear on semi-white bread and still others use dark bread. Regardless of the type of bread, go for about 125 grams per person.
Insider tip: many Swiss will buy fondue bread a day before the meal, letting it dry just a tad bit. Slice the bread, then cut it into cubes, triangles, hearts, or whatever shape you like.
Step 3: Prepare the fondue pot and the fuel
It goes without saying that you will need a fondue set including a pot and forks.
The Swiss call the fondue pot a caquelon and you can pick it up in most grocery shops. If you prefer online shopping, try Amazon for a nice selection of fondue pots such as this classic:
Swissmar "Lugano" Cheese Fondue Set
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Traditional-style cheese fondue pot that will last a lifetime.
Ensure your pot is large enough for all of your ingredients - a deep-sided pan works best so that there's plenty of room for everything to melt together.
In addition, you will need fire gel specifically made for fondue pots. Again, this is a staple you can pick up most anywhere in Switzerland or on Amazon if you’re abroad.
Place the burner in the center of the table where you will be eating. Ready the set with a portion of fire gel.
For fire safety, recall where your fire extinguisher or fire blanket is stored. It never hurts to keep a bucket of water nearby, either. Keep some matches or a lighter handy as things will need to move quickly once the cheese has melted.
Step 4: Melt the cheese
Many Swiss kitchens now have ceramic stovetops. These modern surfaces no longer work with classic fondue pots, requiring an extra step in the process.
Smear ½ clove of garlic onto the bottom of the empty pot.
In a compatible pan for the ceramic stovetop, also smear ½ clove of garlic all over the bottom.
Place the pan onto the ceramic stovetop and add white wine. Les Fondues Wyssmüller requires 1.4 dl of white wine for 400 g of cheese.
Heat the white wine but keep it below its boiling point, then add the fondue cheese.
Keep up the heat and stir the cheese for about 5 minutes. In the process, add 3 to 4 teaspoons of potato starch or corn starch. (The premixed blends of Les Wyssmüller already contain the right amount of starch.)
The goal is to make a creamy mass that is not too liquid. The more starch you add, the denser the mix will become.
When the fondue cheese starts to bubble, you have reached the boiling point.
Turn off the stove and transfer the melted cheese from the pan into the ceramic fondue pot.
Step 5: Stir in a figure-eight motion
Light the fire gel and place the fondue pot onto the stand.
If your fondue buddies are not already seated with a piece of bread on their forks, we have a problem. That’s because the moment when the fondue pot is placed on the stand, someone needs to start stirring.
The idea is to have the pot in motion at all times. It’s ideal if the group finds a rhythm where some are eating while no more than two are stirring.
The rule is to use a figure-eight motion while stirring. If both follow this motion in sync, there is less of a chance for the forks to tangle up.
Step 6: What happens when someone loses a piece
It is a custom in Swiss families to come up with a “challenge” for those who lose a piece of bread in the pot.
Ideas for challenges include: walking barefoot outside into the snow, doing the dishes, singing a song a capella, etc.