This foolproof Best Basic Cheese Fondue Recipe is quick and easy to make with a handful of ingredients, with or without wine.
5-Star Best Basic Cheese Fondue Recipe With and Without Wine
When you want an appetizer that will wow the crowd, look no further than this Best Basic Cheese Fondue Recipe. It’s made with minimal ingredients and can be served with a variety of crowd-pleasing sides.
On my bucket list of foodstuff is fondue. I remember my mom going through this phase too, with her fondue pot and dippers at the ready.
Well, her fondue pot is long gone but the memory of making fondue has lingered, so much so, that I decided to trek to the closest place I know of to experience cheese fondue, the classic and unadulterated version: New Glarus, Wisconsin.
Sure, Switzerland hands down is where one should go to experience classic fondue firsthand, but since that wasn’t going to happen in the near future, New Glarus was the next best choice. After all, it has been known as “America’s Little Switzerland,” for over 150 years.
Since I hadn’t been to New Glarus before, I decided to do a bit of sightseeing and investigate the history and sights of this city. I used this local video to start my adventure: Around the Corner with John McGivern – New Glarus.
I was inspired by Swiss chef and owner of New Glarus Hotel-Restaurant, Roland Furst, who shared his version of cheese fondue and which this recipe is loosely based.
(Author Note: You’ll want to stop back and check out my travel post on New Glarus for more information, and soon to be shared on Wisconsin Homemaker in the not-so-distant future.)
What Makes a Fondue
If you’ve never had fondue, you might be wondering what it is. After all, folks rave about it and there’s even a fondue pot that goes with this dining fare.
A Community Meal
Interestingly, fondue has a rich and long history with Switzerland. It is considered a community food/meal, in that when eating fondue, folks gather together and sit around a central fondue pot. There, they dip pieces of bread or other ingredients into the molten cheese.
It feeds a lot of folks (young and old) and encourages everyone to participate. And, as such, it can be served as a meal or appetizer with just bread or a variety of other dippers. (See Below)
Rules of Fondue
There are some rules and dos and don’ts of fondue.
- Each person gets a long fork. This is your utensil for the duration of the meal.
- With your bread attached, swirl in a clockwise, figure eight motion.
- Once the bread has been luxuriously bathed in cheese, twirl your fork to detach any cheese strands.
- Allow the cheese to cool slightly before eating and indulge.
- It’s said that you should only drink white wine, more Kirsch or even tea with your fondue. This is because any other libation might cease up the cheese in your tummy, making for a most uncomfortable stomach ache. (Foodie Note: The cheese is so good, why worry about what you drinking? Just dip and sip responsibly.)
- Go for the tidbits at the bottom of the pan. Known as “la religieuse,” it’s best if it’s not wasted.
Type of Pot to Use with Fondue
Traditionally, this dish uses a Fondue pot or caquelon that is lit by some kind of canned fuel like Sterno or even a tea candle. But today, you’ll even find fondue pots that are electric.
The reason for such a pot is because in order for the cheese to remain fluid it needs to be kept warm but not boiling.
This keeps the consistency optimum so that you can use a long fork to swirl the foodstuff easily and efficiently. If the cheese is too hot, however, you can get burned by the heated cheese, which is not a too pleasant experience and very painful—just saying.
If you’re new to fondue, try a traditional pot like this Swissmar cast iron cheese fondue set.
What Cheese to Use for Fondue
My ultimate choice for cheese is Emmi Roth’s award-winning Roth Grand Cru® made right here in Monroe, Wisconsin. It rivals aged European Alpine-style cheese, like Gruyère, in taste and texture. The difference is that it is made with rich Wisconsin milk that’s cooked in imported copper vats and aged onsite for at least four months.
Did You Know? Gruyère Cheese is a famous Alpine cheese that is made with cow’s milk and aged for six months or more. Like the Swiss cheese we all know and love, it offers “eyes” that are smaller in size—think Baby Swiss.
Like Gruyere, Roth Grand Cru® offers a nutty taste that pairs well with wine.
However, if you cannot find, Grand Cru®, give these other Swiss cheeses (and not so Swiss cheeses) a try:
- Emmental (also known as: Emmentaler, Emmental)
- White Cheddar
Cooking Note: You’ll also want to shred your cheese directly from the wedge. That is because many products use an enhancer to stop the shredded bits from sticking together. To do this task, use either a box or slide grater or a food processor that offers a grater attachment.
Best Wine for Fondue
My first choice for wine with Swiss cheese fondue is a chardonnay and the spirit is Kirsch or Kircshwasser. But you don’t have to limit yourself to this standard. Give these other wines (or alternatives) a try:
- Pinot grigio
- Chenin Blanc
- Whipping Cream
- Apple Juice
- Apple Cider
- Hard Cider
How to Make Cheese Fondue without Wine
If you’d rather not use wine with your Swiss cheese fondue, try using either a chicken stock/broth or vegetable broth. You can forego Kirschwasser, if you’d like, or use either apple cider/juice or pear juice to give your fondue the requisite layer of flavor.
What to Dip in Cheese Fondue
Whether you serve this Basic Cheese Fondue as an appetizer or meal, try one or more of these dipping ingredients:
- French Bread (or try rye, sourdough, ciabatta, focaccia, bagels, pita)
- bread sticks
- homemade croutons
- cooked, cubed meat – (chicken, turkey, steak, ham, shrimp)
- cooked sausages – bratwurst, etc.
- cooked mini potatoes
- mini kosher dill pickles (cornichons)
- sliced apples
- potato chips
- tortilla chips
- baby corn
- pearl onions
- summer squash
- bell peppers
Step-by-Step How to Make a Basic Swiss Cheese Fondue
It’s quick and easy to make this basic cheese fondue recipe. As you can see from the photo below, it only takes minimal ingredients, including shredded cheese, butter, garlic, corn starch, Kirschwasser, Chardonnay, nutmeg and dill.
Before you start the fondue, you only have two ingredients to prep.
To begin, slice a French baguette lengthwise and then quartered. Place the bread in a bowl and set aside.
Shred three wedges of Roth Grand Cru®. Also, place in a bowl and set aside.
In a saucepan melt three tablespoons of butter on medium heat.
Add to this three cloves of garlic that has been minced.
Add corn starch. Stir well.
Pour approximately one and a half cups of dry white wine.
Then follow with one quarter cup Kirschwasser. Stir well.
Add the shredded cheese. Stir well until combined.
As the cheese melts, add the dry dill and a pinch of nutmeg.
It’s best if you keep the cheese warm using either a Swiss fondue pot, small crockpot or saucepan.
Serve with your favorite dipping ingredients. Enjoy!
For more delicious fondue recipes, be sure to check out this handy cookbook by Melting Pots Restaurants, Inc.: Dip Into Something Different: A Collection of Recipes from Our Fondue Pot to Yours
And, if you want more delicious appetizer inspiration, be sure to check out Wisconsin Homemaker’s Recipe Section.
Best Basic Cheese Fondue Recipe
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cup Chardonnay
- 1/4 cup Kirsche Kirschwasser
- 18 oz Roth’s Grand Cru® 3 wedges-that have been shredded
- 1/2 tsp dill dry
- 1/2 tsp white peppercorns black peppercorns or fresh ground black pepper
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1 large banquette sliced lengthwise and cubed
- In a medium saucepan, start by melting the butter on medium heat.
- Add minced garlic and stir briefly.
- Sprinkle in cornstarch.
- Next, add your wine and Kirsch, stir well.
- Follow with shredded cheese. Stir well.
- As the cheese is melting, add dill, peppercorns and nutmeg.
- Keep the cheese warm, not hot, by using a fondue pot, small crockpot or reheating the saucepan, periodically over low heat.
- Serve with your favorite dipping ingredients, including bread, vegetables and meat. Enjoy!