Growing up, my family wasn’t the type to get creative with dinners. Mom would serve up chicken or spaghetti—maybe a side salad if she was feeling fancy, and that was that. No sushi, no tofu, and absolutely no fondue. As far as I was concerned, fondue was reserved for chocolate fountains at fancy weddings.
That’s why it blew my mind the first time I gathered around a pot of melted cheese at my in-law’s house. My mother-in-law broke out a bright orange fondue set from the seventies and sliced up a delicious spread of French bread, vegetables, meats, and more delicious goodies for dipping. This cheese lover instantly fell in love.
The origins of fondue: a necessity in food conservation
For being such a decadent meal, fondue has a modest history, borne out of food scarcity during long and harsh Scandinavian winters.
According to the BBC, fondue was invented in the 1800s, when Swiss peasants found themselves running low on food and having to bite into hardened, stale bread. Their solution was to dip their bread in melted, aged cheese, which softened the bread enough to eat. Thus, our cheesy favorite was born.
This wasn’t the first time that people dipped food in melted cheese, of course. “Its first mention dates as far back as Homer’s ‘Iliad’ from around 800 to 725 BC,” reports the BBC, “Where it was described as a mixture of goat’s cheese, wine, and flour.”
Why fondue is so perfect for dinner parties
When gathering friends around the table, we’ve found that nothing beats fondue for dinner parties. My husband and I have tried everything from potluck to tacos to barbecue, and while these meals are always fun, fondue is the life of the party.
First, the simple act of eating fondue is an ice breaker. Gathering around a fondue pot is a communal experience, where everyone partakes. It is an uncommon way to eat and feels novel, so it’s like playing a delicious game with friends!
Second, fondue is perfect for vegetarians and vegans (or for people who just want to avoid meat). Highly customizable, fondue can be whatever you want it to be. Dip in fruit, vegetables, or bread.
And of course, fondue doesn’t always have to be cheese! You’re probably familiar with melted chocolate fondue where you can dip in fruit and biscotti for a decadent dessert. Meat lovers can cook steak, chicken, or seafood in boiling oil.
No wonder it’s a party favorite! Fondue is highly customizable, interactive, and a fun way to fill your belly while hanging out with some of your best friends.
How to serve up amazing cheese fondue
Whether you’re cooking meat, dipping in cheese, or indulging in chocolate, fondue is fun and easy. Here’s how to serve up a mouth-watering cheese fondue for your cheese-loving friends and family.
First, you’re going to need a fondue set. After you melt the cheese in a double boiler (instructions below), you’ll transfer it to the fondue set so you can easily place the fondue on the table while keeping it warm over the fuel holder and flame.
- In a double boiler, heat up 1 cup of water. Once simmering, pour in a ½ cup of white wine (I suggest riesling).
- Add a tablespoon of garlic and a pinch of salt to the wine mixture, and stir for 30 seconds.
- Slowly add cheese and stir well. Traditional Swiss fondue calls for Swiss cheese, but cheddar, Emmental, and Gruyere are also fantastic options. Cook until cheese is melted.
- Transfer fondue to the fondue set and enjoy!
When completed, the cheese should be smooth and creamy. Add a dash of pepper to taste.
Wondering what to serve with all this cheesy goodness? There are no rules! Get creative! We love using broccoli, cherry tomatoes, a baguette, apple slices, pear slices, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. If it would be good with cheese, don’t be afraid to dip it in!