The Basics of Fondue

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Whether you are serving classic cheese fondue or delectable chocolate dipping sauce, there are basic guidelines on how to fondue. We provide you with a good understanding of the fondue pot, accessories, safety procedures, and great ideas on dipping sauces and foods.

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Fondue is a fun cooking method to use when serving a meal for a small group. It can be used for cooking meat or seafood, or it can be used to prepare different types of dipping sauces for dipping almost any type of food. The type of fondue dipping sauce that is used will depend on what you will be dipping. Fondue can be served as an appetizer, main course, or dessert. There are many fondue recipes for all of the different courses you may want to serve.

Choosing the Right Fondue Pot | Fondue Utensils | Cheese Fondue
Fondue Bourguignon | Chocolate and Dessert Fondue | What to Dip | Fondue Tips

Choosing the Right Fondue Pot

How to Fondue with Equipment Specifically Designed for that Purpose

Ceramic Fondue Pot

A ceramic fondue pot is used when preparing cheese and chocolate (dessert) fondues that do not require high heat.

Ceramic Fondue Pot

Metal Fondue Pot

Metal Fondue Pot

A metal fondue pot is used for fondues that require high heat when cooking, specifically meat and seafood. These pots are also suitable for meat and cheese fondues as long as the heat source is regulated at a lower temperature.

Enamel Cast Iron Fondue Pot
(Not Pictured)

An enamel cast iron fondue pot is used for any type of fondue.

Heating Elements

Many different heating elements are available, including candles, gel fuel, liquid fuel, and electric.

Fondue or Chafing Dish Burner and Fuel

Fondue Utensils

Each guest will need the following fondue utensils:

  • A long fondue fork (skewer) that is typically provided when you purchase a fondue pot. These forks are color coded to help identify which fork is yours.

  • A plate for the cooked foods and (if appropriate) a plate for uncooked foods.

  • A regular dinner fork for eating cooked food. The fondue fork is for cooking food, not eating. The fork can become dangerously hot. Using the fondue fork for eating also promotes the spread of germs.

  • Napkins

Note: When serving meat and/or seafood dishes, provide an appropriate dipping sauce.

Cheese Fondue

Before adding the cooked cheese fondue to the pot, rub a clove of garlic inside of the pot for added flavor.

Prepare and heat the fondue on the stove first, and then transfer to the fondue pot. Finely shredded cheese melts easily. Allow the cheese to melt slowly. Alcohol, such as wine, champagne, or beer added to cheese fondue enhances flavor and prevents curdling. If the fondue starts to separate or curdle, beat in some freshly squeezed lemon juice. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes smooth. To adjust the thickness, add wine or apple cider rather than water. Always stir cheese fondue in a figure-eight motion to encourage the blending of ingredients.

The crust left at the bottom of the pot when making classic cheese fondue is considered a delicacy and is called “la croute” or la religuese”. Scrape it off and serve it to your guests.

Fondue Bourguignon: Cooking Meat and
Raw Vegetables in Oil (high heat fondue)


This dish includes beef, pork, poultry, game, seafood, and raw vegetables.

  1. Prepare Raw Meat: remove fat, cut into bite size cubes, and marinate (optional)

  2. Prepare Seafood: wash and cut into bite size pieces. Shrimp must be deveined and cut into bite size pieces. If seafood is jumbo sized, it is best to slice in half so seafood is not too dense to cook thoroughly.

  3. Prepare Vegetables: Trim, wash, and cut into bite size pieces. If serving a dense vegetable (i.e. potatoes), it is best to cook them until they are crisp tender before dipping in fondue. Squeeze lemon juice over prepared vegetables to prevent browning.

  4. Arrange each raw meat and vegetable type on separate platters to prevent cross contamination. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to begin.

  5. Dry the meat and vegetables thoroughly on a paper towel before cooking in hot fondue to prevent dangerous spatters.

  6. Choose your favorite oil, i.e.: peanut, vegetable, canola, olive, etc.

    Note: If you choose to cook in broth, it is best to keep it consistent with the type of meat you are serving: for example, beef with beef broth for beef fondue.

    Note: Cooking with wine or champagne is also an option. This works well when serving seafood.

  7. To begin, preheat the oil, broth, or wine to 375º F (just below boiling), on the stove, in the fondue pot. Do not transfer hot simmering oil from a separate pan into a fondue pot, it is too dangerous. To prevent the oil from spattering and/or bubbling over, do not fill pot more than 1/3 full. If you do not have a thermometer available, test the temperature by placing a small cube of bread into the oil. The fondue is ready if the bread cube turns golden brown within 30 seconds. Transfer the pot to it’s holder on the table and turn on burner. If available, follow the direction provided for your specific fondue pot.
Note: Never leave pot unattended and closely supervise children. Do Not use water if a fire erupts; this will spread the fire. Instead, cover the fire with the pot lid to cut off the oxygen supply.

Cooking Times

Approximate fondue cooking times for raw meat,
seafood, and vegetables in prepared fondue
Beef Rare: 15 to 20 seconds
Medium Rare: 25 to 30 seconds
Well Done: 40 to 45 seconds
Fish 30 to 60 seconds
Seafood 2 to 3 minutes
Lamb 1 minute
Pork 1 minute
Poultry 2 minutes
Vegetables 3 to 5 minutes
Cooking times vary greatly and are dependent on how hot the fondue is, what the fondue consists of, and how the ingredients were prepared for the meat or vegetable fondue. If available, follow the recipe directions.

Chocolate and Dessert Fondue

Choose chocolate that has a cocoa solid content above 50%; the best quality chocolate makes the best chocolate fondue. White chocolate tends to harden if overheated. Stir constantly, heat slowly, mix with cream that has been warmed to prevent hardening and to create a creamy texture. Adding a favorite liqueur will add to the texture and flavor. Ideally, all chocolate and dessert fondues should be melted on the top of a double boiler, never over direct heat, before being placed into the fondue pot for serving. A small amount of heat is required to keep dessert fondue warm in the fondue pot, it is best to use a candle.

What to Dip

  • When preparing food for dipping, keep all foods bite sized in cubes, slices, or wedges.

  • Use day old bread for fondue as fresh bread tends to crumble easily. The same holds true for fresh cake.

  • Chill fruits before dipping, it will help the fondue to stick.

  • Meat and seafood must be precooked if dipping in fondue that is not hot enough to cook safely (i.e. cheese fondue).

  • Precook vegetables if dipping in a cheese fondue.

Cheese Fondue

Cooked chicken, cooked ham, cooked pork sausage, cooked seafood, apples, hard-crusty breads, French bread, rye bread, Italian bread, pears, cauliflower, broccoli, potato wedges, vegetables, and pickles.

Chocolate, Dessert, and Fruit Purée Fondue

Firm fruits, strawberries, sliced bananas, fresh pineapple, mango, kiwi, hard apples, grapes, cherries, figs, peaches, dried fruits, ladyfingers, angle food cake, pound cake, cheesecake, vanilla cookies, marshmallows, chocolate cake (fruit fondue), miniature lemon muffins, and miniature blueberry muffins.

Oil Based Fondue

Beef, pork, poultry, game, seafood, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, baby carrots, small sections of corn on the cob, radishes, zucchini, celery, turnips, potatoes, squash, pea pods, and mushrooms.

Broth, Bouillabaisse, Wine, and Champagne Fondue

Beef, pork, poultry, game, seafood, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, baby carrots, small sections of corn on the cob, radishes, zucchini, celery, turnips, potatoes, squash, pea pods, and mushrooms.

Tomato Based Fondue

French bread, Italian bread, crust focaccia, corn muffins, cooked ham, salami, pepperoni, baby artichoke hearts, bell peppers, raw zucchini, and cubed hard cheeses.

Black Bean Based Fondue

Tortilla chips, bell pepper, chunks of Monterey Jack and/or Jalapeño cheese, and baby corn.

Vegetable Fondue

Cauliflower, bell pepper, asparagus spears, artichoke hearts, hard-crusty breads, potatoes, mushrooms, cubed squash, eggplant, cubed hard cheese, baby corn, snow peas, and cooked shellfish.

Fondue Tips

  • Always cook the fondue on the stove, heating to required temperature and then transfer to the fondue pot. A fondue pot will keep your creation at a constant temperature but is not able to cook the fondue.

  • Use a trivet to protect your table from a hot fondue pot.

  • Stay away from water when preparing fondue, use flavorful liquids such as wine and broth. Dry wines work best.

  • More then 4 people at one fondue pot is awkward and should be avoided. If entertaining more than a total of 4 people, invest in more fondue pots.

  • Do not serve more than one course as a fondue.

  • To avoid spattering of oil and broth, keep food dry and keep the amount of food in the fondue pot to a minimum.

  • Squeeze lemon juice over prepared fruits and vegetables to prevent fruits and vegetables from turning brown.

  • When determining how much food to buy, a general estimate is a total of ½ pound per person. This is taking into consideration that you are serving only one fondue dish and are also providing other entrées.

  • If you want to double a cheese fondue recipe, increase the liquid by only 1½ rather than doubling. If you double the liquid the fondue will become soupy.

  • Never leave pot unattended. It is best to entertain with fondue when children are not attending. If children are attending, they must be closely supervised.

  • Do Not use water if a fire erupts, this will spread the fire. Instead, cover the fire with the lid to remove oxygen.

  • The fondue fork is for cooking food, not eating. The fork can become dangerously hot. Using the fondue fork for eating also promotes the spread of germs.

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