This article will list the top seven best types of cheese for fondue. I will also include tips and answer common questions about making the perfect fondue.
The best types of cheese for perfect fondue are classic Swiss cheeses, such as gruyère, raclette, and Emmentaler. Gouda, fontina, cheddar, and comté cheese also make excellent fondue. However, any creamy, high-quality cheese that melts will suffice.
Now, let’s get to the list!
Nothing beats this classic Swiss cheese for the perfect fondue. There’s a reason Emmentaler has been the standard since the 1800s! This nutty, fruity, rich golden cheese is known as the “Queen of Swiss cheeses” because it never separates when heated, unlike most other cheeses. That means you always get a smooth, creamy pot of fondue!
However, the traditional Swiss fondue recipe isn’t made of strictly one cheese. It is usually a mix of Emmentaler and gruyère. Other traditional additions to the fondue pot include garlic, flour, and dry white wine. You may also add more herbs.
2. Le gruyère
Second only to Emmentaler, le gruyère is another fantastic cheese for traditional Swiss fondue. Depending upon its age, gruyère can be aromatic, mild, full-bodied, and bold in flavor. Either way, it has a delicious sweetness, tang, and complexity that make it a worldwide favorite.
In addition, its silky smooth texture makes gruyère a great compliment to other smooth and creamy Swiss cheese fondue variations. In fact, the makers of le gruyère recommend pairing it with Vacherin Fribourgeois cheese for the perfect fondue recipe.
3. Raclette Du Valais
Raclette du Valais is another famous fondue cheese. This Alpine delight originates in the mid-1800s and has a creamy, buttery flavor with fruity, floral undernotes and a light tang.
It is a semi-hard cheese best known for its namesake culinary use; “raclette” comes from the French verb “to scrape.” The cheese is traditionally heated by a wood fire and then scraped onto a dish of potatoes, onions, and pickles using a knife.
With a soft and silky Swiss cheese variety such as Emmentaler, raclette makes a perfect fondue.
Note: While the top 3 kinds of cheese on this list represent the most popular choices for Swiss fondue, any high-quality Swiss cheese will work. This is especially true when mixed with Emmentaler. Other options include sbrinz, tête de Moine, appenzeller, and Vacherin Mont-d’Or.
Gouda—specifically, smoked gouda—is another perfect cheese to make into fondue. Young smoked gouda has a mild, smooth, salty flavor, while aged gouda is bold, rich, and nutty.
Because gouda is not as soft and creamy as other cheeses, it is best mixed with a Swiss variety rather than made into fondue on its own. This is especially true when using aged gouda, which is much harder and denser than the young variety.
However, making pure gouda fondue is easy! Use primarily young gouda and mix in some extra aged gouda for that bold, rich flavor. Add some lemon juice and cornstarch to prevent separation and help keep the texture smooth. Voila! A perfect gouda fondue!
Swiss cheeses may be the standard for the perfect fondue, but Italian cheeses like fontina are not to be overlooked! Fontina is a rich, creamy, and pungent cheese that melts beautifully, making it a perfect addition to any fondue recipe.
Because it is a semi-hard cheese, fontina is best mixed with a softer cheese like gruyère to produce a velvety smooth fondue. In fact, gruyère and fontina have very complimentary flavors, making them a match made in fondue heaven!
However, like gouda, fontina can hold its own as a single-cheese fondue with a bit of flour and milk to smooth it out.
Comté is a famous French cheese with a notoriously complex flavor. Fruity, nutty, sweet, smokey, salty, and savory, this cheese has it all! It’s no wonder, then, that it makes a perfect fondue.
In fact, Comté easily stands on its own in the fondue pot. It melts beautifully, making for a smooth and creamy mouthful. Add a little cornstarch, some garlic, dry white wine, and ground black pepper, and you’ll have the perfect fondue.
If you’d like to mix this cheese with another variety, try Emmentaler or gruyère, as the flavors are complementary, and both varieties will improve the overall texture of the fondue.
7. Gourmet Cheddar
While entirely non-traditional in flavor, a gourmet aged cheddar cheese makes for a perfect fondue. A sharp cheddar variety brings the flavor, while creamy Emmentaler balances the pot with that perfect fondue texture.
Check out the gourmet cheese counter at your local grocery store and choose the highest quality cheddar block you can find. Cheap and shredded cheeses will result in a sub-par and possibly lump, gritty fondue.
Add cornstarch, garlic, and black pepper for smoothness and extra flavor. However, instead of the usual dry white wine, add a little beer, as it better compliments the flavor of sharp cheddar.
Tips for Making the Best Cheese Fondue
Several problems can arise when you make fondue. Namely, the cheese may not melt properly, resulting in clumps or a gritty texture. It may also come out too thin or too thick. Whatever the issue, the tips below will ensure you get the perfect pot of delicious melted cheese:
- Use the highest quality cheese you can afford. Never use pre-shredded cheese, as it contains additives that affect the texture of the fondue.
- Allow the block to come to room temperature and shred it extra fine. This will help the cheese melt faster and stay smoother.
- Melt your fondue in a pot on the stovetop. This offers you more control over the melting speed. Too fast will make the cheese clumpy or rubbery. Heating it too slowly may result in a gritty texture.
- Heat the cheese slowly. This will keep it soft and smooth. Cheese heated quickly can become clumpy or rubbery.
- For thin fondue, add 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of starch (cornstarch or flour are best). Stir slowly until it thickens.
- For too thick fondue, add 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of wine or lemon juice. The acidity will help to break down the protein, resulting in softer, smoother cheese. You can also add a little milk or cream if the fondue texture is still smooth.
What’s the Best Cheese To Use for Fondue?
The best cheese to use for fondue is Emmentaler Swiss cheese. Emmentaler is the original fondue cheese, and it never separates when heated as other cheeses do. It can be made into a single-cheese fondue or mixed with almost any other high-quality cheese, as its flavor is mild and creamy.
The best cheese to mix with Emmentaler for a perfect fondue is gruyère. The combination is perfect for dipping bread, vegetables, meats, and fruits. However, almost any melting cheese can be made into fondue. Harder cheeses should be mixed with semi-soft varieties for the best results.
Can I Use Any Cheese for Fondue?
You cannot use any cheese for fondue. Cheeses that don’t melt will not work. This includes grilling cheeses, paneer, queso fresco, panela, cotija, feta, and more. Hard cheese is also not ideal for fondue, but any melting cheese will work if you mix it with a soft cheese like Emmentaler or gruyère.
Artificial, low-quality, and grated cheeses are also poor choices for fondue. While artificial cheese like Velveeta will melt, the result is not considered fondue. Low-quality and grated cheeses do not melt properly. They may separate and become gritty due to additives.
What Goes Well in Cheese Fondue?
Bread, meats, veggies, and fruits go well with cheese fondue. Popular choices include sourdough, french bread, meatballs, shrimp, steak, sausage, potatoes, apples, pears, roasted broccoli, bell peppers, asparagus, and mushrooms. Bread should be toasted, veggies roasted, and meat fully cooked.
However, just about any bread, meat, or veggie you can imagine will taste good dipped in cheese! Fruits are a little harder to pair, but apples and pears tend to go well with most fondue cheeses, especially traditional choices like Emmentaler, gruyère, and gouda.
Why Is My Cheese Fondue Not Smooth?
Your cheese fondue is likely not smooth because you heated it too fast or didn’t melt it all completely. This causes the protein in the cheese to clump together. The best way to avoid this is to grate your cheese finely, warm it slowly, and mix in a little dry white wine and/or cornstarch.
Fondue that has been melted improperly may be clumpy and/or gritty. The solution for both issues is the same. You can use lemon juice if you don’t have an appropriate white wine. Add either in increments of 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) and stir slowly to get the right consistency.
If you don’t have any cornstarch, try a little all-purpose flour. Add either in increments of 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) at a time. Again, stir slowly to get the right consistency.
Another tip to avoid clump and gritty fondue is to allow the cheese to come to room temperature before you start melting it. In addition, you can melt it in a pot on the stove before adding it to the warm fondue pot. This gives you more control over the speed of the heating. Whatever you do, don’t allow the cheese to boil, and don’t stir it too fast.
Can You Make Cheese Fondue Ahead of Time and Reheat?
You can make cheese fondue ahead of time and reheat it after refrigerating, but the texture may be compromised. Repeated heating can result in rubbery or gluey cheese. Reheat the fondue slowly on the stovetop and add 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of white wine or Lemon juice. Stir slowly to mix.
You can also reheat fondue in the microwave, only in 15-second increments. Take it out and stir each time gently, so the cheese heats evenly. You can also use this technique to reheat fondue leftovers from restaurants and parties.
Is All Fondue Cheese?
All fondue is not cheese. Fondue can also be fruits dipped into melted chocolate (a.k.a. fondue au chocolat), or raw meats dipped in hot oil (a.k.a. fondue bourguignonne). Many Asian cuisines have a dish similar to fondue, which features veggies, meat, and seafood dipped into the simmering broth.
In China, where it originated, this fondue-like dish is called a hot pot. In Japan, they have an almost identical fondue-style dish called shabu-shabu. It features raw meats and seafood cooked in either hot oil or simmering broth.
However, hot pot and cheese fondue developed independently in their respective cultures. Cheese fondue originated in Switzerland in the 1800s, and hot pot is believed to have originated more than 2,000 years ago in China.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
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