The best types of meat for dipping in oil fondue are either cubed or sliced lean cuts of red or white meat. For red meats, lean beef and pork are most commonly used. For white meat, chicken is the best option.
Meat can also be dipped in cheese fondues. In this case, cured or cooked meats are used since the heat of the cheese cannot cook the meat.
What Cut of Meat Is Best for Fondue?
Meats free of fat, silverskin, and sinew are the best cuts to use for meat fondue. For a good, beefy cut, opt for beef top sirloin. For a richer texture at a higher cost, the filet mignon is likely your best bet.
Some great options to try are:
1. Beef Top Sirloin
Beef top sirloin is a lean cut of beef taken from the cow’s posterior. It is located on the topmost part of the back of a cow, behind the short loin.
It is a lean and thick cut of meat and has a prominent umami, rich beef flavor. It is both easy to cook and relatively affordable, making it one of the best cuts of meat to use for a fondue.
2. Beef Tenderloin
Beef tenderloin lies next to the ribs, under the cow’s backbone. The muscles that make up this cut are rarely ever used by the cow. This makes it particularly tender.
This also means that the tenderloin is covered in fat. It forms a layer surrounding the tenderloin but barely seeps into the meat. When the fat is trimmed off, you’re left with a very lean piece of meat.
The fat trimmings can be collected, rendered, and turned into tallow. Alternatively, it can be fed to pets, if you have any.
This makes it another fantastic cut to use for fondue. It is soft and juicy and is relatively compact as far as the grain on the cut is concerned.
It cooks quickly and is easy to eat. However, it doesn’t taste inherently beefy so seasoning it well is very important to bring out the flavors of the meat.
On the downside, beef tenderloin is a notoriously expensive cut of meat and isn’t very economical if you plan to use it for a fondue. If you can afford it though, it’s a wonderful experience.
3. Filet Mignon
A part of the beef tenderloin, filet mignon is the king in the world of beef cuts. The beef tenderloin is divided into three main cuts; the butt, the center, and the tail. Filet mignon comes from the tail end of the tenderloin.
Given that the tail of a cow’s tenderloin sees the least amount of activity during its lifetime, filet mignon is the most tender piece of meat in a beef carcass.
Filet mignon cooks quickly and is known to melt in your mouth like butter. As far as filet mignons are concerned, the textures are on point, but the flavors are rather bland. This means that filet mignons, like tenderloins, must be seasoned well.
Unfortunately, tenderloins make up only 1% of the beef harvested from a cow. Hence, filet mignons are relatively rare. Be prepared to pay a premium if you want to use it.
4. Pork Tenderloin
If you prefer pork and plan on using it for your fondue, pork tenderloin is your best bet. Pork tenderloin, like beef tenderloin, runs along the animal’s backbone.
It’s also the leanest cut of meat in a pig. While it doesn’t have a layer of fat around it, unlike beef tenderloin, it tends to be covered in silverskin. This silverskin needs to be removed before using it for a fondue.
The pork tenderloin is a juicy cut of meat. However, it can easily be overcooked and gets dry and chewy when that happens. Because of this, you should not leave it in the fondue for too long.
As the leanest and most tender part of a pig, tenderloin tends to be more expensive than other pork cuts.
5. Pork Loin
If you like pork but do not have the budget for tenderloin, you can opt for the loin. It is cheaper than tenderloin but does not lack flavor.
It is a thick, rectangular cut of pork that runs along the top mid-section of the pig. It is located between the shoulder and the rear of the carcass.
It is a rather tender cut of meat with a concentrated pork flavor and a rich texture. Pork loin, however, has a fat cap you’ll want to trim off before using it for a fondue.
6. Chicken Breast
When it comes to white meat, most people prefer chicken over other alternatives. In fact, chicken is the most widely consumed meat in America according to the US Department of Agriculture.
As far as fondues go, chicken breast is the best cut of white meat to use. This is because it isn’t too expensive, is leaner, cooks faster, and has no bones. When seasoned well and cooked right, chicken breast can be very juicy.
While it is very easy to overcook chicken breast, undercooking it is a far worse problem due to the presence of Salmonella. It can lead to Salmonella infection, which in turn can cause symptoms such as fever, nausea, chills, headaches, etc.
In some extremely rare cases, it can even be deadly. As such, it is important to check each piece of chicken you fondue before eating it to ensure that it’s fully cooked.
7. Firm Fish
While there can be a whole discussion on whether fish should be considered meat, no one can deny that it tastes delicious. Also, having a few fish options is great in case someone among your guests is a pescatarian.
However, one of the major issues with fondued fish is that it may fall apart while cooking due to its flaky nature.
To avoid this, it’s best to use firm fish for fondue. Firm fish filets have more body to them, which helps them hold their shape while fonduing without having to compromise on the flavor.
Some firm fish options for you to include at your next fondue party are salmon, halibut, tuna, catfish, etc.
To add some variety to the seafood selection for your fondue, shellfish are a great option. Besides, who can deny how good prawns and shrimp taste?
Additionally, unlike normal fish, shellfish are less likely to fall apart while being fondued. Yet another advantage to using shellfish for fondue is that shellfish take a very short time to cook.
Some good shellfish options are shrimp, prawns, soft-shell crabs, and scallops. Make sure these are well-cleaned and dried thoroughly before using them.
What Is Meat Fondue Called?
Meat fondues are either called Fondue Chinoise, Fondue Bourguignonne, or Fondue Vigneronne. The distinctions are made based on the medium used to cook the meat.
Fondue Chinoise is a type of fondue in which broth is used to cook the meat. It has its roots in China. It’s also called hot pot or Huoguo.
Huoguo is a dish typically eaten in East Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Korea, etc. Different Asian countries have different names for the dish, along with varying flavorings and broths.
The dish started to gain popularity in the Swiss regions in the last few decades. With time, its flavors have been adapted to better suit the Swiss palate, and it was renamed Fondue Chinoise.
Fondue Bourguignonne makes use of oil as a cooking medium. The oil is heated to a temperature of 375⁰F (190⁰C), and the meat is dipped into it using fondue forks for cooking it thoroughly.
Though the name sounds French, Fondue Bourguignonne actually has a Swiss origin. It was created by Swiss workers using beef that came from Burgundy, France, which is where it got its name.
With Fondue Vigneronne, wine is the cooking medium. The wine is boiled in a pot and spiced to add flavor.
Fondue Vigneronne is made using both red and white wines. The red wine version is seasoned with garlic, onions, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper. On the other hand, the white wine version uses coriander, white pepper, chicken broth, chiles, and cinnamon as the flavoring agents.
Best Oil for Meat Fondue
While making Fondue Bourguignonne, you can’t just use any oil you want. The oil is one of the most critical aspects, and you need to ensure you choose the right one.
While peanut, grapeseed, and sunflower are all good oil options, Canola is the best oil you can use to make a Fondue Bourguignonne.
Canola oil has a high smoke point, which means it can better withstand the high cooking temperature of a Fondue Bourguignonne. It is also neutral and doesn’t impart any taste to the meat, allowing its true flavors to shine.
Additionally, Canola oil is relatively inexpensive.
Best Meat for Cheese Fondue
Cooked meats are the best meat for cheese fondue. Since cheese fondues are not hot enough to cook the meat, it’s vital for the meat to already be safe for consumption. The cheese serves the purpose of adding flavor rather than preparing the meat.
Cured options like salami or beef jerky can work quite well with a cheese fondue.
Also, since you’re pre-cooking your meat, you can choose whichever cut you like without worrying about whether it is suitable for the dish.
Do You Cook Meat Before Fondue?
You don’t need to cook the meat beforehand for Fondue Chinoise, Fondue Bourguignonne, and Fondue Vigneronne. The medium you’re using, which is at a high temperature, cooks the meat for you.
However, with a cheese fondue, where all the cheese does is coat the meat, you need to cook it before dipping it. You can sear, steam, fry, bake, or roast the meat of choice to your preferred doneness before dipping it in the cheese fondue.
How Much Meat per Person for Fondue?
You should typically serve around 8 oz (225 g) of meat, cubed or sliced and cooked or uncooked, depending on the type of fondue that is being served. It is a portion that is neither too big nor too small.
That said, there’s always a possibility that people will ask for seconds (especially with the delicious setup you’re going to have with all that you learned through this article). Therefore, just in case, it is best to have a few extra ounces of meat on hand.
For more, don’t miss What Is the Best Quality Beef in the World? (And Why).
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.