Classic Swiss Cheese Fondue


Steamed red-skinned potato chunks, grilled or toasted Tuscan bread cubes, and pear slices are all great for dipping in the melted cheese. Be sure to stir the fondue as you dip. Related: The Best Fondue Pots

Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
15 mins
8 servings

Cheese fondue is said to have originated on Alpine farms as a way to feed a family inexpensively; the original version was simply stale bread dipped in melted Gruyère. Fondue became so popular that it was named the national dish of Switzerland in the 1930s. Now, this concoction of melted cheese is a decadent way to celebrate chilly winter nights. It features melted Gruyère along with other Swiss cheese; Emmentaler, Vacherin Fribougeois, Appenzeller, and Raclette are blended in, depending on the region and personal preferences. Splashes of kirsch and wine, and a bit of garlic are the traditional seasonings, but you can add a few chopped herbs, a swirl of mustard, or a spoonful of toasted spices if you like.

Eat the cheese, dipping accompaniments like cubed bread, cooked potatoes, sliced apples, pears, cornichons, pickled pearl onions, and salami into the pot. Be careful when dipping: The person who loses their garnish in the pot usually has to pay a penalty to the rest of the people at the table, like buy a round of drinks, or clean up after the meal. After you eat the melted cheese, the layer at the bottom of the pot cooks into a crust, called a religieuse, that is a reward for the table and eaten at the end of the meal.


  • 1 garlic clove, halved

  • 1 pound Gruyère cheese, grated

  • 1/2 pound Emmentaler cheese or other Swiss cheese, grated

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kirsch

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • Freshly grated nutmeg


  1. Rub the inside of a cheese fondue pot or medium enameled cast-iron casserole with the garlic clove; discard the garlic.

  2. Combine the grated Gruyère and Emmentaler with the wine, cornstarch and lemon juice in the fondue pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the cheeses begin to melt, about 5 minutes.

  3. Reduce heat to low. Add the kirsch and a generous pinch each of pepper and nutmeg and cook, stirring gently, until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes; don't overcook the fondue or it will get stringy. Serve at once.

    Swiss cheese fondue with dippers like bread, potatoes, salami, apples
    Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen
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