Gruyere Cheese Fondue
This cheese fondue is creamy, smooth, and by far the best! It's classic melted gruyère cheese flavored with caramelized shallots, apple brandy, and warm spices. It's an easy recipe that's perfect for seasonal gatherings, and it's ready in just 35 minutes!
For more cheesy dips, also try our jalapeño hot cheese dip and skinny chili cheese dip!
Table of contents
- What is cheese fondue?
- Gruyère fondue ingredients
- How to make this gruyère cheese fondue
- What's the best cheese for fondue?
- Tips for making the best cheese fondue
- Can I make cheese fondue ahead of time?
- How do I make cheese fondue without alcohol?
- What to dip in cheese fondue
- Why we love cheese fondue
- More cheesy appetizers
Mention the word “fondue” and immediately we conjure up images of wool sweaters, rosy cheeks, a flickering fireplace, and falling snowflakes.
Perhaps it's because we only make it a few times a year, or because of the cozy communal aspect it adds to gatherings, but fondue is one of those foods that makes memories.
This version with gruyère cheese, caramelized shallots, apple brandy, warm spices, and black pepper is by far the best we've tasted. It's smooth, creamy, and flavorful. Everyone we've made it for agrees that it's the best!
Making fondue is easy, and while serving it in a fondue pot definitely adds to the experience, it's not necessary.
We start by caramelizing some shallots with a bit of sugar and salt, which makes them deeply flavorful. The shallots get blended with some white wine before being poured into a pot. Once the wine is simmering, we slowly add the cheese one handful at a time. We season it with some apple brandy, nutmeg, ground cloves, and black pepper to bring it all together and that's it!
Fondue is such a fun and festive food for special occasions spent with friends and family. From Christmas to New Year's Eve, or even dinner parties through the cold winter months, it's an incredibly delicious, and surprisingly fuss-free recipe that will surely become a tradition (if it's not already).
If this is your first time making fondue, be sure to read through our tips for making the best fondue ever.
What is cheese fondue?
The word fondue comes from the French verb fondre, which means “to melt” and refers to a dish consisting of melted cheeses flavored with wine, brandy, or cognac.
Fondue originated in Switzerland, as a way to use up stale bread and hardened cheeses in the winter months. While it can be made with a variety of cheeses, traditional Swiss fondue cheeses are gruyère and emmental.
Classic cheese fondue is typically served from a communal pot that's warmed from the bottom and served with cubes of bread and other foods. Long slender fondue forks are used for dipping the bread into the melted cheese.
Gruyère fondue ingredients
You only need a few simple ingredients for this cheese fondue recipe. Here's what you need to make it at home:
- Butter – for caramelizing the shallots.
- Shallots – shallots are a little like a cross between an onion and garlic. They have a delicate flavor that becomes rich and nuanced when caramelized.
- Sugar + salt – for a bit of sweetness and saltiness, and they help the shallots caramelize.
- Gruyère cheese – gruyère cheese is rich and creamy and is a classic fondue cheese. You can also use Swiss cheese or gouda in its place!
- Flour – we use a bit of all-purpose flour to help thicken up the cheese and make it smooth. For a gluten-free fondue, use cornstarch.
- White wine – white wine adds a bit of acidity and also helps to maintain a lower boiling point for the cheese mixture, preventing it from curdling. We recommend a dry white wine such as pinot gris or sauvignon blanc.
- Apple brandy – apple brandy adds bright, juicy notes of apple and caramel with hints of cinnamon and honey.
- Nutmeg, cloves, + black pepper – the warm spices work wonderfully with the other flavors in this fondue, while the black pepper adds an earthy kick.
How to make this gruyère cheese fondue
The best cheese fondue is rich, creamy, and smooth. Here's how to make it in a few simple steps:
- Start by sautéing the shallots in butter for a few minutes, then add the sugar and salt. Cook at a low temperature until they're soft, very light brown, and caramelized.
- While they're caramelizing, finely grate the cheese and toss it in a large bowl with the flour.
- This next step is optional, but makes the fondue nice and smooth. Transfer the caramelized shallots to your blender, add the wine, and blend until smooth.
- Pour the blended shallots (or just the caramelized shallots and wine) into a bot, bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Slowly begin to add the cheese one handful at a time. Stir, and continue until all the cheese has been added.
- Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the nutmeg, garlic, apple brandy, and black pepper. Check for seasonings and add more salt and pepper to taste!
Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.
What's the best cheese for fondue?
The best types of cheeses for fondue are creamy and melt smoothly. Classic fondue cheeses are gruyere cheese, emmental cheese, and goud. Or try a combination of a few. Other types of cheese that taste delicious and melt well are fontina, swiss cheese, and jarlsburg.
Tips for making the best cheese fondue
Making cheese fondue is easy, but you need to make sure it doesn't split and turn lumpy. Here are some simple tricks for fondue that turns out perfectly smooth every time!
- Make sure to finely grate your cheese (using the fine holes of your grater). It will take more time, but this simple trick helps the cheese to melt quickly and evenly into the wine.
- Go slow and add only one handful of cheese at a time. After each addition, make sure it returns to a simmer before adding more.
- Don't let the fondue come to a boil! A gentle simmer is what you want.
- Don't be tempted to substitute the wine for stock. The acidity in the wine helps to create a wonderfully smooth (and lump-free!) fondue.
Can I make cheese fondue ahead of time?
Technically yes, but it's much easier and faster to prepare some parts of it ahead of time and then melt the cheese right before serving. Also, because you risk making the fondue lumpy when it's reheated, it's safer to make it fresh.
Here's what you can do to make a stress-free fondue party:
- Prepare your dippers in advance. Cube the bread, cook the sausages, and steam the veggies. They can be reheated in a microwave or in the oven before serving them.
- Caramelize the shallots and blend them with the wine. You can do this 3-4 days ahead and store it in your fridge in a jar.
- Grate the cheese and mix it with the flour. You can also do this step 3-4 days ahead of time.
When you're nearly ready to serve dinner, warm the wine in a pot and melt the cheese into it. Easy!
How do I make cheese fondue without alcohol?
The wine in cheese fondue plays two important roles. First, the acidity in the wine helps to create a smooth and homogeneous cheese sauce. Second, it adds wonderful flavor.
If you need to make your cheese fondue without alcohol, it's possible, but you may want to lower your expectations a little. For flavor, use chicken or beef stock. Avoid vegetable stock and it's pretty flavorless. For the acidity, you'll need to add a small splash of lemon juice. Remember, lemon juice has a very strong flavor so be conservative with how much you add – ⅛ teaspoon is likely enough. Also, use cornstarch instead of flour.
Or, for a reduced-alcohol cheese fondue, you can simmer the wine to remove more of the alcohol. If you simmer wine for 25 minutes, about half of the alcohol will be removed. Bump that up to 2 ½ hours to remove 95 percent of the alcohol. If you do this route, simmer more than you need as some will evaporate.
Yes, you can! While it does add to the experience, most fondue pot manufacturers will require you to make the fondue in a pot on the stove and then transfer it to the fondue pot anyway. You can simply serve the fondue in a pot, and warm it on the stove as needed.
To reheat fondue, warm it in a ceramic or non-stick pot on the stove over medium heat until it's hot and bubbling, stirring often to make sure it doesn't stick. You can thin it with a splash of white wine or chicken or vegetable stock if needed.
Store any leftover fondue in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
You can actually freeze fondue! When it's completely cool, store it in an airtight container for up to two months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight then reheat it on the stove.
What to dip in cheese fondue
You can eat gruyère fondue with pretty much anything that tastes good with cheese. Crusty bread is classic and a number one choice for soaking up all the cheesy goodness, but here are some of our other favorite fondue dippers to serve it with:
- Chunks of crusty bread like baguette
- Crackers and pretzels
- Roasted potatoes or mini potatoes
- Roasted cauliflower, broccoli, or brussels sprouts
- Grilled garlic mushrooms
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Apple slices or pear slices
- Green or red grapes
- Pickles and other pickled vegetables
- Sausages and mini smoked sausages
- Ham, salami, and other cured meats
- Cooked shrimp or scallops
Why we love cheese fondue
Cheese fondue is what we serve when we want something casual and fun that's also cheesy and comforting.
- It's creamy and oh-so-cheesy! Need we say more…
- It's easy to make with just a few ingredients
- We love the communal aspect of sharing a pot of fondue. It adds a social element to gatherings and naturally invites conversation.
- If you're hosting, it's a great dish to prepare ahead of time. Prep all the foods you plan to serve it with, grate the cheese, and you'll be ready to go! You can even prepare the parts f the fondue the day ahead and store them in the fridge if you'd like, so all you have to do is melt the cheese when the time comes.
More cheesy appetizers
- Cheese Board with Pomegranate Baked Brie
- Lemon Whipped Ricotta with Cranberry Honey
- Bacon and Goat Cheese Pops
Gruyere Cheese Fondue
If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 6 ounces shallots, finely minced (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 14 ounces gruyere cheese, finely grated (about 3 ½ cups packed)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, for a gluten free version use 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 ½ cups dry white wine, such as a pinot gris or a sauvignon blanc
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 small garlic clove, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons apple brandy, like calvados
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium-sized frying pan. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the sugar and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Lower the heat if the shallots start to brown.1 tablespoon butter, 6 ounces shallots, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon salt
- While the shallots are caramelizing, grate the cheese using the fine edge of the grater. Add to a large bowl and toss with the flour, or for a gluten-free fondue, toss with cornstarch.14 ounces gruyere cheese, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- OPTIONAL STEP: Transfer the caramelized shallots to your blender. Add the wine and blend until smooth.1 ½ cups dry white wine
- Pour the blended wine and shallots (or add the minced shallots and wine – see notes) into a medium-sized pot and it to a boil for 1 minute. Lower the heat so it's very gently simmering. Using one small handful at a time, slowly begin to add the cheese. Whisk until the cheese has melted and the pot returns to a simmer before adding more. Continue until all the cheese has been added to the fondue.
- Remove the pot from the heat then whisk in the nutmeg, garlic, apple brandy, and black pepper. Be generous with the amount of pepper you grind in. Check for seasonings and add more salt and pepper as necessary.1 pinch ground nutmeg, 1 small garlic clove, 2 tablespoons apple brandy, 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Serve the fondue hot, preferably in a fondue pot, with all your favorite dippers. See the below for a few ideas.
Is it just me, or is anyone else having problems with the PRINT RECIPE option ? Everytime I attempt to print out the recipe, it only opens the whole featured recipe in a new window. This happens with both my Chromebook and my Laptop. Any suggestions ? Is there something I need to do ? I have all the latest updates on both. Thanks for any ideas or help.
Hi John. The recipe does open up in a new, printer-friendly page. There’s a print button at the very top of the new page and that is the button that will launch your computer’s print settings. Sorry for that confusion!
Hi, I’m a bit confused by this part of the recipe, “ The fondue can be made up to a day in advance. Store the cooled fondue in your fridge until about 15 minutes before you would like to serve it.”
Is it supposed to say, The fondue can be made up to a day in advance. Store the cooled fondue in your fridge. REMOVE it 15 minutes before you would like to TO REHEAT IT?
We’re working on bringing this page up to speed right now. It will be a lot more thorough and these confusing parts fixed in the next couple of days. You’re right, you’ll definitely need to reheat it. But it actually works better to have everything ready (shallots caramelized and blended with the wine and the cheese grated and mixed with the flour) ahead of time and then make it fresh.
Delicious, oh so delicious! I used leeks, no brandy or garlic. FANTASTIC!
To Whom it may concern: the photography in the recipe photos at The Endless Meal seems consistently over-exposed. Everything is so light and washed out, it is difficult to make out detail. Whenever I copy one of your recipes, I also copy the photo to put on the same sheet with the recipe, just as reminder of what the dish should look like. I can manipulate things a little through Photo Shop, but sometimes the photo is just so light it can’t be helped any. Even white bread, as in this fondue photo, isn’t _that_ white. Offered for your consideration and food for thought. Never deliver a negative without also giving a positive: I used to collect recipes from almost a dozen different sources but found too much duplication, and some of the sources began to lose their luster. You will be pleased, I hope, to know that The Endless Meal continues to make the cut and is one of just 4 to which I continue to subscribe. Thank you for some truly delicious dishes over the years.
These old photos need a lot of help – lighting for one! I’m really happy that you are loving the recipes you find here. We’re always adding new ones and updating older posts with new photos as frequently as we can. 🙂
I followed the recipe exactly as directed and I got a brown gravy, which looked nothing like the photo on the recipe. What did I do wrong?
It sounds like maybe the cheese split, which can happen if the fondue gets too hot. You want to make sure that it’s never boiling or it can become very thin.
Great recipe !!! It is delicious
I made this for New Year’s and it was perfect! Wonderful flavors.
I’m so happy you enjoyed it. It’s one of my favs. 🙂
If I don’t ever buy wine, even for cooking is there anything you’d recommend to substitute? I’d love to try this for Valentine’s Day! Thanks!
As far as I understand it is important to have wine in a fondue to help the cheese stay creamy (something about the acidity). It is also important for the subtle flavour. I’ve seen half sized bottles in the liquor store that would be perfect for this. Also, a cheap dry wine will do, no need to spend a fortune on a good bottle for this recipe 🙂
Happy Valentine’s Day!
you can substitute a beer/ale….. or even non-alka wine/beer if alka is a problem. the better the beer/ale the better the taste…
You could definitely sub beer or ale, just make sure that it is not hoppy as that would throw the taste off. A dry cider would probably be best.
Although you could sub something non-alcoholic you might end up with a fondue that breaks. The acidity in the wine helps to bind the cheese so it doesn’t end up lumpy. Remember that the alcohol in the wine does burn off when you boil it at the beginning so it is perfectly safe to serve to kids or someone who doesn’t drink alcohol.
Hope that helps!
Holy wow this fondue is so good!! It’s hard to go wrong with melty cheese but this one has so much flavour. Making this again for my next dinner party for sure 🙂
This recipe is to die for. I made it last night for friends exactly by the recipe and it turned out better than I ever imagined it would. It was the star of the show.
Kristen! I have really been enjoying exploring your blog. Such beautiful photos and unique recipes!! This looks particularly delicious. I might just have to give it a try this week!