Fondue (UK: /ˈfɒnd(j)/, US: /fɒnˈd(j)/,[3][4] French: [fɔ̃dy]) is a Swiss[5] melted cheese dish served in a communal pot (caquelon or fondue pot) over a portable stove (réchaud) heated with a candle or spirit lamp, and eaten by dipping bread into the cheese using long-stemmed forks. It was promoted as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union (Schweizerische Käseunion) in the 1930s, and was popularized in North America in the 1960s.

Cheese fondue
CourseMain course
Place of originSwitzerland[1][2]
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsCheeses, white wine, garlic, often kirsch

Since the 1950s, the term "fondue" has been generalized to other dishes in which a food is dipped into a communal pot of liquid kept hot in a fondue pot: chocolate fondue, fondue au chocolat, in which pieces of fruit or pastry are dipped into a melted chocolate mixture, and fondue bourguignonne, in which pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil or broth.


Close-up view of melted cheese in a fondue

The word fondue is the feminine passive past participle of the French verb fondre 'to melt' and so means 'melted'; it is used as a noun.[6] It is first attested in French in 1735, in Vincent La Chapelle's Cuisinier moderne,[7] and in English in 1878.[8]


The earliest known recipe for the modern form of cheese fondue comes from a 1699 book published in Zürich, under the name "Käss mit Wein zu kochen" 'to cook cheese with wine'.[9] It calls for grated or cut-up cheese to be melted with wine, and for bread to be dipped in it.

However, the name "cheese fondue", until the late 19th century, referred to a dish composed of eggs and cheese, as in la Chapelle's 1735 Fonduë de Fromage, aux Truffes Fraiches;[7] it was something between scrambled eggs with cheese and a cheese soufflé.[10] Brillat-Savarin wrote in 1834 that it is "nothing other than scrambled eggs with cheese".[11] Variations included cream ("à la genevoise") and truffles ("à la piémontaise") in addition to eggs, as well as what is now called "raclette" ("fondue valaisanne").[12]

The first known recipe for the modern cheese fondue under that name, with cheese and wine but no eggs, was published in 1875, and was already presented as a Swiss national dish.[13] Despite its modern associations with rustic mountain life, it was a town-dweller's dish from the lowlands of western, French-speaking, Switzerland: rich cheese like Gruyère was a valuable export item which peasants could not afford to eat.[14][15]

With the introduction of corn starch to Switzerland in 1905, it became easier to make a smooth and stable emulsion of the wine and cheese, and this probably contributed to the success of fondue.[16]

Fondue was popularized as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union (Schweizerische Käseunion) in the 1930s as a way of increasing cheese consumption. The Swiss Cheese Union also created pseudo-regional recipes as part of the "spiritual defence of Switzerland".[17][18] After World War II rationing ended, the Swiss Cheese Union continued its marketing campaign, sending fondue sets to military regiments and event organizers across Switzerland. Fondue is now a symbol of Swiss unity.[17]

In the meantime, fondue continued to be promoted aggressively in Switzerland, with slogans like "La fondue crée la bonne humeur" 'fondue creates a good mood' and (1981, in Swiss German) "Fondue isch guet und git e gueti Luune" 'fondue is good and creates a good mood' – abbreviated as "figugegl".[19]

Fondue was promoted to Americans at the Swiss Pavilion's Alpine restaurant at the 1964 New York World's Fair.[20]

A fondue party can be great fun

"Betty Crocker", 1970[21]

Fondue was popular in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, along with other foods made in chafing dishes.[21]

The extension of the name "fondue" to other dishes served in a communal hot pot dates to 1950s New York. Konrad Egli, a Swiss restaurateur, introduced fondue bourguignonne at his Chalet Suisse restaurant in 1956. In the mid-1960s, he invented chocolate fondue as part of a promotion for Toblerone chocolate.[22] A sort of chocolate mousse or chocolate cake had also sometimes been called "chocolate fondue" starting in the 1930s.[23]


A full cheese fondue set in Switzerland. Apart from pieces of bread to dip into the melted cheese, there are side servings of kirsch, raw garlic, pickled gherkins, onions, and olives.

Cheese fondue consists of a blend of cheeses, wine, and seasoning, although there are many variations, such as using beer rather than wine.[24] Traditionally, the caquelon is rubbed with a cut garlic clove, white wine is added and heated with cornstarch, and then grated cheese is added and gently stirred until melted, although in practice all the ingredients can be combined and heated together at once. Some kirsch is often added. Fondue is very easy to prepare, even in large quantities.[25] The cornstarch or other starch stabilizes and thickens the mixture. Additional wine may be added if the fondue is too thick; its acid and ethanol decrease the fondue's viscosity. A fondue can curdle if the protein separates from the fat, which is usually the result of not enough liquid in the mixture and an insufficiently acid mixture, so lemon juice is sometimes added.[26]

Temperature and la religieuse

A cheese fondue mixture should be kept warm enough to keep the fondue smooth and liquid but not so hot that it burns. If this temperature is held until the fondue is finished there will be a thin crust of toasted (not burnt) cheese at the bottom of the caquelon. This is called la religieuse (French for the nun). It has the texture of a cracker and is almost always lifted out and eaten.

Cheese fondues


The regional names used for some of these variants are factitious, and do not reflect genuine regional traditions.[17]

  • Vaudoise: Gruyère.
  • Fribourgeoise, from Fribourg: Vacherin fribourgeois à fondue,[27] wherein potatoes are often dipped instead of bread. This is the only cheese fondue that does not use wine. The cheese is melted in a few tablespoons of water over low heat.[28]
  • Moitié-moitié (or half and half), also called Fondue Suisse: Gruyère and Fribourg vacherin.
  • Neuchâteloise: Gruyère and Emmental.
  • Innerschweiz: Gruyère, Emmental, and Sbrinz.
  • Genevoise: Gruyère (preferably of several stages of maturity) with a little Emmentaler and Valais cheese. Sometimes chopped sautéed morels are added.[28]
  • Interlaken: Gruyère, Appenzeller, Emmental.
  • Appenzeller: Appenzeller cheese with cream added.
  • Tomato: Gruyère, Emmental, crushed tomatoes, and wine.
  • Spicy: Gruyère, red and green peppers, with chili.
  • Mushroom: Gruyère, Fribourg vacherin, and mushrooms.


Italian alpine

Prepared convenience food

Refrigerated fondue blends are sold in most Swiss supermarkets as convenience food and need little more than melting in the caquelon. Individual portions heatable in a microwave oven are also sold.

Other fondues

Fondue Chinoise
Chocolate Fondue
Fondue Bourguignonne


Fondue chinoise (lit. "Chinese fondue") is a common name for hot pot, where meat and vegetables are cooked in a shared pot of broth, or pieces of thinly sliced meat are dipped with a fondue fork into boiling broth with salad as side dish.[33] Various sauces and pickled condiments are provided on the side. After all the diners have finished cooking, they eat the now well-flavored broth often combined with thin noodles.


Slices of fruit, cake or pastry are dipped in a caquelon of melted chocolate, often flavored with rum or kirschwasser. Dessert fondues may also be made with coconut, honey, caramel, or marshmallow. Chocolate fondue usually uses milk chocolate.


Fondue bourguignonne consists of a fondue pot filled with hot oil into which diners dip pieces of meat to cook them. Various dipping sauces are provided on the side. The meats include beef, pork and chicken.


"Fondue vigneronne" or "Fondue Bacchus" is like fondue bourguignonne, with wine or vodka rather than oil. Red wine fondue consists of red wine boiled, and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, onions and herbs; the white wine version is spiced with cinnamon, chilis, coriander, white pepper and enriched with chicken broth. The guests then dip meat, fish or vegetables in the caquelon and top them with bearnaise, tartar sauce or simply French mustard.

Consumption and etiquette

Fondue is eaten by spearing a piece of bread on a fork, swirling it in the pot, and putting it into the mouth.[34] Some writers recommend that the dipping fork be used only to transport the food from the pot to one's plate, not to eat from.[35]

Losing a piece of bread in the caquelon is said to be penalized by buying a round of drinks, singing a song, or running around in the snow naked.[22] This is parodied in Asterix in Switzerland, where a character is sentenced to be drowned in Lake Geneva after losing his third piece of bread.[36]

There are various recommendations on the choice of accompanying beverage: some say white wine, others specify black tea. Some drink spirits during or after the meal, which supposedly helps digestion. Indeed, alcohol may provide short-term relief, but overall, it delays gastric emptying and prolongs perceived fullness.[37] The delayed, strong feeling of fullness after eating fondue may be caused by phase separation in the stomach, the cheese fat initially floating in the stomach not being released into the duodenum, delaying fat sensing and satiation.[26]

See also


  1. fondue,, retrieved 12 November 2016
  2. A Brief History of Cheese Fondue,, retrieved 31 October 2018
  3. "fondue". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 22 March 2020.
  4. "fondue". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). HarperCollins. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  5. Fondue, Encyclopædia Britannica,, retrieved 12 November 2016
  6. Trésor de la langue française, s.v. fondue and fondre, etymology section B.3.a
  7. Vincent la Chapelle, Le cuisinier moderne p. 220
  8. Oxford English Dictionary, Second edition, 1989; online version November 2010. s.v.
  9. Kochbuch der Anna Margaretha Gessner, 1699, cited by Albert Hauser, Vom Essen und Trinken im alten Zürich, cited by Isabelle Raboud-Schüle, "Comment la fondue vint aux Suisses", Annales fribourgeoises 72:101–112 (2010)
  10. Prosper Montagne, Larousse Gastronomique, 1938, p. 483, quoted in the Food Timeline FAQ
  11. "Ce n'est autre chose que des œufs brouillés au fromage", Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, Physiologie du goût, 1834, p.336-9
  12. Joseph Favre, Dictionnaire universel de Cuisine, Paris 1894, cited by Raboud-Schüle, 2007
  13. Louis Favre, L'habitation—le vêtement—les aliments. Manuel d'économie domestique à l'usage des écoles secondaires et primaires supérieures, Neuchâtel 1875, cited by Raboud-Schüle, 2007
  14. Fabian Muhieddine, "La fondue: un coup marketing de 1930!", Le, reporting on a lecture by Isabelle Raboud-Schüle full text
  15. Raboud-Schüle, p. 4-5
  16. Raboud-Schüle, p. 5
  17. Isabelle Raboud-Schüle, director of the Musée gruérien, interview "History of Cheese Fondue" "A Matter of Taste - Part 2". Archived from the original on 20 July 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  18. National Public Radio, "The Fondue Conspiracy", Planet Money 575 (10 October 2014)
  19. Raboud-Schüle, p. 7
  20. Lawrence R. Samuel, End of the Innocence: The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, p. 153
  21. William Sitwell, A History of Food in 100 Recipes, 2013, ISBN 0316229970, p. 273
  22. Sylvia Lovegren, Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads, pp. 240-2
  23. Barry Popik, The Big Apple blog, "Chocolate Fondue (myth)"
  24. German,
  25. A Swiss Army recipe for 100: Swiss Army (2005). "Recettes de cuisine" (PDF).
  26. Bertsch, Pascal; Savorani, Laura; Fischer, Peter (14 January 2019). "Rheology of Swiss Cheese Fondue". ACS Omega. 4 (1): 1103–1109. doi:10.1021/acsomega.8b02424. PMC 6648832. PMID 31459386.
  27. Alan Davidson, ed., The Oxford Companion to Food, 2014 ISBN 978-0-1996-7733-7: "Vacherin fribourgeois exists in two forms, vacherin à fondue, used for making fondue and vacherin à main, a dessert cheese."
  28. Heidi and Gerhold Albonico (1972) Schweizer Tafelfreuden Vol. 1, Silva-Verlag, Zürich (German) OCLC 32640608
  29. French,
  30. French,
  31. See 1 and 2.
  32. "La ricetta tradizionale della celebre fonduta valdostana". itAosta (in Italian). Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  33. "Fleischfondue richtig genießen : so isst man richtig das Fleischfondue".
  34. Fred Kemer, Fabulous Fondues: Appetizers, Main Courses, and Desserts, 2000, ISBN 0806954892, p. 14
  35. Ellen Brown, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fondues and Hot Dips, p. 10
  36. Goscinny, René; Uderzo, Albert (1970). Asterix in Switzerland. Orion Children's Books. ISBN 0752866354.
  37. Henriette Heinrich; Oliver Goetze; Dieter Menne; Peter X Iten; Heiko Fruehauf; Stephan R Vavricka; Werner Schwizer; Michael Fried; Mark Fox (December 2010). "Effect on gastric function and symptoms of drinking wine, black tea, or schnapps with a Swiss cheese fondue: randomised controlled crossover trial". BMJ. 341: c6731. doi:10.1136/bmj.c6731. PMC 3272707. PMID 21156747.

Further reading

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