Fondue is a fun and collaborative way to share a meal together with friends and family. Types of fondue makers range from traditional burning to electric, and pots can be made of ceramic, cast iron, or steel. Your application will determine the best fondue pot for you and your needs.
There is nothing better than sitting down to a warm fondue pot filled with molten, bubbly cheese. Whether you are making meat fondue, fruit fondue, or vegetable fondue the ending result will be guaranteed delicious. If you are interested in a fondue set or fondue pot to start your tasty meal, chances are you have become overwhelmed with the several types of fondue makers available on the market.
Between different fondue formats and different fondue pot materials, it is hard to differentiate the pros and cons of the many fondue pot options. Luckily, we are here to help with your gooey cheese deliciousness. Below, we have outlined the many fondue pot options out there so you can find just the right accessories for your next indulgent meal.
Table of Contents
- Brief Fondue History
- Different Types of Fondue Makers
Brief Fondue History
The world today has fallen in love with the decadent and delicious meal of melted cheese. First appearing in poor farm families, fondue made its way on the scene in the early 18th century. Traditionally a Swiss meal, “fondue” actually originates from the French word “fondre” which when translated means “to melt.”
The meal was commonly used for poor Swiss farming families that had to become resourceful, finding ways to allow their minimal food staples to last through a long and cold winter. Luckily, using just a bit of cheese, some herbs, and wine, it was possible to stretch a limited amount of food out for an entire family.
Often, the bread found in the high Alpine mountains became stale and stiff during the winter months. But, by dipping the stale bread into a soft cheese mixture it was possible to soften the bread and make a delicious meal. Plus, this traditional meal option provided an excellent way for working families to sit together at the end of the day, creating a collaborative and inviting environment.
As the traditional farming meal spread through the countryside, other Swiss citizens began to pick up on the popular and delicious meal option. By the end of the 18th century, fondue became a staple in Swiss and French cookbooks as various cheese and broth blended recipes were created for people around the country to share at the communal dinner table.
Fondue is traditionally served in the cold winter months, yet restaurants in France and Switzerland will serve it in the summer to eager tourists and visitors. The meal is usually served in a shallow bowl which allows for even heating. As the cheese is eaten, a thin layer of cheese is left to burn onto the bottom of the earthenware pot.
This burnt cheese, called religieuse is often chipped away at the end of the meal and shared between the diners as a delicacy. In Switzerland, a Gruyère cheese blend is most commonly used, but in France, various cheeses including Raclette and Emmentaler are commonly used in fondue.
Different Types of Fondue Makers
Fondue is a traditional Swiss meal that is fun to share with family and friends. Whether you want to melt cheese, or heat hot oil to cook meat, fondue makers come in several different materials and styles. Below, let’s take a closer look at the many different types of fondue makers so that you can find just the right fondue maker for your needs.
Stainless Steel Fondue Pot
If you are looking for something durable a stainless steel fondue pot will last for years. Breaking away from the traditional fondue pot style, a stainless steel fondue pot is made of strong steel that can be hammered or designed in a decorative pattern. These fondue pots come with many different heating design styles ranging from electric to alcohol, to a traditional flame with fuel to heat the pot.
Aside from looks, a stainless steel pot will give you the most longevity and durability. The steel metal will heat quickly and will do a pretty good job of retaining heat. Many stainless steel fondue set options will also come with the necessary accessories including the forks and fuel for heating.
Stainless steel fondue set options come in several different capacities. Some pots are small, perfect for an intimate gathering, while other pots are large, boasting a capacity of 6 cups or more. The larger fondue set options come with up to 8 forks, plenty for you and your friends to enjoy a night of ooey-gooey, cheese-covered delights.
Stainless steel fondue pots can be used for many different fondue options. While it is certainly traditional to make cheese fondue, these pots are perfect for chocolate fondue options as well. With the relatively easy cleanup, both cheese and fondue can easily wash away from the interior.
Stainless steel is commonly used for hot oil which is required to make meat fondue. The strong and durable construction, coupled with the ability to heat to high temperatures makes this perfect for hot oil. While the stainless steel fondue pot is certainly great for cheese fondue and chocolate fondue, it is worth its weight in gold for the hot oil required to make meat fondue.
Further, many people choose to use a stainless steel fondue pot for broth. Several different broth fondue recipe options are perfect for cooking meat. Adding a broth to your fondue pot is the perfect way to enhance the flavor and add just one more fondue recipe option for you to share with family and friends.
Before choosing a stainless steel fondue pot be sure to carefully read the washing and cleaning instructions. Some fondue pot sets require that they are hand washed. High temperatures and caustic chemicals from a conventional dishwasher can be damaging. Further, some stainless steel fondue set options can become easily scratched from the fondue fork. Many of these scratches are interior and difficult to see but can make your fondue pot appear used and worn prematurely.
Cast Iron Fondue Pot
Many people choose to cook with cast iron because of the many options and various flavors this durable material can give to the food. Similar to traditional cast iron pots and pans, a cast iron fondue pot can completely transform the way your fondue tastes.
Traditional fondue starts with the cook rubbing a garlic clove throughout the interior of the pot to ensure that the flavor is evenly distributed throughout the dish. With a cast iron fondue pot you can ensure that the same flavor and seasoning is baked into the metal itself, making your fondue meals more delicious with each subsequent preparation.
Further, cast iron fondue pots can retain an even and steady heat. Simply heat the bottom of the pot and watch the entire pot heat evenly. This is a great way to avoid hot and cool spots throughout the cheese ensuring an even and steady temperature throughout the meal. The cast iron material holds heat particularly well too, which can help keep the cheese hot and molten, even if the fuel for the fondue pot has been extinguished.
The one downside of a cast iron fondue pot is that many must be hand-washed, and washed very carefully. While you certainly want to remove the majority of the cheese residue, you don’t want to run the risk of wearing down the coating that provides years of seasoning and flavor.
Clean-up can be extensive with cast iron fondue pots because, by nature, many cast iron fondue set options do not include non-stick coating options compared to some other fondue set materials. Even traditional cheese fondue or the adaptive chocolate fondue may be difficult to clean out of these durable cast iron fondue sets.
Enameled Cast Iron
A great option for a fondue set that is something in between fondue pot options is an enameled cast iron fondue set. These have all the qualities of a cast iron fondue pot but are covered with a durable enameled coating. These fondue pots are similar in style and appearance to the famous Le Creuset cooking sets.
The enameled cast iron fondue set has several benefits. First, the cast iron allows the cheese fondue or chocolate fondue to heat evenly throughout the pot. This is the perfect way to eliminate hot and cold spots and can help require less stirring to keep the cheese or chocolate evenly heated. The cast iron retains heat amazingly well which can keep the interior warm long after the fuel has been extinguished.
The enameled coating to the exterior makes this an incredibly attractive fondue pot. It is the perfect pop of color on any table and can help coordinate existing plates and dishes. Further, the enameled coating can help with clean up, easily washing away any splashed or errant cheese fondue that has bubbled over the top of the pot.
Be sure to pay close attention to the cleanup procedures for an enameled cast iron fondue set. The cleaning requirements will change between manufacturers, and some companies mandate that their fondue set is hand-wash only. Keep this in mind before purchasing an enameled cast iron fondue set.
Many of the enameled cast iron fondue sets come with several different options including various heating sources as well as accessories. Some will come with additional fuel, serving forks, and a convenient lid to cover the cheese and keep it warm. This is a great option for both traditional cheese fondue or for chocolate fondue which is ideal for making dessert fondue with the melted chocolate.
Ceramic Fondue Pot
Lastly, we come to the traditional fondue pot which is made of ceramic. For centuries, the Swiss have turned to ceramic for the amazing qualities this material has. Long-lasting, heavy, durable, and easy to clean, a ceramic fondue pot is extremely beneficial if you want to make traditional Swiss fondue.
The long-held standard for fondue sets is Swissmar. This brand has been in the business of creating traditional fondue pots for people to enjoy around the world. The majority of the Swissmar fondue sets are made of traditional ceramic, however, some of the Swissmar fondue sets are made of cast iron, stainless steel, or enameled cast iron.
This gives people the option to use hot oil for meat, cheese for bread and vegetables, or chocolate to make fondue dinner or chocolate dessert. Many people know and trust the Swissmar brand because of their great reputation, long history, and availability of accessories.
Ceramic is the best of all worlds and does a wonderful job of holding a consistent temperature. Many of the ceramic pots are a variation of an electric fondue cooktop, using an easy to adjust temperature setting. Electric fondue works particularly well with the ceramic pot because it can dial in the correct temperature which will perfectly melt the cheese, or bring hot oil to the right temperature to cook meat.
Clean up is a breeze with a ceramic pot. The nonstick coating is easy to wipe clean, regardless of how much cheese has stuck to the inside. Many of the ceramic options are hand wash only, but some may be rendered safe for a dishwasher. Before washing your ceramic pot, be sure to fully read the care instructions to ensure you are caring for your fondue set correctly.
Ceramic fondue pots come in many different sizes and many come with full accessories. Swissmar sells a wide range of available accessories including additional lids, color-coded fondue forks, and fuel for heating. The ceramic pots can be small enough to just serve 4 people, or large enough to accommodate up to 8 people at a time.
Electric Fondue Pot
An electric fondue pot has several benefits compared to other traditional fondue pots that will use a flame or fuel source. An electric fondue pot uses a power cord to alter the temperature of the pot, providing a consistent heat source.
One of the biggest benefits of electric fondue is the ability to accurately adjust the temperature. Depending on the contents of the fondue pot the user can completely and fully adjust how hot the pot gets. This is the perfect way to adjust the temperature down once the cheese or chocolate starts to run low, and can help avoid troublesome burnt cheese stuck to the fondue pot.
Just like other sets, an electric fondue set comes with everything necessary to host your first fondue party. Many electric fondue set options come with the pot, the heater, the necessary lid, and enough forks for everyone to share their favorite meal. Because the power source is electric, you never have to worry about running out of fuel or having a flame burn out. Keep the fondue party going all night!
Lastly, an electric fondue maker is ideal for many applications. An electric fondue maker is usually ceramic but can be made of other materials as well. This makes it ideal for cheese fondue, or for the hot oil to cook meat. Many people also use an electric fondue pot for melted chocolate, making this an ideal chocolate fondue pot for dessert.
Stepping away from the traditional fondue pot manufacturers have created a fondue fountain option. While this may seem mostly decorative and superfluous, there are noted benefits to a fondue fountain.
Typically used for fondue desserts, such as chocolate fondue, the fondue fountain is a great way to keep the chocolate fondue hot and moving. This is an ideal way to help keep a consistent temperature, while still allowing the chocolate to stay fluid and liquid. The fondue fountain repeatedly recycles the available chocolate making it easy for people to dip their desired fruit or bread into the mixture.
Although the fondue fountain does look beautiful the clean-up can be quite difficult. Because of the many moving pieces, it is often necessary to disassemble the fondue fountain to make sure it is completely clean and free of food residue. This means that the majority of the clean up will require you to hand-wash the individual elements. Although this is tedious, a fondue fountain is perfect for special occasions or a fondue party.
Combination Fondue Burner
If you want the best of all Swiss food options many people will opt for a combination fondue burner. These include the traditional fondue pot, but also a hot plate area to make traditional Swiss raclette. Enjoy bubbling cheese on one side, while you grill a variety of meat on the other. The combination fondue burner is perfect for a new and fun way to eat dinner together with family and friends.
The combination fondue burner option is made by several manufacturers including Syntrox Germany. This fondue burner model is electric allowing you to perfectly adjust and set the temperature for wonderfully liquid cheese and deliciously cooked meat. The combination fondue burner is made of nonstick materials, is easy to clean, and offers a fun, non-traditional option to classic Swiss cuisine.
With so many fondue maker options available it can be difficult making a decision on which fondue maker is right for you. Between the different materials and fuel sources choosing the features and benefits that work best for you can be tough.
We have put together a list of frequently asked questions about the various types of fondue makers to give you the insight and knowledge you need to make an educated and well-researched choice for your fondue maker.
What types of fondue are there?
One of the wonderful aspects of fondue is that it is a versatile and varied meal option. Traditional fondue is made with melted cheese fondue. This blend consists of a traditional Swiss cheese, added herbs and spices, and sometimes a mixture of Swiss liquor. Diners then choose to dip small pieces of bread into the liquified cheese mixture.
Another popular type of fondue is meat fondue. This usually utilizes a hot oil, but sometimes a broth mixture is used. The oil or broth is heated to a high temperature so that when meat pieces are put into the mixture it is safely and thoroughly cooked through. While hot oil will sear and cook meat, adding a broth to the fondue pot is a great way to infuse additional flavor into your meal.
Further, chocolate fondue has started to make an appearance on the fondue front. Melted chocolate is a wonderful dessert idea and can be a delicious, decadent option for friends and family members. Many people choose to dip a variety of fruit into the melted chocolate creating a fun twist on a traditional Swiss meal.
What are the differences between the types of fondue sets?
There are two major differences between fondue sets, and each difference has its pros and cons. The first difference is the type of material that is used for the fondue pot. Many different materials, including steel, cast iron, enamel, and ceramic exist. Some materials are better for certain applications, while others are better from an ease of use and cleaning standpoint.
Before purchasing a fondue pot, be sure to research the pros and cons of each material as they relate to your intended application. Steel may be better for the hot oil to cook meat but may be more difficult to clean. Ceramic is the traditional material used for a cheese fondue pot but may not give the same durability and strength as a cast-iron pot.
The second major difference between types of fondue sets is the way the food is heated. Traditionally, a small flame is set up under the fondue pot which helps to keep the cheese, chocolate, or oil hot. This is an easy and traditional way to make fondue but does run the risk of extinguishing.
Further, it can be difficult to adjust the temperature of the pot. Electric fondue pot options are available which have a temperature adjustment. Although these stray away from a traditional setup, they do provide the ability to hone in on the perfect temperature. For some dining room settings though, finding an available and reachable outlet can be tricky.
What does a fondue set do?
A fondue set is a traditional Swiss way to create a fun and collaborative meal with friends and family members. The fondue pot is essentially a vessel that heats various ingredients that can be used as a dipping sauce. The fondue set helps to keep the cheese, oil, or chocolate at a consistent, and safe, temperature to allow diners to dip bread, meat, or fruit into the pot.
A fondue set typically includes everything needed to host a fun fondue party. Made from a variety of manufacturers including Cuisinart and Swissmar, the set typically includes the heating source, pot, lid, and enough sharable forks for everyone to enjoy. The set may be augmented with additional accessories made by Cuisinart or Swissmar, but the initial set should be enough to get you started.
How does a fondue pot work?
A fondue pot in principle is very easy to work. Essentially, ingredients are placed in the pot. Depending on what you are making this can be cheese, broth, oil, or even chocolate. There is a heating element at the base of the pot. Traditionally, this is a small flame provided by a candle, but modern adaptations from major manufacturers like Cuisinart have made the pot electric.
As the temperature increases in the pot, the ingredients heat up, causing them to melt. Once the ingredients are a perfect dipping sauce consistency it’s time to start dipping bread, meat, or fruit into the pot for a delicious meal.
What type of fondue pot is best?
The answer to which type of fondue pot is best comes down to your own needs, preferences, and preferred application. Before choosing the best fondue pot for you, think about what you want to make. If you want to make a meal in your fondue pot, steer toward a traditional ceramic or stainless steel pot that is ideal for hot cheese or oil. If you want to make a melted chocolate dessert, think about a ceramic pot that is easy to clean.
Next, think about what sources you have available to you for heating. Although an electric fondue pot may be most convenient and easy to use, not every dining room set up has an available power source to use. Plus, having a cord in the way can make dining and dipping cumbersome. If you want a consistent and even temperature though, using an electric fondue pot will be the best option.
Lastly, consider how much time you want to dedicate to the cleanup process. Some fondue pots are dishwasher safe, making clean up a breeze. Others must be hand washed to keep the fondue pot lasting for years to come. Still, other fondue applications, such as a fondue fountain, must be disassembled and hand-washed which can lead to a lengthy clean-up process.
What kinds of food can be cooked in fondue sets?
Fondue sets are fun because they offer plenty of options and variety to friends and families alike. This collaborative cooking style is perfect to provoke conversation, work together, and make a delicious meal in the process. There are several kinds of foods that can be cooked in a fondue set.
Most commonly, people will melt cheese in a fondue pot. Usually, a Swiss cheese is used and combined with other spices, herbs, garlic, and liquor. The cheese blend is perfect for dipping small bits of bread. Although bread is traditional, vegetables can also be used.
Further, different types of meats can be cooked in hot oil or broth using a fondue set. Usually, beef is preferred for fondue, but chicken and pork can also be wonderful alternatives. Lastly, chocolate fondue provides a delicious dessert option. Once the chocolate is melted many people choose to dip a variety of fruits into the molten mixture including strawberries, bananas, berries, and even kiwi.
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