Swiss Cheese Fondue

Source: Family Beerli;  cir. 1970’s

Cheese Fondue

The Swiss popularized this dish and made it a national dish in the 1930's by the Swiss Cheese Union. In the 50's, Fondue hit north America and by the 60's, it was as popular as hippies were in San Francisco. Fondue is everywhere in Switzerland. Certainly, it's at every mountain top, and quite popular in the colder months, especially snowy, wintry nights after a long day on the ski slopes. I was honored to get this recipe from my father-in-law, who made it for us upon his first visit to California. It was his first time in North America, and we asked him to share a bit of his heritage with us. We gathered around our kitchen table, set the Fondue pot in the middle and enjoyed our evening filled with Swiss cheese, bread, and a chilled white wine. Memories forever.
Course 2 Main Course
Cuisine Swiss
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 5 people


  • 5 dl white wine (1dl per person) Chardonnay or a dry wine
  • 1 lb gruyère cheese shredded (400 - 500gr)
  • 1 lb emmentaler cheese shredded
  • 1 lb appenzeller cheese shredded
  • 5 clove garlic 1 ea person, diced
  • 1 tbs cornstarch to bind the fats from the cheese


  • Rub the still cold pot with the cut garlic piece. (this flavors the clay pot with a nice garlic aroma)  Get cheese assembled and cut the rind off. We bought 2 packages of cheese each, as you see on the forms.
  • Shred the cheese and put together in a bowl, ready for melting
  • Cut the garlic, not to fine and put aside.
  • Pour in the wine and bring it to a boil.
  • Add the cheese one handful at a time and wait until melted. Stir continuously. Add the diced garlic.
  • Keep stirring the mixture.  We advise a wooden spoon with a hole in the center, which allows you to check the consistency. 
  • Take a small teacup add the cornstarch and use very little wine, just enough to bring it to a thick creamy consistency.  Add it to the cheese-mix and wait for about 2 to 4 minutes. It should start to become very creamy. Even the thin oily top layer should now bind.
  • Keep stirring until mixture begins to boil.  At this point, all the cheese should be melted, smooth and you should have the desired thickness achieved.
  • When the mixture is creamed together and well bound,  add fresh ground pepper on top with some nutmeg (muscat).  Its ready to roll
  • Note: For dipping, buy a nice sour-dough or an Italian bread loaf, and cut it in 1" squares the morning of, this allows the bread to dry out a bit and be perfect for dipping. Add accompaniments to the options for dipping such as pickles, pickled onions, pickled vegetables, or whatever else you might have in mind.
  • To make this Swiss tradition complete, each place setting has a shot-glass of "Kirschschnaps" or a tangy schnapps to dip each square of bread in, before it goes into the cheese dip.
  • Have your fondue pot in the center of the table with the gas lighter ready to go when you take the pot from the stove, to the table.  Set individual plates and fondue forks.  Keep to Swiss rule:  when someone loses their bread from the fork in the fondue pot, the loser must give every person at the table, a kiss.  Feel free to make up your own rules for fun! 
  • When the pot's been licked clean, it's a job well done!  (15 minutes later)
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