If you’re craving comfort food, but can’t face another plate of shepherd’s pie or sausage and mash, it could be time to look to Europe for inspiration. The continent is bursting with new ideas to bring life back to meal times.
From hearty Gallic cassoulets and filling Italian gnocchi, to deeply flavoured Hungarian goulash, there’s plenty of inspiration to keep you going all winter long. For lazy weekend grazing though, there’s nothing like a fondue.
Where did fondue come from?
Hailing from Switzerland, it was first popularised in the country as a way of upping cheese consumption (we wouldn’t need telling twice) and marketed as the ‘spiritual defence of Switzerland’.
With ski trips on ice for the time being, there’s a way of bringing the taste of the Alps home thanks to fondue sets. They’re perfect for an indulgent evening in, and when we’ve got the green light, great fun for parties too.
What do you eat fondue with?
Traditionally a hulking pot of melted cheese, you use long-stemmed forks to spear morsels like chunks of bread, cornichons, mini pickled onions, slice meats like saucisson and salami, grapes and roasted new potatoes - before plunging them into the bubbling, melty goodness. If it sounds like heaven, well, that’s because it is.
How to make a classic cheese fondue
Melty cheeses like Gruyère and Gouda are the best to use, but a mix of Swiss curds will give you an authentic taste too. Rub the bottom of your pan with garlic and simmer a splash of high-acidity white wine, kirsch and spices before sprinkling in a little of your shredded cheese at a time, stirring the lot until it’s smooth and silken. Transfer into your fondue bowl and serve with accoutrements, plus a chilled bottle of wine to wash it all down.
There are some great sets available, for parties of two and more. Some come equipped with electric heating elements to keep the cheese gooey, while others keep things warm with little more than a tea light.
See our favourites below
Artesà Deluxe Fondue Set
The perfect party piece, this 22-item set comes with a Lazy Susan-style turntable so you can reach all your dipping bites with ease.
The set comes with a stainless steel fondue pot with a wooden handle so you can carry it without scorching yourself.
There are also long-stemmed forks, dip pots and burner to place under the pot and keep things ticking along nicely. Use it for a classic cheese fondue, or a meat or chocolate one.
Paxton & Whitfield Fondue Set for Two
Master London cheesemongers Paxton & Whitfield have this darling fondue set that’s just the right size for two people. It comes with a branded pot, a pair of forks and a wooden base on which to set the tealight, also included.
Argos Home Stainless Steel Fondue Set
This gleaming steel set is the perfect vehicle for your cheese or chocolate fondue. Transfer your melted goodness in once it’s ready from the stove for the easiest centrepiece ever.
The set includes six forks, a stand and an alcohol burner to keep things toasty. A decent function-first option that won’t break the bank.
Ruffoni Limited Edition Opus Prima Candle and Gel Warmer (26cm)
From Argos’ budget to this blowout option, Ruffoni schools us on how to fondue in opulent style. An ornate hammered steel design, this Italian-made set comprises an open frame with space for tealights in the base’s centre and a covered pot cradled above.
£165.01 | Harrods *Was £209
Staub Mini Fondue Set
A cherry red fondue set from French brand Staub is just the thing to brighten up dinner time. Given the small size of this pot at just 10cm, the brand suggests that it be used for chocolate rather than cheese, although of course, the choice is entirely yours.
Bonus: the enamelled cast iron pot can be used straight on the hob before setting above the burner, cutting down on the washing up considerably. Comes with four fondue forks.
UPKOCH 1 Set Stainless Steel Hot Pot Set
Here’s one to roll out at dinner parties or fancy camping trips in the future. Made from hard-wearing steel, the set comes complete with all sorts of accessories to make hosting sweet and savoury fondue an exciting affair. Made for a small group, there are six spoons, bowls and colour-coded forks (so you’ll never lose yours) alongside the melting pot and a shelf to balance it on.
Boska Fondue Set Non Stick
A fondue pot with a non-stick finish is a thing of beauty, you’ll be patting yourself on the back on a product well purchased when it comes to clean up. Boska’s fondue set is a stylish little thing too in classic black and white with a one litre capacity. It comes with a stove base, burner and set of four fondue forks.
Fuyamp Fondue Set Cheese Stainless Steel Fondue Set
Get ready for your fondue dreams to come true thanks to this nifty stainless steel set from Fuyamp. The durable dishwasher-safe design comes with a splatter guard as well as a strong three-legged stand and six colour coded forks. There’s also a burner plate and alcohol furnace to ensure the cheese stays melted at the table.
Iva 7 Piece Ceramic Fondue Set
Available in a choice of red and black, this easily manoeuvrable ceramic hot pot comes with a few friends, so you’ll have everything you need for your next fondue night. The stand has enough space for a tea light heating element and there are wooden-handled forks topped with a dot of colour so you’ll always know which is yours. Best of all, it’s dishwasher safe so you can sling the lot in once you’re finished.
The Indytute Experiences Wine and Fondue for Two
If you’ve never had fondue before, it might be wise to leave it to the professionals. Give yourself something to look forward to while supporting London cheese restaurant The Cheese Bar with a voucher for this iconic dish complete with wine for a date of your choice. Set in colourful Camden, the voucher is good for bookings between Monday - Thursday.
With the added addition of a turntable Lazy Susan, the Artesà Deluxe Fondue Set is our best buy. It looks the part and will have you itching to plan your next fondue party.