To best enjoy fondue, you need a fondue set. Yes, buying single-purpose cooking tools and appliances rarely seems prudent. And yes, you could, of course, melt cheese in a regular pot and call it a day. But fondue is one of those culinary projects that’s deserving of both your money and storage space. A fondue set includes a heating element that ensures the contents of the fondue pot stay melty, thus allowing the fondue to become your table’s centerpiece rather than something you have to babysit. The accompanying fondue forks make it possible to cleanly dip all manner of morsels into melted cheese or chocolate, and make the meal an interactive event. While a set is something a unitasker, you won’t be mad at affording yourself the ability to host fondue-centered gatherings for years to come. Here are several options for doing just that.
Best Fondue Set for Al Fresco Dining
This traditional fondue set from the Swiss brand Swissmar is just begging to be placed on an outdoor picnic table, perhaps one situated against a mountainous backdrop. The enameled cast-iron pot rests atop a wrought-iron rechaud (the stand that holds the pot and fondue burner). You’ll have to buy Swissmar-brand fire gel for the fondue burner separately.
Best Kitschy Fondue Set
Fellow Swiss brand Kuhn Rikon makes a variety of cookware, and given fondue’s role in Swiss tradition, many of its fondue sets have particularly Swiss motifs, such as this red pot emblazoned with the Swiss flag. The full set comes with six basic fondue forks, fuel paste, and a rechaud, along with six matching plates.
For an even kitschier Swiss-made option, I like the brand’s Capricorn set, which includes a ceramic fondue pot and plates, all hand painted with a goat motif, plus four fondue forks. It’s a nice option for those who are looking to mix up their existing fondue set-up, as this doesn’t come with a rechaud.
Best Electric Fondue Set
While traditional fondue sets usually rely on flame heat to keep fondue warm after it’s been melted on the stove, an electric set plugs into an outlet to melt the fondue directly. Cuisinart’s electric fondue set is consistently well reviewed, and comes equipped with an adjustable thermostat that allows you to melt cheese to your precise temperature preference, eight fondue forks, and a handy ring that fits inside the pot to hold the forks while the fondue heats. The pot, when separated from the base, is also dishwasher safe.
Best Fondue Set for Two (or One)
If you’re less interested in investing in a party showpiece and more interested in the occasional intimate fondue night, a space-saving miniature fondue set is appealing. This tapas fondue set from Boska, a Netherlands-born brand that sells cheese accessories, comes with only two fondue forks and uses a tea light to warm the small, rectangular pot — meaning that you will have to do the serious melting on the stove beforehand.
Best Investment Fondue Set
Like its iconic Dutch ovens, Le Creuset’s enameled cast-iron fondue sets are heirloom quality, and priced as such. The attractive pot (which is available in a few different colors) rests on a sturdy rechaud and the wood-handled fondue forks are nicely color coded so no one gets mixed up at your fondue party.
Best Fondue Set for a Major Splurge
The French cookware brand Mauviel makes a fondue set in its signature copper. The “thick copper construction” promises to hold up to melted cheese, chocolate, and hot oil, and also makes for an elegant dinner party centerpiece. It typically retails for more than $800 but just happens to be on sale right now — peak fondue season!
The best places to buy cheese online
If the cheese section at your local grocery store is lacking, fear not: A number of notable cheese shops ship. Here are a few of our favorites.
Zingerman’s: The Michigan deli has an impressive selection of both American-made and European cheese, including an extra-aged antique Gruyere.
iGourmet: This source for gourmet foods sells many, many regional cheeses; its Swiss selection includes Gruyere, Appenzeller, and Emmental, along with a ready-to-serve fondue mix.