Make Ahead

Traditional Fondue Fribourgeois - Legendary and Original

February 14, 2011
6 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Comes from the Canton de Fribourg, in Switzerland, home of the Gruyere and Vacherin Cheeses. Most people have tried to innovate, modify, change or alter this simple and traditional fondue... They have all failed. In failing to stick to the basics... they tried to kill the legendary Swiss dish!! But this recipe will ensure it survives. Fondue means molten... they meant it to be molten cheese only. No "deal breakers" like tomato, champignons, truffles or tourist-like ingredients. - rabino —rabino

Test Kitchen Notes

Rabino's fondue adheres strictly to tradition, proving that newer doesn't always mean better. His classic Swiss recipe calls for a blend of Gruyere (fondue's dutiful workhorse) and the more pungent, creamier Vacherin Fribourgeois. (If you can't find Vacherin, you can use just use twice the amount of Gruyere, or sub in something semi-soft and a little stinky, like a good Fontina.) Rabino's fastidious technique is the soul of his recipe: he starts by having you rub the inside of the pot with a crushed garlic clove, add and warm white wine and then gradually work in the cheese so you get a smooth texture. Nutmeg, pepper, lemon juice (a first for us), and a shot of Kirsch bring the molten cheese and wine to life, and a touch of cornstarch thickens the mixture and keeps it from breaking. This is a loose fondue, clinging gently to whatever you dip in it; if you like yours more substantial, just stir in a little extra cornstarch, thinned with a few drops of water. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Ingredients
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 400 milliliters dry white wine (Fendant du Valais, Languedoc, Rhone,etc...)
  • 14 ounces Gruyere cheese (preferably aged), cubed or shredded
  • 14 ounces Vacherin Fribourgeois, cubed
  • 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 shot Kirsch (cherry brandy)
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • Bread for dipping
  • Procedure
  1. Rub the garlic around the inside of a ceramic or heavy saucepan, then remove the pieces, just leaving the "taste" of it.
  2. Add the wine and warm it over low heat.
  3. Start by SLOWLY adding the cheese....and stir vigorously, but slowly, IN ONE DIRECTION only. The cheese will start to melt.
  4. When the molten cheese starts becomes uniform in consistency, add the nutmeg, pepper, and lemon juice.
  5. Stir together the corn starch and the Kirsch (IMPORTANT!!). Add to the fondue, to give it viscosity. This is an important step. The secret is: if the corn starch is not diluted in the Kirsch, as it hits the cheese it will coagulate and create little "balls" in the cheese. Then you might as well try to cook something else!
  6. You are done. If the fondue is too liquid, add more corn starch, mixed with a few drops of water. If too thick, add more wine.
  7. Cut the bread in pieces (french baguette or whole wheat bread, or both) and enjoy it! Remember not to drink water with the fondue. Only wine or hot tea. Fondue experts say that water will make the cheese lump up into a ball in the stomach. Recent critics have discovered that this is a myth, but I have chosen to ignore them and enjoy my wine with the fondue.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Danna Farabee
    Danna Farabee
  • Noni'sGirl
  • BavarianCook
  • Greenstuff
  • fiveandspice

19 Reviews

Danna F. October 10, 2020
Just Right!
burpshirt May 14, 2020
I love this recipe. I've been making it since late 2011 when I first found it. There's a bit of magical thinking in it, so here's what I do. It will save you some time. The advice I'm about to give you was tested by isolating each change. For each fondue, over years, I eliminated one aspect of this recipe that I suspected of superstition.

Rubbing garlic on the side leaves no "taste" of garlic when you put two pounds of cheese and wine in the pot. I cut up between 3 cloves and half a head of garlic because I like the taste of garlic.

Just shred the cheese into the pot (tamp it down if you start to run out of space) and pour wine on top. You don't have to be gentle with the cheese and slowly add it. Neither do you need to stir it in one direction. That's not how thermodynamics works. The pot is hot all the way around.

I usually add less wine than the recipe says so that I can get the consistency right. Add more later; there's no consistency problems. Step six, where you're instructed to add corn starch if it's too thin, is unnecessary if you add less wine in the beginning.

Definitely DO mix the cornstarch with the Kirsch. In the interest of removing magical thinking from the recipe I tried just dumping in the cornstarch. It does clump and it's very upsetting.

Finally, I have family members that are Swiss and they love trotting out this "drink warm liquids" with a fondue. It makes no sense because chewing, swallowing, and gastric juices in the stomach are sufficient for digesting a fondue. This strange notion of a "ball of cheese in the stomach" makes no sense and they even admit that. Even though it is so silly, I still tested it. I drank tea one week and the next week I pounded ice-cold water. Not only am I alive, I enjoy a cold beverage with molten pot of cheese. Furthermore, since I have a cold beverage, I enjoy fondue in the summer equally with one in the winter.

This recipe changed my life I thank you, Rabino, for submitting it to this site.
burpshirt May 14, 2020
Also, it serves 2 and honestly, I think I eat almost all of it. haha
rabino May 15, 2020
Wow. I'm touched. and Happy. Thank you for your comments.
Noni'sGirl April 9, 2013
I was born and raised in Switzerland. This recipe is very good but this is how I was taught to do it from the traditional cheese store in town. My favorite mix is Gruyere,Vacherin and Appenzeller. I leave the garlic in the ceramic pot and mix all the ingredients together:wine ,cheeses,cornstarch,lemon juice,pepper and nutmeg.Kirsch is optional. I prefer it without as it can overwhelm the cheese flavor.Let it sit for at least one hour at room temperature,then slowly melt on med-low heat stirring often.Creamy and delicious! White wine is the obvious choice to drink but hot tea is just as good. And don't forget a shot of Kirsch at the end! En Guete!
BavarianCook April 2, 2012
I love and appreciate the authenticity of this recipe. My aunt lives in Alsace and we have often had this kind of fondue with her. The simple garlic rub, the kirsch, and the Languedoc in there remind me of fond dinners there. Thanks for keeping it very authentic with this winner of a recipe!
Lara L. February 19, 2012
I used to live in Leysin and rubbing of garlic and the classic simple recipe was the way to go.

I would love a wine pairing suggestion beyond dry white?
Greenstuff February 19, 2012
If I can't find a Swiss Aigle, my favorite is a French Apremont or another wine from the Savoie. They're more available in the States than they used to be,
rabino March 9, 2011
And by the way, Greenstuff, you are right: rubbing garlic onto the "caquelon" IS traditional. It is a common practice in the Oberland Bernois area!
rabino March 9, 2011
Thank you all for your great comments and of course for your votes!!
Greenstuff February 26, 2011
This contest is winding down, so I wanted to get a few more comments in while people were taking a look. I'm sorry to be so nerdy. One, yes, it's fondue fribourgeoise but vacherin fribourgeois. Two, I in A&M's very cool video, they say that the garlic rub is not traditional, but I think it is? I've read that the sulfur in the garlic helps with the break up the protein in the cheese to make the fondue smooth. Three, two other bits of family lore that I haven't seen here yet: we were told that cutting rather than shredding and stirring with a figure 8 rather than round and round made for a smoother fondue. Four, no one has mentioned the traditional pot--the ceramic caquelon is flameproof, and I personally think the best ones are red (I guess that goes beyond even nerdy).
asdfae February 25, 2011
Interesting! In the year that I've lived en Suisse-Romande I've come to know that version as motié-moitié - et la fondue fribourgeoise as having only the vacherin fribourgeois cheese, both of which I first tasted while in the canton Fribourg. I wonder how strict the nomenclature of fondue is en Suisse...
Also my français is not so good so maybe I've learned it wrong, but I thought fondue was a feminine noun and so therefore the adjective denoting it is from Fribourg should be spelled with an "e" on the end?
fiveandspice February 24, 2011
Congrats on being a finalist! This is pretty much exactly the fondue friends I visited in Switzerland made for me (I guess they're traditionalists!), and I know it is delicious.
Sagegreen February 24, 2011
Congrats on being a finalist!
wanderash February 24, 2011
Oh why, oh why do we have to choose?! I could bath in this! Congrats on being a finalist!
Midge February 24, 2011
Congrats rabino!
hardlikearmour February 24, 2011
Congrats! This fondue sounds really lovely.
Greenstuff February 24, 2011
Congratulations on being a finalist! It's great to know that going back to the roots is still valued. If I can find some, think I'll celebrate with a little Fendant du Valais. I already have the Kirsch.
Greenstuff February 14, 2011
Yes, Rabino! I'm with you on tradition, but I think a lot of the world has passed us by, even in the remote villages. I just looked at the menu for a little place in Vaud (the canton just to the south of you) where we used to sit on the deck and eat fondue while the cows passed through on their way to lower pastures. A little spot called Prafandaz, way above Leysin, which is already way above a lot of the world. They have the Gruyère and Vacherin mix that you’re presenting (it’s called moité moité and is their most traditional option). But they also have 21 other variations, including peppers, curry, herbes de Provence and pain d’épice! I guess it’s a new world out there.