A 3 course fondue night is a great way to turn dinner into a fun event. Don’t let that fondue pot collect dust. Create lasting memories instead!
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3 Course Fondue Night for a Special Occasion
Growing up we had the occasional fondue night at home for dinner. It was always a special night and a lot of fun.
So, when my husband and I got a fondue pot as a wedding gift I was really excited. We had the occasional fun fondue night but then it got stored away and wasn’t used for years.
I never wanted to get rid of it though because I knew it would be fun to do together as a family. Once, our son was old enough to get the concept, we had our first fondue family fun night. Now, we do fondue at least once a year, usually for a fancy Valentine’s dinner.
Fondue doesn’t have to be a family thing. It also makes a great date night at home or a fun party with friends.
I’m going to show you how to prepare a traditional 3 course fondue party with a cheese course, a broth course, and a chocolate course. If that sounds like a lot just stick to one course. Any of these fondue recipes make a great meal or snack on its own.
Do I Need A Fondue Pot to Make Fondue?
Fondue at home is starting to sound pretty fun, right? But, what if you don’t have a fondue pot. Do you really need one? Not necessarily but it does help.
A fondue pot has a heat source that keeps the cheese, broth, or chocolate hot and makes it easier to dip things in. It keeps the cheese & chocolate warm so it doesn’t clump and keeps the broth hot enough to cook the meat to the correct temperature which is really important.
Having a fondue pot has been really fun. Considering how much it would cost to take your family out for dinner at the Melting Pot, I think a fondue pot is worth the investment. If you don’t want to buy one you can always ask around to see if a friend has one you can borrow.
The Best Fondue Pots
There are two types of fondue pots, electric and non-electric heat source type. Their are pros and cons to both types.
An electric fondue pot has to be plugged in. The cords are usually short, so no one will trip on them, but it makes them really hard to plug in. You’re not supposed to use an extension cord with them but you might have to if you don’t have a plug near your table.
The plus side of an electric fondue pot it that you CAN plug it in which means you don’t have to buy a gel fire source. Electric pots also give you the option to adjust the heat which is very helpful.
With a non-electric fondue pot you don’t need to worry about having a plug near by or tripping over a plugged in pot. You do have to buy candles or sterno cans whenever you fondue and you can’t adjust the heat.
- BOSKA Fondue Party Set – this is the best budget friendly fondue pot. The ceramic pot is microwave and dishwasher safe. The pot is stylish and would look great sitting out on open shelves so storing would be easy.
The candle heat source might not be good for keeping broth at a suitable temperature but the pot can go on the stove top or int the microwave to re-heat things. It only comes with 4 fondue forks and they aren’t color coordinated.
- Cuisinart Electric Fondue Pot – This is one of the most popular electric fondue pots out right now. It’s a really big pot so you can make plenty of fondue and have enough room for everyone’s sticks. It comes with 8 color tipped forks so people can keep track of which one’s theres.
Electric means plugging into an outlet so you have to have one close by. But, that’s a problem with any electric pot.
- Swissmar Lugano Cheese Fondue Pot – If I were buying a fondue pot today, it would be this one. It’s absolutely gorgeous and super sturdy. It’s a fuel pot which I prefer. It only comes with 6 forks but you can always buy more for a larger crowd. Hand washing is recommended.
- You could also ditch the fondue pot and go for a dual slow cooker set up like THIS ONE. You can heat both cheese and broth at the same time and use the cooker for other meals and gatherings as well.
Fondue Without a Pot
While I prefer to use a fondue pot because it adds to the fun vibe of the night, you can get by with out one. Fondue is usually cooked on the stove top first and then transferred to the fondue pot which keeps the content warm. If you don’t have the fondue pot you can always heat your ingredients on the stove top and then place the hot pan on a trivet or hot pad on the table.
When the contents of the pot start to get cold, you can put the pot back on the stove to heat things up again. It’s a bit of a pain but it works.
You can always swap the cheese and broth back and forth with this method. Start with the cheese fondue on the table while the broth heats up on the stove. Then when the cheese starts to cool down swap it for the broth. Go back and forth like this a couple times and you’ll be full in no time.
One Fondue Pot for a 3 Course Meal
Now, what if you only have one fondue pot but plan on doing a 3 course fondue dinner? In this case you can do fondue in actual courses. Traditionally, you will start with the cheese course. Then, clean the pot out and reuse it for the meat course. Then do the same for the chocolate.
This is a lot of work and it’s not really necessary in my opinion but it’s an option. The way I do a 3 course fondue night with only one fondue pot is to put the cheese in a microwave safe bowl. The broth for the meat goes in the fondue pot.
The fondue pot keeps the broth at the right temp for cooking meat so I don’t have to worry about it. Then, if the cheese starts to get a bit cold I pop it in the microwave for about 45 seconds and give it a good stir. Honestly, the cheese stays warm for a long time so I only ever re-heat it once during the meal.
The chocolate fondue also goes in a bowl instead of the fondue pot. The coconut oil in the recipe keeps the chocolate from hardening so it doesn’t need to be reheated. It stays nice and creamy the whole time.
Usually, I save this course for last so the chocolate isn’t sitting out at the same time as the food. That way the chocolate stays warm for the entire course. Plus, it ensures that my kid will eat some meat and vegetables before eating chocolate and goodies.
First Course: Cheese Fondue
A 3 course fondue dinner starts out with a cheese fondue. Melty cheese with tons of stuff to dip in. Yes, please!
What type of cheese is best for fondue? Many people ask this question. Swiss and cheddar are the most popular cheese fondues.
Swiss fondue is the most traditional. It uses some fancier cheeses and alcohol like white wine and/or brandy. This can make a good Swiss fondue a little pricier than a cheddar one.
The alcohol doesn’t always cook out and adds a more mature flavor combination so I’d recommend Swiss fondue for date night or an adult dinner party. It’s not a great idea with kids.
For family fondue night go with cheddar fondue but not beer. There are plenty of cheddar and beer recipes out there that would be great for date night or a super bowl party. But again, the alcohol won’t cook out completely so it’s not suitable for kids.
For fondue with kids, I like to go with a sharp cheddar cheese because it has a smoother, creamier texture which makes it great for melting. Mild cheddar cheese has a similar consistency but doesn’t have as much flavor.
Cheese Fondue Recipe
Always buy block cheese and grate it yourself when doing fondue. The cheese melts much better that way. This is a great task to give someone else in the family to do while you’re preparing other items.
- 3 cups of mild or sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup smoked gouda or Swiss cheese
- 1/2 – 1 cup milk
- 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch
- Grate both blocks of cheese and then toss the cheese in the cornstarch.
- Start with your pot on the stove top on medium-low heat.
- Add your milk or broth to the pot and let it heat up a bit. Just enough to start melting the cheese.
- Now start adding the cheese in, a handful at a time. Stir as the cheese melts then and add another handful in until all the cheese has been incorporated.
- Continue to stir until all the cheese has melted.
- If the cheese seems too thick you can add a little more milk or broth in to thin it out.
You can always add in some extras for more flavor. Once you try this recipe you can easily mix it up until you find the perfect blend for your family.
Swap the milk for broth, add in some herbs or spices, kick it up a bit with some hot sauce. Cheese fondue is very customizable which makes it that much more fun. Extras can be added in to the pot after the cheese has melted.
What goes with a cheese fondue dinner?
There are plenty of food options to dip into your cheese fondue. Crusty baguette, pretzel bites, and bread sticks are always good bread options.
Pre cooked veggies like baby potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and brussels sprouts are always delicious. You can also try baby tomatoes, radishes, apples and summer sausage.
Second Course: Meat Fondue
In our family we do broth fondue the most. The flavor is amazing and works with all types of meat.
You can cook meat in oil which is what we did growing up but the broth has a much better flavor. It’s also healthier and is easier to clean up in my opinion.
Dipping sauce is almost as important as the meat itself. It’s always good to have 3 or 4 sauces to dip your bite sized morsels in. You can use your family’s favorite store bought sauces or mix some up special.
Our family likes:
Asian dipping sauce – 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp water, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, a squirt of sriracha.
Lemon Butter Sauce – 2 – 3 tbsp salted butter, 1 tbsp lemon, 1 clove garlic minced, fresh herbs or chili pepper flakes. Melt butter in a small pan then add the garlic. Mix in the herbs and then the lemon. Taste and adjust flavors to your liking.
Mustard Cream Sauce – thinly slice one shallot and cook it in 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1-2 tsp of dijon mustard. Stir and cook for an additional minute.
Broth Fondue Recipe
When making broth for meat fondue you can use any broth you want. Since our family tends to use beef for our fondue, we use beef broth. If you plan on using chicken then you can use chicken broth. Plan on using a bigger selection of meat? Go with a vegetable broth.
- 6 – 8 cups of broth (This really depends on the size of your fondue pot.)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 head of garlic – top cut off to expose the garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- optional – fresh herbs or chili pepper flakes
- Combine all the ingredients into a pot on the stove and bring to a boil.
- Once the broth is boiling you can simmer for a couple of minutes to give the garlic a little time to cook.
- Then transfer the broth to the fondue pot and you’re all set to start cooking your dippers.
- If you have an electric fondue pot you can cook everything in the pot and skip the stove top all together.
What meat is best for fondue?
Chicken, shrimp, salmon, sausage, thin cut beef or steak cut into bites size pieces work best. When making for a family with kids I don’t do chicken. Yes it’s delicious and kids like it but it can be hard to get the cook time accurate and chicken with a pink middle is not a good idea.
Cooking times are very important when cooking the meat. This is why I like to stick with thin cuts of beef, polish sausage, and shrimp when I do meat fondue with kids.
A bit of pink in your cooked steak is not a big deal (it’s way yummier in my opinion). Sausage is just being warmed up so that’s an easy one. You know the shrimp is cooked once it turns pink. The three of these options are great for kids.
If you want to have more meat choices because, I get it, it’s more fun that way, then try to stick close to these times. Your broth should be 375 degrees to cook the meat properly.
- Raw shrimp – cook for 1 minute or until it turns pink
- Sausage – 1 minute (your really just warming this one up)
- Beef/steak – 30-60 seconds depending on how rare you like your piece
- Salmon – 30- 60 seconds
- Poultry – 2 minutes
These times will vary depending on the size of your pieces of meat. Try to keep things bite sized, about 1/2″.
Remember to keep raw meat on a separate platter. If you have a big family, consider having more than one raw meat plate so that everyone can reach. You don’t want raw drippings to fall on anyone’s plate because they were reaching over.
What side dishes go with meat fondue?
Having lots of meat choices is the most important part of the meat course but it’s not the only thing you can cook in the broth. You might want to have some veggie side dishes so the course isn’t so meat heavy.
Pretty much any of the vegetables that work for the cheese fondue will work for the broth too. Honestly, it’s why I like to do the cheese and broth courses at the same time. Then we can use the veggies in the cheese or the broth.
Ravioli or tortellini are also great items to cook during the meat course and is a great option for vegetarians. Ravioli can be a bit on the bigger side so I like to use tortellini but you choose what works best for your family.
Chocolate Fondue Course
Chocolate fondue is the easiest one to whip up so don’t think you can’t have it on other nights just for dessert. It only takes a couple of ingredients to make the sauce and a handful of good stuff to dip in.
Chocolate chips will work if you have them on hand but I prefer to buy higher quality chocolate when you can. Chocolate chips will clump up faster which is especially true if you aren’t using a fondue pot to keep the chocolate warm.
What type of chocolate is best for fondue?
If you look up recipes for chocolate fondue you’re going to see lots of different types of chocolate being used. They each produce a different flavor so you’ve got to go with your own taste buds on this.
For example – I love dark chocolate but not everyone does. It can be a bit too bitter for some people. For me it sounds perfect for dipping sweet fruit in.
When it comes to family fondue night I stick with the basic semi-sweet chocolate. It’s sweet but has a deep chocolate flavor. My son said it’s like thick hot chocolate.
Chocolate Fondue Recipe
- 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/2 – 1 cup heavy whipping cream or milk
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
Feel free to break the chocolate ounces up between two types of chocolate. You can try semi-sweet and milk chocolate or add in a couple ounces of dark chocolate if you prefer.
I prefer to use heavy cream when making the chocolate sauce but milk works if you have it on hand.
The coconut oil will keep the chocolate from hardening but it’s not a necessary step if you don’t already have some on hand.
There are two ways to make the chocolate sauce for fondue. You can do a stove top version or use the microwave. I like to do everything in a microwave safe bowl so I’m only using one dish.
- Chop the chocolate bars into small chunks.
- For the stove top you’ll add 1/2 cup of milk or cream to the pan on low-medium heat.
- Add the chocolate and coconut oil and stir until everything is melted and combined.
- If the sauce seems too thick then add more milk until you get a consistency you like.
- If you prefer the microwave version then you’ll put the chocolate pieces and coconut oil in a bowl and microwave for about 40 seconds.
- Give things a stir and then put it back in the microwave for another 40 seconds.
- Stir in the 1/2 cup of milk and continue to microwave in short sessions, stirring in between, until everything is melted and combined.
What fruits are best for chocolate fondue?
I mean, pretty much any fruit works in theory. The obvious choices are strawberries, bananas, orange segments, and apple slices. They all taste great with chocolate and are super kid friendly.
Some other fruits that go great with chocolate fondue are:
- any type of berry
- melons like cantaloupe and honeydew
- fresh coconut chunks
Some of my favorite things to dip in the chocolate sauce are not fruit related. Try some of our favorites like:
- waffle pieces
- pretzel sticks
- frozen cheese cake
- potato chips
- cooked bacon
- rice crispy treats
- graham crackers
- brownie bites
Really, this list could go on forever. So many things go great with chocolate so just pick some family favorites and be done. Pick 2 or 3 fruits, 2 bread or snack items, and one thing that’s a bit different like the bacon or chips.
Next time you do chocolate fondue, pick some new things to try. Keep switching up the menu until you’ve tried everything you can think of. Take a mental or actual note of your family favorites and then pick those more often.
Don’t forget to grab this handy printable with all three recipes for later use.
Last Minute Tips for a Fun Fondue Night
I know I just dropped a lot of info in your lap so if you’re still reading this you must mean business. Fondue night should be low on stress or you won’t want to do it as often as you should.
- Everyone should have a small plate and fork to use as well as some fondue forks. Make sure younger kids don’t put any raw meat on their plate. Only cooked food goes on so there’s no cross-contamination.
- Color coordinated the fondue sticks so everyone knows which ones are theirs.
- Don’t try to do the whole lot at once if you don’t want to. It’s perfectly fine to start with one course. Most of the time that’s what we do. A 3 course night is simply a way to make it extra special on certain occasions .
- Don’t get carried away with the amount of choices you have either. Keep it simple. Choose a handful of food items that you know your family loves and go with it. We’ve literally done beef and shrimp with a couple of sauces for dinner before and loved every minute of it.
If you try to do too much you’ll have a lot of prep work and a ton to clean up. It will make fondue night not fun. The point is to do something different with your family that will give everyone special memories to look back on.
If you’ve never done a fondue night at home before then I hope you’ve gotten some helpful ideas that encourage you to take the plunge.
Have you ever done fondue at home? Is it more of a date night activity or a family event? I’d love to know!