Fondue Pots

Friday, 18 March 2011 | Tags: ,

Once a staple of seventies dinner party fare, cheese, meat, and chocolate fondue has returned to popular cuisine in all its gooey goodness. The French word "fondue" means melted, and the practice of dipping things into melted cheese originated in the Swiss Alps as a creative way to use up stale bread and cheese. We pit some fondue pots against each other to see which performs best.

The Basics

  • There are three main types of fondue: cheese (to dip bread, fruit, vegetables), oil (to dip meat), and chocolate (to dip fruit, bread, soft cookies, etc.)

  • Before purchasing your set, think about the kind of fondue you’ll make most often, as this should dictate the material and size of your pot. 

  • Meat fondues cooked in hot oil or broth require a pot that can withstand very high heat. Stainless steel or enameled iron are preferred.

    • Select a meat fondue set that is heavy and deep, and that sits on a stable stand. Remove it from the box if necessary to ensure it’s not top-heavy, which can be dangerous.

  • Cheese and chocolate fondue require a pot that provides even heat without scorching the contents. Ceramic or stoneware pots are ideal.

    • For a chocolate fondue, the pot doesn’t need to be large.

  • If you think you’ll be doing all three, there are 3-in-1 fondue sets that can easily transition from one to another. Typically they will have a stainless steel pot for meat, and a ceramic or stoneware insert that nests inside for the chocolate or cheese.

  • The kind of burner or fuel the pot uses is another important consideration:

    • Butane is very versatile and can be used on low heat for chocolate fondue, medium for cheese, and high for broth or oil. It’s also safe, odour-free, and provides excellent heat control.

    • Alcohol burners are versatile like butane, but are more cumbersome and should be treated with caution.

    • Gel or candle burners work well for cheese or chocolate since they provide consistent, low-to-medium heat, but they’re not powerful enough to heat oil or broth.

    • Electric pots are also available and have adjustable temperature control. However, you’ll have the cord running across the table, which can be a dangerous tripping hazard. Look for an electric pot with a breakaway cord that separates if it is tugged. It also makes for easier cleaning.

  • If you’ll often by hosting fondue parties, you’ll want a set that has multiple forks marked with several colours so your guests can tell them apart.

  • You’ll also want to look for forks that have non-plastic handles, since these can melt if left in the wrong position.

  • A meat fondue set that comes with a lazy Susan and sauce dishes are handy extras. This makes it easier to share ingredients among guests.

  • The pot handles are important and should be cool to the touch at all times. This makes for easy refilling at the stove, mid-meal.

Cheesy Goodness

  • You can use almost any cheese for a fondue, as long as it is a melting cheese. For example, Swiss cheeses like Emmenthal and Gruyere work well, whereas dry cheeses like ricotta, parmesan or feta won’t.


In beautiful Whistler, BC, we visited a restaurant where fondue is king, and asked fondue chef Vincent Stefano to help us evaluate two burner-style pots, and two electric pots.

  • Swissmar Lausanne 11-piece Copper Fondue Set (butane burner, stainless steel pot (meat), copper spatter guard, white ceramic insert (cheese or chocolate), 6 forks, dual function): $130
  Amazon.ca Amazon.com
  • Paderno 16-piece Fondue Set (butane burner, cheese or chocolate, enamel, condiment trays and spoons included): $69.99
  Paderno Amazon.com
  • Trudeau Electric 11-piece 3-in-1 Fondue Set (electric, stoneware insert for cheese/chocolate, variable temperature, stainless steel pot, breakaway power cord): $99.99
  Amazon.ca Amazon.com
  • Rival 3-quart Fondue Pot (cool-touch handles, non-stick bowl, adjustable temp, breakaway cord): $44.99
  Amazon.ca Amazon.com

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars)

Usage Test

  • We found the temperature control of the two electric pots to be finicky and somewhat inconsistent, so you’ll have to keep an eye on that.

  • The Paderno handles felt a bit flimsy and unsafe. We didn’t think we’d be confident carrying it from the stove to the table full of hot cheese or oil. (Chef Stefano also said he burned his chocolate in it that morning!)

  • The Swissmar fondue set had a sturdy base and handles that felt solid. We wouldn’t worry about carrying this one from the stove to the table full of hot cheese or oil.


We were surprised at the big differences among our test fondue sets, but the clear favourite was the Swissmar Lausanne, both for its top performance, and its attractive style.


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