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Valentine’s Day Fondue: Tips and delicious cheese and meat recipes

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When our kids were young, we wanted to involve them in our Valentine’s Day celebrations but it’s tough to take a teething, whiny baby to a fancy restaurant (you’re welcome). So, we decided our Johnson Family Valentine’s Day tradition should be to fondue. Not only is it something out of the ordinary but it is a delicious way to 1) bond with our loved ones or 2) say “put a fork in it” and not get in trouble.

Over the years I have been really picky about great fondue but the problem is it has taken me a while to get there. Growing up as the granddaughter of cattle ranchers, my parents always had the best beef fondues with plenty of delicious dipping sauces. In my early 20s I served a mission in Switzerland where cheese fondues reign supreme but I wasn’t a big fan because the cheeses and alcohol were too pungent for my taste. 

My family finally nailed it with the perfect fondue party that had delicious oil and broth for the beef and chicken, and my new favorite recipe for cheese. Not all fondue pots are created equally; I have two Cuisinart Electric Fondue Makers because they hold the heat well (unlike sterno) and cook evenly. 

Here are some tips:

  1. Buy quality ingredients. We splurged on top sirloin from the butcher and cheese from a local cheese shop but it was so worth it. Many of the most popular beef cuts sold at retail are lean, including T-Bone, Tenderloin, Top Sirloin, and more. On average, a 3 oz. serving of lean beef is about 150 calories (compared to the same amount of protein you get from peanut butter, which is 670 calories).
  2. Go electric.  Electric fondue pots are a must; my sterno pot just doesn’t maintain enough heat for the meats but was OK with the cheese.
  3. Metal pots are better for oil-fried fondues or hot-pots, while ceramic is good for cheese and chocolate.
  4. Have a lot of sides. We went a bit crazy with the bread, potatoes and vegetables we dipped in the cheese fondue. The good news is we were able to use all our leftovers to make frittatas and omelets the next day.
  5. Apple juice or sparkling cider may be substituted for white wine in most fondue recipes.

Another winning combination for our most recent fondue party? A snowy day, Harry Potter marathon and PJs. Mostly because jammies are best when you need some extra space around the waistband. 

We had two pots for the beef–one with oil and the other with Roasted Garlic and Onion Broth (Pinterest has a lot of great ideas like this one). Our third fondue pot was dedicated to cheese. I’m not a huge fan of really strong fondues with pungent cheese and alcohol but this cheese recipe was over-the-top yummy. Even my daughter who claims to not like cheese loved it.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the main ingredient was, welp, cheese.


St. Kilian’s Classic Fondue

2 garlic cloves, halved crosswise

1 cup white wine

1 Tbsp cornstarch or 2 Tbsp flour

2 Tbsp kirsch (optional)

1/2 pound Gruyere, shredded

1/2 pound Comte, shredded

1/4-1/2 pound Appenzeller, shredded


  • Rub the inside of your fondue pot (or heavy pot on a stove) with the cloves of garlic, add wine and bring to a simmer at medium-low heat.
  • Mix cornstarch in a bowl with shredded cheeses.
  • Gradually add shredded cheese to the pot in small amounts, whisk cheese with a spoon and wait until cheese is completely melted and incorporated before adding more cheese.
  • When all cheese has been added, add kirsch to finish (if fondue is too thin you can add some additional cornstarch to the kirsch before adding).
  • Lower heat on fondue pot or place regular pot over a sterno to keep warm.

Our favorite items for serving are high-quality cubed baguettes, tart apples, pre-cooked roasted potatoes or fresh veggies.

Bonus: I also received this Swissmar Raclette Table Grill for my birthday last year and it is such a fun way to connect with your family! We’re planning to add it to our Valentine’s Day festivities and I’ll include some pictures and information at a later time. Basically, this grill involves an electric table-top grill with small pans (coupelles) where you melt slices of raclette cheese (or the cheese of your choice). The grill on top is a hot plate where you can cook meats and veggies. Two other great options include the CUSIMAX Raclette Grill or the AONI Electric Raclette Grill.

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