This is a recipe for a traditional Swiss 5-cheese fondue. My dear friend Jan van Straaten was kind enough to share his family recipe with me. And no: you absolutely cannot make a cheese fondue with American "Swiss" cheese!

  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cheese melting time: 45 minutes
  • Fondue for 4 persons (about 300 grams of cheese per person).


  • 450 grams (1 lb) Gruyère cheese (sharp & salty variety, if available), coarsely grated
  • 450 grams (1 lb) Emmentaler cheese, coarsely grated
  • 225 grams (½ pound) Tilsitter cheese, coarsely grated
  • 100 grams (¼ pound) Appenzeller cheese (= soft and high fat), coarsely grated
  • 100 grams (¼ pound) Vacherin cheese (= soft and almost high fat - if there is such a thing), coarsely grated
  • 400 ml (1¾ cup) dry white wine
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • Optional: several teaspoons of minced garlic
  • Kirschwasser (cherry schnapps)
  • Cornstarch
  • Freshly ground pepper; no salt - the cheese contains more than enough salt by itself!


  • A fondue pot.
  • A crock pot really is best!
  • Denatured alcohol (or gas) for the burner
  • Wooden spoon with hole in it



  • Mix the grated cheeses
  • Rub the inside of pot with the garlic clove; if desired, put a couple of teaspoons minced garlic in pot
  • Generously cover the bottom of the pot with white wine (about ½-1 cm deep, at least ¼ inch)
  • Heat up the put on the stove (using the alcohol burner of the fondue set takes too long)
  • When bubbles begin to form in the wine, reduce the heat to low
  • Add a handful of the grated cheese to the pot and stir with the spoon
  • If you don't want the Swiss fondue devils to put a bad spell on you, stir with the wooden spoon over the bottom of the pot in a figure-8 movement! This actually makes sense, as you will scrape most of the bottom of the pot this way. Also, on old-fashioned electric stoves with spiral burners or thick burner plates, there will be hot spots.
  • As necessary, add some wine, to keep the cheese smooth
  • Keep stirring!
  • Bit by bit, add the rest of the cheese, and some wine as necessary
  • Keep stirring!
  • Slowly increase the heat
  • Keep stirring until the cheese mass is smooth - this will take a while!
  • In a small glass, dissolve a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch in Kirschwasser
  • If & as necessary, add some cornstarch solution to the pot, to get the desired consistency
  • Keep stirring!
  • Season with some freshly ground pepper


  • Serve with diced French bread (baguette), Dutch or pearl onions, relished pickles, prosciutto.
  • Serve with chilled dry white wine, hot black tea, Kirsch-schnapps (absolutely no beer, Cola or other soft drinks!)


  • In accordance with Swiss tradition, women who drop their bread in the cheese pot must kiss all the men at the table (Swiss or French kiss, whatever the deal is negotiated), men who drop their bread have to donate a bottle of wine.

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©1978-2016 F. Dörenberg, unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be used without permission from the author.