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Oct 31, 2009 10:48 PM

What Kind of Fondue Pot?

First off, I'm not even sure that I "NEED" a fondue pot; maybe I just "WANT" one!!!

I've had my eye on an enameled cast iron 1.5-quart one, very reputable brand. The manufacturer claims that it can be used for cheese/chocolate or broth, but when I read the reviews some owners said that it didn't work too well for broth fondue. Conversely, according to what I've read stainless is very good for broth fondue, but: (1) Like 5% of all women (you know, those of us who must purchase "special" earrings!), I'm allergic to nickel so have been advised to avoid stainless. (2) Cheese/chocolate fondues will burn in SS.

So what is a good all-around fondue pot made of? I read on another threat a quote from a book on fondue by some guy Rogers, and he suggested ceramic! Yet several sites say to avoid it.

Being logical/pragmatic/utilitarian, I *DO* own a crockpot, which I know will work for the cheese/chocolate fondue just sans the ambience. But what about the broth fondue -- is that doable in a crockpot on the High setting?

Any suggestions?

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  1. I have two fondue pots. One is vintage 60's from my parents. It is enamel over metal, and is sort of cool in a retro way. I actually have had more trouble with it for chocolate or either seems to get too hot (with sterno) and scorch or too cool (candle) and not stay warm. I feel like I forever am adjusting to keep the heat right. It works well for oil or broth where it just needs to be hot. I don't know how newer enamel over cast iron would compare. I also own a SS electric fondue pot (Cuisinart). It doesn't have the ambience of the old one, but the temperature is always right. I know that doesn't help if you can't use stainless, and probably isn't much more ambience than a crockpot, though the size is better. Nevertheless, we do also use it for broth fondue, which is a fun way to eat dinner for our small family (our son calls it fun-do).

    2 Replies
    1. re: mountaincachers

      Thanks, Mountaincachers!

      Do you find the cord of the electrical one to be a hindrance? I.e., does it get in the way while dipping?

      1. re: ApartmentDweller

        No, the cord doesn't get in the way, though it is rather short (I think for safety reasons). Not a problem for us because we use it on our kitchen island.

    2. We're addicted to traditional cheese fondue and don't care if that brands us as adolescents of the '60s (which we are). As a result, we've got a few different fondue setups - along with an absurdly expensive and impractical infrared raclette stove, which is a whole 'nother story.

      The problem comes in trying to have one fondue pot that will handle both the traditional cheese fondue and can also be used for chocolate, beef (oil) and Chinoise (broth). In this case, one size definitely doesn't fit all.

      Most fondue "sets" sold in the US are really for the oil/broth fondue and have a rather vigorous burner with a stainless steel, or enameled steel or iron pot. The shape and material of the pot are all wrong for cheese/chocolate; the burner will usually work for cheese when turned down all the way, but likely will require some sort of "flame tamer" sort of setup for chocolate. IMHO, the best solution is to go ahead and get the oil/broth setup you like - there are any number of enameled metal pots out there that should solve your allergy problem - and then get a separate ceramic pot (caquelon) for cheese, using it also for chocolate with some sort of kludge so the burner doesn't overheat the chocolate.

      I'll refrain from commenting on cheese fondue in a crockpot. ;^)

      12 Replies
      1. re: FlyFish

        Hi FlyFish!

        Funny you should mention a caquelon; actually, I have my eye on a Staub...

        Since my pad's galley is on the small side, I was trying to avoid acquiring more acroutrements. I have enough stuff already! So, the thinking was that IF the Crockpot could serve double-duty as a fondue pot that would be the "smart" thing to do. Also, I live alone and rarely entertain, and right now I want to do the fondue for myself!! The lack of aesthetics and presentation of serving from a CrockPot won't bother me.

        You also brought up enameled steel, which is something else I've been looking at.

        Thanks so much for your input!!!

        1. re: ApartmentDweller

          A smallish round Staub or Le Creuset French oven, sized to fit your fondue burner, would make a fine caquelon, and while it's still another item to fit into your small space at least it would have many other uses.

          Just (sort of) kidding about the CrockPot comment - I have no experience with them personally, but if they will keep the fondue (previously prepared stove top in a regular sauce pan, of course) hot enough to bubble slowly while dunking and eating - and that's the part I don't know about - then there's no reason not to do it that way.

          1. re: FlyFish

            WIthout the lid on, I have a hard time imagining the crock pot staying hot enough for a broth fondue.

            1. re: mountaincachers

              Yes, I agree - I neglected to make it clear that I was talking about cheese fondue.

              1. re: mountaincachers

                That's a good point, MountainCachers. My crockpot will produce a boil on High, but I don't know about sans lid. Prolly not.

                I may have found the "perfect" fondue set, at least for me right now:


                Reviews of the identical one in red are all good save one reviewer who complained about the forks (which are inexpensive so easily replaced). It does oil/broth equally well as cheese/chocolate, and I have seen nothing but raves about this brand on other review sites as well.

                The Le Creuset fondue set I was eyeing has a major flaw: no spatter shield. (The Swissmar's is removable.) There was a new one listed on E-bay for $52.50 (that set retails for $150), and I almost bid on it. Glad I didn't -- with shipping it would have been $72.50, more expensive than the Swissmar. The Swissmar also comes with a wooden lazy Susan to protect your tabletop, which I like.

                Staub makes a universal fondue base, but I couldn't find it anywhere in the U.S. (not even Amazon), so I wrote the company to inquire. If Le Creuset makes a universal base I haven't see it.

                1. re: ApartmentDweller

                  I bought this fondue pot about a year ago. It's very similar to the LC, for about a third of the price. I bought it for cheese and chocolate fondue, not meats, and I've been very happy with it.


                  1. re: CindyJ

                    We have one of those as well, and I agree it does a good job with cheese fondue even though it's obviously designed for oil/broth. Good value for money, also.

                    1. re: FlyFish

                      I actually think that pot is designed more for cheese and chocolate than oil/broth. Usually the oil/broth pots are made of metal, often with electric heat controls, so the contents can be heated better. I find the heat adjustments on the sterno cover allow me to melt chocolate and cheese quite nicely.

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        Nope. First, the pot (enameled metal, on mine at least) is taller than it is wide - the traditional ceramic or enameled iron caquelon is a good bit wider than it is tall, to permit stirring of the cheese (not stirring would be a serious fondue faux pas) as you dunk. If you look at the forks, the colored tips on the end (so you can keep track of yours) are characteristic of beef fondue sets, where you place the item in the pot and leave it there to cook for a while - because you don't leave your fork in the pot while eating cheese fondue you don't need the colored end to keep track of it. Finally, the scalloped insert that fits into the top of the pot is designed to keep the forks in place as the meat cooks - unnecessary, and in fact much in the way - for cheese fondue. And yes, you can turn the heat down on those little alcohol burners so that they'll work for cheese, but at any higher settings they'll burn the cheese quite quickly (though I do agree that they're a bit anemic for beef).

                        1. re: FlyFish

                          Well see, that just goes to show... ya learn something new every day on CH.

                      2. re: FlyFish

                        Thanks for the link, CindyJ. That looks identical ('cept for the color) to the Swissmat that I was looking at.

                        Glad to hear that you're happy with yours!!! And FlyFish seconds it, so that's another vote.

                        Thanks to you both!

                    2. re: ApartmentDweller

                      Received a prompt reply from Staub. It seems that the universal fondue base is not currently available.

                      So, the Swissmar (or comparable) it is!!

            2. My experience: we were gifted a Calphalon fondue pot and, you know, it isn't half bad. Best results have been with doing the major melting/warming on the stovetop and then shift to the alcohol burner during serving (or no burner with chocolate, since the alcohol burner is too hot and tealights soot up the pot.)

              It's a gift so we enjoy it and have no reason to grouse. It's anodized aluminum -- as long as the anodized finish holds up, I have no worries about the aluminum.

              Practically, an electric fondue pot is the way to go since you get great heat control. Open flame is more traditional and aestetically pleasing with the lights down low, but almost always too much heat or not enough.

              6 Replies
              1. re: MikeB3542

                Hi Mike B,

                Yes, I considered an electric one after reading about its superlative heat control. But then I read several comments about the cord getting in the way. Since I can be somewhat clumsy, I decided against it. Hot fondue pot + electrical cord + moi = DISASTER waiting to happen.

                Happy dipping!! :)

                1. re: ApartmentDweller

                  The electrical cord (at least on mine) has a magnetic sort of release, so that if you trip on it or pull it it disconnects (rather than dumping hot broth all over you). The temperature control on it is great...does chocolate, cheese, or broth equally well. I think the real downside is the aesthetics. Flame is prettier.
                  The one you're looking at on Amazon looks good, and is certainly reasonably priced.
                  After this discussion, I think I'm going to have to fondue one night this week.

                  1. re: mountaincachers

                    Hey mountaincachers...happy geocaching! Now that I think about it that would be a neat "event" cache -- go to posted coordinates and find a pot of bubbling cheese, crusty sourdough bread, and good company!

                    1. re: MikeB3542

                      You could definitely work up a good appetite while geocaching, and bubbling cheese would hit the spot. Which makes me wonder...what percentage of the population are geocaching chowhounds? Obviously I have enough trouble remembering passwords, that i've used the same one for both.

                    2. re: mountaincachers

                      Way cool!! I didn't even know they made them with magnetic releases for the cords. Will have to check that out... Thanks so much for the info!!

                      Okay, another question: What brand is yours?

                      1. re: ApartmentDweller

                        Mine is a Cuisinart. The outside is stainless, which might be a problem for you, though the inside is nonstick. The temperature control inserts into the pot, but then you attach the cord with a magnetic connection. As I mentioned before, the cord is short (about 2 feet), which could be a problem depending on where you use it. I guess that's for some sort of safety reason so that you don't string it across the room. As I said before, we use it with the outlet on our island, so it's not a big deal, but it could be depending on where you wanted to use it.

                2. The original comment has been removed
                  1. Hi, I'm new here & SOO glad this topic is here. I have been given THREE different fondue pots. a stainless that says its good for chocolate or cheese & 2 mini ceramic ones that use a tea light that say for chocolate. my question is can i use the minis for cheese too? I live in an apt in NY & I live alone - lol sometimes I want to make fondue for dinner & don't want to take out the whole big thing & would like to use the minis... will it work?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: michellejes

                      I'm happy to stumble across this topic too since it's something I'd like to try. We were given Le Creuset fondue set for a wedding gift over 25 years ago and it hasn't been out of the box since opening it! I thought we gave it away years ago, but recently rediscovered it in the back of a cabinet. Didn't know there was a different design for oil/broth or chocolate/cheese until reading this and I'm hoping what I have is cheese worthy. Will have to investigate and maybe hit up the groovy resident expert FlyFish for some tips and recipes!