THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY
ALDI, who I am so proud to partner & share with you throughout 2022! With an affordable selection of seriously good cheeses, award-winning wines, & premium chocolates, ALDI is my go-to one-stop-shop for any date night at home. All thoughts & opinions are my own.
The Ultimate Cozy Date Night at Home: Cheese Fondue for Two
Here at the PWWB House, date night is a treasured weekly tradition. While Chris & I always love making DIY pizza or throwing together a fancy cheese board there is one tradition that is really pretty special to us. One of our all-time favorite date nights is prepping & enjoying a homemade fondue spread together.
As one of the very first meals we made together when we moved into our house, cheese fondue is something we now try to make a few times each winter. There’s seriously nothing more cozy & comforting on a cold night & we love it so much!
Over the years we’ve tweaked & perfected an at-home fondue recipe that’s perfect for sharing between the 2 of us. We’ve affectionately dubbed this special tradition Fondue for Two & with Valentine’s Day right around the corner…I figure it’s about time we share it with you!
While it may seem really intimidating, making fondue at home is so much easier than you’d guess – I promise. It’s a really straightforward process & it’s made even simpler by the fact that you can grab everything you need to make an amazing spread at ALDI.
The cheese selection just might be my favorite thing about shopping at ALDI. As a self-proclaimed cheese snob, I’m obsessed with the fact that the cheeses at ALDI are not only seriously affordable but also seriously good too. We typically use a blend of gruyere, gouda, & white cheddar, but you can easily create your own fondue cheese blend with whatever you love most. ALDI constantly has new, interesting & fun cheeses, so it’s a great opportunity to have fun with it & try something new.
From there, grab a bottle of their award-winning wine, load up on whatever dippers your heart desires (fresh veggies! artisanal bread! chicken sausage! salami!), & you’ve got the makings of an epic date night at home…all without breaking the bank. (Pro tip! ⇢ Don’t forget to grab a Moser Roth Dark Chocolate bar for dessert…you will not regret it! 😉)
Easy Cheese Fondue Recipe Highlights
You’re going to be obsessed with this simple cheese fondue because it’s…
- OOEY-GOOEY CHEESY GOODNESS. Made with a blend of 3 cheeses for maximum flavor, this fondue recipe is seriously foolproof – it’s irresistibly cheesy & melts beautifully every single time.
- INFINITELY CUSTOMIZABLE. Between the cheeses you use to make the sauce & the dippers you use to eat the fondue, there’s an infinite number of ways you can customize this recipe. It’s easy to create a fondue night that’s totally tailored to your tastes.
- PERFECTLY PORTIONED. The recipe Chris & I use when we make fondue at home is perfectly portioned to serve you & your sweetheart as a main dish. Be sure to check the blog post below for our tips + tricks to make it a date night activity & prep your fondue for two together!
Date night doesn’t get better than that! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Easy Fondue for Two, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
Key Ingredients for Homemade Cheese Fondue
One of the things you’ll love most about this fondue for two recipe is the fact that its ingredients are super simple. You need just 4 main ingredients to whip up a delicious pot of perfectly ooey-gooey cheese fondue.
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
- Cheese – For a perfectly balanced & extra cheesy homemade fondue, it’s best to use a blend of cheeses (sharing more details about my favorite blend of cheeses in the Ingredient Spotlight, below!). Fondue night tip! ⇢ Since the cheese is the star of the show, be sure to buy whole blocks & grate it fresh for your fondue. Store-bought shredded cheese is almost always coated with an anti-caking agent that prevents it from clumping in the package, which in turn prevents the cheese from melting into a beautiful, creamy & smooth fondue.
- White wine – Another essential ingredient in cheese fondue! It’s best to use a dry, bright & crisp white wine for fondue. I love Exquisite Collection Sauvignon Blanc, which is a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc available at ALDI. It has really beautiful acidity, which cuts through the richness of the cheese fondue perfectly. (Plus, it’s so good that it’s been awarded with a 87 Point Silver Rating from the Beverage Testing Institute, one of the premier wine reviewers in America!)
- Garlic – Just a single clove, which infuses into the wine & perfumes the cheese fondue with aromatic flavor.
- Cornstarch – The littlest bit of cornstarch helps thicken the wine & emulsify the cheese into a beautifully smooth & creamy fondue.
What is the Best Cheese for Fondue?
In my opinion, there’s no single best type of cheese for fondue – rather, it’s best to use a blend of cheeses when you make fondue at home. Create your own fondue cheese mix by choosing a few varieties that all melt beautifully but have differing characteristics, creating a well-balanced flavor profile for your fondue.
My rule of thumb? ⇢ Look for cheeses with 3 key flavor profiles: something nutty, something tangy, & something sharp.
- Nutty: The obvious choice here is gruyere, the firm cow’s milk cheese traditionally used to make fondue. It melts really well & has amazing nutty flavor. Available at ALDI, I love Emporium Selection Gruyere. Not only is it super delicious & seriously affordable, it’s also AOP certified, meaning it’s authentic gruyere produced in Switzerland in accordance to a specific set of standards.
- Tangy: Here I like using either edam or gouda, which are both creamy Dutch cheeses that melt beautifully. Edam is a little tangier & funkier, while gouda tends to be kind of sweet & mellow. ALDI carries fantastic options for both – grab whatever sounds best to you!
- Sharp: You can’t go wrong with a nice aged cheddar. The Emporium Selection Aged Reserve White Cheddar is my absolute favorite cheese at ALDI!
The bottom line? Have fun with it. So long as the cheeses melt nicely, there’s really no wrong choice. If you’re someone who likes a little more freedom in the kitchen, keep these 3 flavor profiles in mind to create a fondue that’s perfect for you.
How to Make Cheese Fondue (It’s Easier than You’d Think!)
Learning how to make fondue at home is so much fun & much easier than you’d ever guess. So, if you’ve never made it & you’re nervous to try, don’t be! This Cheese Fondue for Two is the perfect starting point – it’s a really simple recipe with 3 key steps.
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Reduce the wine. Rub a garlic clove all around the inside of a small pot or saucepan. Add some wine then bring it to a boil & simmer until it’s reduced by half. Why? ⇢ Rubbing the fondue pot with garlic is a traditional step to infuse the fondue with a light garlicky flavor without overpowering the subtle notes of the cheese. While it’s not traditional, I really like to reduce the wine as well. It’s the simplest 5-ish minute task that concentrates the wine’s flavor, resulting in a bolder fondue.
Stir in a cornstarch slurry. Create a slurry by whisking a tablespoon of cornstarch into a little bit of reserved wine. Once the wine in the pot is reduced, stir the cornstarch slurry into the mix. In a matter of seconds, the slurry will thicken the wine into a creamy sauce – it’s kinda magical! Why? ⇢ This creamy sauce is the base of the cheese fondue. The cornstarch, which acts as an emulsifier, helps bring the wine & the cheese together into a silky smooth & creamy fondue.
Melt the cheeses. With the pot over really low, gentle heat, stir in a handful of the shredded cheeses, allowing the cheese to melt completely before adding in another handful. Continue adding the cheese, stirring the fondue constantly so everything combines evenly, until all of the cheese has been added & the fondue is smooth & creamy.
Troubleshooting Your Homemade Fondue: Common Problems for Home Chefs & How to Fix Them!
My stove is too hot to maintain gentle low heat.
Maintaining the right level of heat as the cheese melts is crucial for creating a smooth & creamy fondue. You need low heat, just enough for the fondue mixture to be steaming hot but not enough for it to bubble much as the cheese melts. If your stove runs too hot to maintain this level of low heat (like the large burners on my gas stove!), this can be a challenge.
The most commonly suggested solution for this problem – melting the cheese fondue over a double boiler – is admittedly not my favorite. In my experience, using a double boiler to make fondue is a little too fussy & clunky. Instead, I’ve found this slightly more hands-on approach to be just as effective (& much simpler!):
- Once the cheese fondue begins to bubble over a low flame, pull the pot off the heat.
- Stir constantly, which cools the fondue mixture slightly by allowing steam to escape.
- Once cooled slightly, transfer the pot back over the heat & continue to melt cheese.
My cheese fondue broke & has a grainy texture.
If your cheese fondue looks grainy or greasy (as opposed to smooth & creamy), it’s likely that the sauce broke. Cheese fondue splits or breaks as a result of being overcooked or being cooked over heat that’s too hot.
The easiest way to fix broken or grainy cheese fondue? ⇢ More emulsifier! Create a cornstarch slurry by whisking together equal parts cornstarch & water, then stir it into the fondue little by little until the cheese is silky smooth.
How to fix cheese fondue that tastes a little one-note?
- If your fondue tastes a little one-note ⇢ stir in a little Dijon mustard or lemon juice to brighten up the flavor & balance out the cheesiness.
- If your fondue seems a little too thick ⇢ thin it out by stirring in an extra splash of wine.
How to make fondue without wine?
Wine plays a crucial role in cheese fondue. Its acidity denatures the proteins within the cheese, creating the signature smooth & creamy texture. How to make this cheese fondue recipe without wine, then? Simple! You can make it alcohol-free, so long as you replace the wine with something with a little acidity.
Simple substitute for wine in cheese fondue. ⇢ Skip the wine & use a mixture of chicken broth & lemon juice or vinegar instead. A good rule of thumb? Substitute 1/2 cup white wine with 1/2 cup chicken broth + 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or mild vinegar (such as white wine or apple cider).
What to Dip in Cheese Fondue? Our Favorite Cheese Fondue Dippers!
With a pot of perfectly creamy, dreamy fondue prepped & ready to go, the only thing missing is an assortment of delicious dippers. Deciding what to serve with your cheese fondue is where this date night gets really fun. You can dip just about anything in it! Be sure to use what you love most or whatever sounds best in the moment. That way, you’ll be sure to create a spread that’s totally custom for you & your sweetheart.
Fondue for Two Framework for Dippers:
To help prevent date night planning from getting really overwhelming, I stick to a simple framework, picking a couple of fondue sides from each of the categories below:
Vegetables. ⇢ During the winter months, we prefer roasted vegetables over raw crudités, but you can use whatever sounds best to you. For a well-balanced spread, I think through flavor profiles & choose one veggie from each of the following categories:
- SOMETHING MILD. As far as I’m concerned, potatoes are the obvious choice here (potatoes + cheese = 😍!). I like to use baby golden potatoes, which are super creamy, easy to prepare, & quick to roast.
- SOMETHING CRUCIFEROUS. Try cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, or even radishes!
- SOMETHING SWEET. A little natural sweetness is a great way to break up the richness of traditional cheese fondue. We like carrots, but sweet potatoes & winter squash (butternut, delicata, etc.) are great too.
Bread. ⇢ Bread is probably the most popular thing to dip in fondue & the bread selection at ALDI is seriously amazing. I like to cut Specially Selected Italian Bread into thick slices for awesomely hearty toasty croutons, but the Specially Selected French Baguettes & Sourdough Rounds are both awesome choices, too. You really can’t go wrong!
Meat. ⇢ While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind for cheese fondue, adding meat to your fondue spread is a great way to make it a more substantial date night meal. Some easy options:
- Fully-cooked sausage, like kielbasa or chicken sausage. I’m particularly fond of Never Any! Sausages at ALDI – the apple chicken sausage is great for cheese fondue.
- Salami & charcuterie. I’m obsessed with the charcuterie selection at ALDI. We always have Appleton Farms Bite Size Salami & ALDI carries amazing prosciutto, capocollo, & calabrese, too. You can’t go wrong!
- Whatever else you love! If you have leftover steak or chicken in your fridge, now’s the perfect time to put it to use. Dice it up & add it to your fondue spread.
The Best Way to Prep Dippers for Cheese Fondue – A Simple Sheet Pan Approach!
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
While most cheese fondue recipes call for prepping the dippers with a number of different methods – steaming, blanching, sautéing, & more! – I find this approach to be a little intimidating & high maintenance. To keep prep super streamlined, I opt for a simpler approach – a sheet pan! Prepping your date night dippers on a sheet pan is quick, hands-off, & results in very few dishes to wash (major win!).
A few tips to keep in mind:
- Cut into uniform pieces. ⇢ Slicing & dicing all of your dippers into uniform pieces helps ensure everything is perfectly bite sized & roasts evenly.
- Work in batches to group like ingredients. ⇢ Since veggies need much more time to roast than bread or fully-cooked sausage, it’s important to group ingredients together based on their cook time. I let the veggies roast for 10 minutes then I add sausage & bread to the sheet pan. 10-ish minutes later, everything is ready to go: the veggies are perfectly tender, the bread is toasty & golden, & the sausage is nicely browned.
- Roast with plenty of room. ⇢ Arrange the sheet pan with space for the hot air can circulate around the dippers, roasting everything evenly. Why? ⇢ If the sheet pan is too crowded it can result in steam which will actually prevent browning. If you need to, use a second sheet pan to ensure everything has enough room to roast.
Fondue Date Night Tips
Since date night is about spending time together, I encourage you to really embrace it. Invite your partner into the kitchen with you & have fun prepping your fondue spread together. That’s exactly how we do it here at the PWWB House! Despite the fact that Chris & I have vastly different levels of skill & comfort in the kitchen, we’ve found a ‘divide & conquer’ approach to fondue prep works really well for us.
Here’s how we do it:
Person 1 ⇢ Dippers Prep! Delegate prepping the fondue dippers to whoever is more comfortable in the kitchen. There’s a little more multi-tasking & knife work involved, so it’s best to let the more confident cook step in & own this process.
Person 2 ⇢ Fondue Prep! Fondue prep is great for a slightly less confident cook. Grating the fondue cheese blend & stirring the cheeses into the fondue are both very straightforward processes – anyone can do it!
Timing it all out.
- Person 2 can begin reducing the wine after Person 1 pops the veggies in the oven.
- Use the downtime as the veggies roast & the wine reduces to prep any additional dippers (Person 1) & grate the cheese (Person 2).
- By the time Person 1 pops the second round of dippers in the oven, it will be time for Person 2 to begin melting the cheese in the fondue. Person 1 can use this time to help Person 2 with fondue prep or begin clean up.
- The dippers should be ready to pull from the oven just as cheese fondue is ready to pull from the stove. At this point, pour yourselves a glass of wine & dive right into your Fondue for Two!
I can’t wait for you to try your hand at making this Fondue for Two! It’s such a fun, easy, & delicious date night at home, & I know you & your sweetheart will love it just as much as Chris & I do.
If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!
Looking for more cozy date night inspiration? Be sure to check out PWWB’s Best-Ever Bolognese, easy Prosecco Butter Poached Shrimp, Individual Beef Wellington, or Seriously Good Red Wine Braised Short Ribs. ♡ Happy cooking!Print
A classic cheese fondue recipe, scaled to the perfect portion for a fun & romantic date night at home!
If you’re nervous to make fondue at home, don’t be – it’s a seriously simple process with minimal ingredients required. For this recipe, 3 types of cheese slowly melt into a garlicky white wine sauce, creating an irresistibly rich & creamy fondue. Refer to the blog post, above, for some fondue troubleshooting tips.
Pair your cheese fondue with your favorite dippers for an easy-yet-special Valentine’s Day or cozy date night in!
for the cheese fondue:
- 1 clove garlic, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 1/4 cups dry & acidic white wine such as Exquisite Collection Sauvignon Blanc, divided
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 ounces Emporium Selection Gruyere, freshly grated
- 4 ounces Emporium Selection Gouda or Edam Cheese, freshly grated
- 4 ounces Emporium Selection Aged Reserve White Cheddar, freshly grated
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 lemon, juiced (roughly 1 tablespoon)
- 2–3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 10–12 baby potatoes (roughly 6 ounces)
- big handful broccoli or cauliflower florets (roughly 6 ounces)
- 2 medium carrots (roughly 6 ounces), peeled & diced into 1-inch cubes
- 2 links Never Any! Apple Chicken Sausage, sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 2 thick slices Specially Selected Italian Bread (roughly 2 ounces), sliced into 1-inch cubes
- 4 ounces Appleton Farms Bite Size Salami
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
For the Fondue Dippers:
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, ensuring a rack is positioned in the center of the oven. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or foil, for easy cleanup as desired. Gather & prep ingredients according to Ingredients List, above.
- Roast the hardy vegetables: Add the baby potatoes, broccoli or cauliflower florets, & carrots to a large bowl. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over top, seasoning with a good pinch kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Toss to coat. Place the seasoned vegetables to the prepared baking sheet, arranging them such that they have room to roast evenly. Transfer to the oven to roast for 10 minutes.
- Add the sausage & bread: Working one at a time, add the chicken sausage & bread to the same bowl used to season the vegetables. Toss to lightly coat in any residual olive oil in the bowl. If needed, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once the hardy vegetables have roasted 10 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Carefully add the seasoned sausage & bread to the baking sheet with the vegetables, arranging everything such that it has room to roast evenly. Transfer back to the oven to roast an additional 10-15 minutes, or until everything is fork-tender & browned as desired. Remove from the oven & transfer to a board or small plates & bowls for serving. Set aside.
For the Cheese Fondue:
- Prepare the pot & reduce the wine: Meanwhile, as the dippers roast, prepare the fondue. Rub the inside of a small pot or saucepan with the garlic clove, cut side down, then place the garlic in the pot with 1 cup of the wine. Place the pot over medium-high heat, bringing the wine to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced roughly by half, about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, as the wine reduces, create a cornstarch slurry by whisking the cornstarch into the remaining 1/4 cup wine. Once the wine is reduced, reduce the heat under the pot to medium low. Remove the garlic & add in the cornstarch slurry. Let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2-3 minutes longer.
- Melt the cheese into the fondue: Reduce the heat under the pot to low – the wine mixture is steaming hot but not bubbling. Add a handful of the cheese to the pot, stirring constantly to melt the cheese throughout the wine mixture. Continue adding cheese to the fondue one handful at a time, stirring constantly & allowing each addition to melt completely before adding more. As you work, decrease heat as needed to avoid bringing the fondue to a simmer. The goal is to gently & gradually melt the cheese into a thick, glossy cheese sauce.
- Finish the cheese fondue: Once all of the cheese is melted, taste & adjust seasoning as desired. If the fondue tastes a little one-note, stirring in some Dijon mustard or lemon juice will help brighten & balance the flavors. If the fondue seems too thick, add in another splash or two of wine, stirring to combine well.
- Serve: Once the cheese fondue is prepared to your liking, transfer it to a fondue pot. Serve immediately, with your prepared dippers. Enjoy!
Keywords: fondue for two, cheese fondue recipe, fondue at home, homemade, best, easy, classic, foolproof, simple, romantic, date night, valentine’s day, fondue night, winter, cheesy
Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.