group eating fondue

Ceramic vs. Metal Fondue Pots: Which is Best?

When it comes to melting cheese into a luxurious, playful dip tailor-made to please a crowd, nothing gets the job done like a fondue pot. Foodies love fondue (thanks to a Swiss cheese cartel in the mid-1900s), but aside from selecting their favorite cheese from the grocery store, they also have to choose whether to invest in a glazed ceramic, stainless steel, or enameled metal fondue pot. Which one is right for your dinner parties? The short answer is: It depends.

For making classic cheese fondue, a ceramic or enameled cast iron fondue pot is the best tool for the job. When you’re melting cheese, a low, even temperature is best to avoid scalding or burning, which is a particularly devastating tragedy considering that the crusted cheese left at the bottom of the pot is considered a delicacy and is arguably the best part of the fondue experience. Plus, with cheese, there’s nothing to cook, so it’s already safe to eat on its own.

Glazed ceramic pots are heavy and shallow, making for even heat distribution and lengthy heat retention as the evening draws on. The Swissmar Lugano 9-Piece Cheese Fondue Set (about $116 on Amazon) is a traditional enameled cast iron model with high durability and insulation, and it comes with the skewers, pot stand, and heat source that fondue-loving foodies need to host a party.

Low and slow is the way to go, unless you’re cooking meat

Stainless steel fondue pot

The lighter, more durable stainless steel type of fondue pot conducts heat very quickly – too quickly for cheese or chocolate alone, but perfectly for making fondue bourguignonne, where chunks of chicken breast or beef tenderloin are cooked in hot oil. If you’re using your fondue pot to cook bits of steak or shrimp, then a metal pot might be a better tool to suit your needs as it can achieve the high temperature necessary to fully cook raw meat.

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Cook times vary based on what ingredients are in your fondue, so make sure any raw ingredients are fully cooked before serving. Stainless steel fondue pots are also easy to clean and often cheaper than ceramic models. If savory fondue bourguignonne is your M.O., look for a stainless steel fondue pot that comes with a splatter-guard collar to protect yourself and your guests from stray drops of hot oil.

If you’re making a fondue that contains both cheese and bits of meat, a stainless steel fondue pot is needed to cook that meat to completion, but the appliance simultaneously runs the risk of scorching that delicate cheese. Rest assured, some modern models (like the Cuisinart Electric Fondue Pot for about $80 on Amazon) are equipped with adjustable heat settings, so even though it’s made from stainless steel, foodies have a little more control over how quickly things heat up.

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