Ah, fondue – it’s not just a dish, it’s a delightful culinary event. This guide to vegan fondue will guide you through everything you need to know about making fondue part of a fun plant-based diet, ensuring that everyone can indulge in the communal joy and deliciousness that fondue brings to the table, regardless of dietary preferences.
Picture this: a pot of irresistibly smooth, melted goodness, be it rich vegan cheese, velvety chocolate, or savory broth or oil, sitting at the center of a gathering of family or friends. Around this inviting pot, armed with long forks, everyone dips an array of delicious morsels – from chunks of bread and vegetables to pieces of fruit and marshmallows – creating a shared experience that’s as much about conversation and camaraderie as it is about indulging in the warm, gooey deliciousness. This is fondue and now it can be plant-based.
How Does Vegan Fondue Differ From Traditional Fondue?
Fondue is a great way to enjoy a classic eating style, but you may think you can't have fondue if you're plant-based. Well, I'm here to tell you that you can.
In my post about Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Fondue, I talk about how fondue was a frequent meal in our household during the kids' younger years. Back then, as vegetarians, we enjoyed the classic fondue varieties. However, our transition to veganism years ago led us to seek alternatives that allowed us to relish the same meal experience.
While traditional fondue typically centers around melted cheese or meat cooked in oil or broth, vegan fondue recreates these indulgent textures and flavors using plant-based alternatives.
For the classic cheese fondue, vegan versions usually use a blend of ingredients like cashews, almond milk, nutritional yeast, and various seasonings to mimic the creamy, rich consistency and savory taste of cheese.
Vegan chocolate fondue replaces traditional dairy ingredients with plant-based alternatives like vegan chocolate and dairy-free creams, offering a luscious dessert experience that maintains the shared, joyous essence of the fondue tradition.
In a vegan fondue bourguignonne, where meat is usually cooked in hot oil, plant-based substitutes such as tofu, seitan, and an array of vegetables take center stage, offering a diverse range of textures and flavors. Instead of animal-based sauces to dip them in, vegan sauces are just as delicious and simple to make.
Fondue Chinoise offers a similar experience to Fondue Bourguignonne but instead of cooking ingredients in oil, you use a flavorful broth. Look at Vegan Chinoise Fondue, where plant-based broth and options are used for a delicious, meat-free version of this classic dish.
What remains unchanged, however, is the essence of fondue - a communal, interactive dining experience that brings people together, vegan or not, over a pot of delicious, heartwarming fare.
Does Vegan Fondue Taste Like Traditional Fondue?
Vegan and traditional cheese and chocolate fondues share similarities but do vary in taste. For example, traditional cheese fondue, made with cheeses like Gruyère or Emmental, has a rich, creamy texture and a distinctly cheesy flavor. Vegan fondue, on the other hand, is made from plant-based ingredients like cashews and creams. This gives it a creamy texture, but the flavor can vary depending on the recipe. It's designed to mimic the taste of cheese, but it has a slightly different flavor profile.
So, honesty, while vegan fondue aims to replicate the classic fondue experience, think of it as a cousin – they share a last name, but you can tell they've had different upbringings at the family gathering. However, I believe that while slightly different in taste from traditional fondue, it shouldn't only be seen as an alternative but as a stand on its own as a delicious option with a unique and delicious flavor that can be enjoyed in its own right.
The story of fondue begins in Switzerland, nestled among snow-capped mountains and cozy chalets. This culinary gem, dating back to the 18th century, was initially a humble, resourceful way for Swiss families to use aged cheeses and stale bread during colder months. The cheese melted with wine, garlic, and sometimes a dash of kirsch, transformed into a warm, velvety delight, giving new life to otherwise hard-to-eat ingredients.
Fondue's heartwarming blend of simplicity and ingenuity quickly captivated hearts, spreading its charm from Swiss villages to the bustling streets of global cities.
Today, fondue stands as a symbol of communal dining, a testament to the magic of transforming simple ingredients into a meal that brings people together, sparking joy, conversation, and an unmistakable sense of belonging.
Each fondue style offers a unique way to enjoy food with friends and family, making it a versatile and fun culinary adventure. The great thing is, we can use plant-based alternatives to enjoy them too.
- Cheese Fondue: This is the most classic style. It typically involves a blend of cheeses like Gruyère and Emmental, melted with wine and garlic. Diners dip bread, vegetables, and sometimes fruits. For vegans, delicious cheese fondues like this one from Sweet Simple Vegan can be made from shredded vegan cheese or from cashews like this one from Connoisseurus Vegan.
- Chocolate Fondue: A favorite for dessert lovers, chocolate fondue involves melting chocolate, often mixed with a bit of cream. It's served with fruits like strawberries and bananas, marshmallows, and cake pieces for dipping. Try this chocolate fondue made from coconut cream and vegan chocolate chips for a creamy vegan version.
- Oil Fondue (Fondue Bourguignonne): In this style, oil is heated in the fondue pot. Participants cook small pieces of meat or vegetables in the hot liquid. Oil fondue gives a crispy texture to the food, while broth fondue is lighter and can infuse the food with flavor. For vegans, this style of fondue is still a go! Meat alternatives, as well as tofu and tempeh, are amazing at soaking up flavors and cook beautifully in oil. Plus, let's not forget about the veggies. From bell peppers to mushrooms, they're not just sides but stars in their own right in a vegan fondue feast.
- Wine Fondue (Fondue Vigneronne): This fondue is similar to oil or broth fondue, but with wine as the cooking medium. This style is less common and offers a unique taste as the wine imparts a delicate flavor to the meat or seafood as well as any plant-based alternatives you may choose.
- Hot Pot Fondue: Popular in Asian cuisines, this involves a simmering pot of broth in which various ingredients like thinly sliced meat, seafood, vegetables, and noodles are cooked. It's similar to broth fondue but often features a wider variety of dipping sauces.
- Chinoise Fondue: This is a Swiss variation of the Asian hot pot, specifically a broth-based fondue. The term "Chinoise" here refers to the Chinese influence. You cook thin slices of meat, seafood, and vegetables in a flavorful broth. It's a bit like the hot pot, but usually less spicy and with a focus on European-style broths and dips. The broth in Fondue Chinoise isn't consumed as a soup, unlike in the Asian hot pot.
Dips For Fondue
While there are various types of cooking styles, the broth, oil, and wine styles are often served with delicious sauces to dip after they have been cooked. As a matter of fact, they're all about the sauces. Traditionally, it is served with garlic aioli, cocktail sauce, Béarnaise sauce, horseradish cream, and tartar sauce.
Here are few vegan sauces for you to enjoy. You can prepare these dips ahead of time for a hassle-free event, although many are also available for purchase at stores.
- Vegan Garlic Aioli: A creamy blend of garlic, vegan mayo, and a hint of lemon.
- Peanut Sauce: A mix of peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, and chili for some heat.
- Cashew Cream Sauce: Creamy and rich, made from blended cashews, garlic, and nutritional yeast.
- Tahini Sauce: A smooth blend of tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs.
- Barbecue Sauce: A classic, with a smoky and sweet flavor profile.
- Teriyaki Sauce: Sweet, savory, and perfect for an Asian twist.
- Chimichurri: A zesty mix of parsley, garlic, vinegar, and chili flakes. Try Cuban chimichurri for variety.
- Vegan Pesto: Basil, pine nuts, garlic, and nutritional yeast create a vibrant green sauce.
- Avocado Creama: Creamy avocado blended with cilantro and lime for a fresh kick.
- Sweet and Sour Sauce: A tangy and sweet sauce with a hint of pineapple juice.
- Mustard Sauce: A simple blend of mustard, vegan mayo, and spices.
- Sriracha Mayo: Vegan mayo mixed with sriracha for a spicy kick.
- Miso Ginger Sauce: A flavorful blend of miso paste, ginger, soy sauce, and maple syrup.
- Tomato Relish: A chunky sauce with tomatoes, onion, and a hint of vinegar.
- Mango Chutney: Sweet, tangy, and fruity, perfect for adding a tropical touch.
- Green Goddess Dressing: A herby, creamy sauce with avocado, basil, and vegan yogurt.
- Balsamic Reduction: Thick and syrupy, adding a sweet and tangy flavor.
- Romesco Sauce: A Spanish sauce made with almonds, roasted red peppers, and tomatoes.
- Hoisin Sauce: Thick and fragrant, ideal for adding a sweet and salty flavor.
- French Vinaigrette: Light and refreshing with a citrusy zing.
Suggestions For Dippers
Dippers are vital for a delicious fondue. Choose a variety so everyone gets something they like. Have double the amount for the more popular dippers.
Vegan Cheese Fondue
These delicious dippers pair wonderfully with cheesy fondue like this vegan cheese fondue. Some are deliciously odd, and we've tried them all!
- Sourdough Bread Chunks: Their tangy flavor contrasts nicely with the creamy fondue, and the texture is perfect for dipping.
- Vegan Sausage: Slice and saute your favorite vegan sausage and dip.
- Pretzel Sticks: This is perfect for a delightful crunch and a bit of saltiness and goes well with Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Fondue, too!
- Steamed Broccoli Florets: A classic! These tiny trees hold the fondue really well.
- Crisp Apple Slices: Their sweetness balances the savory fondue.
- Carrot Sticks: For a nice crunch and a pop of color.
- Cauliflower Florets: Steamed or raw, they’re another fondue classic.
- Bell Pepper Strips: Sweet and colorful, adding a fresh crunch.
- Cucumber Slices: For a refreshing and crisp bite.
- Whole Grain or Seeded Crackers: They add a hearty element to the mix.
- Roasted Baby Potatoes: Soft and perfect for fondue dipping.
- Endive Leaves: Their shape makes for easy dipping.
- Pear Slices: A sweet and slightly tart option.
- Pita Bread Triangles: Soft and perfect for scooping up the fondue.
- Vegan "Meat" Balls: A tasty and unique dipping choice.
- Sweet Potato Fries or Steak Fries: Their sweetness pairs nicely with the savory fondue.
- Polenta Cubes: Grilled or baked for a delightful texture.
- Breadsticks: Classic and perfect for any fondue.
- Grilled Tofu Cubes: Extra firm tofu, grilled for a smoky flavor. Try cubing this Smoked Tofu recipe.
- Baked Tortilla Chips: Great for scooping and dipping.
- Cornichons: Small French pickles, are a classic choice, offering a tart and slightly sweet flavor that contrasts beautifully with rich, creamy cheese.
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts: A flavorful and nutritious option. See Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Vegan Parmesan
Vegan Chocolate Fondue
For chocolate-based dip like Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondue try these delicious dippers.
- Fresh Strawberries: Their natural sweetness and slight tartness create a perfect balance with the richness of chocolate and peanut butter.
- Banana Slices: Soft and sweet, bananas are a classic pairing with both chocolate and peanut butter.
- Apple Slices: The crisp texture and slightly tart flavor of apples make them a refreshing dipper.
- Pear Slices: Pears offer a subtle sweetness and a soft texture that goes wonderfully with the fondue.
- Orange Segments: The citrusy zest of oranges adds a tangy twist to the fondue.
- Pineapple Chunks: Their tropical sweetness offers a delightful contrast to the creamy fondue.
- Vegan Marshmallows: Soft, sweet, and a bit gooey when dipped, they're a fun option.
- Pretzels: The salty crunch of pretzels complements the sweet and creamy fondue.
- Dried Apricots: Their chewy texture and concentrated sweetness pair nicely with the fondue.
- Fresh Raspberries: Their tartness and delicate texture offer a lovely contrast.
- Cherries: Both fresh and maraschino cherries work great as dippers.
- Grapes: Sweet, juicy grapes are a refreshing choice.
- Vegan Graham Crackers: Their crisp texture and sweet flavor are a fondue classic.
- Oreos or Vegan Cookies: They add a delightful crunch and additional sweetness.
- Vegan Donut Holes: Soft, sweet, and a bit indulgent – perfect for a special treat.
- Vegan Rice Krispie Treats: The crispy, chewy texture is fantastic with the smooth fondue.
- Vegan Brownie Bites: Rich and chocolatey, these are for the serious sweet tooth.
- Vegan Sponge Cake Cubes: Light and airy, they soak up the fondue beautifully.
For Vegan Fondue Bourguignonne
Remember to prepare and cook some of these vegetables (like potatoes, carrots, and Brussels sprouts) beforehand, as they take longer to cook. This preparation ensures that all your dippers will be perfectly cooked when dipped into the hot oil or broth and won't take as long.
- Seitan: pick your favorite or make High-Protein Lupini Bean Seitan
- Tofu: extra-firm works best
- Tempeh: cubed
- Vegan meatballs
- Mushrooms: button or cremini work well
- Baby potatoes: parboiled
- Cauliflower florets: parboiled
- Broccoli florets: parboiled
- Bell pepper chunks
- Zucchini slices: pre-cooked
- Carrot slices: parboiled
- Brussels sprouts: parboiled
- Artichoke hearts
- Green beans: trimmed and blanched
- Asparagus spears: trimmed and blanched
- Cherry tomatoes
- Onion chunks: like pearl onions or wedges of regular onion
- Vegan sausages
- Vegan gnocchi: pre-cooked
Fondue is not just about melting cheese or chocolate into a delectable dip, it's a social experience. Let's discuss navigating this delightful, cheesy, or chocolaty world with grace and etiquette.
Make room. A fondue gathering is typically cozy, with everyone huddled around the pot. This is the perfect setting for great conversations and laughs, but it also means space can be tight. So, remember to respect personal space and avoid reaching across someone to dip your morsel.
Here’s the golden rule: no double-dipping. Once your bread or fruit has taken its cheesy or chocolaty bath, it shouldn’t go back in the pot for a second dip. Why? Well, it's all about keeping the communal pot clean and appetizing for everyone. If you need more cheese or chocolate, use a clean piece of food.
Forks are the magic wands of the fondue world. Each person gets their own fondue fork, usually with a colored tip to identify it. This fork is for dipping into the pot only and is considered a tool, not a utensil. After dipping, transfer your treat to your plate using a regular fork. Why the switch? It keeps your saliva-laden fork out of the communal pot. I'm sure we can all appreciate that.
Portion control is important. It's tempting to load up your fork with a mountain of bread or fruit, but smaller, manageable bites are the way to go. It prevents pot overload and makes for a more pleasant, less messy experience.
Last but certainly not least, the conversation. Fondue is as much about socializing as it is about eating. Engage with your fellow dippers, share stories, and enjoy the communal experience. It’s a great way to bond and make memories over a pot of melted goodness. See below for some great games to play while you fondue.
The Art of Twirling: When dipping into cheese fondue, gently stir your piece of bread or vegetable in a figure-eight motion. This is not just for fun but evens out the heat consistently and breaks any film that can form on the fondue top layer.
Mind the Order: There’s often a sequence to fondue dipping, especially if you're sharing the pot with several people. Pay attention to the order and wait your turn. It's all about communal harmony.
If someone's bread or fruit falls into the fondue pot, they could face a small, funny consequence. For example, they might have to sing a verse of a song, tell a joke, or do a silly dance. Here are some other ideas for playful penalties at your next fondue gathering.
- The Truth or Dare Dip: If someone commits a fondue faux pas, like double-dipping, they must choose between revealing a truth about themselves or performing a dare chosen by the group.
- The Storyteller's Twist: If a person drops their food in the pot, they have to start telling a story. The story continues with each subsequent dip, regardless of who's dipping.
- The Compliment Chain: As a penalty, the person must go around the table and give a compliment to each guest. It's a positive and uplifting way to handle a little fondue mishap. This one is fun with the kids.
- Mime Time: The person who loses their bread must mime an action or object for others to guess. The game continues until someone successfully guesses what they are miming.
- The Reverse Dip: The next time they dip, they must use their non-dominant hand. This can lead to some fun and awkward attempts at dipping.
- The Fondue Poet: The person must develop a quick, four-line poem about fondue. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, just something fun and light-hearted.
- The Quiz Master's Query: They must correctly answer a trivia question or face another round of penalties. This one is also fun with the kids.
Since fondue is not just a meal but an event, what's an event without some fun and games? It makes for great family time. Here are some quirky and amusing games we've played around the fondue pot:
- The Name Game: Each time someone dips into the fondue, they must name a movie, song, celebrity, or any category they choose. If someone repeats a name or can't think of one, they perform a small, fun penalty like singing a verse from a song or making an impression.
- Fondue Storytelling: Each person adds to a story every time they dip. The catch? Each addition must start with the next letter of the alphabet. It's a fun way to get creative and often leads to some hilarious tales.
- Fondue Trivia: Prepare a list of trivia questions. Each time someone wants to dip into the fondue, they must answer a trivia question. Get it right, and you dip; get it wrong, and skip your turn or perform a funny task like the ones listed above.
- Cheesy Confessions: When you dip, share a cheesy (pun intended) joke, a funny personal anecdote, or a light-hearted confession. It’s a great way to stir up laughter and learn fun facts about each other.
- Fondue Charades: After dipping, while you wait for your bite to cool, act out a charade for others to guess. Keep it simple and fun.
- The Dipping Challenge: Make a rule where you must dip your food item in a certain way – maybe using only your left hand, or with your eyes closed, or after spinning around once. This can lead to some funny moments and a bit of harmless chaos.
- Fondue Pictionary: This one requires a bit of preparation. Write down simple objects or phrases on slips of paper. When it's a person's turn to dip, they also pick a slip and have to draw the object or phrase on a small whiteboard or paper. Others have to guess what it is before the artist finishes their fondue bite.
Essential Equipment for Perfect Vegan Fondue
Creating the perfect vegan fondue experience starts with having the right equipment.
At the heart of it all is the fondue pot, which can be either electric or traditional. Electric pots offer convenient temperature control, ideal for maintaining the consistency of vegan cheese or chocolate without burning.
For a more classic approach, a cast iron pot works well, especially when used over a low flame from a fondue burner.
Long, heat-resistant fondue forks are essential for safe dipping, ensuring everyone can comfortably reach the pot without the risk of getting too close to the heat. These usually come with the fondue pot, but if you know you are going to need a lot of them, you'll need to purchase them separately. A sturdy, heatproof stand and a reliable burner are also key to keeping the fondue at the right temperature throughout your meal. Additionally, consider having a selection of small bowls or dishes for various dippers and side sauces to enhance the fondue experience.
Eating Vegan Fondue Out
For those looking to enjoy the fondue experience without the hassle of hosting, consider visiting The Melting Pot. This franchised chain, with locations across the United States and Canada, specializes in fondue dining. As of 2024, they boast 97 locations in 31 U.S. states and Canada. Notably, they offer an impressive vegan menu, making it a great dining option for a variety of dietary preferences.