When many people hear the word fondue, they think of something fancy that includes dipping items in either cheese or chocolate. But my favorite is oil fondue, and it should be yours, too. 

Oil fondue, aka fondue Bourguignonne, is where diners cook food in hot oil. The legend goes that vineyard workers in the region of Burgundy would come in for meals at different times, which meant it was difficult to have a hot meal ready for everyone. So, the vineyard owners would set out pots of grape seed oil in the fields that could be heated up at any time. The workers could thus receive a warm meal without missing out on the peaks times to harvest the grapes.

Since its inception, fondue has gone in and out of style. Most notably, there was a craze in the 1970s and a resurgence in the early 2000s. Fashion needn't dictate your meals, however. Fondue is great for entertaining: it breaks the ice and allows the host to do minimal cooking beforehand. Additionally, it makes everyone feel like they are a part of something—a good choice for a date or a dinner party. 

What You'll Need

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Fondue has been enjoyed by rich and poor alike, so you don't need to break the bank to enjoy it. To get the tools on the cheap, scout out your local thrift stores and garage sales or check on eBay. 

A fondue pot

There are two main types of oil fondue pots: gas and electric. The copper pot shown here requires a fuel can underneath to heat the oil. Newer varieties, such as the white one up above, are electrically heated. While the choice between these is up to personal preference and availability, it is essential to use metal pots to withstand the heat of the oil

Fondue forks

Fondue forks come in many different colors, but everything below the handle remains uniform. They are much longer than a dinner fork and have only two prongs at the end. 

Fondue plates

This piece is optional. While fondue can be presented in different ways, many people prefer a "fondue plate", which features sections for each type of food. Since both raw and cooked foods are at play in this meal, it is quite important to have separation. If fondue plates are not in your budget, use several small plates instead. 

What to Cook

In traditional fondue Bourguignonne, diners cook beef, chicken, shrimp and vegetables in the oil. Vegetables and beef can be cooked to the diner's preference, but it is essential to cook chicken and seafood completely to avoid food poisoning

Cheese cubes

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Every time I have fondue, I make sure to bread some cheese cubes. In the oil, they get melty on the inside and crispy on the outside, which is an ideal combination. 

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The pinnacle of any fondue experience is dipping your hard work in sauces. These are my homemade favorites (from left to right): soy and sesame; lime, parsley and sour cream; and aioli

What to Do

1. Pour peanut oil and a little salt into the fondue pot.

2. If you're using a gas fondue pot, prepare the fuel can and place it underneath the pot. If you have an electric pot, plug it in and set the temperature to around 400 degrees Fahrenheit. You can play around with the temperature if the oil is sputtering too much.

3. Once the oil is hot, you can begin the meal. Stab a piece of raw food with your fondue fork and place it in the oil. The more practice you get, the better you will know how long each type of food takes to cook. 

4. When the food is cooked, rest the fondue fork on the "cooked" section of your plate and slide the food off using a dinner fork. Do NOT eat food off of the fondue fork, as it will still be very hot from the oil.


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The fondue pot can get quite cramped with everyone's forks. Try to maneuver your fork in a way that it doesn't disturb others' forks when placing it in the oil. In the event that your food falls off the fork, it is expected that others take their forks out of the oil so that the lost piece can be found and taken out. Some believe that if you lose your food in the pot, you must kiss the person next to you. (So definitely do this on a date!)

Oil fondue is a great option for families, friends and significant others to share in both a meal and an experience. Try oil fondue for your next dinner in!