What Is Used to Heat Up a Fondue Pot?

Written by g.d. palmer
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What Is Used to Heat Up a Fondue Pot?
Chocolate fondue stays liquid over a tea light. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Fondue is a French or Swiss dish made from melted cheese and white wine, into which diners dip pieces of bread. Alternate versions include fondue bourguignonne, which involves hot oil-dipped beef, and chocolate fondue, into which cake or fruit is dipped. All these meals require the fondue pot to stay at a constant temperature to keep cheese or chocolate melted and oil hot enough to cook, but without burning the food. Cooks have developed several ways to accomplish this.

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Tea Light

Thin fondue pots heated using a small candle, or tea light, don't get very hot. They're best for keeping a low-melt chocolate fondue warm and liquid. Tea lights' low heating temperature keeps the chocolate from scorching and turning bitter, but may prove a disappointment for heating more traditional cheese fondues.


Alcohol burners require an adjustable burner unit and work for all types of fondue. They produce a clean flame and are relatively easy to obtain at grocery or hardware stores. Alcohol-fuelled fondue burners contain only about 85.1gr of fuel, which burns for 90 minutes, according to Gourmet Sleuth. Never move the unit or add fuel to the tin while the burner is still lit, as this creates a fire hazard. Alcohol burns comparably to butane and gel fuel, but can be more cumbersome.


Butane fuel works for cheese, oil and chocolate fondues. It requires a special stove that stores butane, and is refilled from speciality canisters available at most hardware stores. Butane fuel is relatively long lasting, odour free and safe to use, but it can be more expensive than other options. This fuel is among the best options for broth or oil fondues.

Gel Fuel

Also known as sterno, gel fuel comes in a number of forms, including bottles, cans and tubs of paste. This petroleum-based fuel is easy to use and works well with many adjustable burners. This fuel works well for chocolate or cheese, but may not provide the high temperatures required for an oil fondue. Like alcohol and butane, gel fuel refills are available at most hardware stores. Gel fuel fondue pots come with a special extinguisher to block oxygen from the burning fuel.


Specialised electric fondue pots create heat through resistance, in much the same way as a toaster heats. These pots work for all fondue types, though individual models may be suitable for only chocolate or chocolate and cheese. Most electric fondue pots include a temperature probe to track the internal temperature of the fondue, and some automatically adjust the temperature. These pots can be bulky and expensive, however.

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