Hot Honey–Mustard Firecracker Hot Dogs

Wrapped in buttery and flaky biscuit dough spirals and finished with a sweet and spicy mustard glaze, these festive firecracker hot dogs are as delicious as they are adorable.

Overhead view of Firecracker HotDogs
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Recipes for firecracker hot dogs (also called rocket dogs) started popping up on the internet circa 2011. (One of the earliest appearances seems to be from the now defunct Family Fun Magazine as a recipe for "rocket dogs" around 2011.) These social media darlings—hot dogs wrapped in pastry and baked until golden to look like little fireworks—are a fun concept for a Fourth of July barbecue or other summertime party. But I’ll let you in on a secret: While they look adorable, they don’t usually taste great. I set out to change that—and as the recipe below shows, I succeeded.

Tips for Memorable Firecracker Hot Dogs

Skip the canned dough and make a quick biscuit dough instead. Most of the recipes out there for firecracker hot dogs rely on store-bought doughs for ease. Canned refrigerated biscuit or croissant dough are most commonly called for, and a handful of recipes call for premade pie crust or breadstick dough. I don’t know if you’ve tasted a canned biscuit recently, but its appeal pretty much begins and ends with popping open the can. While it’s an understandable shortcut for a quick and easy dish like this, I knew a from-scratch biscuit dough would be a step up in buttery flavor and flakiness, and would still be easy to make, requiring just one bowl and a handful of pantry ingredients.

Overhead view of firecracker hotdogs
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

I found a recipe in the Serious Eats archives for honey biscuits that uses a simple one-bowl method, and I liked the idea of a sweet-salty biscuit dough to pair with the hot dogs. With some scaling and tweaking, this easy-to-make dough was perfect for wrapping the dogs (no wrestling of canned dough required), and a few quick folds and turns while shaping gave the pastry beautiful striated, ultra-flaky layers when baked.

Refrigerate the dough briefly for easier shaping. Briefly chilling the dough while making the glaze and skewering the hot dogs ensures the pastry keeps its shape and puffs into defined layers in the oven. The dough should be pliable and easy to stretch as you shape it. If the dough is too stiff straight from the fridge to wrap around the hot dogs easily, let it warm up a few minutes on the counter before trying again. Conversely, if the dough becomes too warm and sticky to handle as you assemble, chill it back down in the fridge for a few minutes before continuing shaping.

Add some fire with hot honey in the dough and a sweet-spicy glaze on the franks. To my mind, anything named “firecracker” should have a little kick to it. Since I already had honey in the mix for the biscuit dough, I wondered if switching to hot honey would turn up the heat. If you’re not familiar with it, hot honey from brands like Mike’s Hot Honey is chile-infused, resulting in a delightful sweet-spicy condiment (I looooooove it drizzled on pizza). Using it in the dough adds a tingle of spiciness.

To bring in even more flavor and heat, I created a sweet-spicy glaze to brush on the hot dogs before baking. I mixed yellow mustard (a classic hot dog accompaniment) with more hot honey and a touch of soy sauce to amplify the hot dogs' umami. The flavor was almost there, but a spoonful of sriracha added to the glaze really boosted the spiciness and rounded things out to take these dogs up and over the top. I offer a teaspoon range for the sriracha amount, so you can adjust depending on how spicy you like it. Taste the glaze and add more sriracha as you see fit.

In the oven, the glaze becomes slightly caramelized and offers a burnished, glossy sheen to the crisp pastry and the juicy hot dogs. Crowned with a flaky pastry star, these hot dog firecrackers are the perfect combination of salty, sweet, and spicy—in other words, these festive franks finally taste just as good as they look.

For the dough: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray parchment with cooking spray; set aside.

Overhead view of parchment paper lined tray
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk milk and hot honey until well combined and honey is dissolved.

Two image collage of whisking flour and milk and honey
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Scatter butter cubes over flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or hands, cut or rub butter into flour until butter is the size of small peas. Add milk mixture and with a rubber spatula, gently mix until no dry flour remains and crumbly dough forms.

Two image collage of breaking up butter and using a spatula to mix in butter
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently gather together into a cohesive mass, then press into a rough 6- by 4-inch rectangle and sprinkle with additional flour. Use a rolling pin to roll until about 1/2-inch thick (10- by 6-inch rectangle). Starting from the short end, fold the dough in thirds, like a letter. Rotate 1/4 turn, roll out to 1/2-inch thickness again (10 by 6-inch rectangle), and fold in thirds again, re-flouring surface and dough as needed. Roll into a 9 1/2- by 13-inch rectangle, about ¼-inch thick.

Four image collage of rolling dough
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Use a chef’s knife or bench scraper to trim away ragged edges and form a 9- by 12-inch rectangle. Working from long side, cut six to eight 3/4-inch wide, 9-inch long strips from dough (depending on how many hot dogs you’re using).

Overhead view of trimming dough
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Use a 2-inch star cookie cutter to cut 6 to 8 stars from remaining dough; discard scraps. You can also use any 2-inch cookie cutter shape of your choice, or omit the cookie cutter dough cut outs, if desired. Transfer dough strips and stars, if using, to a large plate and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes while preparing glaze and hot dogs.

Overhead view of punching out stars
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For the glaze and hot dogs: In a small microwave-safe bowl, whisk together hot honey, mustard, soy sauce, sriracha, and cornstarch. Microwave until bubbling, 30 to 60 seconds. Whisk to combine and set aside to cool slightly.

Overhead view of whisking glaze
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Pat hot dogs dry with paper towels. Carefully push a 10-inch skewer all the way through each hot dog lengthwise, with about 2 inches of skewer sticking out at top. 

Overhead view of skewering hot dogs
Serious Eats. / Amanda Suarez

Starting from the top, wrap 1 dough strip around each hot dog 3 times in a spiral, leaving 3/4-inch gaps in the spiral as you wrap and pressing the dough ends to the back of the hot dog to adhere. Place on the greased parchment-lined baking sheet with the star ends pointing in alternating directions and tucking the ends of dough strips underneath hot dogs. Slide star cutout onto end of each skewer. 

Overhead view of wrapping hot dog in dough and placing star on top
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Use a pastry brush to coat the tops and sides of the hot dogs, dough strips, and dough stars with honey mustard glaze, trying to avoid getting excess glaze on the parchment.

Overhead view of glazing hotdogs
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Bake until biscuit strips are puffed and glaze is beginning to brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack and let hot dogs cool slightly on sheet, 2 to 3 minutes. Use a thin metal spatula to gently loosen the hot dogs from the parchment and transfer to a serving platter. Serve warm. 

Overhead view of finished hot dogs
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Special Equipment

Rimmed baking sheet, pastry blender, rolling pin, ruler, 2-inch star cookie cutter, 10-inch wooden skewers, pastry brush, wire rack.

Notes

I developed this recipe with Mike’s Hot Honey; other brands of hot honey may vary in spiciness. If you can’t find hot honey, use regular honey and add ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne to the dough and the sauce in steps 2 and 6. For a mild version of this dish, you can use regular honey instead of hot honey and skip the sriracha in the sauce.

The from-scratch dough in this recipe is extra flaky and flavorful, but you can substitute strips of refrigerated canned biscuit or croissant dough instead for a shortcut option (if you must!). Do not use puff pastry dough; it won’t have enough time in the oven to cook through.

Different brands of hot dogs come in packages of varying quantities, but the dough and glaze will make enough for up to 8.

To get the best fit on the baking sheet, arrange the skewers with the star ends pointing in alternating directions.

If you’re feeding a crowd, you can easily double this recipe. Split the dough into two portions and roll each to the specified dimensions. Bake the assembled hot dogs on two baking sheets on the upper-middle and lower-middle racks in the oven, switching and rotating the trays halfway through baking.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The biscuit dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before using.

I Tested Fondue Pots by Melting 10 Pounds of Cheese and Eight Pounds of Chocolate

We tested both electric and traditional fondue pots to find the four best models that performed well and were easy to use and clean.

Four fondue posts on a light grey countertop.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

Confession time: Though I am a die-hard New Englander, I don’t like to ski. But après ski? That’s a lifestyle I can get behind. Cue the roaring fire, a pair of warm slippers, and a decadent meal shared with friends on a cold winter night. And few things can conjure up those cozy ski chalet vibes quite like fondue.

We here at Serious Eats have never reviewed fondue pots before. And while you could surely use a regular ol’ Dutch oven or saucepan to make fondue, fondue pots offer fun nostalgia. And, in some cases, superior performance in a compact package.

To find the best fondue pots, I tested six of them. Four were electric and two were traditional models that used an open flame to keep the fondue warm. I put these pots through their paces making cheese and chocolate fondue in each, and along the way assessed their ability to maintain a creamy fondue at a consistent temperature, their usability, and how easy they were to clean. Many (many) pounds of melted cheese and chocolate later, here are the ones worthy of a place in your winter cooking arsenal.

The Winners, at a Glance

This model was responsive, heated evenly, and had an easy-to-read dial and sturdy base. It kept the cheese and chocolate fondues emulsified the longest during testing, enticing guests to keep dipping. The nonstick interior of the pot made it a snap to clean, and the included color-coded forks were grippy to hold and effective to use. Best of all, it’s affordable.

For those who love the romance of cooking over an open flame and want to go the traditional route, the All-Clad is worth splurging on. The clever double-boiler design kept cheese and chocolate fondues evenly creamy, with no hot spots under the flame. The set is heavy and luxurious-feeling and should last for years to come.

This model performed neck-and-neck with the Cuisinart, holding consistent temperatures throughout testing and producing perfectly creamy fondues, especially chocolate. Ultimately, it was just edged out due to its slightly less responsive temperature control and lack of quick-release magnetic power cord, but it’s an excellent option, especially if you prefer its matte black appearance (versus the Cuisinart’s stainless steel look).

While it didn’t perform quite as well as other electric models in my lineup, the design and included accessories of this Dash fondue pot gave it an edge for entertaining. In a scenario where guests might be milling around at a party, this fondue pot’s taller, narrower profile and attached ingredient cups take up less real estate on a crowded table and is easiest to eat from while standing up.

The Tests 

A strawberry being dipped into chocolate fondue.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus
  • Cheese Fondue Test: I made cheese fondue in each pot, monitoring the temperature using an instant-read thermometer over the course of 30 minutes and periodically dipping in a piece of bread to evaluate the cheese fondue’s texture and flavor. 
  • Chocolate Fondue Test: I also made chocolate fondue in each pot, again monitoring its temperature over a 30-minute period and periodically dipping a strawberry to evaluate the chocolate fondue’s texture and flavor.
  • Performance, Cleanup, and Usability Evaluations: During both tests, I evaluated how evenly and efficiently each pot melted the cheese or chocolate, how easy it was to use the pot and adjust the temperature, the usability of each pot’s included fondue forks, and how easy each was to clean after cooling.

What We Learned 

What Is Fondue, and Why Does It Need a Special Pot?

A person dipping a chunk of bread into cheese fondue in a fondue pot.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

Let’s start with some fondue fundamentals. Fondue hails from Switzerland, with the name deriving from the French “fondre” or “to melt.” Cheese fondue is the most traditional form of fondue, utilizing the nutty, funky, grassy cheeses that are produced in the Swiss Alps. A blend of Gruyère and Emmentaler are the traditional choices for Swiss-style cheese fondue, but other cheeses such as Vacherin, Appenzeller, Comté, Reblochon, and Fontina are used in the alpine regions of France and Italy as well. The cheeses are melted together with white wine into a gooey mass, into which you dip crusty, toasted bread pieces of bread. Apart from cheese fondue, other popular forms of fondue are fondue au chocolat–a melted ganache of cream and chocolate–and fondue bourguignonne, where guests spear chunks of meat onto forks and cook them directly in a pot of hot oil.

Four electric fondue pots.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

Fondue presents a couple of challenges that can make it tricky to prepare and serve. Both cheese and chocolate fondue (very popular forms of fondue and the focus of my tests) are emulsions: careful suspensions of fat droplets in liquid. In cheese fondue, fat globules from cheese are emulsified into white wine. In chocolate fondue, heavy cream (itself an emulsion of butterfat and water) mixes with the sugar in the chocolate to form a syrup, in which fat globules from the cream and cocoa butter solids are suspended. To achieve an even distribution of fat and a stable emulsion, the shredded cheese or chopped chocolate needs to be added gradually to warm liquid and stirred constantly. Overheating these emulsions will cause them to “break,” meaning the fat droplets will be forced to separate from the water and will join together, resulting in stringy, grainy messes with slicks of oil on top, rather than creamy suspensions. But let the mixture get too cold, and it will quickly resolidify. To keep fondues creamy, fluid, and dippable, they have to stay in a Goldilocks sweet spot of not-too-hot and not-too-cold.

Enter: the fondue pot. When held at a consistent, perfectly-warm temperature, diners can enjoy the fun of dipping ingredients into gooey, stretchy fondues at the table together over the course of a meal. Traditionally, fondues are prepared on the stove and then held warm at the table over a candle or other open flame, adding an element of cozy warmth. Newer designs of fondue pots use electric thermostats to maintain a consistent temperature for even more precision. But which type is best?

Traditional vs. Electric Fondue Pots

A stainless steel fondue pot with a flame underneath it.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

You have to admit: lighting and tending a fire at your table is exciting! And the warm glow of a flickering flame is a welcome addition to entertaining in the depths of winter. Rather than a candle, most modern traditional fondue pots call for gel fuel, such as Swiss Fire Gels by Swissmar or “canned heat” by brands like Sterno. The gel canister will fit into a holder that sits beneath the fondue pot and is lit easily by a match or lighter. Most models include a burner cover or other mechanism to regulate the strength of the flame and thus the temperature of the pot. This is, of course, a pretty subjective undertaking, and requires some trial and error to find the right heat level. My favorite traditional model from All-Clad had a burner cover that effectively lowered the heat as needed by partially covering the flame. 

Two traditional fondue pots beside cans of fuel and fondue forks.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

Electric fondue pots use electricity to warm a heating element rather than an open flame. Some work like a hot plate, meaning they feature a small electric burner upon which a separate pot is set. Others are all-in-one units, with pots containing heating elements that are built-in underneath. We found that the all-in-one styles like those made by Cuisinart and Nostalgia were the most responsive to temperature adjustments and performed the best. Electric models generally use dial thermostats to set the desired temperature and will automatically turn the heating element on and off periodically to maintain the selected temperature range. Most models have a light that will illuminate when the element is heating, and turn off when it reaches temperature. I appreciated dials with clear numbers to guide users to the right heat level, and manuals that specified which numbers to use for which applications, like with my winning model by Cuisinart. 

The control dial of the Cuisinart electric fondue pot.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

Which fondue pot type is best depends on your goals: For the most authentic Alpine experience (and no pesky cord to deal with), a traditional, open-flame model gives the coziest vibes. It adds a bit of drama and excitement to your meal and stays true to the roots of fondue’s origins. But for a more foolproof, set-it-and-forget-it experience, electric is the way to go. I named the Cuisinart electric model the overall winner due to its precision, ease of use, and consistent performance—if you’re going to go through the effort of making fondue and hosting a group to share it, it’s nice to know that it can be held at the perfect consistency for your guests to enjoy without fuss or stress.

Do You Really Need a Fondue Pot?

A cube of bread being dunked into cheese fondue.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

Technically, no. If you have a portable induction burner, you could use that to keep a saucepan or Dutch oven of fondue warm at the table, using the same design principle as the electric pots. However, most induction burners are fairly bulky (and sometimes noisy) and take up more table space than you’d like to give up. A slow cooker could also work in a pinch, but they usually have very limited temperature settings, and you might not be able to dial in the right holding temperature to keep the fondue at just the right consistency. Plus, in each of these scenarios, you’d also have to buy fondue forks separately (they really are great, see below for more). I say, if you’re going to fondue, fon-do it right and invest in a pot that is perfectly built for the purpose.

A Note About Fondue Forks and Fork Rings

The Cuisinart electric fondue pot with fondue forks sticking out of it.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

Fondue forks are designed to spear chunks of food and hang onto them while dipping, all while keeping your hand out of range of anything too hot (like an open flame). They need to be heat-resistant, so the forks are usually made from stainless steel, even if the handles are comprised of wood, plastic, or nylon. Traditional cheese fondue forks have three tines, and those used for oil fondue usually have two tines in more of a prong shape. All of the sets we tested included two-tined forks except for the Swissmar Lugano model, which is specifically designed for cheese fondue and includes three-tined forks. And yes, you can indeed spear toasted bread cubes and use them for cheese fondue with a two-tined fork, which is likely why most manufacturers go this route–they are the most versatile shape that you can use with many styles of fondue. One word of caution, though: When using stainless steel forks in a pot with a nonstick-coated interior, be careful not to scratch the surface of the pot. With a piece of food on the end, it’s usually not an issue, but be very gentle when placing an empty fork in the pot to avoid damage.

A fondue fork dragging a strawberry through chocolate fondue.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

Traditional fondue etiquette states that you should never eat your food directly off of the fondue fork. Instead, diners should spear their food, dip it, then transfer it to a plate and eat it with a regular fork. This eliminates the possibility of germs being transferred from someone’s mouth to the pot of shared fondue via the fork. To keep the fondue forks corralled during this process, most of the pots in my lineup included fork rings. All were made from stainless steel and fit into the mouth of the pot, with notches around their handles to hold the forks in place. This is where the color-coding system of fondue fork handles comes in handy. Diners can slot their fork into a spot in the ring when not in use and will know which is theirs when they come back to it for another dip (as long as they remember which color they chose!).

Did my guests and I always follow this etiquette? No. The desire to pop that cheesy cube in your mouth right away was sometimes just too much! It was often easier to dip into the pots without the fork ring in place, especially if the opening of the pot was narrow. In that case, we kept our fondue forks on our plates, which worked just fine. The nice thing about all of these models is that the fork ring, if one was included, is optional, so you can fondue however works best for you.

The Criteria: What to Look for in a Fondue Pot

 A strawberry being dipped into chocolate fondue.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

A great fondue pot should hold a set temperature consistently to keep fondues creamy, be responsive to temperature adjustments, and should be easy to clean since some fondues are sticky. Electric models were the most foolproof and precise for temperature control and consistency, and nonstick-coated fondue bowls made cleanup a snap. A wide, shallow bowl was the easiest to use for dipping at the table, and I appreciated longer forks with grippy, color-coded handles.

The Best Fondue Pots

What we liked: This model had the most precise temperature control of the group, with a clearly numbered dial that made quick and responsive adjustments. The manual offered specific heat levels to use when making and holding various fondues, which was very helpful (and turned out to be pretty accurate). The element heated up quickly, bringing wine for cheese fondue and cream for chocolate fondue to a simmer in moments, then quickly and efficiently melted cheese and chocolate as it was gradually added. The base kept the pot secure and steady on the table while stirring in ingredients, and the wide, shallow shape made it easy to stir and, later, dip into. It was simple to adjust the temperature up and down as needed to keep the fondues fluid while holding them, and the magnetic breakaway cord offered peace of mind in case the cord was accidentally yanked or tripped over. The included forks were a nice length and felt secure in hand with their grippy handles. Thanks to the nonstick interior, any leftover cooled fondue slid out of the bowl easily and the pot was a breeze to wash with a swipe of a sponge.

A strawberry being dipped into chocolate fondue in the Cuisinart fondue pot.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

What we didn’t like: Since this is an electric model, there is a cord to deal with, which isn’t that aesthetically pleasing, and may require an extension cord to get it to, say, the middle of your dining room table. While the cord is detached before cleaning, the rest of the pot is all one piece, which makes it a little awkward to wash. You also have to be careful not to immerse the port that connects to the cord in water, which may be a little nerve-wracking to some. Guests thought it looked a bit “appliance-y” or industrial, given its stainless steel materials.

Key Specs

  • Type: Electric
  • Capacity: 3 quarts
  • Materials: Brushed stainless steel bowl with nonstick interior; stainless steel base
  • Included accessories: 8 (9.5-inch) stainless steel fondue forks with color-coded handles, fork ring
  • Care instructions: Only stir ingredients in the pot with plastic, nylon, or wooden utensils to prevent damage to the nonstick interior. Hand wash pot and accessories in hot, soapy water; also dishwasher-safe. Do not immerse the cord or temperature control probe in water.
The Cuisinart fondue pot with its forks and fork ring.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

What we liked: For a cord-free, open-flame fondue experience, this model did an amazing job. It has a smart double-boiler design: For cheese and chocolate fondue, you fill the exterior bowl to a clearly marked line with water, then place the nonstick cast aluminum insert inside. Once the flame is lit underneath, the water surrounding the insert warms to a simmer and evenly disperses its heat, resulting in creamy cheese and chocolate fondues without hot spots. The burner cover makes it easy to regulate the flame by partially covering it to turn down the temperature, then effectively smothers the flame when fully closed. The materials for the pot, insert, stand, and forks for this set are heavy, well-made, and feel high-quality and luxurious. Both the pot and insert are stovetop compatible, which is a nice plus. I found it was easier to prepare the fondue in the insert on the stovetop, then transfer it to the water bath under the flame to keep warm, versus preparing the fondue at the table with this model.

A person pouring water into a fondue pot's base using a measuring cup.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

What we didn’t like: This model was the priciest of our lineup, making it a splurge. You also have to buy the fuel separately and make sure you have it on hand whenever you need it; the manual calls for a 7-ounce can of gel fuel (such as Sterno brand), which is available at most hardware stores and some big box stores (or online, of course). I found that the burning gel fuel gave off some fumes, so I made sure to crack a window when testing. If you do want to prepare your fondue at the table over the flame, it will take much longer than with the electric models for the liquids to come to a simmer and for the cheese or chocolate to melt, since the surrounding water has to heat first. And while the forks for this model are substantial and the tines do an excellent job piercing food, they were short, and guests will have to reach a little further to dip.

Key Specs

  • Type: Traditional
  • Capacity: 3.5 quart exterior bowl (for oil or broth fondue or for water bath); 2.5 quart insert (for cheese or chocolate fondue)
  • Materials: Stainless steel pot with bonded base; cast aluminum nonstick insert; stainless steel fondue stand and fuel holder
  • Included accessories: 8 (8.25-inch) stainless steel forks, fork ring, fondue stand, fuel holder
  • Care instructions: To clean exterior stainless steel pot: Immerse in warm water and use a soft cloth to rub in a paste of fine powder cleanser. Then, hand wash in hot, soapy water and dry immediately. To clean insert: Hand wash in warm, soapy water. Do not use metal tools or abrasive scouring pads/powders to clean nonstick insert.
  • Good to know: Requires a 7-ounce can of gel fuel (such as Sterno brand), not included
Bread being dipped into cheese fondue in the All-Clad fondue pot.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

What we liked: This pot from Nostalgia truly gave the Cuisinart a run for its money. It heated up liquids quickly, melted the cheese and chocolate easily, and maintained its temperature very well once set. It did a particularly good job with the chocolate fondue, keeping it ultra-creamy and velvety throughout testing. It was compact on the table, while still offering a nice wide opening that made it easy for multiple guests to dip items at the same time. Some guests preferred the matte black appearance of this model to the stainless steel pots, calling it “sleek and sexy.” The forks were basically identical to those included with the Cuisinart pot, featuring grippy nylon handles that were color-coded on the ends. The nonstick interior made it very easy to clean, allowing the cooled fondue to slide out with ease. At the time of testing, it was also the least expensive fondue pot of the group (though only a smidgen less pricey than the Cuisinart).

The Nostalgia fondue pot with its forks and fork ring.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

What we didn’t like: This model did seem to run a bit hot in general, and it was a little harder to tell where “low” or “medium-low” might be, as a large portion of the dial is taken up by an arrow between settings 0 and 1. It was the only electric model from this lineup that did not feature a quick-release magnetic cord attachment, which is too bad, as it’s a nice feature. While easy to wash the interior of this pot, it was harder to clean drips on the outside of the pot if they fell near the handles, which are set quite close to the sides.

Key Specs

  • Type: Electric
  • Capacity: 3 quarts
  • Materials: Black stainless steel bowl with nonstick interior
  • Included accessories: 8 (9-inch) stainless steel forks with color-coded nylon handles; stainless steel fork ring
  • Care instructions: Hand wash the pot and accessories in warm, soapy water with a non-abrasive cloth. Dry thoroughly. Wipe the base with a dry, non-abrasive cloth. Do not put any parts in the dishwasher, and never immerse the base or cord in water.
The Nostalgia fondue pot and its color-coded forks.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

What we liked: This fondue pot from Dash didn’t perform as well as other models, but its design makes it an honorable mention for use at parties. Rather than being all one unit, this model has a two-part construction featuring a hot plate-esque electric burner base and a stainless steel pot that sits on top of it. This makes it stand up taller than other models, and the pot is narrower and deeper, taking up less real estate on a full table. A serving ring can be attached to the base, featuring six plastic cups that hook onto it all the way around. Each cup can be filled with items to dip in the fondue, which looks cute and entices guests to try different combinations. It would be well-suited to a party where guests are circulating and could access the pot on all sides to try different bites. The pot was easy to clean thanks to its nonstick interior, and it was nice that it was separate from the base, with no worry about exposed electrodes getting wet.

What we didn’t like: This model’s materials felt a little less substantial than those of other pots, and the base gave off a slight plasticky smell when heated. It seemed to run cooler than the other models and had to be bumped above the levels recommended in the manual to bring liquids to a simmer and melt cheese and chocolate. The cheese fondue did overheat and separate slightly toward the end of the 30-minute test, but the chocolate fondue held well–if anything, it was a bit too cold. Overall, not the most consistent in temperature control. The taller profile and narrow pot made it easier to use while standing up, versus sitting down at a table. And the serving cups, while a fun idea, did wobble a bit when trying to stab items to dip with the fondue forks, and were more things to wash afterward.

Key Specs

  • Type: Electric
  • Capacity: 3 quarts
  • Materials: Brushed stainless steel bowl with nonstick interior
  • Included accessories: 8 (9-inch) stainless steel forks with color-coded handles, stainless steel fork ring, serving ring with plastic fondue cups (for ingredients to dip)
  • Care instructions: Use plastic, nylon, or wooden utensils to stir fondue to prevent damage to the nonstick surface. Hand wash pot and accessories in hot, soapy water; also top-rack dishwasher safe. Do not immerse the power cord or base in water.
The Dash fondue pot.
Serious Eats / Afton Cyrus

The Competition 

  • Swissmar Lugano 9-Piece Cheese Fondue Set: At the outset of testing, I assumed I was going to love this traditional Swiss model. Unfortunately, by the end of testing, I…fon-didn’t. Its enameled cast-iron pot and wrought-iron base looked impressive and were well-made, but in both the cheese and chocolate fondue tests, the flame underneath caused a scorched patch on the bottom of the pot that took hours of soaking and scrubbing to remove. Even when the vents of the burner were partially closed, the direct heat in the center of the pot was just too powerful. The top layer of the cheese fondue was still creamy and delicious to eat, and as I learned later, the crusty slab of cheese underneath is actually prized in Switzerland (if you can pry it off of the bottom of the pot), but the work it took to clean was daunting. Sadly, the chocolate fondue completely seized and split over the high heat, so this model is really only best-suited for cheese fondue, limiting its usefulness. Though it definitely gives alpine-romantic vibes in its design, the All-Clad is a much better bet for open-flame fondue.
  • Trudeau Alto 3-in-1 Electric Fondue Set: Though it uses a similar idea to the All-Clad of creating a double-boiler setup, this model just did not perform well. Users are instructed to fill an outer bowl with boiling water, place it on the separate electric burner, then place a ceramic insert inside and maintain the water at a simmer to keep the fondue warm. The dial did not have numbers, so it was hard to know what level to choose to keep the water hot. And if allowed to boil, the water would spit and splutter out of the sides, which was messy and dangerous. Even when held at a low setting, the chocolate fondue split and seized dramatically. The cheese fondue was more successful but ended up with overcooked, crusty edges around the sides by the end of the 30-minute test. And finally, this model is not really a fondue “maker” as much as a fondue “warmer”—you have to make your fondue in a separate pot on the stovetop before adding it to the insert.

FAQs

How do you use a fondue pot? 

For traditional open-flame models, you’ll need to purchase a gel fuel source separately. The manual for your model will specify what kind and size of fuel to use. Light the fuel under the pot with a match or lighter, then adjust the strength of the flame with a burner cover, if included. For electric models, simply plug in and use the dial to choose your heat level. For most models, you can prepare the fondue right at the table, bringing wine or cream to a simmer in the pot, then gradually adding shredded cheese or chopped chocolate as directed, stirring constantly until a creamy, uniform mixture forms. Turn down the heat to keep the fondue warm after cooking. For some models (like the All-Clad), it’s faster and easier to prepare the fondue in the pot on the stovetop first (as long it’s safe to use on the stove), then keep it warm over the flame, though it is possible to make it either way.

How do you clean a fondue pot? 

First, extinguish the flame or turn it off, unplug the pot, and let any leftover fondue cool to room temperature. Detach the cord for electric models and discard any leftover fondue (nonstick-coated bowls make this easy!). Most of the models in our lineup then call for hand washing with hot, soapy water, though a few were dishwasher-safe as well. For electric models, make sure not to immerse the cord or electrodes in water. For the All-Clad pot, some sooty residue on the underside of the stainless steel exterior bowl from the open flame was easily removed with Barkeeper’s Friend, restoring the shiny surface.

What are the best things to dip in fondue?

This is where you can really get creative! For cheese fondue, toasted bread cubes are the traditional choice, but you can expand into a wide array of options to make it a meal. My guests and I loved steamed broccoli, cherry tomatoes, pieces of salami, and chunks of apple, but other fun choices are steamed or roasted asparagus, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, strips of bell pepper, pieces of cooked steak, or cooked shrimp. (Personally, I really want to try tater tots!) For chocolate fondue, hulled strawberries, pineapple chunks, pieces of pound cake, and pretzels are all lovely. Think about your favorite sweet-and-savory combinations and let your imagination run wild.

Why We’re the Experts 

  • Afton Cyrus spent eight years at America’s Test Kitchen as a recipe developer and food editor before becoming a contributor to Serious Eats in 2023. She has learned from the best how to execute rigorous and objective equipment testing protocols and is passionate about making cooking fun and accessible for home cooks of all ages and abilities. Her meticulous approach to equipment testing, recipe development, and food writing has contributed to award-winning and New York Times bestselling cookbooks for America’s Test Kitchen, Ten Speed Press, and other outlets.
  • For this review, Afton spent 25 hours testing six fondue pots by using each to make cheese and chocolate fondue, holding each for 30 minutes to assess temperature control, and cleaning each per the manufacturer’s instructions. She grated 10 pounds of cheese, chopped eight pounds of chocolate, and held fondue parties for a variety of guests to assess group use.