Fondue Fuel


Fondue Fuel Types - Find The Right Fuel For Your Fonde

The type of fondue you are making dictates the type of pot and fuel you should be using. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions that came with the pot for the proper fuel for your fondue unit.

Butane Fondue Burner Unit

Butane Fondue Burner Unit
butane fondue burner unit

This is a new style fondue fuel unit. It is a one piece design that stores butane in the tank. It offers the most adjustability of any fondue fuel unit.  The butane is odorless and safe to use.  This burner works so well I've taken it on camping trips and used it for an impromptu camping stove.

Butane is very versatile but is best used for hot oil fondue such as beef fonduebroth or cheese fondue. They typically burn too hot to use with the more delicate chocolate fondue. 

Cheese Fondue - Only use the burner fondue burner on high if are making your fondue from scratch or are heating something like Swiss Knight Cheese fondue out of a pouch.  Once the fondue is as hot as you want it, turn the burner down or you'll scorch the fondue.

Beef Oil Or Seafood Broth Fondue - Start the broth or oil or oil/butter mixture over medium-high heat.  The oil needs to stay hot but don't allow it to smoke so adjust the burner accordingly.  Adjust the burner for broth fondue to maintain a simmer.


butane fuel cannister

butane canister refill

Butane fuel:  refill canisters are available at most hardware stores and come with a variety of "tips" to fit a range of household butane devices like lighters and cooking torches.

Uses: Any fondue, cheese, oil or broth. It is the best choice for oil and broth.

Heat Duration: High, 1 hour, medium 3 hours, low, 9 hours. This can vary depending on the size of your butane unit.

Other Features: butane is safe and odor-free and and provides excellent control over the amount of heat produced. 

Alcohol Fuel

Alcohol is as versatile as butane when used with an adjustable burner unit. A small flame is good for chocolate, medium flame for cheese fondue and maximum for oil or broth.  The adjustable burner unit allows you to control the flame by opening or closing the top of the unit.  You can close the top completely to turn off the burner.

alcohol burner fuel unit
alcohol fondue burner unit

 There are two types of alcohol units. The one show above is a small tin filled with glass wool.  Alcohol is poured over the wool then ignited with a match.  The other style actually has a small receptacle with a wick. The receptacle is filled with alcohol and the wick is ignited.  The flame on both style burners is controlled by the amount of air that is allowed to flow through the adjustable lid.

Alcohol fuel- Use only Denatured alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. 

Uses: Any fondue, cheese, chocolate, oil or broth. It is as good as butane for for oil and broth fondue but is more cumbersome to deal with.

Heat Duration: 3 ounces on High will burn approximately 90 minutes.

Other Features: Generally safe and easily obtained at most hardware stores or grocery stores. 

  • Never add more fuel to the tin while the fuel is burning. 
  • Never add more than 3 ounces at a time OR overfill the container.  Overfilling can cause dangerous flare ups.
  • Never move a fondue unit while the heat source is burning.

Gel Fondue Fuel

Gel fuel includes Sterno in tins or small units or bottled. Again when used with an adjustable burner unit it works for most fondue types but does not as desirable as alcohol or butane for oil or broth fondue.

gel fondue fuel unit
gel fuel fondue burner unit photo:

This is a very common style fondue Burner. It has three pieces. The piece shown on the left is the "extinguisher". This should be placed on top of the burner when you want to extinguish the flame. The burner unit has a bottom that holds the gel fuel and a fitted cover with adjustable vent holes to dampen the flame up or down.

Uses:  Best for cheese or chocolate fondue. Not the best choice for hot oil and broth fondue.

Heat Duration: 3 ounces on High will burn approximately 90 minutes.

Other Features: Generally safe and easily obtained at most hardware stores or grocery stores. **Never add to the fuel tin while the fuel is burning.

More Gel Fuel Options

paste gel fuel
Paste gel fondue fuel

Paste Gel Fuel

The paste gel fuel units are flat and fit in most fondue fuel containers designed for gel fuels.  Just pull off the foil top and drop into the fuel unit. (Buy) 

sterno fondue fuel
Sterno canned gel fondue fuel

Canned Sterno

Depending on your unit the burner may accommodate a single use can of sterno.  Sometimes you can just substitute the sterno can instead of the burner unit. Check to make sure you have adequate clearance.  Sterno gets really hot so you may not want to use it for chocolate fondue.

Bottled Gel Fuel

fondue gel 

Liquid gel fuel (Bottles) - Some fondue units have refillable burners. Just pour in bottled Sterno gel.  This product is typically available in any hardware store.

Tea Light Candles

Tea lights can sit in any convertible fondue burner and are used mostly for sauces and to keep chocolate fondue warm.

 tea candle

Tea light / tea candle

Tea Lights - or small votive candles are adequate for keeping chocolate fondue warm. Also use candles for small "dipping" bowl units for keeping clarified butter or other sauces warm.  Tea lights can be more than adequate to keep chocolate fondue warm.

Where To Buy Fondue Fuel

Liquid Gel and Gel cups can be found at Sur La Table stores.  You can also find Fondue Gel Fuel at  There may be restrictions on shipping flammable products so check before you buy online.

You can buy tea lights in bulk at Ikea stores as well as online on the website.


Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.