A raclette dinner party is a true experience every cheese lover should have! If you’d like to host a raclette dinner party at home, here’s everything you need to know: what it is, where to buy it, what to serve with it, and how to get your kids to eat it! You won’t regret enjoying a raclette dinner this holiday season!
Everything You Need to Know About Hosting a Raclette Dinner Party at Home
My mother likes to tell the story of the first time our family had raclette. We had been skiing in Switzerland and the hotel we were staying at had raclette night. They weren’t cooking anything that night other than the traditional Swiss dish featuring melted cheese: raclette. My dad says there was a huge wheel of raclette that was put under a broiler in the middle of the restaurant.
As soon as the top layer of cheese was melted, servers would swing the wheel of cheese out from under the broiler, scrape off the top layer, and run it out to the waiting restaurant patrons. It took hours to eat the meal and the servers really got a work out on raclette night.
That night we were served raclette I probably really threw a fit. I really didn’t like cheese at that time – especially cheese that I thought smelled bad! The restaurant owner promised me that if I tried it and didn’t like it, he would cook me a steak.
Remember, they weren’t serving anything other than stinky cheese at the restaurant that night. Well, I ended up with a steak. I’m only glad I can’t really remember that, because it’s a little embarrassing to admit now. I may or may not have been a slightly bratty child. LOL!
What is Raclette Cheese?
Raclette is a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk and usually sold in a wheel or a block. It’s very popular in Switzerland, Germany, France, and Austria. I think of raclette as an upgraded cheese fondue.
Originally from the Alps, the word raclette comes from the French word meaning “to scrape.” Raclette dinner parties are all the rage in Europe and raclette nights are hours long affairs best enjoyed with dear friends and family.
The cheese is usually melted via a table top grill or over an open fire, and served over boiled potatoes. It’s a meal fun to serve on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.
Many counties have their own version of the cheese, which my kids also think is a stinky cheese. Depending on the country of origin, this cheese can have quite a strong smell, which some people pretty bad. Don’t let that smell fool you though, the cheese is so so delicious!
I find Swiss Raclette to have the strongest flavor, and also the strongest smell. When I was a kid, I hated raclette night with a passion. When my mother would serve up raclette to friends, I would leave the house for the weekend. Granted, I did not like cheese when I was young, and the smell really made me sick.
Where to buy raclette?
Raclette can be purchased at your local grocery store deli counter. I always find it seasonally at ALDI and Trader Joe’s, and you can even order it online at Amazon. I prefer to buy the pre-sliced cheese instead of the wheel because my raclette grill heats slices. If you have a fancy raclette melter that melts cheese from the wheel, buy it by the wheel instead!
It’s on the pricy side, around $10 + per pound
What’s the best raclette grill?
The best grill will depend on a number of factors: how many people are you serving? Do you want to have the ability to grill vegetables too? Do you want to cook slices of raclette, or scrape the melted cheese off a wheel?
I have a teeny tiny Boska Raclette grill for two. It’s fine for my husband and I, but it is much too slow if we want to include other people in our dinner party. I haven’t used this one yet, but when I upgrade to a larger grill, I think I will go with this Swissmar Raclette Grill for 8.
How much raclette cheese do you need per person?
If you’re serving a traditional raclette cheese dinner, you’ll want to have 1/3 to 1/2 pound on hand per person. So, for an 8-person dinner party, you’ll want 3-4 pounds of raclette cheese.
What should I serve with raclette?
Traditional accompaniments to the cheese include cured meats like salami and prosciutto, pickled gherkins, crusty bread, and white wine. It’s fun to have vegetables like mushrooms and onions to cook on the grill. We’ve also served raclette with shrimp, a nice salad, crusty bread, and good wine. Fresh fruit is also a good side!
White wine pairs better with cheese, but I prefer a dry red, so that’s what we have! Don’t forget the wine – but you do you!
Can you freeze raclette?
Yes, cheese actually freezes quite well. Just make sure to wrap it tightly (maybe even vacuum seal it) to prevent freezer burn. Thaw it overnight in the fridge or for a couple hours on the counter. It should still melt just fine.
Will kids eat raclette?
If your kids are put off by stinky cheese, this might not be the meal for them. No matter how good the cheese tastes, sometimes it’s just hard to get past the overpowering stench that is raclette. There’s really no sugar-coating it. The raclette smell can be powerful! It might be a good idea to have a less stinky option for kids like gruyere or emmentaler cheese.
You can also try to find a milder form of raclette for the kiddos. German raclette is not as overpowering as Swiss or French raclette, for example.
If you’re hosting a raclette dinner party at home, serve these side dishes too:
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I’d love to hear your thoughts on raclette cheese? Have you tried it? Have you ever hosted a raclette dinner party? Let me know in the comments!