Baked Fontina with Garlic and Thyme

We dare you try this baked fontina and not grin from ear to ear. A bubbling, garlicky skillet-full of melted cheese is a magical thing, friends. A loaf of your favorite bread is all you’ll need to make it disappear.

A cast iron skillet filled with bubbling baked fontina with garlic and thyme and a hunk of bread in the background.

This is a streamlined, simplified version of fondue without the fondue pot, without the cans of Sterno, and without the wine, cornstarch, or other supporting ingredients. You just take some cubed fontina cheese, top it with slivered garlic, thyme leaves, and olive oil, and broil until it’s melted and bubbly enough to scoop up with hunks of bread. It’s a great appetizer, and, paired with a green salad and a glass of wine, a pretty nifty lunch or dinner as well.–Jimmy Bradley and Andrew Friedman

*What kind of cheese can I substitute for Fontina?

If you are able to find fontina, author Jimmy Bradley says to be sure to use an Italian fontina. As he explains, “The Danish varieties don’t melt right for this recipe.” You heard the man. However, if you can’t find it—or if you just can’t wait—you can swap in some mild provolone, Gruyère, or gouda.

Baked Fontina with Garlic and Thyme

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 15 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
5/5 - 3 reviews
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Preheat the broiler.

If making individual servings, divide the fontina among four 6-inch cast-iron pans.

If making a single large skillet full of ooey gooey goodness, dump the fontina in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet.

Drizzle the fontina with olive oil and scatter with the garlic, thyme, and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 6 to 7 minutes.

Plunk the skillet(s) on a trivet or folded cloth towel on the table with bread on the side for dunking, dipping, or otherwise enrobing in cheesiness. Originally published April 19, 2006.

Print RecipeBuy the The Red Cat Cookbook cookbook

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

My husband and I DEVOURED this dish along with some gluten-free bread I’d made. Sure, in theory it serves four, but it was a perfect amount for two hungry people — we just had the bread and the cheese and were completely satisfied. Just picture bubbling Fontina flavored with olive oil, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper! The easiest fondue you'll ever make. You just broil it.

As fontina is so mild, I can imagine all sorts of additions, such as a few oven-roasted tomatoes scattered on top, other fresh herbs such as basil, or perhaps a bit of mint with a brief squeeze of lemon juice. Not that I am looking for a way to improve this awesomeness, but my creative mind is always seeking options. I seriously don't think that the dish could be improved—just modified here and there, but not necessarily made any better. This is pure comfort food. My husband and I will be eating this in front of the fireplace on winter evenings, I just know it.

I made this as individual servings with Italian fontina as directed. I highly recommend this be considered not four to six servings, but rather two to three servings, as no one should have to skimp on bubbly cheese with crusty hunks of bread. One word of caution when it comes out of the oven looking ready to dive in, pause. It is VERY hot and will burn the inside of your mouth if you are not able to have a little patience before devouring.

I found this to be completely satisfying solo, but it is rich, and a nice crisp green salad served alongside would perfectly balance and complement this large amount of cheese. Alternately, a fresh crisp raw vegetable could also serve in this complementary fashion, such as radishes, which would add a little spark of color to the plating, in addition to a textural counterpoint."



  1. 5 stars
    This is my go-to appetizers these days. It could not be easier; I don’t even chop the herbs- instead I scatter whole sprigs of thyme, oregano and rosemary throughout the cast iron dish and it flavors the cheese quite nicely. I often throw this together with any little uneaten cheese chunks I find in the fridge- it’s a great way to use up leftovers from a cheese board. The house smells phenomenal while it is broiling!

  2. We love this recipe! Great for the 25th. Be sure to use Italian Fontina. We have been tempted to double the recipe, but it is pricey. Also, if you are lucky to have any left over, it’s good unheated open face on French or Italian bread.

  3. 5 stars
    Made this last night as the first course of a casual meal with friends–who now love me very, very much! What a stunningly simple and gorgeously delicious dish. Brilliant.

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