Plan your very own raclette dinner party. Find everything you need to know, and how to plan your party in this guide. No matter if you have a vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or gluten free person coming over. People of all diets can gather and be satisfied. It is the best solution for a modern dinner party!
Table of contents
1. What is Raclette and how is it traditionally served?
Raclette is a Swiss dish, also popular in France and Germany. It is traditionally based on melting “Raclette du Valais” (a special kind of cheese) and pouring it over boiled potatoes. Nowadays the cheese is melted in a “Raclette grill”, but it used to be melted in front of an open fire.
Historically, the Swiss started to add sides of cornichons, pickled onions, black tea and other warm beverages, or fendant wine. Due to its raising popularity and availability, it eventually lead to a big variety of sides being offered during Raclette.
A popular French option is to serve it with white wine, such as Savoy wine, but Riesling and Pinot Gris are also popular.
2. The Raclette Grill
The modern way of serving Raclette involves an electric table-top grill with small pans, known as coupelles, in which you melt slices of Raclette cheese. This “new way” of Raclette has been used since the 1950s.
The grill usually comes with a cooktop made out of metal or stone. It is a wonderful option to heat other ingredients outside of the pans. In addition to vegetables, meat and fish are often fried on top of the Raclette grill. While everyone gathers at the table, various ingredients will sizzle in small the personal Raclette pans or on its cooktop!
You can order your very own Raclette grill online, or in your local kitchen supply store. Prices range from 40$ to 150$, depending on size, quality, and brand.
I have the Matterhorn from Swissmar, which includes a granite stone top. In the US, you can get one at William Sonoma or Sur la Table. Target also offers an affordable Raclette grill for 85$, but I found even more affordable options on eBay.
3. What makes it so perfect for a variety of diets?
People are not necessarily following the traditional Swiss way of serving Raclette these days. You can add various kinds of vegetables, fruits, meats, and cheeses; allowing you to fit anyone's preferred diet. This is the exact reason why I think it makes a great modern Christmas dinner or New Year's dinner party!
Another solid argument for Raclette as a holiday dinner is that everyone has their own pan in which they can prepare and grill their meal. That means the dairy-based cheese and meat one person uses, doesn't come into contact with the pan from a person that eats vegan.
Here is an example to illustrate what I mean: mom is vegetarian and melts traditional Raclette cheese in her pan, dad grills himself some shrimp on top of the Raclette, while the daughter is vegan and melts a vegan cheese with some of her favorite vegetables in her pan.
4. How to plan your party
What do you need for a Raclette dinner party? First and foremost, a Raclette grill! Without a grill, no party. Above I already mentioned where to get one. Next, you'll need to set the date of your party and invite your guests. Once that is settled you can start organizing!
To start organizing you should tackle the following questions first:
How many people are coming?
Tip: Count the number of pans your Raclette grill has! A typical Raclette grill includes 8 non-stick pans. Therefore a maximum of 8 people can eat from it. If you have more than 8 people coming over, you may need to have a second grill, or one of your friends/family members can bring theirs.
Are any of your guests bringing their own ingredients?
Tip: My family would always allocate ingredients to bring. This allows my mom to serve food and drinks, while others would bring a salad, dips, sides or meat to share with everyone. It requires a bit of communication up front, but it’ll reduce the work for the host and ultimately pay off.
4.2 Create a grocery list, and go shopping
After you have answered the essential questions you are ready to create your grocery list and go shopping. See point 5 for a list with plenty of ingredient ideas! Once you have all desired ingredients you can start preparing.
To prepare your raclette party, simply put the ingredients on the table shortly beforehand. Most of the 'cooking' happens during the dinner itself. If you plan on making vegan meat and/or cheese from scratch instead of buying something pre-made, you'll want to do this a few hours or a couple of days in advance.
Pre-cook ingredients, such as potatoes. Best on the day of your dinner party. This goes for fruit and vegetables too. Cut fresh fruit and vegetables a few hours before, so they are as fresh as possible when your guests arrive.
At the end of your prep, put everything in small bowls and plates that can be passed around the table.
4.4 What about Leftovers?
Raclette usually results in leftovers. I never experience any problems with that. First, many ingredients (such as pickled vegetables) can be stored for a few days or weeks after they have been opened in the refrigerator. Second, we typically use the grill again the next day and finish up our leftovers. You can also take advantage of the leftovers and prepare delicious stews or chilis.
- Cheese/vegan Cheese
- Boiled, unpeeled potatoes
These are a few suggestions. Remember this is all about your diet and preference! Anything at a Raclette Party is possible:
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Corn on the Cob
- Beans and Peas (canned or cooked beforehand)
Many plant based meats can be prepared on a Raclette; some that I suggest are:
- Marinated Soy Steaks
- Seasoned Tempeh
- Marinated Tofu
- Plant Based Sausages
If you are not vegan yet, or have guests that have to have their meat:
- Beef Filet
When cooking meat, always ensure it is cooked thoroughly before consuming. Here are my top 7 reasons why you should go vegan.
Sauces + Dips
All of these can either be bought or made vegan!
- Garlic Dip
- Baba Ghanoush
- Garlic Butter/Margarine
- Barbecue Sauce
- Avocado Dip
- Peanut Dip
- (Vegan) Cream Cheese Dips
- Cranberry Jam or Cranberry Sauce
- Bread - I recommend artisan bread like Baguette or Ciabatta
6. What cheese to use
There is cheese that works better than others. Here are my recommendations on what cheese to use.
6.1 Vegan Cheese
- Vegan Raclette cheese
- Yeast melt - a plant based 'cheesy' sauce made out of nutritional yeast, butter, flour, mustard, salt and water
- Vegan Feta (either homemade, or store-bought)
- Any meltable vegan cheese (eg cheddar slices)
- Vegan meltable Mozzarella
- Vegan Cheese from Etsy
6.2 Dairy-Based Cheese
Of course, I recommend to eat cheese/animal products in moderation. Better yet, not at all!
- Raclette Cheese (Raclette du Valais)
- English Cheddar (with Mustard & Ale)
- Young Gouda
- Feta Cheese
- Butter Cheese
- Edam Cheese
- Bergkäse (Alpine Mountain Cheese)
7. Party Variations
To make the best out of your investment, I have listed some more Raclette dinner party variation ideas for you.
7.1 Pizza Raclette
Let’s have a Pizza Raclette Dinner Party! Simply prepare a regular pizza dough, and some tomato sauce. Put the dough (covered) on the table and everyone can take pieces of it. Shape into the pan, add desired toppings then bake in the grill.
7.2 Nacho Raclette
You’ll need Nacho Chips of your choice, some dips and toppings. Put Nacho Chips in pan, add desired toppings, top with cheese/vegan cheese then bake in grill.
7.3 Pasta Raclette
You’ll need some precooked pasta of your choice and some sauces. I’d recommend using small pasta that will fit in the pans easily. Such as Macaroni, Cannelloni, Cappelletti, Cellentani, Farfalline, or Rotelle. Long Pasta like Soba Noddles could be grilled on top. For sauces I would recommend a red sauce, pesto and a creamy sauce. Top with fresh vegetables and cheese then bake in the Raclette.
Another great alternative to pasta is Gnocchi!
7.4 Pancake Raclette
You’ll need a bowl with pancake batter on the table. Add pancake batter to your pan and and top with a few sweet treats such as fruit, chocolate, granola, syrups or nut butter. Bake in the grill and enjoy! Delicious!