Winter is long, dark, and cold, there’s no getting away from it—unless you live somewhere that is blessed with winter sun, of course. But for millions, this season can be tough. And that’s why people have developed fun traditions to help them through it, like raclette. The melted cheese dish originates from the Alpine region of Switzerland, but it’s popular across Europe. France, in particular, is a big fan of raclette. In January 2020, one YouGov poll found that 87 percent of French people eat raclette during the winter months.
The dish is hearty, warming, and social; traditionally cooked on an indoor grill and eaten by the fire with friends and family when it’s freezing outside. But there are no firm rules about when to eat raclette—it can be enjoyed all year round. And you can also change how it’s prepared—it doesn’t have to be made with dairy at all. In fact, raclette is delicious when made with vegan ingredients.
What is a vegan raclette?
Raclette involves melting traditional raclette cheese (which is a semi-hard cheese from the Swiss Alps) on a special grill with paddles. Friends and family then gather around the table to scrape the gooey melted bits onto plates of potatoes, pickles, vegetables, and sometimes meat.
To make a good vegan raclette, you can swap the traditional cheese for a vegan alternative (the key is to find a vegan cheese with good melting properties). But the rest of the meal is very similar to the traditional version, as it consists of mostly plant-based ingredients. If you’re craving something meaty, you can also add in seitan or tofu.
How to make a vegan raclette
Inviting friends and family over for a vegan raclette is a great way to bring some joy and coziness to the winter months—especially if you live somewhere where this time of year is dark and cold. If you’re planning to host the ultimate vegan raclette party, here are a few things you’ll need to get started.
1 A raclette grill
First things first, you can’t host a vegan raclette night without a raclette grill. This appliance is specifically designed for preparing the Swiss dish and typically consists of a heating element, a flat cooking surface, and individual trays or paddles for melting the cheese. The idea is that the cooking process is social—diners cook their own food on the grill, which means they can melt the cheese to their exact liking.
This Hamilton Beach Electric Indoor Raclette Table Grill, for example, can serve up to eight people. It has a griddle on the top, which is perfect for searing tofu and vegetables at a much higher heat, while the individual warming trays underneath are designed for cheeses and sauces.
2 Vegan cheese
A vegan cheese that melts well will ensure that your raclette retains the creamy and gooey consistency traditionally associated with the dish. Some of the best cheeses for melting include Follow Your Heart’s Smoked Gouda-Style Slices, Field Roast’s Chao Creamy Original Slices, and Violife Emmental Slices.
You can also try Vegusto’s No-Moo Vegan Raclette, which has been designed specifically to replicate the traditional Swiss cheese.
3 Plenty of potatoes
Potatoes are a traditional and integral part of raclette. In fact, the combination of melted cheese scraped over warm, cooked potatoes is a hallmark of the dish. Traditionally, they are boiled or steamed, but you can opt for any type of potatoes you fancy. We think these simple roasted smashed potatoes would be a delicious addition, for example.
4 Veggies and vegan meats
Raclette is rich and creamy, so serving crispy grilled vegetables, like bell peppers, zucchini, and asparagus, alongside cheese and potatoes helps to provide a contrast in taste and texture. They’re also nutritious, wholesome, and colorful—after all, a well-presented raclette with a variety of colorful vegetables is not only appetizing, but it also makes the dining experience more enjoyable.
You can also serve up pickles and cherry tomatoes, and if you want something meaty, grilled tofu is also a delicious addition.
5 Vegan wine
When it comes to washing down your raclette, there are no hard and fast rules about beverages. But in Switzerland and France, where raclette has its roots, wine is an integral part of the dining experience.
Crisp and aromatic white wines offer a refreshing contrast to the rich and creamy raclette cheese, or you could opt for a light red wine, like a gamay or a pinot noir, for example. Sparkling wines, like champagne or prosecco, are also great choices—especially if you’re celebrating.
Not all wines are vegan, so make sure to check the brand or the label before you buy. For more on the best vegan wines, find our guide here.