In France, there are dozens of regional takes on Baked Brie. We are going to share our favorite three recipes with you.
Brie is an unusual cheese in that sometimes it is made from cow’s milk and sometimes it is made from goat’s milk. We happen to favor the goat-versions, but regardless of the type, Brie is typically sold in small to medium-sized rounds with heavy rinds. Similar to it’s cousin Camembert, Brie is a soft white cheese.
While the French do consume both Brie and Camembert at room temperature, a traditional way of serving both of them is warm, fresh from the oven. Particularly as the year begins turning chilly, the wonderful aromas of tangy goat cheese baking in ovens waft across France. Nothing is quite as warming to the body and soul as creamy, gooey, warm Brie on toast — with all the nuts and jams and variations you might never think of.
So here are three of my favorite manifestations of this great dish with an explanation of how to recreate each of them in your kitchen. (And, by the way, you can prepare Camembert in lieu of Brie in any of these recipes.)
But before we get to preparation, let’s get clear about WHEN baked brie is served during the evening.
In a traditional French meal, the cheese course is either at the end of the meal or is the course that immediately precedes the sweet course.
While the “rules” of order vary to a small degree in modern French homes, it is widely accepted in France that not every meal ends with a sweet course. If a sweet course is served it comes last. In America we tend to call that sweet course “dessert.” But sometimes in France, the cheese course is the dessert and there simply is no sweet course that most Americans would consider dessert.
Cheese never comes after a sweet course in France. But it often comes in place of a sweet course
Baked Brie often falls in that traditional “middle ground.” Baked Brie is often served alone, usually with nuts and bread or crackers. But sometimes Baked Brie is served with sweet jams amd compotes, lemon curd, slices of fruit, and heavily candied nuts. Baked Brie may have honey or a sweet fruit compote drizzled on top it it that brings the cheese into a “sweet” course.
But in a traditional French home, the cheese course is always served at the end of the evening. It is either the last course or the course that immediately precedes the sweet “dessert” course.
Very unlike the American food ordering, cheese in any form to the French is typically seen as a digestif to be consumed at the end of a meal rather than as an aperitif to be eaten at the beginning of a meal.
In traditionally French homes the only thing that follows cheese and dessert is cognac.
Of course, if you prefer to serve cheese or Baked Brie as an appetizer course, you certainly can. You can serve it any order order you wish.
The two main methods to create Baked Brie.
In essence, when a cook decides to bake the brie that is sitting in the fridge, the first decision is whether to bake it simply in its own rind or to add a pastry crust around it.
Here you see one of the traditional “purist” ways that brie is baked — in a small cocotte in its own rind.
In this method, the round of cheese is set into a small cocotte (sometimes called a ramekin or a cheese baker in English) and the top of the rind is slit in a functionally decorative pattern to allow the cheese to ooze to the surface as it warms. A guest or family member simply spoons out part of the cheese onto a small plate or dips a hearty crust into the cheese.
Side dishes of nuts and fruit slices and various jams often accompany melted cheese dishes like Baked Brie. A wide variety of flavors and sides show up in Baked Brie plates. (More on those flavors in a minute.)
The other main way Brie is baked is en croûte, which means inside a pastry shell. Here you see one of the many forms the pastry shell can take. This one is topped with sliced almonds and cherries.
Let me note here that the rind of the cheese is almost never removed for baking. The rind is fully edible and tasty. The rind is consumed along with the creamier part of the cheese. The rind is considered an integral part of the cheese.
In fact, in the typical French home it is considered gauche to dig the softer cheese out of the rind and leave the rind uneaten. It may not rank quite as high on the scale of gauche as plopping an ice cube or two into a glass of wine. But it’s close.
Be polite. Eat the rind.
If you’ve never eaten it before, you will be surprised how really good it is.
Brie has a sumptuous flavor that remains delicate at the same time.
When you start planning what sides and wines to accompany brie, it is important to enhance these qualities without overwhelming them. So first we’ll take a look at the classic taste pairings that are typical on a French table with either Baked Brie or Baked Camembert.
The main companions for Baked Brie.
In France Brie is traditionally served with baguette or another crusty bread that does not compete with the flavors of the cheese. Plain crackers are another possibility, as long as the crackers don’t have a strong flavoring that detracts from the cheese.
Acidic, salty, or sweet sides.
Pairing Brie with something acidic emphasizes the velvety texture of baked brie.
Sides or toppings of fruits like apples, grapes, pears, or figs are often seen. Figs are a French favorite, particularly in the northern and southwestern areas of France. Sweet accompaniments for Baked Brie like freshly sliced figs, fig jam, or a generous drizzle of honey are quintessentially French.
If the course is moved up in American style to become an appetizer, then usually the extras are more substantial. For an appetizer course, add earthy nuts like salted pecans, herbed almonds, or candied walnuts. And you can always also lay out a charcuterie tray with it.
Baked brie never has to be served alone. No matter where the course placement, it is always a lovely variation among a splay of other cheeses.
In France there is a long tradition — who knows where it came from — of serving an odd number of cheeses. My grandmother referred to it in English simply as part of gracing the table.
The best beverages to serve with Baked Brie.
The go-to beverage to pair with Brie is champagne. But Brie also pairs fantastically with certain wines and beers. Soft and fruity red wines, such as Pinot Noir, will contrast beautifully with the mellowness of Brie. Acidic, herbaceous, dry white wines like Sauvignon Blanc will also work well. And somewhat to our surprise, we have found our guests love Baked Brie paired with a good Portuguese Vinho Verde.
Try pairing hearty beers, like Scotch Ale, Stout, or Porter, with Brie. Additionally, beer that is on the fruiter side, or a highly carbonated Pilsner, will enhance any Brie experience.
A little note here about beer in France that may not seem to fit the American stereotype of the French. Baked Brie is an extremely popular dish in the northeastern areas of France near the border with Belgium — an area where nearly as much beer is consumed as wine.
And if alcohol isn’t on the menu, light and fresh fruit juices like apple or grape juice pair perfectly.
The best cheeses to use for your Baked Brie.
I have found during the pandemic that access to Brie where I live in the U.S. has been spotty. My go-to grocers often are out of it. And sometimes it is an “in-store only” purchase. Then some days there are a dozen different varieties available. Go figure.
I add this note because many of us are doing our grocery shopping online with either home delivery or contact-less curbside pickup these days. And I encourage you to not give up if for some reason you don’t find Brie available at your store on any particular day. Try next time. You very well may find it has magically shown up again and now there are ten choices.
Exactly what brands or makers are available in your marketplace is impossible to predict. But you can never go wrong with Ile de France or President. And even Boar’s Head makes some really good Brie cheeses.
Experiment. It’s the fun way!
The tools you need in your kitchen for Baked Brie.
If you are lucky enough to have a marble counter, all you need is the rolling pin. My personal favorite rolling pin is this tapered edge French rolling pin from Walfos, available on Amazon for around $10, sometimes a little less.
Since most of us do not have marble countertops, I strongly suggest this baker’s set from Walfos that includes both a French rolling pin and a silicon pastry mat available on Amazon. For around $15 you get it all — my favorite style of classic French rolling pin and a good silicon mat with a circular measurement guide and a suction bottom that discourages mat wander.
A quick note here. We are an Amazon Affiliate and may make a (very) small fee if you purchase something by branching from us.
But it costs you nothing and we only link to products we ourselves use, have tested, or routinely purchase from Amazon.
If you are baking your Brie in a pastry shell, you can bake it on any kind of tray — although you might want to take into consideration that it is easier to bake it in a dish you feel comfortable serving on the table so you don’t have to transfer your baked cheese and risk it springing a cheese leak in the transfer process.
I prefer to bake Brie en Croute in a small au gratin dish. This Staub 6.5″ Au Gratin dish is available on Amazon for around $30. It’s perfect to bake most rounds of Brie. The photograph shown here is what Staub calls Rustic Turquoise, but it comes in a fairly wide variety of colors including Basil, Cherry, Dark Blue, Rustic Ivory, Rustic Red, Matte Black, and Matte White. I like the polished exteriors in these dishes better than the matte exteriors because I find them easier to clean.
This is a great way to serve your Baked Brie. But the beauty of an au grain dish is its versatility. You will find it handy for all sorts of quick oven roasted vegetables as well.
I do strongly suggest that you put this dish out only with a wooden spatula or just with crackers or bread. I would not serve it with a knife or metal spoon. When the cheese is baked, it is soft and you don’t need a knife to cut it. And metal utensils are likely to permanently scar the inner surface of your dish. Wood will not.
One of the best investments you can make in keeping your good ceramic ware like Le Creuset or Staub pieces in top condition is purchasing a set of wooden serving pieces. For cheese like baked brie, we love this 10-piece set of wooden serving knives & spatulas from Saoneer available on Amazon for around $12 to $15. They are perfect for serving any kind of cheese or condiment, are handmade, chemical-free, and come in three shades of natural wood: natural blonde wood, red wood, and black wood.
Staub makes a graduation of sizes in enameled ceramic Au Gratin dishes. It is easy to do what we did — simply add to your collection over time. They are easy to store because each smaller size nests perfectly in the next size up. And you can mix and match colors as you wish or depending on which colors happened to be on special at the time you shop. Staub currently makes an au gratin in 6.5″, 9″, 11″, and 14.5″.
Of course, the other traditional way to bake brie is to bake it in a dedicated brie dish like this lovely one from Emile Henry. You can typically find an Emile Henry Cheese Baker on Amazon for around $60 to $70. The one here is shown in Burgundy. But it is also available in a comely off-white Emile Henry calls Clay as well as in a blue-white called Flour. They tend to all run about the same price.
So as your collection of heavy ceramic au gratins and other fine cooking pieces like enameled cast iron cocottes from Staub or Le Creuset or Emile Henry grows, take proper care and precautions. That means adding some larger wooden serving spoons and ladles as well. This 4-piece set of serving spoons & spatulas from LR Beechwood Naturals available from Amazon for around $25. You can use these both for cooking and serving. They even can triple as a salad tossing set. These are perfect for any non-stick cookware or ceramic surfaces. They come solely in the natural beechwood color and are untreated wood.
NOW. For my three favorite Baked Brie recipes.
You will find not just one, but three recipes in this post — with a link to my super-flakey Keto & Gluten-Free Crust to use with the en croûte version.
Each recipe has suggestions on how best to serve it and what kinds of taste treats may go with it.
You also will find product links based on our (sometime tedious) research for the highest quality ingredients at the best prices. You may find our links change from time to time when the market changes or when we find a product we think is either better or of equal quality but offered at a better price.
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- (optional) Cheese Baker or small cocotte sized to the round baked or small au gratin dish (Mimi uses a small cocotte)
- (optional) Salt Block to bake the cheese on
- 1 round Brie cheese removed from container with rind entact
- 6 figs halved or quartered
- generous drizzle honey to taste
- Preheat oven to 250 F.
- Place round of Brie either on a salt slab or in an appropriately-sized oven safe dish for later serving such as a small cocotte, cheese baker, or au gratin dish.
- Bake Brie in oven 25-30.
- Remove from oven and drizzle with honey.
- Let the cheese rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Then serve with the sliced figs, possibly one more small drizzle of honey (depending on your taste), and slices of crusty bread or crackers.
But, of course, I promised two more recipes. This next one is for Baked Brie with Cinnamon Pecans and Pear.
You will find several “more Keto” suggested adaptations. But the amount of fruit in this dessert should not be a major stumbling block if one is fat-adapted and not diabetic. Just be aware of sugar content in the pears and dried cranberries and dried cherries. Omit or substitute lower sugar berries as appropriate.
- Small au grain dish to fit the cheese round, properly sized cocotte, or cheese baker
- 1 Tablespoon Lakanto GOLDEN Monkfruit sweetener (Mimi preferred brown sugar replacement)
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Pears OPTIONAL for those who are fat-adapted and not diabetic
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Pecans
- 1/4 Cup EITHER Dried Cranberries or Dried Cherries, or a mixture OPTIONAL for those who are fat-adapted and not diabetic
- 1 Tablespoon Unsalted & Grass-fed Butter melted
- 8 oz Brie
- 1 MIMI's CRUST make the crust a day ahead if possible
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Blend the sweetener and cinnamon together in a small dish.
- Drizzle the melted butter over sweetener and cinnamon.
- Split the round of Brie in half horizontally and temporarily set aside the top half.
- Place half of the fruits and nuts on top of the bottom half of Brie and pour half of the sweet cinnamon butter mixture over it.
- Place top half of Brie round on top of that, and top it with the remaining fruits, nuts, and sweet cinnamon butter.
- Bake for 9 to 12 minutes. Use your nose and your eyes! Always trust them more than the clock.
- Remove from oven when cheese is soft and begins to bubble, let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Serve with slices of fruit, more nuts, bread, crackers - any or all of these.
Ok, one more. As promised.
This next recipe uses my Super Flaky pie crust recipe as the crust. So it is fully Keto . . . with the exception of the sugar contained in a small handful of cherries.
Admittedly, this is not a perfect Keto recipe. But the amount is not problematic for non-diabetics who are fat-adapated. For people who are diabetic or who are no fully fat-adapted, simply substitute blueberries for the cherries and you are home free into Keto!
- preferably a nice heavy clay French au gratin dish, about 6.5"
- 1 Pastry Crust in a 12-in circle (Mimi's GF/Keto Super Flaky Crust) made ahead of time if possible
- 8 oz Brie can use Camembert or Triple Cream Brie instead
- 1/4 Cup Dried Cherries, unsweetened can substitute Dried Blueberries, unsweetened
- 1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds lightly toasted
- 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water for wash
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Roll out of the Pastry circle to a 12-inch round and position it in the baking dish, centered.
- Place Brie centered in the pastry circle then sprinkle the top of it first with the cherries, then with the almonds.
- Pull the pastry up around the brie gently towards the center of the cheese, making regular folds or freeform folds (your call) until a neat bundle is formed. Tuck the last fold under itself and press it down lightly to secure it and slightly seal the seam.
- Dip a small pastry brush into the egg wash and paint the top and sides of the pastry with the egg wash.
- Place the dish in the oven and bake for 25 minutes at 400 F or until the pastry begins to turn brown. Remember Keto and GF pastry brown quickly so check often. You can use a light cover of foil or the cocotte lid to retard browning after about 20 minutes if it seems necessary.
- Then reduce the heat to 325 F and bake another 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest at least 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve with sliced baguette, sliced fruit, more almond, or your favorite salumi.
Interested in a specific wine suggestion at a great price?
We heartily recommend two lovely wines for this dish.
The first is this 2018 Caiu a Noite Vinho Verde from Portugal (you can read our review of it here). This style of “green” wine is intended to be consume while young. And it is well under $10 a bottle — often around $8.
As long as you consume it by the end of 2020, it should be at its peak. But by 2021 it will start to see a decline due to the nature of the wine itself. Because of that, if you deal with a knowledgeable wine broker, you likely will see some serious discounting on it in your local wine shop between now and the end of the year. It will still be a great buy well into 2021. But just be aware that this style of wine is intended for consumption withing the first 1-2 years.
(If you can find the 2019 version, it seems equally wonderful in our taste tests. We simply reviewed the 2018.)
You can purchase 2018 Caiu a Noite Vinho Verde here:
Or if you are more a French purist, we strongly suggest this Les Parcelles Marc Dupas Sauvignon Blanc. from France’s Loire Valley. We have not posted our review of it yet. But I can give it a total thumbs up because we loved it! And we can attest firsthand that it is superb with Baked Brie. The white flower, pear, lemon peel, and blood orange tastes were utterly divine with our wonderfully ooey-gooey cheese. And it’s around $10 a bottle as well.
You can purchase Les Parcelles Marc Dupas Sauvignon Blanc here:
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