Warm Caramelized Fennel and Leek Cheese Dip



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Warm Caramelized Fennel and Leek Cheese Dip

I used to be one of those psycho people who liked to be really hungry for Thanksgiving dinner. So instead of having breakfast, I’d just power through the day so I could REALLY enjoy dinner. But then that lead to be, like, being mean to people so now I make sure to eat breakfast AND I always have an appetizer prepped.

This is perfect for that because it can be made the day before and then heated up when hanger-vibes strike.

Warm Caramelized Fennel and Leek Cheese Dip

This can also be thrown in with the turkey if you don’t have multiple ovens. It’s the sort of things that’s super forgiving since really you’re just melting the cheese and warming it throughout.

The fennel is seared on both sides until very caramelized.

Fennel like this almost has a sweet flavor to it—it’s DELICIOUS.

The leeks and garlic add some nice bite to an otherwise sort of cheese-filled dish. There’s balance. The lemon zest and crushed red pepper add a bit of niceness too.

Warm Caramelized Fennel and Leek Cheese Dip

Warm Caramelized Fennel and Leek Cheese Dip

Warm Caramelized Fennel and Leek Cheese Dip

I like this with brie and parmesan and a bit of mozzarella on top for browning. It’s a perfect mix of creamy and sweet and very savory. I like to eat it with bread but crackers will do the trick too.

I fly to London today! WOOHOO! I’ll be posting on the regs, so be sure to follow my Ladies-of-London-type adventures on da ‘gram.

Warm Caramelized Fennel and Leek Cheese Dip

5 from 6 votes

Warm Caramelized Fennel and Leek Cheese Dip

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 TO 6 (AS AN APPETIZER)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 fennel bulbs, 1 1/2 lbs, *thinly sliced with a few fronds reserved as garnish
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 ounces brie cheese, room temperature and removed from the rind
  • 2 ounces about 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan-Reggiano
  • Zest from 1 small lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 ounce about 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Bread or crackers, for serving


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium skillet, set over medium heat, add the oil. When hot, add the fennel and sear on both sides, for about 1 to 2 minutes per side. You may need to do this in batches depending on how big your skillet is. See note below for slicing the root end off each slice. After you’re done with the fennel, transfer it to a food processor.
  • In the same medium skillet, add a teaspoon of olive oil, if needed. Add the leeks and cook, mixing often, until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the leek mixture to the food processor, along with the brie cheese, Parmesan-Reggiano, lemon zest, salt and crushed red pepper. Pulse until mostly smooth, about 30 seconds. Give it a taste and adjust the salt to your liking.
  • Transfer to a small oven-safe baking dish or bowl. Top with the shredded mozzarella and place in the oven until the cheese is melted and browned on top, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with slices of bread or crackers.


*I sliced the fennel vertically, keeping the root end intact (see photo for reference). After I seared it, I then trimmed the root ends off of each slice since that part can be a bit tough.


Serving: 4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Hi! I'm Adrianna and this is my cozy space on the internet that is super-charged by butter, flour and copious amounts of pasta. Stay awhile, will you!

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  1. Quick question:

    After having this saved for years (and accidentally pinning twice and nearly a third this year), I’m making this now for tomorrow’s appetizer and am wondering how many steps to do ahead of time. I’m guessing I should save the final baking for tomorrow just before serving?

    1. yes i would assemble the whole thing and just cover it lightly with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and stick it in the fridge and then bake it tomorrow just before serving! if you’re short on oven space you could even do this in a toaster oven (if the baking dish fits, obviously).

    2. 5 stars
      I made this dip this morning in preparation for friends arriving tonight. Glad to find something that you can make ahead with positive remarks. I can’t wait to try this after baking it. Am using triscuits with this versus bread. My only comment, it was well over 15 minutes for prep time. Now, if I eliminated the time for slicing, grating, cooking the two batches of fennel, and then cutting out individual fennel roots…maybe 15 minutes. Right now, it seem worth my extended prep time. Thank you.

  2. 5 stars
    So I made this for a party on Saturday, and it was the only thing that had a clean serving dish by the end of the night. People seriously could NOT stop complimenting me on it. Such a winner! The only thing I adjusted was adding the juice of half a lemon to the mixture because I felt it needed a touch more brightness, but otherwise, total badass perfection.