This warm, gooey, cheesy Baked Camembert Recipe is the ultimate appetizer for any party! It’s made with 5 ingredients, so easy to prepare and ready in 20 minutes! Topped with a sweet and tart cranberry compote and served with loads of crusty bread for dipping, this elegant baked cheese appetizer is always a crowd pleaser!
Fast and flavorful, this Camembert is perfect for last minute gatherings! Make it the star of your show and serve it simply with toast points or sturdy crackers! Or, try adding it to your charcuterie board with plenty of hearty meats, fresh fruits, toasted nuts and homemade jam! Continue to read on to learn all the tips and tricks for baking camembert at home! And, don’t miss the step by step photos and recipe video at the bottom of this post!
Update: This post was originally published in December 2016. I’ve made updates to include more information about Camembert. Plus, I’ve included step-by-step photos and a recipe video to show you how quick and easy this baked cheese is to make!
Hi friends! Welcome to the calm before the holiday storm. We are officially 2.5 clicks away from a holy trifecta of holiday insanity! I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe Christmas and Hanukkah will be here in just two days, and Kwanzaa is only three days away!
Hopefully chestnuts are roasting on an open fire, your halls are decked with boughs of holly, and your stockings are hung by the chimney with care, because it’s time to do a little rocking around the Christmas tree!! I just hope your grandma doesn’t get run over by a reindeer. (I apologize for my lame humor! Lack of sleep in combination with nonstop Christmas jingles has me feeling a little loony.)
Anyways, we are going to dive right into things today, because I know you guys have places to go, people to see and cookies to eat!! After all, that’s what the most wonderful time of the year is all about!!
Easy Baked Camembert Cheese
Warm, ooey-gooey, hunk-a-hunk-a cheesy, cheesy love is happening right here!!! Because, it’s just not the holidays without copious amounts of cheese! Am I right, or am I right?!
This appetizer, or hors d’oeuvre if your fancy, is the holly-jolly bomb-diggity of starters, my friends!
This recipe features creamy, rich and totally decadent camembert cheese baked until warm and ooey-gooey! All that velvety, luscious deliciousness is generously topped off with a festive compote made of juicy, tart cranberries, citrusy orange zest and herbaceous thyme. Essentially, this gooey cheese situation can be summed up on one word – drool-fest!!! (Okay, technically that’s one hyphenated word.)
Normally baked brie is my holiday cheese of choice, but this year I decided to go with a funky upgrade – camembert.
In case you aren’t familiar with camembert, get ready for your world to be rocked!! Continue to read on for a little 411 on one of the best cheeses (ever)!!
Why you’ll love this baked cheese recipe
- Warm, ooey-gooey cheese!
- Incredibly flavorful cranberry and orange compote topping! Plus, the compote can be made in advance!
- Insanely easy to prepare and ready in 20 minutes!
- Only requires five ingredients, plus a couple pantry staples (oil and salt)!
- Perfect for parties and last minute entertaining!
What do I need to make this Camembert recipe?
This camembert is rich, decadent and always a hit at any party! This easy baked cheese recipe is made with 5 simple ingredients, plus a couple pantry staples, to create a ooey-gooey cheese appetizer you and your family will love!
Below are the ingredients I typically use. However, this recipe is flexible and easy to adapt to your family’s tastes or needs! Be sure to see below for tips on customizing this baked cheese! (Scroll down for detailed measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.)
Ingredients you need to bake camembert
- Camembert: You need one (8 ounce) wheel for Camembert for recipe. (See below for camembert substitutions!)
- Brandy: Aromatic brandy provides a touch of slight sweetness and fruity, citrusy flavor!
- Oil: A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil infuses the cheese with rich, luscious flavor!
- Salt and Black Pepper: Kosher (or flaky) salt and freshly ground black pepper enhance all the flavors!
- Cranberry Compote: A simple, yet delicious sweet and tart combination of cranberries (fresh or frozen), orange zest, fresh thyme leaves, brandy and granulated sugar.
Want to make a few changes to this baked camembert recipe? Wonderful! Get creative – add or substitute your favorite ingredients to create a recipe you and your family will love! Below are a few ideas to get you started.
How to customize this recipe
- Cheese: Can’t get your hands on camembert, or simply prefer a different cheese!? Great! You can use Brie, Saint-André, Brillat-Savarin or Mt Tam! (See below for more detail on cheese substitutes!)
- Oil: Want even more flavor? Try using a flavor-infused cooking oil (instead of olive oil) to really jazz up this cheese! Herb or orange flavored oils are a great way to add even more flavor!
- Liquor or Liqueurs: Don’t have any brandy on hand? No worries! Try substituting dry sherry, cognac, bourbon, scotch, whisky, rum and orange liqueur!
- Dry sherry will provide a similar depth and subtlety of flavor that mimics brandy well!
- Aged Cognac is rich in taste with fruity and citrusy flavors.
- Bourbon is earthy in flavor with a touch of sweetness..
- Scotch will add complexity through its smoky notes of flavor.
- Orange liqueur will provide a bright, crisp and clean flavor. I suggest either Cointreau or Grand Marnier.
- Herbs: Fresh thyme, rosemary and sage will all provide herbaceous, slightly earthy flavor!
- Spreads and Sauces: Want to keep things super quick and easy?! Substitute the cranberry compote for your favorite relish, chutney or preserve!
- Topping: A generous drizzle of honey is the perfect sweet addition to this warm cheese!!
What is camembert cheese?
Camembert is a round, soft-ripened cheese that originates in Normandy, France. This cow’s milk cheese has an edible, bloomy white rind and a soft, ever-so-slightly runny interior. It’s fragrant and funky, with a creamy, rich and decadent texture. The flavor of Camembert is often described as earthy, nutty and slightly fruity or mushroomy. Camembert is reasonable in price and readily available at most major grocery stores in the specialty cheese aisle.
What’s the difference between camembert and brie?
Camembert is so similar to the more well-known Brie cheese that they can be used interchangeably. They are often confused, given their similarities; however, there are a few subtle differences that set these two cheeses apart.
- Origin: Camembert originates in Normandy, in the northwest of France. Brie gets its name from the French region near Paris where it originated.
- Texture: Brie is somewhat creamier in texture due to the addition of cream, while Camembert tends to be moderately denser.
- Taste: Camembert is deliciously intense in flavor with a nutty and earthy taste, but Brie is slightly more delicate with a creamy, buttery taste.
Take away: You can absolutely substitute brie for camembert in this recipe if you prefer!
Substitutes for Camembert?
If you can’t find Camembert, or simply prefer to use another soft, creamy cheese, no worries! You can substitute any of the soft-ripened cheeses with bloomy rinds listed below for Camembert in this recipe!
- Brie Cheese: Brie is the most common substitution for Camembert. It’s also a double-crème cheese; however, it’s somewhat creamier with a more delicate flavor and buttery taste.
- Saint-André: Saint-André is a triple-crème cow’s milk cheese also originating in Normandy, France. It has a very high fat content and a smooth, rich and buttery taste. Essentially, it’s like a more intense version of Brie.
- Brillat-Savarin: Brillat-Savarin is another example of a French triple-crème cheese. It’s extremely creamy and buttery with undertones of chanterelle mushrooms and lemon.
- Mt Tam: Mt. Tam is yet another triple-crème cow’s milk cheese; however, it originates in California. It has a dense, luscious and creamy core with notes of crème fraîche and cultured butter.
Do you eat the rind on Camembert cheese?
Yes! Cheeses with soft rinds – often referred to as a bloomy rinds – such as Camembert and brie are safe and edible (and delicious!) to eat! The rind adds a distinct complexity of flavor and a delicious textural contrast to the cheese.
The bloomy white rind is naturally made from some combination of mold, yeast, or yeast-like fungus that literally “blooms” on the exterior of a ripening cheese to eventually form a cohesive skin, or rind. This mold ages the cheese from the outside in. Meaning, the live rind breaks down the proteins and fats of the cheese, which in turn helps to promote an increasingly creamy texture over time.
Take away: If you have never had the pleasure of eating the rind on soft, bloomy cheeses, you should try it! Take a small bite and see if you like it! If you do – that’s wonderful; if you don’t – simply use a sharp knife to cut it away and discard it.
How to select perfectly ripe camembert?
It takes a long time for Camembert to go bad; however, you should always start by checking the expiration date on the label.
How to tell if my cheese went bad?
- Smell: The easiest way to tell if cheese is past its prime is to remove it from its wrapping and smell it. If the cheese has a very strong aroma of ammonia, it is past its prime and needs to be thrown away.
- Sight: Inspect the rind on the cheese – it should look fresh and white, without any brown spots.
- Feel: Pick up the cheese – the wheel should feel plump and dry; never wet or slimy.
How to store soft cheeses?
Store Camembert in the refrigerator in its original wrapper and box packaging until you are ready to use it. If you purchased a loose wheel of Camembert from a cheesemonger, proper storage is important! Since the cheese is alive, you don’t want to suffocate it, which will kill the mold and good enzymes. To store a loose wheel of soft-ripened cheese, wrap it gently in cheese paper or wax paper. Then, very loosely wrap the cheese in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator.
Unopened or properly wrapped soft-ripened cheeses, such as Camembert or Brie, will keep as long as their shelf life and expiration date dictates – this can be anywhere from 2-8 weeks. Make sure you use or bake Camembert before the indicated ‘best buy’ date.
Can I freeze camembert?
Alternatively, you can also store unopened Camembert in the freezer for up to 3 months. To freeze, leave the Camembert in its original packaging. Wrap it in plastic wrap and transfer the cheese to a freezer-safe zip-closure bag. Remove all the air from the bag before sealing. To use, place the cheese in the refrigerator to defrost overnight. Once you have defrosted the cheese, use it within 2 days. Pro-tip: Freezing and defrosting Camembert will slightly alter the consistency. However, since you are baking it, you will not notice a difference in the final dish!
How to bake camembert at home
Now that we have our bases covered, let’s talk about how insanely easy it is to bake camembert at home!
(Don’t forget to scroll down for the detailed instructions in the complete printable recipe at the bottom of the page.)
- Make the cranberry compote (optional): First, you heat some brandy and sugar in a pan and add half the cranberries. Cook those babies until they burst, then add the remaining cranberries and bring to a boil. You want to add the cranberries in two stages, so half the cranberries get saucy and the other half stay juicy and plump. It’s all about the texture, folks. Next stir in the orange zest and thyme. Viola – compote done.
- Prepare the camembert: While the compote is cooking, prepare the camembert for baking. Use a sharp knife and score the top of the camembert. Transfer it to a small baking dish. Pour on a bit of brandy (notice a theme here?), olive oil and salt.
- Bake: Place the cheese in the oven and bake until the camembert is beautifully soft and melty.
- Serve: All that’s left to do is serve this cheesy beauty!. Top the cheese with the compote and serve with crackers or a baguette.
Boom. Ridiculously easy, yet exceptionally elegant baked cheese for your face-stuffing pleasure!
How to make baked cheese at home step by step photos:
Tips for the best baked cheese
While baking cheese is an incredibly easy process, below are a few simple tips and easy tricks to ensure your cheese turns out perfectly gooey and delicious every single time!
- Bake cheese in the box: While you need to remove the wax wrapping, you should bake Camembert right in its wooden box. If your box is broken, you can use aluminum foil to form a makeshift box.
- Score the cheese: Make sure you score the top of the cheese with a sharp paring knife. I tend to do a crosshatch pattern, but a deep cross will work too! (See below for more on scoring cheese.)
- Don’t over bake: Never overcook Camembert or Brie cheese. Over baking can actually cause the cheese to re-harden, make it very unappetizing. (See below for more on baking cheese.)
- Let it rest: While you should serve your cheese warm out of the oven, it’s important to let if rest for about 5 minutes before serving. Resting the Camembert allows the cheese to settle before you cut in to it. It also ensures none of your guests burn their tongues on scolding hot cheese.
- Cranberry compote: The cranberry compote is completely optional, but totally delicious! You can use fresh of frozen cranberries, depending upon what you can easily access. You can make the compote up to 5 days in advance. Simple cover the sauce and store in the refrigerator. When you are ready to use, bring the compote to room temperature before serving. Or, if you want a warm compote, place the sauce in a small pan over low heat and gently cook until warm throughout.
Why score the top of cheese before baking?
Scoring the top rind of Camembert (or Brie) before baking is imperative for two reason! As the cheese bakes in the oven, the top slightly expands and swells. Gently scoring the top before baking helps the interior of the cheese get better exposure to the heat, which creates a more melty, delicious baked cheese! Also, scoring allows the air to escape the cheese in a controlled manner during the baking process, which prevents your cheese from exploding in the oven.
Take away: By taking a just a quick moment to score the top of your cheese, you are preventing it from exploding and causing a hot mess. Plus, you are ensuring the interior of your cheese is molten and delicious!
How long to bake cheese?
Fifteen to twenty minutes in a 350°F (177°C) oven is plenty of time to heat Camembert cheese through. Overcooking cheese can actually cause the cheese to re-harden, making it tough and unappetizing. Camembert is done baking when the cheese is very soft to the touch and ever-so-slightly oozy.
What to serve with baked Camembert cheese?
Soft-ripened baked cheeses, such as Camembert or brie, are rich and luscious enough that you can serve them as a stand alone appetizer, starter or hors d’oeuvre. However, baked cheeses are best served with crusty bread, sturdy crackers or slices of fruit for scooping up all the delicious, oozy cheese! Below are a few of my favorite serving suggestions and pairing options for Camembert cheese.
Camembert is a delicious and gorgeous addition to cheese platters and meat and cheese tray/boards (Charcuterie)
- Bread: Sturdy breads are the perfect vehicle to scoop up all the cheesy goodness! Crostini, baguette, ciabatta, artisan bread, toast points or bread sticks are all wonderful options!
- Crackers: Much like bread, crackers make a great vessel for getting all the cheesy goodness into your mouth! Water crackers, gourmet crackers, multigrain crackers and homemade parmesan crisps are all winners!
- Fresh Fruits: Sturdy fruits, such as whole strawberries or slices of pears and apples are a healthy tool for scooping up melty cheese. Delicate fresh fruits, such as grapes, raspberries, blueberries, tangerines and figs are wonderful for serving on the side!
- Dried Fruits: Chewy fruits, such as apricots, figs, pineapple, cranberries and cherries pair perfectly, plus they add a beautiful pop of color!
- Marinated vegetables: Olives and cornichon pickles provide a touch of bright tartness, while marinated mushrooms and artichokes offer a bit of earthy deliciousness!
- Nuts: Your favorite toasted nut, or variety of nuts, will all work great! Walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, pistachios and hazelnuts are a few of my favorites!
- Cured Meats (or cold cuts): Bacon, prosciutto (ham), confit, salami, mortadella (sausage) and pepperoni are all a delicious match for cheese!
- Spreads: Add a bit of color and sweetness with jams, preserves, chutneys and honey!
Looking to serve this warm, oozy cheese as a part of a small plate menu or appetizer spread for entertaining? Below are a few delicious appetizers that pair well with baked cheeses, cheese boards and charcuteries!
Ten appetizers that go well with a cheese plate:
- Popcorn or Caramel Corn: Airy, sweet popcorn or caramel corn and cheese go together beautifully!
- Candied or Roasted Nuts: Crunchy, salty nuts perfectly contrast the flavor and texture of melty, savory cheese!
- Baked Apples: Tender, warm apples with a hint of cinnamon is a complementary pairing option!
- Perfect Cocktail Shrimp: Plump, cold shrimp cocktail is a wonderful contrast to baked cheese!
- Holiday Hummus: Creamy-dreamy, festive hummus is a great way to add a pop of holiday color!
- Carrot Dip: Smooth, sweet and savory carrot dip is a delicious match for cheese!
- Deviled Eggs: Rich deviled eggs are easy option that always goes over well with a crowd!
- Caramelized Onion Tarts: Flaky, buttery, bite-size onion tarts is an easy option that always feels fancy!
- Potato Stacks: Crispy potato stacks are a must if you are looking for an elegant, yet easy appetizer!
- Cake Bites or Petits Fours: Decadent cake bites or petits fours are a must if you are looking for a sweeter option!
Give the gift of giving this holiday season – add this impressive Baked Cheese with Cranberries to your entertaining menu!
Until next week friends, cheers! May your holiday sparkle with moments of love, laughter and plenty of cheer!!
Looking for more easy appetizer recipes?
If you love this decadent cheese appetizer, try one of these delicious family favorites next:
How to make Baked Camembert recipe and video👇
Easy Baked Camembert Recipe
- Small Saucepan
- Small mixing bowl
- Small Baking Dish
For the Fresh Cranberry Sauce:
- ¼ Cup Brandy
- ¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
- 8 ounces Fresh Cranberries - divided (SEE NOTES)
- 1 Orange – zested (about 1 TBS packed)
- 1 tsp Fresh Thyme - packed
- Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper
For the Camembert
- 1 (8 ounce) wheel Camembert Cheese
- 1 TBS Brandy
- 1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For Serving: Crackers, Baguette Slices, Walnuts, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- For the Cranberries: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, cook brandy and sugar, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil. Add half of the cranberries and cook, stirring frequently, until the cranberries burst, about 5-6 minutes. Add in the remaining cranberries and bring to a boil. Immediately remove the pan from heat and stir in the orange zest and thyme. Season to taste with a pinch of salt. Set aside, uncovered, to cool to room temperature.
- Prep the Camembert: Score the top of the camembert in a crosshatch pattern with a paring knife. Transfer to a small baking dish. In a small bowl combine the brandy, oil and a pinch of salt. Pour mixture over cheese.
- Bake the Camembert: Bake until cheese is very soft and oozy in the middle, about 15-20 minutes. Spoon any excess liquid over the cheese and let it rest for 5 minutes. (Tip: You must rest the cheese so it has a chance to settle!)
- To Serve: Spoon cranberry mixture over cheese and serve with crackers, baguette slices and optional cheese board garnishes.
- Camembert Substitute: If you can’t find, or simply don’t want to use camembert, you can substitute brie cheese.
- Preparing the Cheese: I baked the camembert right in its wooden box. You still need to place the box onto a baking dish though. Also, make sure you score the top of the cheese with a paring knife. I scored mine in a crosshatch pattern.
- Cranberries: I used fresh cranberries, but you can substitute frozen if that is what you have on hand.
- To make in advance: The cranberry compote can be made up to 5 days in advance. Simple cover and store in the refrigerator. When you are ready to use, bring the compote to room temperature before serving. Or, if you want a warm compote, place the compote in a small saucepan over low heat until desired temperature is achieved.
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