There are many things to love about a good cheese board. For starters, it takes care of appetizers in one fell swoop. For another, it works best at room temperature so you don’t have to worry about it sitting for too long. And, of course, it’s fun to put together. If that last sentence has you raising an eyebrow, then you’ve come to the right place. These tips on foods to include and how to present them will help you create your own appealing board in no time.
Anchor Your Board
Start by choosing a few select items as your foundation. Think: fig jam, a colorful bowl of olives and a wedge of honeycomb. These will be your focal points and the foods around which you’ll organize everything else. See our shopping list below for more anchoring ideas.
For an average size board, two to three cheeses are ideal. Look for a variety of textures (soft or hard), flavor (sharp like cheddar or pungent like blue cheese) and milk type (cow, goat or sheep). If you’re new to the cheese world, ask the pros at your local cheese shop or counter to recommend a selection.
Position the cheeses far enough apart on your board so that you can add crackers and other items around them. To create symmetry, place cheeses on opposite corners or sides of the board.
Cut the First Wedge
Give guests a head start by slicing a piece or two of cheese from the wheel or block for a look that’s organic and inviting. But don’t cut up every last bit or the cheeses will dry out. Each cheese should have its own knife, slicer (this one is good for medium and hard cheeses) or set of serving tongs.
Consider Your Composition
The prettiest cheese boards have a range of colors, shapes and textures. Try deep purple grapes, golden dried apricots, whole figs, green olives and seeded crackers. Place items like nuts and olives in small bowls or plates and other foods directly on the board.
Mix and Match Flavors
Strong-flavored cheeses (such as blue or gouda) are tempered nicely by the sweetness of honey or fruit. Or brighten a rich, creamy cheese with the snap of pickles or a savory olive tapenade. Position jams and spreads near their relevant cheese partner with a small spoon for serving.
Add Crackers and Breads
Use baguette slices, a fan of crackers or breadsticks to fill any remaining gaps on the board. If your board is overflowing, put extra bread or crackers in a bowl alongside. Aim for at least two different kinds of bread items.
Sprigs of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme or a flowering herb like lavender, make an attractive finishing touch on the platter.
Fire up your imagination (not to mention your appetite) with our list of foods that do well on a cheese board. These options are meat-free, but you can always add salami or other cured meats to the mix.
Soft: Brie, Camembert
Semi-hard: Cheddar, Monterey Jack
Hard: Parmesan, Gruyère
Aged: Gouda, Manchego
Blue: Gorgonzola, Roquefort
Olive or rosemary bread
Dried Fruit: apricots, cherries, apples
Fresh Fruit: pears, figs, grapes, berries
Nuts (almonds, pistachios)
Roasted red peppers