Assembling an impressive cheese board couldn’t be easier using my handy guide. Effortless entertaining? Sorted!
Cheese. Glorious, wonderful, fantastic cheese. I love a good cheese plate year round but they are especially great during the holidays. What I love so much about a cheese board or charcuterie board is that it is completely adaptable to different seasons and occasions. For my festive cheese boards, I always like to include something really Christmassy (think Mince pies or festive chocolate).
The secret to a really good cheese board is variety. Variety of flavors, textures and shapes creates visual interest and makes the board so much more delicious. You want to give your guests loads of choice and I always recommend at adding four or five different cheeses. Add pickles, preserves, crackers and breads of your choice and add a few slices of good charcuterie or a pot of Pâté for the meat lovers.
To make things super easy for you, I’ve included a list of all the best cheeses and accompaniments I love to include on my cheese boards. Mix and match as you please but I would definitely do at least one (more of the cheese, obvs) in each category.
Table of Contents
What should be on a cheese board
- Cheese:Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, Aged Cheddar, Asiago, Gruyere, Edam, Gouda, Comte, Swiss, Camembert, Brie, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Roquefort, Danish blue, Chevin (soft goat cheese), Mozzarella, Manchego, Boursin, Havarti, Raclette, Fontina. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. There are so many cheeses and it’s a good idea to go to the cheese counter and ask for guidance if you aren’t sure what to choose.
A good idea is to include at least one hard (or semi-hard cheese), one blue cheese and one soft cheese. I also always like to add something unusual and a cheese made with goat’s or sheep’s milk. Remember to take your cheese out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving to get to room temperature. This way the cheese won’t be rock hard or too cold. Slice the cheese into different shapes to add visual interest to the board. This also makes it easier to serve. Remember to add cheese knives just before serving.
- Meat: Cheese and charcuterie go hand-in-hand. My favorites to include on a cheese board are Prosciutto or Parma ham, salami and slices of chorizo. Coppa, Mortadella, Sopressata and Nduja are also good options.
- Crackers and bread: Anything goes here but I usually like to do a few crostini, breadsticks, crackers and sliced fresh baguette. A variety of textures is important on a cheese board and that’s where crackers, breads and fruit comes in.
- Jams, Preserves and Pickles: Cheese is good friends with anything preserved/pickled. I always include some onion marmalade because I think it works with most types of cheese. Cornichons, pickled onions, pickled radishes, capers and olives are all perfect additions. Sweet elements like jams, chutney or honey add much needed sweetness to your meat and cheese board. Some of my favorites are caramelized onions, fig jam and fruit preserves like apricot jam.
- Fruit and nuts: Fresh fruit is a must on a cheese board in my opinion. Allow the season you are in to dictate what you use. Fresh berries and grapes are great in summer while figs, sliced apples, pears, plums, clementines and pomegranate will be perfect in Winter. Dried fruit like apricots, dried cherries, dried figs or mango are also delicious additions. Nuts like Marcona almonds, walnuts or pistachios add great texture and more variety.
- Extras: I love adding something a little whimsical and fun to my cheeseboard. Here I’ve added mince pies to add Christmas cheer but you could add chocolate Easter eggs for an Easter cheeseboard or Halloween candy for a Halloween board. Artichokes, roasted peppers and other pickled, marinated or roasted vegetables are also delicious. Adding finishing touches like fresh herbs (rosemary is particularly pretty) just adds a bit of finesse but is optional.
The board can be assembled up to four hours ahead. Keep loosely covered in the fridge and remove from the fridge 30-60 minutes before serving. Any leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
This really depends on how many people you are feeding but a good rule of thumb is three different cheeses. One hard, one soft and a blue cheese works well. I also like to include something unusual or new and interesting.
There is a wide variety of charcuterie you can add to your cheese board. Any type of salami, prosciutto, Parma ham, etc. will work. I also like thin slices of chorizo or mortadella to mix things up.
Salami can be folded in half and half again to create a little fan-shape. Softer meats like prosciutto can be rolled or simply draped onto the board and firmer charcuterie like chorizo can be sliced thinly and served as-is.
Leave your cheese out for 30-45 minutes for it to come to room temperature. This will prevent the cheese from being ice cold and too firm for an enjoyable eating experience.
Platters and boards for easy entertaining
- Chip and dip platter
- Greek mezze platter
- Breakfast Pancake board
- Easy holiday dessert board
- Halloween Charcuterie board
The ultimate cheese board
- 4-5 Cheese varieties of your choice (at least one hard, one soft, one blue and one interesting cheese)
- crackers/bread (fresh sliced baguette, crackers, bread sticks, seed crackers)
- Pickles (Olives, cornichons, pickled onions or pickled peppers.)
- Preserves (Jams, jellies and fruit preserves like figs and melon are delicious and go well with a variety of cheeses.)
- Fresh fruit / nuts (Berries, apples, pears, clementines, pomegranate. Pecans, hazelnuts and almonds.)
- Something interesting or quirky (Mince pies for Christmas, Halloween candy, chocolate Easter eggs. Something to tie in the season you are in.)
- Charcuterie (optional but delicious. Salami, Prosciutto, Parma ham or Coppa. A pot of Pâté is also a good idea.)
- Using your largest board or platter, start by adding the cheese first.
- Some can be kept whole and others can be cubed or sliced, ready to serve.
- Add bowls of pickles and preserves.
- Place fresh fruit and charcuterie into any empty gaps. For visual interest, slice some of the fruit and place them in groups. Fold the salami and roll or casually place meats like prosciutto.
- Serve immediately.