Appetizers Eat

The Ultimate Cheese Board Guide

The steps to build a great-looking spread, where to shop for it all, and tips for assembling!

By request, I’m talking about the ultimate cheese board today. Forewarning, I take these way too seriously, so get ready for a complete information overload! I can’t get enough of a good cheese board. They are my absolute favorite thing to make and even better to eat.

In this post, I’ve rounded round up some cheese board pics I had on hand—these are ones I’ve made recently. I will share the steps to build an ultimate cheese board, where to shop for the components, and tips for assembling it all!


The Base

The first thing to do is start with a big serving plate or board. Make sure the ones you’re looking at have some size to them if you’re making a platter for a party. It takes a fair amount of space to do what I’m showing in my pics in this post.

I use these three plates and boards frequently:

The Mercer Platter

The Cheese

Next, onto the party star, the cheese! When you are planning, think about about the tastes and textures of the cheese—you’ll want a variety. I typically look for this mix:

  1. Soft: I start with a triple creme, or soft goat—like Brie, Camembert, Bouchon, St. Andre, or Purple Haze. Many of the cheeses I mentioned come in a round disk shape which works well to visually anchor the center of a cheese plate. I usually use soft cheeses whole, or cut out just a bit to make it more inviting.
  2. Semi-Firm: Next I look for a semi-firm white cheese like Midnight Moon, Aged Cheddar, Manchego, Roncal, or any of the other Spanish cheeses. I cut these up into slices or cubes (more on that below).
  3. Hard: To add a pop of color, I go next for something with an orange color to it, typically an Aged Gouda, or a Colby. I also cut these into slices.
  4. Strong: Lastly, something stronger, like a Blue or Gorgonzola, any type. I typically use these whole as well, but sometimes use two for symmetry.

When buying your cheese, think about the shape you’re buying and whether you plan to cut it. The softer cheeses are easy for guests to cut and spread with a spreader, so I usually leave those intact, but I like to cut up the semi-firm and hard cheeses so people don’t struggle with that on the cheese board. When I cut cheeses I try and get the cut really even so you can stack them all next to each other on the plate and it looks nice.

When you’re buying a cheese, think about how it’s going to best cut. If it’s a wedge, like Manchego typically is, then it will need to be cut into triangle slices. If it comes in a block (rectangle shape) buy the most even-looking block you can, and then even I trim that down into a perfectly even block at home so I’m starting with something square on all sides, therefore yielding the best-shaped slices or cubes.

The Jams, Spreads, Mustards & Honey

After the cheese, think about the accoutrements. Jams, compotes, mustards, and honeys are great to have on the board to enhance the cheese. Here are a few links for some of my favorites that you can easily order from Amazon:

A note on the honeycomb—it’s beautiful to look at but it’s hard to spread. I make a pool of regular honey first, and then open the honeycomb and put in just enough crumbled honeycomb pieces to add that nice texture.

I keep sets of little inexpensive dishes around for the jams, spreads, mustards, and honey. I typically look for about the size you’d use for a pinch bowl.

The Fruit & Meats

Use fruit and meats like salami and proscuitto to your advantage—it adds filler around the cheese, and gorgeous color.

I place the meats on right after the cheese as they are typically the item with a large mass on the plate. The proscuitto I either cut into half slices and bunch up and drop kind of casually on the plate, or I roll each slice up for a more polished look. For the salami, it can be nice to alternate those with slices of cheese in between for some great texture.

For the fruits, my go-tos are:

  • Grapes: Red or green—cut into small, evenly sized bunches
  • Apples: Granny Smith, Pink Lady, or Honeycrisp—sliced thinly and evenly
  • Pears: Any type—sliced thinly and evenly
  • Clementines: Torn into pieces or quarters
  • Berries: Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries and Strawberries

The Nuts

Nuts are a perfect cheese plate filler! I typically put these in at the very end to cover any remaining space on the plate. If you want to keep them separated, then you can use a small dish to hold these.

  • Dishes for Nuts
    (also really great for holding olives, since they are typically wet)

For the nuts, I use Marcona almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, and the Sahale nuts. Sahale nuts are SO good, if you haven’t had them, you’re missing out! Here are a few of my favorite mixes:

And, for Marcona almonds, I use either the plain ones, or try some different versions I see in the cheese section at the grocery. This version from Trader Joe’s is really great:

The Crackers & Bread

It’s nice to give people a selection of different crackers or breads. Mix it up with some sliced traditional baguette (have the grocer slice it so it’s even), different kinds of crisps, and some traditional flatbread crackers. The flatbread crackers you see in the pictures here below are the best, and they are linked below—as well, they have them at several grocery stores.

IMG_6390 3

And, the Add-Ons!

Last but not least, it’s fun to make each cheese plate like you want it with add-ons:

To Keep in Mind…

Think about color when you are building the plate itself. Below, the alternating colors of the salami and provolone here add contrast and a nice striped texture. The marled orange and yellow cheese also adds nice texture. The fruit adds color—blues, purples, and reds to round out the plate, with the clementines bridging the gap to the color of the neutral cheeses. Fresh herbs add the final finishing touch!

Last but not least—make sure to let the cheese sit out at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before your guests arrive. This will allow the cheese to be at its peak since all the oils will get moving.

You now have the tools and info to make an ultimate cheese board! I’ll continue to share new cheese boards as I make them. And please, let me know if you have any cheese-related recommendations I need to know about!

Bon Appétit!

20 comments on “The Ultimate Cheese Board Guide

  1. What a visual delight and an inspiration for the weekend. There will be a cheese plate with castelvetrano olives, in particular, served in our home this weekend! Thank you Bree, for the catalyst. PS we are big fans of Lusty Monk fresh ground mustard made in Asheville on our cheese plates. It can be ordered online. We keep a supply on hand at all times!

    • breebasham

      Thanks Dana – I appreciate the kind words AND the rec – I will have to try Lusty Monk. Love that it’s local! Have a great weekend!

  2. Marty McKinney

    Love it! Beautiful presentation and pics!

  3. Wonderful tips, but I could never make something so beautiful.

  4. THis was just fabulous all around, I’m hungry, and inspired:))

  5. Beezer’s Cheezers are the BEST!

  6. So well explained!

  7. Studying up!!! This is so good to keep on reference!! XO

  8. 🙌🏼 This is SUPER helpful!!

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