Nothing adds to a gathering quite like a luscious and delicious cheese board. Great to look at and even better to eat, cheese boards are a staple of both swanky events and simple dinners with friends.
But what should go on a cheese board? How should everything be arranged? If you’re searching for answers, read on.
What Should Go on a Cheese Board?
Everyone loves a cheese board. And best of all, there are no strict rules about creating them. Just follow a few key foundations and then get as creative as you like.
Also, if you think you need to be super fancy, think again. Whether you’re creating a sophisticated cheese board with over a dozen different types of cheeses or a just simple one with some cheddar, brie and nuts, you can be sure it’s going to be a hit.
So what goes on a cheese board? Well ...
Cheese of course. But not exclusively. In fact, anything from crackers to nuts to fruit to olives, pickles and even certain veggies work great. Look for different colors, textures and tastes and think about pairings.
Not only are some cheeses beautiful to look at and delicious to eat but they're also fun to put together. And best of all, there are options to suit everyone. From picky eaters to adventurous palates, you can make sure your cheese board offers options for everyone.
To get started, you should think about picking out a variety of cheeses. Think about different flavors, textures and levels of hardness. Go for some of the softer cheeses first. These might be soft brie or camembert. Then pick out something a little harder and stronger, like a cheddar. Add a blue cheese if you want and throw in some goats’ cheese too. Basically, you want to make sure that you have a wide variety of cheeses for guests to taste: soft cheeses like burrata, mozzarella, brie and camembert; semi-soft cheeses such as roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Fontina; semi-hard cheeses like Swiss, provolone, comte, and manchego; and hard cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan, and pecorino.
This is where things get interesting. Feel free to use your imagination to add to your cheese board. What works well with the cheeses you have chosen? Here are some ideas:
Add cold meat. Everything from prosciutto and salami to chorizo work great. Going vegetarian? Just skip to the next ideas. Add savory treats. Think olives, pickles, artichokes or tapenades. Or, go for some nuts and add a handful of almonds, cashews, or anything else. Add sweet bites. Sweet flavors work well with cheeses. Here, you could think of dried fruits, candied nuts, jams and jellies, honey, chutney, or even chocolate. Offer a variety of breads and crackers. Go with some sliced baguettes, or ciabatta. Crackers can be whatever you would like, from plain to seeded or herbed. Don’t skip the garnish. To take your cheese board to the next level, add edible flowers or fresh herbs. You can also use seasonal ingredients for an extra wow factor.
When’s the Best Time to Serve Your Cheese Board?
There is no right or wrong answer here. Some people serve a cheese board after dessert. Others serve it with cocktails at the start of the evening. Another great idea is to leave the cheese board out throughout a gathering, perhaps on a sideboard. That way people can just help themselves whenever they want.
Remember, it’s always best to serve cheese at room temperature. So take your cheeses out one to two hours ahead.
How to Arrange Your Cheese Board
Many people start with the cheese, but think about starting with small bowls first. You can skip the bowls if you like, you can also use them to hold dips, fruit and nuts. Better yet, the bowls add an interesting look and break up the board. Next, add the cheeses. Cheese should really be served at room temperature. Soft cheeses, like brie and goat cheese, can be served as is (whole or with a single starter wedge cut out) but for hard cheeses, like cheddar and parmesan, cut them into cubes or slices.
Add your meats such as salami or Parma ham. Folding meats can make a big difference and make them look more appealing. Fill in the gaps with small nibbles like nuts and fruit and finally work on garnish. Place sprigs of rosemary or other herbs on top for a color pop.
Serve in Style
We’ve talked a lot about what should go on your cheese board, but the board itself is important too. Whether you go with wood, marble or a slate cheese board, you can find a range of great and stylish boards available.
You’ll also need a great set of stylish cheese knives, especially for the cheeses you leave whole. Part of the joy of a cheese board is sampling the flavor of each cheese on its own. Having separate knives ensures you don’t have to worry about flavor-mingling.