How to Make a Cheese Plate | Cheese Board Appetizer Ideas

From selecting cheeses to what to pair cheese with, here are some tips on how to make a cheese board or a cheese plate.

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This post is all about how to make a cheese board or a cheese plate.

The most memorable dinner parties or gatherings almost always involve a cheese plate or charcuterie board. Many people love cheese, and you can hardly go wrong adding a small cheese selection and crackers to a board for people to munch on during a gathering of family or friends or a holiday party.

The cheese plate is great for game night, too, even if it only involves rummaging through the vegetable drawer to see what chunks of cheese are wrapped up and stored in the crisper.

This post will tell you all about how to make a basic cheese board, including ideas on what types of cheese to use for making a cheese board, how much cheese to buy for a cheese board, and what other foods to include on a cheese board.

If you’re looking for ideas on holiday appetizers, be sure to check out the posts on how to make a charcuterie board and fall charcuterie board ideas for even more ideas on how to make the perfect cheese board, charcuterie board, or grazing board for a party.

How to Make a Cheese Plate

1—Choose a variety of cheeses to fit different palates.

Choose a variety of cheese flavors–from mild to strong, and cheese made with different textures and milk types–such as cow milk cheese, goat milk cheese, or sheep milk cheese. Cheese that is infused with different flavors or cured to have a special flavor, such as blueberry infused cheese, smoked cheese, or cave cheese.

2—Decide how much cheese to buy.

A general rule of thumb is to buy 1 to 1 ½ ounces of cheese per person when serving cheese as an appetizer or dessert. Buy this amount of cheese, per person, for each type of cheese that you want to buy.

For example, if you plan to have 6 people at a party and to serve three types of cheese, then you would buy 6 to 9 ounces of each type of cheese, or 18 to 27 ounces total of cheese to serve on your cheese board or cheese plate.

A good number of cheeses to serve is three different types of cheese per cheese plate, although you can include as many varieties of cheese as you like. If you or your guests tend to have a favorite type of cheese, then you may want to purchase more of the cheese that gets eaten the most.

Unless the main focus of the party is a cheese tasting experience, with few or no other foods being served, then it can be a good idea not to overwhelm the cheese plate.

3—Arrange cheeses in order from mildest to strongest flavors.

Arranging the cheese from mildest to strongest flavors gives your party guests a starting point. Your more adventurous guests will make their way toward the strongest or more interesting flavored types of cheese, while the less adventurous guests will settle in around mild flavored cheeses. It can be a good idea to label each cheese, so that your guests know more about the cheese selection.

4—Serve cheese at room temperature.

Take the cheese out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving. Room temperature brings out the best flavor and texture of the cheese.

5—Add crackers and grapes to the cheese board.

Crackers make the perfect base for trying new types of cheese. Seedless grapes add a refreshing pop to a cheese heavy table.

Some guests may enjoy having a jar of sweet jam to spread over crackers before layering with cheese. Dried fruit, like dried cherries or apricots, add to the sweet and savory nature of pairing cheese with fruit.

Put a bowl of smoked almonds and a dish of olives nearby, and you have an instant cheese board appetizer spread.

Check the table throughout the evening to see if you need to replace replace crackers, grapes, olives, etc.

6—Make sure you have cheese knives.

Cheese knives are the best tool for cutting, scooping, and spreading different types of cheese. Different types of cheese knives were actually designed to cut and serve different types of cheese.

Use a soft cheese knife (open work blade knife) to make it easier to slice soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, goat cheese, or fresh mozzarella.

A cheese spreader is perfect to use for creamy cheese spreads and dips.

Use a Gorgonzola cheese knife to cut through cheese rinds that sometimes cover otherwise soft cheeses, like blue cheese or Gorgonzola.

The pronged cheese knife is useful for cutting and serving cheeses like Brie. The shape of the knife lets you slice the cheese and the prongs make it easy to pick up a piece of cheese to add to your plate. (We love a multi-purpose cheese knife!)

A flat cheese knife (chisel knife) is perfect for slicing provolone, Swiss, and Gruyère cheese. Hold the blade vertically over the cheese, and then press down to slice.

The Parmesan cheese knife is specifically made for cutting hard cheeses like Castelmagno and Parmesan.

A basic cheese knife set can be good to have for using with cheese boards and charcuterie boards.

Use caution when handling cheese knives. Although cheese knives may look harmless, they still have sharp edges that are made for cutting through things like hard cheese rinds (and fingers, if you aren’t careful!). Keep sharp objects away from children.

7–Choose a cheese board or platter.

Although it’s often referred to as a “cheese plate,” many times cheeses are arranged on a bamboo or wooden board or platter, like a cutting board or butcher block board.

A wood cutting board or charcuterie board makes a great display for cheese. A charcuterie board with divided sections makes it easier to keep foods like cheeses, meats, nuts, olives, and jams separate, to help keep the flavors from blending until you are ready to blend them.

Some people prefer to store cheese on a marble board, instead. Chilled marble can help to keep cheese cold, if that is your preference.

8—Store cheese properly.

Cheese is a living, breathing food that needs a few things to be happy. When you buy cheese at a cheese counter, then you can ask for tips on how certain types of cheese should be stored.

Store leftover cheese wrapped in a clean cloth or parchment paper and placed in a food storage container. Keep it in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator.

Cheese Varieties for a Great Cheese Board

Here are some popular types of cheeses to include on a cheese board.

Blue Cheese.

Blue cheese is a semi soft cheese made with cow, sheep or goats milk that has been pasteurized. It has a rather sharp flavor and a pungent aroma. The distinct blue and green veins throughout the cheese are the result of adding edible mold cultures during the process of creating the cheese.

Brebis.

Made in the Basque country with milk from sheep raised in the Pyrenees mountains that divide Spain and France, Brebis is a creamy nutty cheese that is similar to Chêvre. With slightly floral flavors, Brebis shines when paired with crackers and jam or fruit preserves.

Brie.

Brie is one of the most popular types of cheese to serve on a cheese plate. The round shape is perfect for centering on the board. A brie baker makes it easy to heat up the cheese for a delicious, melty dip that is perfect for crackers and crisps.

Brillat-Savarin.

Brillat-Savarin is a triple cream, soft, cow’s milk cheese with a slightly tangy, earthy flavor that is perfect for serving with fresh fruit, especially berries. For a creamier texture, serve the cheese at room temperature.

Brillat-Savarin is a good cheese to serve with crackers and jam. To lighten things up, serve the cheese with white wine, sparkling grape juice, or champagne.

Cabot.

Vermont’s Cabot Creamery is famous for it’s cheese. Use a good Sharp or Extra Sharp cheddar, Pepper Jack, Horseradish Cheddar, or Habanero Cheddar cheese to liven up your cheese tray.

Cabrales.

Cabrales is an artisan blue cheese from Spain. The cheese has a creamy yet crumbly texture that is great for serving with figs, grapes, and red wine, like Riesling or Zinfandel. Cabrales also a great cheese to include on a charcuterie board.

Cambozola.

Creamy cambozola is a blend of Camembert-style cheese and gorgonzola cheese. The cheese is milder than its cousin, gorgonzola cheese, making it a great cheese to try for people who are new to eating blue cheese.

Cambozola tastes great with bread, fruit, and sweet wines. This is a good cheese to include on a cheese plate, because it has a mild flavor profile that can please many palates.

Camembert.

Camembert is a creamy French cheese with earthy flavors. This is a great cheese to serve baked, topped with fruit or nuts, or fresh as part of a spread with charcuterie, fruit preserves, crackers, nuts, and olives. This savory, cow’s milk cheese pairs well with a variety of drinks, from beer to white wine. Champagne and sparkling wine are great partners for Camembert.

Camembert is a good, all-around cheese to include as part of a cheese plate. The cheese is creamier at room temperature than it is when it’s cold.

Camembert is similar to Brie cheese, with a slightly more intense and tangy flavor. Like Brie, Camembert can be baked whole and served with preserves or drizzled with olive oil and chopped fresh herbs. Serve Camembert with crackers or toasted bread to soak up the flavor.

Goat Cheese.

Goat cheese logs are a holiday favorite. You can buy plain goat cheese and coat it with your favorite toppings, like crushed nuts, minced herbs, fruit, or honey, or buy goat cheese that is already flavored for you. This creamy, mild cheese lends itself well to being blended with other foods.

Goat cheese is a classic cheese to include on a cheese plate. Many supermarkets carry goat cheese logs, making this an easier cheese to track down when compared to some other varieties. If you can find it, goat cheese topped with wild blueberries is a fantastic cheese to add an element of surprise to a cheese board. Serve goat cheese with plenty of savory crackers to spread the cheese on.

Gouda.

Gouda cheese is a cow’s milk cheese with origins in the Netherlands. The flavor and texture of Gouda cheese depend on how long the cheese has been aged. Young Gouda cheese has mild, sweet flavor, while more mature cheese has a stronger, butterscotch-like flavor.

Serve Gouda cheese with fresh or dried fruits and fruity-tasting wine or champagne. More mature Gouda cheese pairs well with beer, ale, or Chardonnay and Riesling wines.

Gruyère.

Gruyère is a great melting cheese, which means that it is often used in recipes for making fondue, French onion soup, and, of course, macaroni and cheese.

But with it’s nutty taste and creamy texture, Gruyère also makes a great choice for cheese plates and charcuterie boards. Serve Gruyère with toasted bread and fruits like figs, grapes, and sliced apples or pears. Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon are popular wine choices to pair with Gruyère cheese.

Havarti.

Havarti is a semi-soft cheese with creamy, buttery flavor. Serve Havarti cheese with dried fruit, nuts, and bread or crackers.

Havarti is a wonderfully buttery and nutty cheese that pairs well with crisp fruits, like apples and pears, charcuterie, crackers, gherkins, and nuts. For a wine selection, Havarti cheese pairs well with Chardonnay.

Humboldt Fog.

Made at the Cypress Grove creamery in Northern California, Humboldt Fog is a distinctly beautiful goat cheese to add to a cheese plate. The cheese features a line of vegetable ash running throughout.

The soft cheese has a tangy flavor that is perfect for serving with salty charcuterie and figs and other types of fruit. Humboldt Fog cheese pairs well with light beer and white wine.

Jarlsberg.

Jarlsberg cheese has a mild, nutty flavor that is great for pairing with white wine. The cheese has a smooth and creamy texture that is useful for both cooking and snacking.

La Tur.

La Tur cheese is a creamy Italian cheese that is made from a combination of cow, sheep, and goat milk. The flavor is described by some as earthy and similar to Brie cheese, but with a slightly funky and citrusy taste. La Tur cheese is a great cheese to spread on a cracker.

Manchego.

Manchego is a semi hard cheese made from pasteurized sheep’s milk. Aged up to two years, Manchego has a sweet taste with hints of fruity and nutty undertones. The cheese has a firm consistency with a buttery texture.

Manchego cheese tastes great with honey, so if you serve this cheese, be sure to put a jar of honey and a honey dipper out on the table.

Roquefort.

Roquefort cheese is a sheep milk cheese from Southern France, and it is one of the best known blue cheeses in the world. This crumbly blue cheese with buttery flavor notes makes a fragrant and delicious addition to a cheese board.

St. Andre.

St. Andre is a soft, buttery triple cream, cow milk cheese that is perfect for spreading on bread or crackers. This buttery cheese from Normandy is a delightful cheese to include on a cheese board, if you can find it.

Stilton.

Stilton is a famous, blue streaked, English cheese, that is a great cheese to pair with sliced apples and crackers. The cheese has a stout and robust flavor profile that balances out milder flavored cheeses on a cheese board.

If you visit a cheese counter to look for a great cheese to add to your cheese plate, ask to try a few samples before deciding on what types of cheese to buy.

What to Serve with Cheese

Here are some of the best side dishes to serve with cheese on a cheese board or cheese plate. You can also find ideas about what foods to include on a cheese board by visiting our posts on how to make a charcuterie board and fall charcuterie board ideas.

Almonds.

Flavored almonds make a great addition to a cheese plate. Try smoked almonds for savory flavor, or put out a bowl of dark chocolate covered almonds to add a sweet note to the plate.

Almonds taste great with almost any type of cheese, but they are especially good with creamy cheese, like Havarti and Gouda, and hard cheese, like cheddar. Look for flavored almonds, including smokehouse and salt and vinegar almonds, to add variety to your cheese plate.

Crackers.

Multigrain crackers and rice crackers are popular choices to serve with cheese. Rosemary-flavored crackers are delicious to add to a cheese plate when you want a herby-tasting cracker.

Butter crackers are great for guests who prefer a milder flavor. Fruit flavored crackers are another popular choice for crackers to use for cheese boards and charcuterie boards.

Dried Apricots.

Dried apricots are a terrific fruit to serve with goat cheese and other types of cheese. They are also great to add to any cheese plate or charcuterie board as a snack.

Dried Fruit.

Other dried fruit, like dried cherries and dried mango, make a great addition to a cheese plate. Dried fruit adds a sweet note that balances out other savory flavors.

Fig Jam.

Fig spread is perfect for serving with almost any type of cheese, but it’s especially good with Brie, Camembert, Goat, Gouda, and Manchego cheeses. Fig preserves are the best way to have figs for a cheese plate or charcuterie board any time of year.

French Bread.

Sliced and toasted French bread makes a great carrier for soft cheeses and spreadable cheese dips.

Grapes.

Sweet and tangy seedless grapes are the perfect food to add to a cheese board.

Gherkins.

Pickled gherkins add a punch of salty flavor to any cheese board.

Honey.

Honey tastes great when paired with crackers and many different types of cheeses. A honey jar and dipper makes it easy to drizzle honey over cheese appetizers.

Marcona Almonds.

Marcona almonds make the perfect partner for Spanish style cheeses, like Cabrale cheese and Manchego cheese.

Marinated Olives.

Similar to gherkins, marinated olives add a salty, tangy flavor that helps to balance out the flavor of creamy, soft, or mild cheeses.

Mixed Nuts.

Mixed nuts are an easy way to satisfy the tastes of party guests who like to munch on a variety of nuts while eating cheese.

Mostarda.

Mostarda is a condiment made with macerated fruit and mustard syrup. This sweet and mustard-y is good for pairing with cheddar and gouda cheese, along with charcuterie, bread, nuts, and pickles.

Pretzels.

Pretzel crisps are the perfect salty crisp to serve with soft cheese.

Other Jams or Preserves.

Almost any fruit jam or preserves makes a great addition to a cheese plate. Chutney is good to pair with goat cheese, and other soft, spreadable cheeses.

Apple chutney makes a great addition to cheese boards in fall and winter. Other good choices include apple butter, pumpkin butter, and honey. A collection of fruit butter preserves makes it easy to sample different types of jams and preserves that are great for including on a cheese plate or charcuterie board.

Quince Preserves.

With a flavor that is similar to a blend of apples and pairs, quince preserves are fantastic for slicing and serving on the cheese plate. Serve quince preserves with crackers or bread to spread it on.

Walnuts.

Toasted walnuts add a delicious, crunchy flavor profile to cheese boards.

This post was all about how to make a cheese board, the perfect party appetizer for gatherings and holiday parties.

credits
  • Featured title photo by Lindsay Moe / Unsplash
  • Featured photos by Brooke Lark / Unsplash, Jez Timms / Unsplash, and Lindsay Moe / Unsplash
  • Photos and images used for illustrative purposes only.

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