The guide you never knew you needed is here to save the day. We are about to spill all the cheese board secrets, so your next party has a cheese board that’s fit for the Queen.
We broke it down into 7 easy steps in order to assemble the right board. But before we get into composing the board, we need to go over proper cheese board etiquette to make sure you are serving it properly and not making these common mistakes (trust us, we have made them too).
First things first, label the cheese! This makes it easy for your guests to know what they are sinking their teeth into, this also means you won’t have to go over the cheese list every time someone walks up to the board. No one wants to bite into pungent cheese when they were expecting something milder. There are so many fun and unique cheese markers all over the internet, or you can get creative and make your own!
Another pro-tip, always cut the cheese right before serving. Don’t serve entire wedges, or else your board will end up looking like a cheese massacre by the time your guests are done with it. This makes the cheese easy to grab and go.
The most important tip is to take your cheese board out of the fridge and let it adjust to room temperature for at least 30 min before you serve it. This allows the cheese to obtain their full-bodied flavor and maximum potential by the time they land on someone’s cracker.
And, as always, try to buy local cheese. This means the cheese will be more fresh, and offer a great talking piece to your guests. You get to support a local dairy farm and enjoy your cheese board all at the same time!
Now, it’s time for the fun part….here are our cheese board must-haves:
1. The Board
Perhaps one of the most important pieces of the experience is the board. It’s what makes each persons presentation unique. We recommend using a board made of wood, slate, or marble. Depending on the aesthetic or vibe of your decor, each board makes a different feel to the food that’s on it. Choose wisely, and have fun finding one you love!
2. The Cheese
Of course, the star of the show. Below is a table of the four main categories of cheese to incorporate on a board for the ultimate taste experience. We recommend having one from each category on your cheese board, this way you can explore different flavor and texture combos while you munch. You should have no more than 4-5 cheese selections on your board, any more than that is overbearing.
You can also include fresh cheese like burrata and mozzarella, which we recommend keeping in a dish drizzled with olive oil to prevent it from drying out, and this also stops it from leaking all over your beautiful board.
3. The Salty
A great way to balance out your board is to add a nice hint of salt for the palate. There are three mini categories within this that you can use to fulfill the salt factor. As always, use what your heart desires:
Meats: in order to turn your cheese board into a charcuterie board, you need to include meats! Fold them over and lay them out on the board for easy grabbing ex: prosciutto, coppa, mortadella, salami, sopressata, etc.
Olives: keep them in a bowl with olive oil so they don’t leak onto other cheeses or options on the board. Not everyone enjoys olives, so it’s best to keep them separate.
Nuts: these can be scattered throughout the board or put into a bowl! ex. almonds, pecans, and pistachios work best but you can explore other options as well.
4. The Sweet
This can be divided into two main catagories:
Fresh Fruit: grapes are the classic staple! you can use apples or other fruits but they tend to brown over time so be weary.
Dried Fruit: some great examples include apricots, figs, and cranberries. Mix it up with the seasons!
5. The Crackers + Bread
Of course, what would cheese be without carbs to pair it with! Whether you decide to include fresh bread, crunchy bread, or crackers, the choice is all yours. French baguette should be sliced into thin pieces so it’s easy to grab and eat. Crackers or crunchy breads can be scattered on the board.
Don’t be afraid to mix up your cracker/bread flavors with the seasons, or with the theme of your board. For example, add in some classic sliced baguette with a rosemary cracker to spice things up.
6. The Spreads
An essential way to add creamy texture to your board. You can make them spicy, sweet, tart, or anything in-between! This is where you can try out different flavor combinations, such as havarti cheese with some red pepper jelly on a poppy seed cracker. No two cheese boards are the same, and that’s all part of the fun!
Some great examples you can add are: fig jam, honey (even a whole raw honeycomb looks and tastes amazing), preserves, whole grain mustard (especially if you include meats), red pepper jelly, etc.
7. The Wine
Of course, not essential, but certainly a potential highlight of the cheese board is the wine pairing. Grab a bottle of wine and enjoy romantic cheese for two, or create an assortment of wines for your party guests to enjoy per their taste preferences. It’s all up to you!
Of course there are certain cheeses that pair best with certain varieties of wine, but if you are sampling all four types of cheese then the flavor combos are really up to your preference. Let your taste buds guide you.
8. The Garnish
Totally not necessary, but it adds a nice green touch to the board and gives it that extra oomph you need to make it go from cool to Martha Stewart level. Add some fresh sprigs of rosemary, some fresh mint, or even some edible flowers for that summer time vibe (rosé, fig jam, brie and edible flowers are the perfect sunny weather combo).
It might seem overwhelming, but a cheese board is really just about having 4-5 cheese types, some salty bits, sweet bits, spreads, and meats if you want. Whatever you decide to choose within those is entirely up to you, and that’s what makes them so enjoyable to eat and make!
Let us know your cheese board must-haves, as well as any tips you might have from your own experience making them.