From date nights to dinner parties, cheese boards are the ultimate choice for entertaining. While serving up a platter of ready-to-eat food might seem easy enough, there’s actually a bit of an art to making it look — and taste — incredible.
So whether you’re building a board for the first time or want to learn how to bump your hosting skills to the next level, we’ve pulled together a guide to making the perfect cheese board. From what to put on your cheese board to tips for arranging and serving, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to impress your guests.
The best foods to put on a cheese board
A good rule of thumb to follow is to select three to five different cheeses, each varying in texture and flavour. We’d recommend including a mild, medium, and sharp cheese to make sure that there’s something to satisfy all your guests.
Along with the strength, it’s worth mixing up the texture of your cheeses too. Hard cheeses can be cut to layer with fruit and nuts, while soft cheeses are perfect for spreading over crackers or toasted bread.
To help you decide, we’ve broken down some popular varieties to try:
- Brie (soft)
- Emmental (medium-hard)
- Chèvre (soft)
- Mozzarella (soft)
- Camembert (soft)
- Edam (medium-hard)
- Gouda (semi-soft)
- Monterey Jack (medium-hard)
- Cheddar (hard)
- Pepper Jack (medium-hard)
- Manchego (medium-hard)
- Feta (soft)
- Swiss (medium-hard)
- Provolone (medium-hard)
- Mature Cheddar (hard)
- Stilton (semi-soft)
- Gorgonzola (soft)
- Roquefort (medium-hard)
- Gruyère (hard)
- Parmigiano-Reggiano (hard)
A lot of cheeses tend to be on the salty side, which is why fruit is the perfect choice to balance out the palate. Depending on the fruit you choose, they’ll also bring a pop of colour to your board.
Here are some of our favourites:
- Apples — The crisp crunch of an apple along with a cube of nutty edam? Chef’s kiss! Cut into slices to make them finger-food friendly, but save these for just before serving to keep them from going brown.
- Grapes — A classic choice to bring mouthfuls of sweetness. Leave them on the stem and set them down in a bunch for bonus presentation points.
- Fresh berries — Strawberries, blueberries, or cranberries depending on what’s in season. Go for blackberries for a bit of bite.
- Figs — Plump, fresh figs are a must if you’re serving up any type of goat’s cheese.
- Peaches — Their juicy, tanginess balances out a sharp, pungent cheese (blue, stilton: we’re looking at you).
- Dried fruits — Dried figs, apricots, prunes, cherries, raisins, or even pineapple make for a stark contrast in texture to softer cheeses.
- Olives — Add a dreamy salty and herby hit when accompanying provolone or feta.
- Tomatoes — Try fresh tomatoes drizzled with a little olive oil or sun-dried with a touch of honey.
While fruits can enhance the flavour of your cheeses, vegetables are a must for adding texture to your plate.
- Roasted red peppers
- Edamame beans
If all the fruits, chutneys, and jams are causing your cheese board to venture into dessert territory, scatter some nuts for a savoury sensation. They’ll add an earthy flavour to each bite that’s unlike anything else on your platter.
Try to steer clear of smaller nuts, like pine, as they can be fiddly to tuck into. Instead, why not try:
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamia nuts
Bread or crackers
As beautifully as cheese pairs with fruit or nuts, crackers and cheese are the essential classic combo that belongs on every platter.
From buttery crackers to salted thins, it’s completely your preference as to what to load up your cheese board with. Use whatever you’ve got in your cupboard to create a diverse spread.
You can also try breadsticks or toasted baguette slices for extra crunch.
Adding some charcuterie or deli meats to your cheese board can really boost the flavours.
There’s a huge selection to choose from, and with the other additions to your plate, it’s easy to go overboard. We’d suggest selecting two or three that are simple, but delicious.
- Prosciutto — A slightly salty, silky, cured meat with a mellow taste that pairs well with most cheeses. It’s pretty much a foolproof choice and is best served in beautiful concertina folds.
- Salami — Salami is cured with spices and herbs for a smoky aroma. It leans towards the drier side of charcuterie meats, meaning it can hold its own with soft and hard cheeses.
- Chorizo — A hard salami often found in Spain, chorizo gets its colour from hot paprika that gives it a distinct spicy, peppery taste. Cut into cubes or slice thinly to pair with Spanish cheeses like manchego.
- ‘Nduja — A spicy, fermented pork sausage from Italy, ‘nduja is packed full of flavour. It’s high fat content gives it a unique, spreadable texture. Pair it with your mature and sharp cheeses.
- Sopressata — This fatty, pork salami comes in sweet and spicy varieties. It’s seasoned with pepper, for a kick, and works well with soft, creamy cheeses.
Vegetarians may want to skip this step completely, but there’s nothing to stop you from substituting traditional deli meats with veggie alternatives instead. You can also grill some of your favourite vegetables, like peppers, courgettes, and mushrooms, to bring a savoury feel.
Top tips for arranging and serving your cheese board
It might not look like much at the start, but you’ll find that as you add more to your platter, it’ll really start to come together.
Need some pointers to get you going? Here are our top tips for creating a beautiful cheese board that’s sure to impress.
1. Start with the largest pieces first
The main event is the cheese, so that’s what you should start with. Keep each type of cheese grouped together and arrange them evenly across your board.
Next, add your meats, crackers, and vegetables and place them around your cheeses. If your board is looking sparse, fill in any empty spaces with a handful of loose nuts or fruit.
2. Fold your deli meats for extra-fancy appeal
Cold, flat, deli meats aren’t the most appetising to look at, we know. So to boost their appeal and add an air of fanciness to your cheese board, try experimenting with different ways you can present them.
Try rolling them into small tubes and stacking them together or scrunching them up into ribbons.
3. Spread, don’t stack
A handy trick for filling out your board without having to buy lots of different components is to spread your ingredients out instead of stacking them on top of each other.
This tip works best for things like crackers, bread, and apple slices. Artfully fan them out so that you can cover more space on your platter.
4. Don’t forget to finish by garnishing
If you find that you’ve still got some space around the edges of your spread and nothing else to fill them with, tuck some salad leaves in there for garnish. Fresh rocket or herbs are great to add pockets of greenery and refreshing flavour.
5. Always serve at room temperature
Cheese boards are perfect for preparing in advance as you can chop and arrange before your guests arrive.
If you do assemble ahead of time and keep your board chilling in the fridge, take it out to come to room temperature 40 minutes before serving. Cheese is actually best enjoyed this way as cold temperatures can mute the intricate flavours.
6. Don’t forget your serveware
Lastly, consider how your guests can help themselves. Hard cheeses may require a sharp knife or planer, and butter knives will be more suitable for softer cheeses.
If you’re serving up jams or chutneys, don’t forget to include your fanciest serveware.
The best products to help you create the perfect cheese board
This glass set has everything you need to create a delicious date-night cheese board. The tough, tempered glass is the perfect size for two-person feasting. It also comes with matching cheese knives to add a stylish, and practical, finish so you can tuck into your camembert or comté with ease.
This elegant slate serving board is a must if you’re hosting for dinner parties or large gatherings. It’s long enough to hold a generous spread and the pretty brass-coloured handles make setting the table a breeze. But, if you do find yourself short on space, they can be removed for more room for cheese.
Connoisseurs will know the struggle of finely slicing semi-hard and hard cheese, but this adjustable cheese planer makes light work of cutting through even the firmest of cheddars. The two adjustable settings create thinner shavings or bigger wedges to suit your preference, and the cutter has an embossed surface to stop cheese from sticking.
Serving up the ultimate cheese board
If you’re looking for ways to perfect your presentation or ideas for what to put on your first cheese board, our guide to creating a cheese plate has everything you need to know to serve up something special.
Find premium kitchenware and serveware at CookServeEnjoy today.