Cheese board are a great way to bring people together. Packed with soft cheeses, hard cheeses, fresh fruit, and much more there is always something on the charcuterie board for everyone.
A good cheese board is perfect for any occasion. Throw a happy hour party with the girls and make a mini board to pair with some good wine or you can make them for baby showers, birthday parties, weddings, or any other special occasion. You want to make sure you have the correct ingredients and cheese pairings to really wow and impress your guests.
The best part about a cheese board too is that you can cater it to the size of the event you are making it for. So if you have a large party, use a larger table or counter to make your cheese board. Or use a small board for a group of friends getting together.
This was inspired by my Cheesy Garlic Bread Baguette on this site, and pairs well with this Roasted Tomato Spinach Gnocchi in a Creamy Blush Sauce.
The Essentials of a Good Cheese Board
I like to include a few things in every cheese board I create. I find these things to be essential to a good cheese board but they can be changed up a bit! And don't forget to keep reading below too for some fun dessert and breakfast board ideas you can try! Charcuterie doesn't just have to be cheese.
Must Haves on Every Board
- variety of cheeses (creamy cheese, hard cheeses, soft cheeses, etc.)
- some type of meat (salami, Prosciutto, ham, etc.)
- fruit or dried fruit
- jellies, jams, mustard, etc.
Some Other Board Additions
- bread sticks
- sliced baguette
- pita chips
- fresh herbs
- balsamic vinegar
- flavored olive oil for dipping bread
- spreadable cheese
- sesame sticks
See recipe card for quantities.
Some Pairings to Try
Here are a few delicious ideas to help you make a beautiful cheese board. Now remember, these are just suggestions. You can even mix and match these ideas or substitute different ingredients that you think will pair better.
On the board: Colby Jack cheese, Garlic Jack cheese, brie cheese, Iberico ham, summer sausage (honey or smoked), buttercrisp crackers, three seed crackers, sesame sticks.
Dips and Spreads: hot honey mustard, bacon pepper jam, peach preserves.
On the board: Rosemary and Olive Oil Asiago cheese, blue cheese, dry jack cheese, toasted sesame crackers, water crackers, salami, candied dried apricots.
Dips and Spreads: Fig jam, pepper and onion relish.
On the board: merlot cheese, brie cheese with honey, fresh goat cheese, apple cheddar, crostini, serano shoulder, salami, harvest wheat crackers, sweet peppers, almonds.
Dips and Spreads: Flavored cream cheese, seasonal jam, onion and pepper relish.
On the board: Havarti cheese, gouda, mozzarella cheese balls, rosemary crackers, butter crisp crackers, salami, prosciutto, pistachios, peaches.
Dips and Spreads: fig jam, cream cheese, pepper jam.
These are of course just some suggestions. There are hundreds of pairings you can try. Have fun with it! Charcuterie platters are a blank canvas that you can play around with and create whatever you want!
Hint: A good rule of thumb is to always try and add a softer cheeses and a harder cheeses. I also like to have a good mix of mild cheeses and sharp cheeses. Good cheese varieties help please a multitude of people. I always try to add some sweeter options too. This can often help cool down any spicier items on the cheese plate.
There are a few ways you can change up your cheeseboards to fit the needs of some of your guests.
- Gluten Free - you can use gluten free crackers and breads on your cheese board.
- Vegan - try making a cheese board with some vegan cheese. There are a lot of different cheeses you can try with this.
- Vegetarian - keep the meat products off the plate. Swap them with some veggies and extra cheese and crackers.
Try having fun with different genres of charcuterie boards too!
- Breakfast - fill your charcuterie board with bagels, scones, croissants, pancakes, waffles and a variety of fruits, jams, and maybe some whipped cream.
- Dessert - candy, graham crackers, marshmallows, melted chocolate, peanut butter.
- Vegetable - peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, snap peas, ranch, hummus.
The most important thing you need for your cheese board is your own cheese board. If you are serving a large crowd, I suggest getting a large platter. You can also use a countertop or a large table and create a very large cheese counter at parties. You just want to make sure whatever you use you have enough space for different kinds of cheese.
An assembled charcuterie board can be saved in the refrigerator covered for one day. I usually will save the cheese in individual sealed bags. All other items should be able to be stored in sealed bags as well. Just make sure you refrigerate whatever needs to be refrigerated. If you leave your cheese out in a hot environment for too long, it should be thrown out. It is ok for cheese to sit out but if it feels warm or hot to touch, I would suggest throwing it out to be safe. Typically, I throw out cheese if I have had it sitting outside for over 30 minutes. If it is inside, I will let it sit out a little longer before throwing it out.
These ingredients do not stand up well to freezing.
Walk around your local grocery stores and see what you can find. You never know something new that you can come across that would be a great addition to your board. I randomly found a bacon pepper jam while walking around my grocery store one day and that has since become our favorite jam to add to our charcuterie boards. Have fun with it and don't stress! You can also try checking out some local small businesses or farmer's markets. Sometimes, you can find some real gems that would fit your charcuterie board hiding in unexpected places.
The best cheese boards have options. You want to make sure you have a variety of cheese that can fit everyone's taste buds. You also want to make sure that you have a variety of textures. I also love to make sure I have some salty, sweet and spicy elements to every board.
The main key here, unless your child love adventurous flavors, is to stick to more mild flavors. Sharp cheddar is always a safe go to. I definitely suggest keeping it simple when it comes to boards for kiddos. You can also use small cookie cutters to make fun shapes with the cheese.
I personally like using circular boards. I have used rectangular too and they work great but I do find that when I use a circular board I can get a prettier design and I have more room to fit the cheese in a unique pattern.
You can usually find most items you'll need at your local grocery store. If you have a Trader Joe's near you, they always have a lot of cheese options. You can also try some local small businesses or farmer's markets. I often find some delicious jams or spreads that you can't find in the food store. You might even get lucky and find some homemade cheese.
Don't forget some important safety tips to remember whenever you are working in the kitchen.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
- Practice safe knife use, especially when working with sharp knives
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
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