Welcome to our “how to” guide for making the perfect cheese board. It’s likely you’ve enjoyed a cheese board before, whether at a friend’s house, a work party, or at a restaurant. They’ve been trending for several years now and for good reason! A good cheese board has plenty to snack on whether it’s an appetizer or simply something to graze on, and it’s perfect for groups because of the variety. Plus the mixing and matching of different toppings is half of the fun.
This recipe (can we even call it a recipe?!) is inspired by many wonderful cheese boards we have enjoyed from different restaurants around the world. A few standout favorites: Olympia Provisions (Portland), Antonelli’s Cheese Shop (Austin), Caputo’s Market & Deli (Salt Lake City), and Salumeria Simoni (Bologna, Italy).
Have you ever tried to make a cheese board yourself? Don’t be shy– with just a few tips and tricks, you can make the perfect cheese board in just minutes.
How to Make The Perfect Cheese Board
When it comes to assembling your own cheese board at home, the sky is the limit. There are hundreds of ingredients to choose from, and you can create a board with a $25 dollar budget, or a $250 dollar budget. But there are a few things that every cheese board must have to be both equal parts visually and gastronomically appealing. For this process you’ll need ingredients from a few separate categories:
- Bread & Crackers
- Pickled Veggies
Use the biggest cutting board you own to house your ingredients on. If you don’t have a butcher block or fancy cutting board, never fear– use whatever you have on hand like a cookie sheet, or if you’re serving your cheese board at home simply lay butcher paper on a countertop surface and assemble away!
Where to Purchase Cheese Board Ingredients
You can buy your cheese board ingredients at any grocery store or market available to you. One of our favorite places for many of these ingredients is Trader Joe’s. They have an incredible, affordable cheese selection and always great produce. We’re not as big of a fan of the meat selection at Trader Joe’s (nothing is better than meat that’s freshly sliced), but in a pinch, their salami or prosciutto will do the job. If you have a bit of a larger budget for your cheese board, visit a specialty cheese shop for artisan meats and cheeses. When you’re eating many of these ingredients solo, you’ll be able to appreciate the quality. The majority of the ingredients for this cheese board were purchased from Caputo’s in SLC (they ship!).
You can’t make the perfect cheese board without cheese, and selecting different cheeses at the store is our favorite part of this entire process (okay, besides eating!). We try to typically use three types of cheeses, all varying in texture (soft to hard) and flavor (mild to strong). First, choose a crowd-pleaser cheese that you know everyone will love. This could be a cheddar, gouda, manchego, etc. Something fairly firm and delicious, but not over-the-top in flavor. For this cheese board we used cubed Beehive Cheese Promontory Cheddar, one of our absolute favorite cheddar cheeses.
Second, choose a stinky cheese. Yes– we know that not everyone will love a Camembert or Roquefort, but your cheese board will be incomplete without it, plus your stinky cheese will pair wonderfully with any fruits or crackers and jam. For this particular board, we used the Red Hawk cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and it is truly wonderful.
Third, you’ll want something mid-range in terms of flavor. Not as pronounced as that stinky cheese you just put on your board, but something a step above your cheddar or manchego. This is where you’ll select something like goat cheese or brie, or on the other end of the texture spectrum, something like a pecorino romano or parm. We used a Spanish goat cheese for this board called Leonora cheese and it was creamy, flavorful, and the perfect complement to the other cheeses and ingredients on our board.
You don’t have to have meat or charcuterie to assemble the perfect cheese board, but there’s nothing more delicious than pairing some of your noteworthy cheese and other offerings with cold cuts. Recommended meats include cured cuts like soppressata, prosciutto, coppa, speck, etc. For this board we used Prosciutto di Parma (aged 18 months) and Creminelli salami– you can never go wrong with Creminelli!
With so much rich cheese and meat on your board, you’ll need something with acidity. Fruit is a simple way to bring this much-needed acidity to your board, while simultaneously adding great flavor, color, and texture. Favorite fruits for a cheese board include grapes, cherries, apples, berries, figs, and even dried fruits like apricots or dates. Just make sure that your fruit isn’t overly ripe or juicy, so the juices don’t spread to the rest of your board! For this cheese board we used seasonal fruit, including peaches and cherries.
Bread & Crackers
If you’re going the whole nine yards with your cheese board, then you definitely want bread and/or crackers. It’s a super easy and inexpensive way to fill up your board, plus there’s nothing better than enjoying some of these toppings on an artisan cracker or baguette slice. Choose any high-quality cracker from the store, including sweet or savory crackers, and small slices of a baguette.
Spreads, Pickles, and Nuts
Once you’ve selected your cheese, meat, and fruit for your cheese board, it’s time to liven things up with a few accent ingredients. We recommend adding at least one sweet spread like honey, jam, or preserves to pair with cheese and crackers. Pickled finger foods like gherkins (small pickles), olives, or red onions will also help bring some acidity and flavor to your board. Nuts are perfect for adding more texture and variety to your board, and you can add almost any nut to a cheese board. For this cheese board we used homemade Apricot Rose Jame from Amour Spreads, Marcona almonds, candied pecans, and olives.
How to Assemble The Perfect Cheese Board
Time for the fun part! In order to assemble your cheeseboard so it looks visually appealing but also fits everything nicely, first place your largest items on the board. This is usually your cheese– place the different cheeses spread out on the board so they aren’t right next to each other. Next place the meat. You can neatly lay cold cuts in an orderly fashion, or make small mounds with delicate meats like prosciutto. Third, we like to place bread and crackers. Don’t feel like everything has to be in a neat row or stack, go ahead and pile your crackers or baguette slices into random assortments.
Lastly, fill in your empty space with the rest of your board components, including the spreads, pickles, and nuts. Add small knives or spoons as needed. In order to make your board look full and beautiful, spread all of your toppings to the edge of the board and pile your different cheese board components high. Serve immediately!
How To Make The Perfect Cheese Board
- 1 wedge mild-flavored cheese
- 1 wedge stinky cheese
- 1 wedge mid-range flavored cheese
- 1/3 pound salami or other cured meat, sliced
- 1/3 pound prosciutto or other cured meat, sliced
- 1 thinly sliced baguette
- 1 sleeve artisan crackers
- 2-3 servings fresh fruit
- 1 small jar of honey, preserves, or jam
- 1 serving of pickles, olives, or pickled onions
- 1-2 cups nuts such as almonds, pecans, etc.
- Place the different cheeses spread out on the board (not right next to each other), and then your meats. Place bread and crackers on the board. Add fresh fruit, spreads, pickles, and nuts to leftover space on board. Pile ingredients high and serve immediately.