Have you been dreaming of all those picture-perfect cheese boards on Pinterest? Why not create your own! It’s a lot easier than it looks. In fact, it’s one of our favourite foods to serve at a party. You can quickly scale a cheese board up or down depending on the number of guests you’re having. You can adapt the flavours to your preferences and the possible flavour combinations are endless! And best of all, it looks super impressive but only takes minutes to throw together. Have some fun and create a special cheese board for parties, holidays or even a date night for two!
Follow the easy steps and your guests will crown you king or queen of the cheese! In this article, you’ll find the most complete list of all things cheese. We’ll give you 9 tips on what to include on your epic cheese board. How to create that Pinterest-perfect WOW effect in 6 simple steps. And for bonus points, we’ve added some ideas on how to style your cheese board for special occasions.
Keep on reading to find out all our tips and tricks to create the perfect cheese board!
What do you need for the perfect cheese board?
A cheese board is the perfect appetizer for any occasion. Who doesn’t love to nibble away on cheese? With its variety of flavours and textures, it has something for everyone. An overflowing cheese platter always looks exciting and will be a perfect centrepiece at any party. You can even have it for dinner if you want to!
Here are all the tips and tricks you need to put together your ultimate cheese board.
1. Start with the board
You need something to place all the cheeses on. This can be as simple as a cutting board or even a plate. You could go for a fancy large wooden board or a beautiful marble board. There are also pretty black slates that form a gorgeous backdrop. Whatever surface you choose, just make sure it’s food safe since you’ll be placing the food directly on top. If you haven’t got a big enough board, then go for several smaller ones. Place them together on a table and it will look fabulous!
2. Choose your cheeses
Ok, let’s talk cheese. The star of the show will take the main stage. Don’t overthink it and don’t worry about ‘rules’, go for flavours you like. We like to add a new cheese every once in a while to keep it interesting. We’ve discovered some great cheeses this way, but also some that were a little too funky for us. Either way, it’s always fun to try new flavours. If you go to a good cheesemonger they’ll be able to give you advice and usually they’ll let you taste a cheese before buying. A supermarket with a large cheese selection is also a great place to get everything you need for your cheese board in one shopping spree.
A great rule of thumb is to go for a variety of flavours and textures. Go for a minimum of three types of cheese and build it up from there. Go for a soft or spreadable cheese that will taste great on a piece of bread or toast. Add a hard or aged cheese that has a stronger flavour. Complete the platter with something exciting like a herb-infused cheese or a seasonal flavour.
Here are some popular cheese options to get you started:
Hard or semi-hard cheeses: (aged) Cheddar, Parmigiano Reggiano, Manchego, Gouda, Gruyère
Soft or spreadable cheeses: Brie, Clemont Rouge, goat cheese, Camembert, cream cheese with herbs (Boursin), Port Salut
Fun and funky cheeses: Popular blue cheeses are Gorgonzola, Stilton, Gourmet d’Ambert or Roquefort. Or go for interesting flavours like nettle cheese, herb-infused cheeses or wine-infused cheeses. There are even purple cheeses infused with lavender and green cheeses that taste like pesto. What about a delicious truffle cheese? The options are endless.
Bonus Tip: Don’t serve the cheese straight from the fridge. Give your cheese board at least 30 minutes to come to room temperature. Either take the cheeses out of the fridge before creating the board or place them on the board and let them sit before adding the rest of the ingredients. This way the flavours of the cheese will shine.
3. Charcuterie & Fish
This part is totally optional, but you can choose to include some meats or even fish. A charcuterie board is the same as a cheese board, but with several types of cold cuts. Popular meats to use are salami, prosciutto, cured sausages and bresaola. To make the board look beautiful, present thinly cut meats in pretty ruffles and turn salami slices into a rose.
Delicious fish products that can be a great match on a cheese board are smoked salmon or gravlax, sardine paté or a tuna dip. Spreadable products like paté or dip are best served in a small bowl, the smoked salmon can be placed in ruffles on the board, or on a separate plate if you don’t want it to touch the cheese and other ingredients.
4. Fruits & Veggies
Fresh and dried fruits are a fantastic addition to any cheese board. They provide something to nibble on and the sweet and tart flavours provide a great balance to the creamy and salty flavours of the cheeses.
The fun thing about fruits is that you can change them up according to the season. Go for fresh strawberries, raspberries or blackberries in the warmer months. Thin slices of pear or apple make a great crunchy addition to an autumn or winter cheese board. Dried fruits like apricot, prunes and dates are always winners on any cheese board. Beautiful fresh figs cut in quarters will add a special luxurious touch to your boards. And let’s not forget about grapes, it’s the classic addition to a cheese board that will always work.
Slices of cucumber also add a fresh and crunchy texture, plus it combines beautifully with many kinds of cheese. Another healthy option is a handful of cherry tomatoes. This quick and easy addition adds some acidity that will cut through all the creamy and fatty flavours of the cheese. Some good quality olives, pickles, cornichons or even crunchy radishes are all great options to add to your board.
Here’s a wild card that you might like to add: chocolate. It may seem weird at first, but a nice piece of good-quality chocolate can be a wonderful gourmet addition to a cheese board!
To balance the texture of creamy cheeses try adding a crunchy element like nuts. Almonds, walnuts, pistachios and pecans are all great options. Smoked almonds are also a great addition that will add an exciting flavour profile to the party. Roasted, spiced or candied nuts are also a great option.
6. Dips & Spreads
There are some amazing chutneys and jams out there that will make a great combo with cheeses. We love a sweet onion-garlic chutney with a piece of cheddar or a fig jam with some brie. Quince, pear or cranberry jams are also often paired with cheese. Don’t forget about a good quality balsamic glaze. Even a drizzle of honey will be delicious on fresh goat cheese. The possibilities are endless!
Savoury spreads are also a great match. A dab of mustard will taste great with a piece of Gouda cheese. Tapenade and savoury spreads are delicious on a piece of bread to accompany the other flavours.
7. Bread & Crackers
Slices of baguettes or crunchy crackers are delicious to combine with softer and spreadable cheeses. Crackers with herbs and spices like rosemary, garlic, sea salt or truffle are also great to combine with a slice of cheese or to just nibble on in between other bites. Crackers with dried cranberry or raisins give that delicious sweet and savoury combo when paired with a piece of cheese.
8. Customize for the occasion
Customizing your cheese board is a great way to make it seasonal, extra special or just super fun for any occasion. Change up the ingredients to match the season or change the styling to get that spooky Halloween look, romantic Valentine’s day feel or cosy Christmas vibe. Keep on reading for more styling ideas to create the Pinterest-perfect cheese board for any occasion.
9. Drink pairing tips
Add a bottle of wine to complete the party. White, rosé, red and even sparkling wine are all great options. There are tons of complicated charts out there that will tell you which cheese and wine pairing works best. The problem is, what to do when you have more than one type of cheese? Don’t think about it too much, just go for a bottle you like and it will be fine. Even sweet port wine can be amazing! And if it’s a special occasion or you’re just feeling fancy then why not pull out a bottle of bubbly!
If you don't want any alcohol then go for green tea. Green tea and cheese are a match made in heaven. It might seem odd at first to have a warm drink with a cheese platter, but give it a try and you’ll see it works wonderfully well! A loose-leaf Japanese sencha is one of my favourites to combine with a cheese board! This type of green tea has a mild, fresh and slightly sweet flavour without any bitterness.
How to create that Pinterest-perfect WOW effect
How to get that Pinterest-perfect look? It’s all about a variety of colours and textures. To get that WOW effect add your ingredients in several steps. Once you’re done, the board will be filled to the brim and overflowing with delicious bites.
You can take this as far as you’d like. Go for a quick and simple cheese board or go all out for an extravagant and luxurious board for those special occasions. Either way, your cheese board will come together in a matter of minutes and will absolutely wow your guests.
Here are the 6 steps to get that Pinterest-perfect look:
Step 1: board choice and cheese placement
Start by choosing your board or boards. Choose a board that fits all your cheeses with enough room for extra items. Play around and find the best way to arrange your cheeses on the board. Think about the placement of the different shapes and colours around the board. To make it look more interesting you can pre cut some cheeses in slices, triangles or cubes. This makes it also easier for your guests.
Step 2: placing your charcuterie
If you want to add some charcuterie then this is what you add next. Turn the salami into a beautiful rose. You can do this by folding and overlapping the salami slices on the rim of a drinking glass. Keep on layering and overlapping the salami slices until the entire top is filled. If you turn the glass around you’ll find that the salami is now in the shape of a beautiful rose. Place this rose on the board.
Thinly sliced meats like bresaola or prosciutto look pretty when ruffled. Place these ruffles in groups or waves around the board. Round slices can also be folded in half, and half again, to create a folded triangle. Remember, it’s all about getting a variety of looks and textures.
Step 3: add jars and small bowls
If you have any small jars or tiny containers of jam, chutney or honey place these on the board next. Small bowls with olives or tapenades can also be placed at this moment. Basically anything in a bowl or container. Squeeze them in between the cheeses and charcuterie. Try to go for cute mini jars instead of regular-sized containers. Minis will take up less valuable space on your board, they look prettier and they can always be refilled if you need more.
Step 4: fill up the gaps
Now that all the major ingredients have been placed it’s time to fill up the gaps with fresh or dried fruits and nuts. If you use fresh fruits like apples and pears or even a fresh veggie like a cucumber, make sure you make thin slices and lay them out like a fan. This makes it look pretty and it’s easier to grab without touching all the pieces. You can add some lemon juice to the apple or pear to prevent them from browning. If you have fresh figs cut them in quarters, you can choose to leave the bottom intact so the quarters will fan out a bit. Place these larger fruit items first.
Next grapes can be placed in a bunch or just sprinkle individual grapes around the board. The same goes for berries, cherry tomatoes and dried fruits. Just place them anywhere you have some room left.
Nuts can be used to fill up any remaining open spots. Sprinkle them around until the entire board is full and overflowing.
When adding these last ingredients try to balance out the colours around the board. Go for red grapes if you chose a green apple or pear or the other way around. It’s the variety that creates that beautiful and interesting look. You can also go for a specific colour scheme and only choose ingredients that fit your chosen colours.
Step 5: Add bread and crackers
Bread and crackers take up a lot of space. We usually add them to a separate bowl or plate and just place them next to the board. This is also super handy to add a refill during the evening. If you want to place the bread or crackers on your board instead, then place them on before adding the small ingredients like fruits and nuts. Fan them out to create a pretty scene.
Step 6: Add knives, toothpicks and nametags
Unless you’ve precut all the cheese on your board you are going to need some cheese knives. Cheese knives come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. The easiest thing to do is to buy a cheese knife set, this way you’ll get the most popular ones. Place the knives next to the cheeses or just stick a knife in a cheese.
Don’t forget to add toothpicks or small forks for things like olives or cornichons. Add small spoons for dips, jams and chutneys.
You can add cute little name tags to the cheeses so your guests know what you are serving. We usually explain everything that is on the board to our guests, but nametags can make this a bit easier.
Depending on whether the board is just for snacking or meant as a meal you could opt to place some small plates next to the board for your guests so they can grab some of their favourite bites and just sit back and relax.
Cheese board styling ideas for every occasion
A cheese platter can be a great appetizer for any occasion. We sometimes even have it for dinner because it’s just fun to eat. Here are some styling ideas to create different looks for every occasion, this way your board will never be the same. The possibilities of both styling options and ingredients are endless.
Go for seasonal flavours with your fruits and use berries, peaches and cucumber in the spring and summer months. Go for dried fruits like prunes, dried apricot, cranberries or dates in the colder months. Thin slices of pear or apple will also give that cold season feel. This will not only change the look but also the flavour combination of everything on your cheese platter!
There are also seasonal cheese options like Gouda cheeses with fresh herbs and spices like nettle or dried tomato. In the wintertime, you’ll notice some cheeses with cranberry or cinnamon additions. There are also cheeses infused with wine or port that can be fun to try out!
Add edible flowers to make your board look extra pretty or rosemary sprigs for a winter touch. You can also add non-edible, but food-safe, decorations to get a specific style. Change up the board, bowls, knives and forks or toothpicks. There are fun special items for each occasion! Boards in the shape of hearts or Christmas trees will easily transform the look of your cheese platter. Cheese knives come in loads of different styles. Get a set of rustic knives with a wooden handle, modern-looking stainless steel knives or fancy cheese knives with gold details. There are even fun holiday-themed varieties! Themed toothpicks and napkins are an easy and more budget-friendly way to change up the look of your cheese platter.
Special holiday ideas:
Sprinkle on some edible decorations to make a cheese board look extra festive. Things like chocolate eggs around Easter time, chocolate or candy hearts for Valentine’s day, spooky candy spiders and candy corn around Halloween and candied cranberries or oranges with rosemary sprigs around Christmas time. These small changes will make the board look (and taste) completely different for each specific themed holiday!
Are you looking for more cheesy recipes?
Give the Croque Madame a try! This French version of a grilled cheese sandwich is oozing with cheese and even has a fried egg on top!
Try these Extra Cheesy Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells for the ultimate hearty, comforting and crowd-pleasing veggie dinner.
Here are more appetizer ideas for your next get-together
You’ll steal the show with these Truffle Deviled Eggs, they’re quick and easy to make and can even be prepared ahead of time.
Serve this festive Cranberry Brie Crescent Wreath for brunch or as an appetizer, your guests will gobble up this wreath in no time!