Cheese boards are an essential component to our Thanksgiving holiday – every year I dream up a new board filled with luscious cheeses, dried and fresh fruits, crackers, bread, and accompaniments.
I can see how someone may look at an overflowing cheese board and be mystified as to how to do it themselves, so I put together this quick guide.
Looking for someone to make one for you? Contact me to inquire about catering cheese boards or appetizers for all of your social gatherings – from holiday parties to wine tasting nights with friends! (I get it, you just want to show up and eat the cheese).
First, figure out which cheeses you’ll serve. I like to offer an array of types and textures to suit every palate. I typically opt for anywhere from 3-5 cheeses, depending on the number of guests, and I ensure each one is a bit different. I love starting with a hard cheese, like asiago, parmesan, or manchego. This type of cheese is best served pre-sliced and arranged nicely on your board, since no one wants to try to dig in to a firm block of love in front of all of your guests… trust.
Next up, semi-firm. This is probably the most popular kind of cheese, and you can choose anything from a bright pesto gouda to a sharp and nutty white cheddar. I prefer to pick a smoked cheese, flavored cheese, and traditional if I’m selecting up to five.
Lastly, your soft cheeses. These are the ones you could spread on a cracker, like an earthy bleu or tangy goat cheese, or everyone’s favorite – brie.
This year our cheese board boasted a sharp and nutty asiago, hickory smoked sharp cheddar, caramelized onion white cheddar, oozy baked brie, and an earthy bleu. A little something for everyone 😉
So you’ve chosen your cheeses and you’re trying hard not to open them and devour before the party. What’s next?
Crackers on crackers with a side of bread
There are so many crackers out there, my best tip is to choose what you like. I am completely obsessed with Trader Joe’s Fig & Olive Crisps and they grace every single cheese board I ever make. My signature? Maybe. But that would be the fresh herbs I use as decor – we’ll get to that later.
When choosing crackers, keep your guests’ dietary needs in mind. Do you know you have a few gluten free friends coming to your event? Opt for both wheat crackers and rice crackers so they don’t feel left out.
If you wanna get fancy, pick up a baguette or loaf of artisan bread and slice it to serve alongside your cheese board.
Cheese? Check. Crackers? Check.
Now for the good stuff. I like to add heaps of raw nuts (almonds are a crowd pleaser), dried fruits (try dried apricots, dates, or figs), olives (love castelvetrano or dry cured black olives), fresh fruits – grapes are classic and berries are a welcome addition. I also typically provide 2-3 “sauces” – think honey to drizzle over bleu cheese (or any cheese for that matter), fig jam, or whole grain mustard. This allows your guests to create little toasts with everything they love.
Make it look pretty
This is the fun part! First, arrange the cheeses on the board in a way that looks good and allows space between each one. Then fill in the gaps with crackers, fruit, nuts, and any other goodies you choose. Fresh herbs make a fantastic finishing touch. I pick rosemary sprigs and Thai basil flowers from the garden and arrange them all around the board to add a touch of color and festivity to the delicious madness.
Will you be creating a cheese board for your next party?