Learn how to make a cheese board for a party in no time. With suggestions for what cheese to choose, wine pairings and presentation ideas for cheese platter for 2 or 4 persons.
A cheese board or a cheese platter is a selection of various types of cheeses served together on a serving plate (or any other suitable dish), usually with the addition of other ingredients like cured meats, fresh or dried fruit, vegetables and crackers.
It can be served for a party or a smaller gathering and it will be the perfect pair to a glass of wine.
A cheese board can be as big or as small as you want it to be.
And though most of the times it's made when we want to entertain a lot of people, at the end of this post you will also find presentation ideas and suggestions for how to make a cheese platter for 2 or for 4 persons.
A cheese platter should include a variety of cheeses (the number of different cheeses and the quantity will of course depend on the number of people you're planning to serve) and everything else you believe that pairs well with the selected cheeses.
Usually it includes cured meats (if it's a vegetarian cheese platter skip the meat), olives, sauces and spreads, vegetables, fruits (fresh or dried), nuts, crackers and bread.
Instructions - steps
Step 1: Find a board (or platter)
Step 2: Arrange the cheeses (in equal distances)
Step 3: Add the savory ingredients (cured meat, olives, spreads) among the cheeses
Step 4: Add the vegetables and fruit (including jams)
Step 5: Fill the gaps with nuts, crackers and bread sticks
Now lets analyze those steps
Step 1: Find a board
Any dish with a flat surface, a tray or a large enough platter will do. You can also use a cutting board but I suggest washing it very thoroughly if you also use it to cut meat and other food.
If you don't have anything else, a baking tray is a good alternative!
In these photos I used a wood turntable I found in IKEA.
Step 2: Arrange the cheeses
What cheeses to put on the cheese board?
The kind you and your guests like!
When deciding what kind of cheese to choose for a cheese platter, you can follow a lot of different paths.
You can choose the cheeses according to their texture.
For example, you can opt for:
- 2-3 hard cheeses (Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, Pecorino, Cheddar, Gruyere, Manchego, Asiago, Kefalotyri)
- 1-2 semi-firm (Gouda, Edam, Emmental, Monterey Jack)
- and something soft/creamy (Brie, Camembert, Chevre, Mozzarella, blue cheese, Feta, goat cheese).
You can also decide what you'll serve according to their intensity (how strong they taste). If you follow this road you can choose 2-3 mild cheeses, 1-2 sharp and something funky.
However, my method for choosing cheese is slightly different, but you may find it agrees with you. So, I generally suggest to:
- Pick some safe choices everyone likes such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Cheddar, Gruyere, Gouda, Emmental.
- Pick something funky. This can be any kind of blue cheese, a cheese with herbs, an extra strong aged cheese.
- Pick something soft/creamy. My favorite in this category is a creamy goats cheese like chevre or feta.
- Pick something local (of course, a lot of the above choices can be local cheeses).
Keep in mind that for the best presentation you should have a variety of different textures, colors and shapes.
Pick cheeses with different colors and textures and cut 1 or 2 of them in rectangular slices, some others in triangles and leave some cheese uncut (I usually leave the soft cheeses as a whole piece). Place a cheese knife next to the uncut pieces.
If I'm making a cheese board for a party, usually the safe choices are more than the funky and creamy. For example: 3 safe choices (Cheddar, Kefalotyri, Parmigianno Reggiano), 1 funky (blue cheese) and 1-2 creamy (Chevre, Camembert)
I like to arrange the different cheeses in equal distances so that I can place in between the rest of the ingredients.
If you're interested about cheese, then you'll surely find the articles 15 Most Common Types of Soft Cheese from homestratosphere.com and the 10 Types of Hard Cheese from cookedbest.com very useful!
Step 3: Add the savory ingredients
The third step is to arrange the savory ingredients among the cheeses.
The savory ingredients are usually:
- cured meats cut in very thin slices (like ham, prosciutto, Jamon Iberico, Brezaola, salami)
- spreads and dips (like hummus, Baba ganoush, bean dip, pesto, feta and spinach dip)
- green and black olives, pickles
Don't overthink where you should place each ingredient. Just place it next to the cheese you believe it pairs best with. Also, put any wet ingredients inside small bowls.
Step 4: Add the vegetables and fruit
The fruit category includes fresh fruit, dried fruit and jams.
Small vegetables and fruit can be served whole, while the larger ones should be sliced or cut into sticks for easier serving.
Some suggestions are:
- Vegetables: cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers
- Fruit: grapes, apples, pears, strawberries, prunes, dried apricots, raisins, fig jam, blueberry jam or this easy homemade peach jam (the jams pair very well with blue cheese and goat cheese)
Tip: Soak the sliced apples and pears in a bowl with water and lemon juice to prevent them from browning too quickly.
Step 5: Fill the gaps with nuts, crackers, pita chips and bread sticks
If you plan to make the cheese platter ahead of time it's best not to add the nuts and the crackers (and any other bread-like component) because they will attract moisture and get soft. So add all of these at the last moment.
Crackers, bread sticks, pita chips ,fresh bread, walnuts, almonds, cashews, are all perfect.
How much cheese do you need?
I really don't think there's a right or wrong answer to this question.
It's all relevant. Are you making a cheese platter for a football team or your grandma and her friends?
Will you be having dinner before or not?
Usually, whenever I'm in doubt, I follow this rule: it's better to have leftovers than not enough food. So, keep some extra cheese available just in case you need to refill the board.
Having said that, a safe choice is to estimate 1-2 average slices of each cheese for every guest (but then again if you pick a lot of different cheeses, the you may just need one slice of each). The same goes for the rest of the components.
What if your guests are too many and you don't have a very big cheese board?
I don't think that a very big cheese board is convenient. If you have a lot of guests, it's preferable to just make 2 regular sized cheese boards rather an extra large one!
I don't suggest making it from the previous day, but you can certainly make it a few hours before or from the same morning.
The only three things you should keep in mind are
- to wrap the whole board with plastic wrap
- keep it in the fridge
- and don't add any crackers, bread sticks or bread until the last moment.
Cheese platter for 2 persons
For this platter for 2 persons I wanted to have 3 different cheeses (2 “safe” options and something creamy), so I chose some Cheddar, a few slices of Greek Graviera (similar to Gruyere) and a slice of a French goat cheese (Chevre).
I arranged the cheeses in equal distances the one from the other and placed two thin slices of Prosciutto somewhere in the middle.
I then placed two cherry tomatoes and a small bunch of grapes and filled the gaps with almonds and crackers.
Cheese platter for 4 persons
For this platter for 4 (or 5) persons I used a metal tray. I chose 4 different cheeses: Cheddar and Gruyere as safe choices, small mozzarella balls as a creamy/soft cheese and a funky choice which was a piece of blue cheese
I then added some sliced salami, a small bowl with blueberry jam (pairs perfectly with all the cheeses but especially with the blue cheese) some dried fruit and a few cherry tomatoes.
In the end, I filled the gaps with walnuts, breadsticks and crackers.
What is a charcuterie board vs cheese board?
The difference between a cheese board and a charcuterie board is the ingredients and their quantities.
A cheese board has a selection of cheeses, some complementary ingredients and maybe some meat products for variety.
A charcuterie board has mainly meat products (cured meats mostly) and other complementary ingredients (like cheese) in lesser quantities.
What is the best wine to serve with a cheese platter?
Again, in my humble opinion, there's no right or wrong answer to this question.
White wines pair beautifully with most cheeses since the flavors complement each other.
Hard, aged and buttery cheeses can be paired with both white and red wines.
So, while a white wine is the safest option, if your platter includes hard aged cheese and some cured meat like prosciutto, then you can definitely try some reds!
Also, as a general rule, pair soft-flavored wines with mild cheeses and strong wines with more intense cheeses.
Some classic combinations:
- Sauvignon Blanc and Goat Cheese (or feta)
- Moscato d'Asti and Gorgonzola
- Champagne and Brie
- Chardonnay (or even a full-bodied fruity Syrah) and blue cheese
- Rose and mozzarela
- Pinot Noir or Beaujolais and Gruyere
- Cabernet Sauvignon and Aged Cheddar (or smoked Gouda)
- Tempranillo, Barolo, Amarone or Port and Parmigianno Reggiano
- Malbec and Gouda
- Red Sangria or white Sangria with everything!
You can also check these 12 classic wine and cheese pairings from winefolly.com
- Serve the ingredients with moisture inside small bowls
- Work with even numbers, as they're more pleasing to the eye
- Have some cheese knives, toothpicks, small spoons and forks available.
- Let the cheese at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. This way the fat from the cheese becomes softer and the taste is more intense.
Make a Cheese Board in 5 simple steps
For the Cheese:
- 3-4 pieces of "safe-choices" such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Cheddar, Gruyere, Edam, Gouda, Emmental, Kefalotyti, Mozzarella (about 7oz / 200grams each)
- 1-2 pieces of funky cheeses like blue cheese, Stilton, Gorgonzola, cheese with herbs, etc. (about 7oz / 200grams each)
- 1-2 pieces of creamy cheeses like Chevre, Feta, Brie, Camembert (about 7oz / 200grams each)
For the savory ingredients:
- 7 oz (200 grams) of meats such as Prosciutto, salami, Brezaola
- 1 cup black and green olives or pickles
- 1 cup Dips and sauces like hummus, pesto, mustard, etc
For the fruits and vegetables:
- 1 cup Fresh fruits like grapes, strawberries, sliced apples and pears
- ½ cup Dried fruit like prunes, raisins and dried apricots
- ½ cup Jams like fig and blueberry jam
- 1-2 cups Vegetables like cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and bell peppers in sticks
For the nuts and bread:
- ½ -1 cup walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios
- 1 cup crackers
- sliced fresh bread, bread sticks or pita chips
- Step1: Find a board, platter or a plate
- Step 2: Arrange the cheeses in equal distances the one from the other.
- Step 3: Add the savory ingredients among the cheeses.
- Step 4: Add the vegetables and fruit (including jams). Place each ingredient close to the cheese you feel it pairs best with.
- Step 5: Fill the gaps with nuts, crackers and bread sticks
- The quantities are just for reference, please read also the paragraph "how much cheese do you need for a cheese board" inside the article.
- Cut the cheeses in various shapes. You can leave the soft cheeses whole but place a knife next to them.
- Place any wet ingredients inside small bowls.
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