How to Create an Epic Cheese Plate
A simple formula for an amazing cheese plate including meats, cheeses, breads, as well as some sweet and salty nibbles. It will become your go-to appetizer!
Fact: Cheese plates (or “cheese boards” or “cheese spreads”) are all the rage right now. They’re all over Instagram, and they’ve become standard fare on a lot of restaurant appetizer menus.
I jumped on the cheese plate train last summer after seeing some amazing creations on Jessica’s Instagram, and I’ve been totally smitten with them ever since. Some family came over to visit Joseph and instead of making traditional appetizers, I decided to create a cheese plate, and it was such a massive hit that I’ve continued to make them every chance I get.
The key to an amazing cheese plate? Lots of variety in textures and flavors guarantees that there is something for everyone.
I’ve made cheese plates of varying sizes and variety over the last year and a half and I’ve definitely honed my skills and have come up with some favorite combinations that are always a win. It’s important, too, to kind of “know your audience” if you can. For instance, after making two cheese plates that included a blue cheese (because it’s a pretty standard cheese plate go-to), I realized there was literally one single person in both of our families that actually ate blue cheese. Needless to say, there was a lot of waste. If you know the majority of people won’t eat a particular component, simply omit it. There’s no need to include it just for the sake of putting it there.
For me, an awesome cheese board includes a variety of cheeses, Italian meats, some carb-y things, a variety of spreads and mustards, something briny (like gerkins or assorted olives), something sweet like dried fruit, and something crunchy like nuts or seeds.
My Favorite Cheese Board
This is what my typical go-to cheese plate looks like:
- Aged cheddar
- Smoked gouda
- Goat cheese
- Fig jam
- Hot and sweet pepper jelly
- Coarse mustard
- Thin breadsticks
- Water crackers
- Mixed marinated olives
- Fresh grapes
- Dried apricots
- Marcona almonds
Whether you’re hosting a holiday dinner, having friends over for a movie or game night, or just enjoying a casual evening at home, there is literally no bad time to throw together a cheese board.
Q: If you do big cheese boards, what are your favorite inclusions?
One year ago: Christmas Cake
Two years ago: Chocolate Chip Tea Cookies
How to Create an Epic Cheese Plate
For the Cheeses (Choose 3-5 and plan on 4 oz per person total)
- Semi-Hard Cheeses: Aged cheddar, smoked gouda
- Soft Cheeses: Brie, camembert, goat
- Blue Cheeses: Gorgonzola, stilton
For the Condiments (Choose 3)
- Sweet: Fig jam, honey, your favorite marmalade, apple butter, bacon jam
- Spicy: Onion and pepper relish, sweet habanero jam, mango jalapeno chutney
- Mustards: Coarse grain, spicy brown, Dijon, honey mustard
For the Meats (Choose 2-3)
- Summer sausage
For the Carbs (Choose 2-3)
- Breadsticks, plain, thin-style
- Crackers, plain, neutral-flavored is best, like water crackers
For the Extra Nibbles (Choose 3-5)
- Dried fruit, apricots, figs, dates
- Fresh fruit, grapes, figs, strawberries, pears
- Nuts and seeds, marcona almonds, mixed nuts, pistachios, pepitas
- Brined snacks, mixed olives, artichoke hearts, balsamic glaze
- Choose a large wood cutting board, a slate cheese board, or a marble slab to arrange your cheese platter.
- Place the cheeses on the corners and in the middle, then arrange the rest of the accompaniments spaced out evenly around the cheeses.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
That looks perfect for a Christmas eve party!
We do cheese boards pretty regularly. They are even supper some Friday nights when we have movie night with the family. We refer to those as “happy hour supper”; mom gets wine and the kids get soda to go with the many offerings of our cheese board. I make a fruit spread from pears off our tree that is called pear honey and it is great on most cheeses, especially chevre, blue, and cheddar.
What a great “tutorial” post. I haven’t done a proper cheese board in a while and I really should again! I like it as a snacky dinner or heavy app for just the husband and I, but suppose it could work for bigger parties.
Totally agree on your cheese options. I particularly love blues on a cheese plate, but I know not everyone likes them and I didn’t even start liking them until a few years ago. I’m not much into the nuts, but love the preserves and meats with it.
Wow!!!! You rock, I agree with previous poster…………………….your timing couldn’t be better. I wanted to do something like this for before Christmas dinner, but was unsure where to start. Thank you for everything you do to make life better. Happy, joyous holiday from a fan
This has to be one of my favorite posts that you’ve ever done! So useful and very helpful visually in planning a cheese board. Your recommendations are great, and they’re making me hungry – even at this hour of the morning! And, making a cheese board is actually on my agenda for today, so the timing could not be any more perfect!
Perfect timing. I’m having people over next week for a post Christmas casual dinner. This will be perfect as an appetizer. Great idea!
I have a question that is totally off topic, after seeing your turkey at Thanksgiving I put a fryer on my Christmas list. The next time you fry a turkey could you take some pictures and do a post on it? Thanks so much. The cheese plate looks great.
Hi Barbara, We really only fry a turkey once a year for Thanksgiving, but if you have any questions now I’d be happy to answer them!
Mmm, what a yummy thing to wake up to this morning! There may have to be a cheese spread in my near future. Some things I like to include are Trader Joe’s sweet/hot mustard, a Maple Bacon Onion Jam I find sometimes at HomeGoods, a yummy combo of olives, sundried tomatoes, and capers from (of all places) Walmart, and some pepitas toasted with sea salt and chili powder. And it’s not a party in our family without Harry & David’s pepper relish over cream cheese.
Harry & David’s pepper relish with cream cheese is one of my favorite apps, ever!