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How to Build the Perfect Cheese Board

how to build the perfect these board with olives and crackers, nuts and fruit

If you’ve always wanted to know how to build the perfect cheese board, then today is your lucky day! Step by step, we’ll show you just how easy it can be to wow your guests.

This sponsored post is written by TMP on behalf of Blue Diamond Almonds The opinions and text are all ours. Thank you for supporting the brands we love.

If you follow us on Instagram, then you know that in the last few years we’re pretty obsessed with the art of preparing a cheese board for a party. It’s a bit of a can’t stop / won’t stop situation. So, when our friends over at Blue Diamond Almonds released their new assortment of Crafted Gourmet Almonds, it was a no-brainer for us to feature them on one of our epic cheese boards. The amazing flavors in their new collection, Rosemary and Sea Salt, Pink Himalayan Salt, Garlic Herb and Olive Oil and Black Truffle are absolutely begging to be paired with a selection of fine cheeses.

So , without further ado! Here’s how to build a perfect cheese board.

5 cheese varieties on a charcuterie board
a bag of almonds

Perfect for Every Occasion.

The best part about a cheese board is how perfect they are for every occasion. Nope, scratch that. The best thing about a cheese board is that it is a PLATE FULL OF CHEESE. The second best thing about them is how versatile they are. Yep, that’s better. We bring cheese platters to events such as:

  • Picnics.
  • Holiday parties!
  • Birthday parties! Anyone else rather have a hunk of cheese than birthday cake? Just us? OK, moving on.
  • Book club!
  • Girls night—gotta have something to soak up the rosé.
  • Play dates. Goldfish are fine for the under-5 set, but grown-ups deserve a grown-up snack, right?

Basically, the long and the short of it is that a cheese plate is pretty much always a welcome addition to your get together. You can keep it simple or try your hand at making it fancy—we’ll teach you how!

Step 1: Buying Cheese!

Well, first things first, you are going to need to head to the grocery store. As we all know, not all grocery stores are created equal. For an impressive cheese board selection we recommend heading to a store with a good cheese section, maybe even a cheesemonger.

If you don't already know, a cheesemonger is someone who works behind the cheese counter, or in a cheese shop and cares for the cheeses themselves. Artisanal cheeses need special handling and cheesemongers do the work of slicing and packing them, as well as managing their storage and even sometimes, their aging. A cheesemonger can be very, very helpful in helping you pick good cheeses. Ask about what’s in season—yes, cheeses have seasons—and trust their advice. Ask for tastes—a good cheesemonger will want you to taste the cheese to be sure that you’re picking stuff that is in line with your own tastes. And most of all, have fun with it! Cheese shopping is quite possibly one of our favorite “errands” ever.

BUT, even though speaking with someone who knows a bit about cheese can be fun and helpful, it’s not 100% necessary. We’ll teach you a few tricks that will have you in and out of any regular grocery store in a jiffy with the makings of an excellent cheese board.

cheese and crackers and breads on a wooden cheese board

Will Your Cheeseboard Be Fancy or Simple?

How about both? We think of the makings of our cheese board in categories. You’ll want to have:

  • Cheese! Three will usually do it, and the most we’ve ever done is five cheeses (that’s a BIG cheese board).
  • Charcuterie. Prosciutto, salami—whatever you love.
  • Something briny! We love cornichon pickles and castelvetrano olives, especially.
  • Crackers and / or good bread, like a baguette.
  • Dried or fresh fruit.
  • Nuts, of course.
  • Ideally, we like to finish it off with a few spreads—like jam or a fancy mustard—or even just a little honey.

Keep It Simple:

Buy some cheese and meat. Pair it with crackers, bread, nuts and some mustard, jam or honey. Finally, add a fruit that you already have on hand.

Make It Fancy:

Include all the basics, plus take the time to pick out a few special additions. We like to buy honeycomb and really good olives when making our boards a little bit more upscale.

Whichever way you go, we recommend always keeping some Blue Diamond Crafted Gourmet Almonds on hand, because they are great for both.

cheese, meats and crackers on a wooden platter
how to build a cheese board with crackers meats and fruit

A Good Cheese Board Starts With Good Cheese.

For the cheese, you’re gonna want to pick a few varieties for your board. We suggest 3-5 cheeses for a large board made for a party. When selecting cheeses, you can pick a theme—like “goat’s milk” or “Alpine-style”— for the sake of comparison, or go for high-contrast and select wildly different cheeses for the sake of difference. Consider your audience, too. Are you serving the board to a group of adventurous eaters? Maybe consider more pungent, washed-rind cheeses, or some “stinky” blues. Or maybe you’ll be with a crowd you’re less sure about? Go for milder, crowd-pleasing cheeses.

A few of our favorite cheeses:

  • Soft: brie, camembert, chevre—anything you can spread works great for this category.
  • Semi-soft: Fontina, muenster or Gouda
  • Semi-firm: Manchego, Gruyère or Comté.
  • Firm: An aged cheddar or white cheddar is delicious, even a really high-quality Parmigiano-Reggiano can be lovely. Pro tip—pair that Parm with some fancy honey!
How To Build The Perfect Cheese Board
a beautiful charcuterie board

Make It Meaty.

For the meat portion of the cheese board—the charcuterie—go with just a couple of varieties (you don’t want to compete with the cheese). Typically, we’ll start with salami (either sliced thin from the deli, or slightly thicker from a log), then add prosciutto or pancetta. Pro tip: At the deli counter, always ask for a specific number of slices vs ordering by the pound, that way you know you’re getting enough.

Crackers and Breads, Oh My!

In the words of Oprah, “WE LOVE BREAD.” And so, naturally, we seem to always have a good baguette lying around. We usually purchase them for dinner and there are often little bits of leftovers. If we’re making the effort to put a cheese board together, you know that crusty bread is going to make an appearance. Slice it up and serve it side by side with whatever crackers you have on hand. Generally, we assemble a board with a buttery cracker, a very thin mild cracker, and a seedy, grainy cracker.

a cheese board at a picnic
How To Build The Perfect Cheese Board

Extra, Extra Read All About it.

All of the little extras may seem like after-thoughts, but they can go a long way towards making the cheeseboard feel luxurious and indulgent. You want your cheese board to look abundant! That’s kind of their whole aesthetic. So, here’s how to finish it off:

Olives & pickles:

No cheese board is complete without a briny treat! Our favorites are picked veggies, olives or cute little pickles! If you are going ultra fancy, you can pick up some large, beautiful capers like these.

Dried or Fresh Fruits:

Grapes are classic, and in the fall you should garnish your cheese platter with concords if you can get your hands on them. They just look PERFECT. But whatever seasonal fruit you have will look lovely. In the winter, try adding dried fruits. They are a sweet and acidic way to brighten up the cheese board and offer a great balance to the rich and creamy stars of the show.

Nuts:

Nuts are a great way to incorporate a little crunch and a whole lot of flavor to your cheese board. We reach for for Blue Diamond Almonds, every time! These Crafted Gourmet Almonds are roasted and seasoned with their skins removed for a smooth texture and unique taste for every occasion. There are four fun flavors to choose from like Rosemary and Sea Salt, Pink Himalayan Salt, Garlic, Herb and Olive Oil and Black Truffle.

Spreads:

Here’s where we like to get creative, because you never know what the next winning combo is going to be! Typically honey, mustard and some sort of fruit preserves make an appearance. Whatever you do, except in the case of honey, never pour a jelly or chutney all over your cheese. Let your guests decide how they want to pair their spreads with their cheeses. (This also makes saving any leftovers that much easier.)

a picnic with a cheese board

Presentation Matters!

Now to put it all together! Pick out a board. This could be a cutting board (never plastic though, please!), a cheese platter, or even a few plates that you put next to each other on the table. Don’t be tied down to having everything on one surface. When it comes to styling your cheese board (yes, this is a thing- trust is!) check out our Instagram feed for inspiration. If you don't have special cheese knives, it’s fine to cut thin pieces of cheese ahead of time, so your guests can just grab and go and then of course leave a butter knife around for the soft cheeses.

Is It OK To Serve Room Temperature Cheese?

Yes! In fact, your cheese will have a lot more flavor if you set them out for 30 minutes before serving it to your guests.

How To Build The Perfect Cheese Board

Tools You Will Need:

More Cheese Board Styling Ideas

Cheese, For One or All

If you feel inspired and decide to make a cheese board, we want to see it! Be sure to tag @themodernproper or use #themodernproper. We love seeing what beautiful creations our readers come up with!