Everything you need to know about making a Show-Stopping Cheese Board, any time of year! This guide details the 5 elements you need to create the perfect charcuterie board, along with diverse options for specific ingredients. Vegan and gluten-free options included!
How To Assemble a Cheese Board: The 5 Elements You Need
To begin, you’ll want to a cutting board/serving board for displaying all of the ingredients. After that, setting up a cheese board is really a simple process. I’ve devised this formula for cheese board success every time. Follow these ingredient categories in order and you’ll feel the same way!
1) First, add crackers and breads.
Add your scooping carbs for dipping and serving cheese. This can range from crispy toasts, pita chips, wheat thins, seed biscuits, and thicker crisp breads. In this recipe I specifically use chia crackers, Wasa, baguette toasts, and water crackers. Aim for textural and flavor variety. You want them to be sturdy enough to withstand cheese/jam, but not too sturdy that they’re unpleasant to break or bite into. You also do not want to go too crazy with flavors (like a red chili cracker), as that runs the risk of overpowering your other toppings. However, I sometimes like to throw add one cracker with a more interesting flavor profile, just to mix things up.
2) Next, add your cheeses and dips.
I like to select at least three high-quality cheeses for my board, with at least one hard and one soft option. In this recipe specifically we’re using vegan Parmesan and vegan goat cheese, but feel free to customize this to your preference. If you do not have access to great cheese, recipes like rosemary white bean dip, hummus, or spanakopita dip can be unique additions that add protein and interest to your board.
3) Next up, add some salty elements.
These add a nice contrast and are a great opportunity for unique textures. I like to include some roasted almonds, capers, and olives for bite. Cashews and roasted walnuts also would work well.
4) Then, add some fresh and dried fruit.
A mix of fresh and dried fruit provides color and flavor. Here we have pomegranate, pears, grapes, and fig jam. These are in season right now, and fit a general color scheme. If you are slicing pears or apples, I recommend rubbing the exposed pieces with a bit of lemon juice to prevent oxidation. Dates, dried apricots, and dried figs also will complement the cheese well. Jams should of course be served with a small spoon or knife for plating.
5) Finally, add some greens for brightness.
Some herbs or micro greens help finish any gaps on your tray. When selecting herbs, try to stay in the “soft” family with things like parsley and basil.
How To Cut Cheese for a Cheese Board
This depends on the kind of cheese you are using, but here is a rule of thumb:
- When serving soft cheese, serve it with a small knife so that it can be easily spread right onto a cracker.
- When serving hard cheese, use a sharp knife to slice half of the cheese block into a few slivers that are about 2 cm long. This is an easy size for adding to a cracker or eating on its own. Wrap and reserve the other half to break into as needed later.
Other Cheese Board Ideas and Tips
- Stay within a three color scheme. Here I am using green, purple, and beige as my primary accents. Some other combinations could include:
- Orange, red, and yellow (Using cheddar cheese, sliced apples, wheat crackers, cashews and strawberry jam)
- Green, pink, and white (Using herbed cheese, pomegranate, dried cranberries, stilton, and green olives)
- Rotate out what you serve with the seasons. For example, sliced peaches and basil are lovely additions in the summer. Blanched vegetables like asparagus can be fun for springtime. In fall, apple slices and caramel dip would be a crowd-pleaser.