Here’s how to make a cheese board appetizer for an appetizer party, a wine & cheese party or as a starter for your awesome dinner party. 5 easy steps.
Step 1. Think 3: start with 3 cheeses, 3 breads and 3 add-ons.
Start with 3 cheeses. Then add 3 breads/crackers. And now think of 3 add-ons such as deli meat, pickles, nuts and fruit.
If you are entertaining more than 6 people, you can add another choice from each group for every 3 people.
Step 2. Mix it up: use a range of flavors & textures from soft to hard and mild to sharp.
When selecting cheeses, create a range of flavors and textures from soft to hard and mild to sharp, and even pungent varieties.
Consider these examples:
- A bloomy rind cheese such as Brie, Camembert, Brillat-Savarin, La Tur or Formagella
- A soft or washed-rind cheese like Teleme or Crescenza
- A semi-firm cheese such as Gouda, Gruyère, St. George or toma
- A very hard cheese such as dry jack, aged Gouda, Parmigiano-Reggiano or aged white cheddar
- A highly flavorful or pungent cheese such as blue cheese, Stilton, Roquefort or flavored Jack cheese
- Compare different milk types (cow, goat, sheep)
- If everyone likes one style of cheese, do a vertical tasting with different versions of that style – comparing can be very enlightening
Step 3. Add contrast: flavors, textures and colors
- Flavorful breads thinly sliced or broken into smaller pieces can enhance contrast in both flavor and texture. Try different textures like baguette slices, flatbread triangles, bread sticks, multigrain crackers in different shapes & sizes, gourmet crackers with fruit & nuts, water crackers, crostini or parmesan crisps.
- Nuts add a flavor & texture contrast, especially if salted.
- Add a color contrast & sweetness with dried or fresh fruit such as apple or pear slices, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, tangerine sections, grapes, apricots, dates or figs.
- Enhance your cheese plates with sweet and savory pairings. Add little bowls of tapenade, honey, chutney, preserves, salsa or whole-grain mustard. Include savory choices such as olives, Tapenade, artichokes & pickles and sweet choices like candied nuts and dried fruit to make each bite unique.
For example, pears go well with blue cheese, Gouda and toma; olives accompany white cheddar and pepper jack; walnuts fit with Gouda and dry jack; and dried cranberries pair nicely with cheddar, blue cheese and mushroom jack.
Want more? See Setting Up a Cheeseboard for tips on how to serve a cheese board and pair with wine or beer.
Step 4. Consider time: aged cheese should be room temperature which takes an hour.
Aged cheeses should be allowed time to come to room temperature. Larger pieces typically take 1-2 hours for the full flavor to develop.
However, fresh cheeses should be treated like milk, so don’t allow them to sit out for more than a short time, an hour at the most.
Step 5. Consider portions for your cheeseboard – estimate 1 ounce per person.
Estimate 1 – 1 1/2 ounces of each cheese per person. If you plan to serve three or more cheeses, consider decreasing the amount to 1 ounce (or less) of each cheese per person.
4 oz total per person is the rule of thumb.
Cheese Board Suggestions
California Cheese Board
- 1-2 ounces California Brie cheese per person
- 1-2 ounces California toma cheese per person
- 1-2 ounces California pepper jack cheese per person
- fresh herbs
You may also want to include: almonds, crackers and cherry tomatoes.
Red, White & Blue Cheese Board
- 1-2 ounces California cheddar cheese per person
- 1-2 ounces California blue cheese per person
- 1-2 ounces California mushroom jack cheese per person
- dried cranberries
- fresh apple slices
Cheese board suggestions and photos from Real California Milk, as well as some basic information.
Want more? Have an appetizer party!
An appetizer party is a great way to have a party on a smaller budget. It’s easier to visit with guests because the food can be prepared in advance. It is the perfect party when you don’t have enough space for all your guests – it can be a standing-room-only party rather than a sit-down party.
Want more? See new appetizer recipes & party ideas in our weekly Merrymaker Magazine.
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