When it comes to putting together a DIY cheese platter that your guests will want to keep snacking on all night, your options are nearly endless. In fact, with so many varieties of cheese, crackers, meat, and fruit out there, it can even be a little overwhelming. Not to worry—while there are no set rules for putting together a showstopping cheese board, we have a few tips to help you navigate this party must-have. Use our cheese board ideas as inspiration to create your own stand-out cheese and cracker platter!
Let’s start with the absolute must: cheese! When you’re brainstorming cheese platter ideas, always keep the star of the show top of mind. It’s best to provide a few different varieties of cheese, since your guests’ tastes can vary. Plus the mix of textures and flavors provides a fun tasting experience.
For a basic board, include one of each of three different types of cheese—a hard cheese, a soft cheese, and a blue cheese. A few popular cheese board varieties include Brie, Gruyère, Gorgonzola, cheddar, Swiss, goat cheese, Camembert, and Gouda. But feel free to get creative! Try dressing up your selection with cheeseballs or goat cheese logs rolled in fresh herbs, nuts, or spices.
Tip: When you’re figuring out how much cheese you’ll need, keep in mind how strong the flavors are. For example, you’ll need less of strong cheeses like goat cheese and blue cheese because guests tend to take less of these per serving. Invest in more of each mild cheese you include, like cheddar and Swiss, because their flavors aren’t as strong and are popular among most party-goers.
While we’d be happy to eat just plain cheese, you’ll also want to include a few crackers and a fruity spread or two for guests to mix, match, and assemble their perfect bite. For crackers, you can use a few different varieties if you want, like multigrain and butter. If you’re assembling a small cheese plate, it’s fine to use one kind. You can also branch out a little to include slices of toasted bread, too.
As far as spreads go, you can never go wrong with chutney, and some jellies will also be popular (fruit spreads are usually a safe bet). Pepper jellies can also bring a little heat to your cheese board. Consider adding other condiments like mustard and honey for guests to spread alongside their cheese and crackers.
It’s definitely not required to turn your cheese board into a meat and cheese tray, but we like to take things to the next level by mixing in a few meats and other goodies. Some popular cheese platter meats include prosciutto, capicola, salami, pepperoni, and mortadella. Make sure your meats are sliced thin so they are easy to eat!
To add freshness to your board, include a few different fruits. Strawberries, blueberries, grapes, dried fruits (like apricots or cherries), figs, and mandarin orange slices are all popular choices. But you don’t have to stop there—you can also pile on fresh veggies like sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, and more. Pickles and olives will always be crowd-pleasers, and crunchy nuts like almonds and pistachios are also popular. You don’t need to go overboard though. Just one or two extras in addition to your cheese and crackers will be plenty for a small gathering.
Sure, picking your favorite cheeses, meats, fruits, spreads, and crackers is easy enough, but how can you arrange them to measure up to the picture-perfect cheese platters you see on Instagram? The trick is actually really simple: just heap everything on. The more packed-in-tight, the better!
To make it easy for your guests, keep all of each food in one spot (it’s much easier to enjoy a cheese board if you don’t have to hunt over the whole platter for individual grapes), but otherwise there are no rules here either. If it helps you to have a guide, you can try arranging similar ingredients next to each other—keeping all your cheeses together, for example. You can also try placing smaller foods like strawberries, olives, and nuts in individual ramekins or bowls. Don’t get stressed if different foods touch—they’re all meant to be eaten together anyway! Fill in any gaps with fresh herbs.
It’s not a party without wine! Wine and cheese are a classic pairing, but sometimes matching the two up can be a little tricky. One safe tip to follow is to pair wines with cheeses that are produced in the same country or region (pairing Spanish wines and cheeses, for example). Visit a specialty shop or supermarket on sampling day, if possible, for a taste before buying, or ask for recommendations while you shop. For another unique way to try the pairing concept, add our DIY Wine Jelly to your cheese platter lineup.