How to Build an Impressive Cheese Plate

Welcome to Cheese Board 101.
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Welcome to Cheese Board 101.
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Gaby here from What’s Gaby Cooking and today we’re putting together a cheese board. Crafting a cheese board is one of my most favorite things to do in the whole wide world because they are 1: delicious, 2: easy, 3: impressive 4: fun, and 5: affordable, if you do it right! While cheese boards might look expensive, or cost an arm and a leg when you’re out at a restaurant, they don’t have to cost $60 (or anywhere close to that) when you do it at home! 

If you tuned into yesterday's Facebook Live over on the Cupcakes & Cashmere Facebook page, you saw Emily and me break down the basics. Here's what we covered so you have easy access forever and ever: 

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Notes to Keep in Mind:

Most cheese boards I make feed about 8 to 12 people, so if you need to feed more, feel free to adjust the following guidelines… 

-Typically allow for 3 ounces of cheese per person.

- 3 to 5 kinds of cheese is a great starting point! 

- Mix up the kinds of cheese with soft, semi-firm, and hard/aged cheeses. Ask your local cheese monger for some suggestions if you want a professional to help you pick them out! We used a Port Salut, Brie, Parmesan-young Gouda blend, Fontina, a goat cheese, and a Pecorino Romano (see the photo below).

- Mix up the type of milk that’s used to make the cheese—cow, sheep, goat, maybe even get crazy with a combo of two, which are all readily available at most grocery stores.

- Get creative with what you put around the cheese. The cheese will be the star of the show, but see the list below for ideas of things to add to really pull a cheese plate together! 

How to Build It:

Clockwise from top-left: Goat cheese, brie, Parmesan-young Gouda blend, Pecorino-Romano, Fontina, and Port Salut (center, with the orange rind).

Clockwise from top-left: Goat cheese, brie, Parmesan-young Gouda blend, Pecorino-Romano, Fontina, and Port Salut (center, with the orange rind).

1. Start with a large surface—it can be a wood board, a ceramic platter, or a slate or marble cheese board. Place the most delicious creamy cheese in the middle (Port Salut is my all-time favorite cheese, so I always give it top-billing), then arrange the hard cheese around it. Keep in mind that you'll likely be moving things around multiple times so the original placement of the cheese doesn't matter too much, just leave space in between each.

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2. Take whatever meat you're using—here we used a prosciutto and salami—and fold them into "meat flowers," as I coined them in the Facebook Live video. There's nothing too technical to it—I simply fold the salami into quarters so that they're able to stand up straight, and roll the prosciutto so that they can be easily picked up and put on top of a cracker. If you have vegetarian guests, consider placing the meat on a side plate.

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3. Next, add in the extras, like olives and dried fruit, making sure that they're relatively evenly dispersed throughout the cheese board. I placed things that could easily roll away, like the olives, into ramekins. I joke about this in the video, but I placed the raspberries far away from the meat only to make the plate more photogenic (keeping the reds separated), but you can put them wherever. 

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4. At this point, the cheese board is almost full (hooray!), so it's time to add in the non-cracker crunchy additions, like nuts and cheese straws. Feel free to be relatively messy with the nuts—they'll spill over, but that will only fill in any cracks and make the spread look more full and dive-in-able.

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5. Last but not least, fill in any extra room with crackers. If you followed steps one through four, they should naturally fit into the spaces that aren't adjacent, but a cheese board's secret sauce is in its variety. Feel free to move things around, so that everything's in distinguishable piles, then have at it! That's all! 

If you think it's going to be more than an hour before guests arrive, feel free to refrigerate the entire board—just be sure to take it out at least 30 minutes before guests arrive so the cheeses come to room temperature.

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Ingredients List for Reference: 

Cheeses

- Port Salut
- Brie
- Parmesan-young Gouda blend
- Fontina
- Goat Cheese
- Pecorino Romano

Non-Cheese Additions: 

- Nuts (Candied pecans)
- Fresh fruit (Raspberries)
- Dried fruit (Dried apricots)
- Honey
- Olives (Castelvetrano)
- Crackers (Raincoast Crisps and seeded crackers )
- Cheese sticks
- Cured meats (Prosciutto and Salami)