Create a Jaw-Dropping Cheese Board in 5 Easy Steps

cheese board If you’ve put cheese and crackers in the “boring” box, we invite you to think again. A big, bold and flavorful display is the smartest shortcut to major wow-factor when the guests walk in. Here’s how food-and-design pro Brooke Larke from our class Five-Course Photo gets it done.

1. Remember the Platter Matters

Consider the shape of your board, and the table it will be on. If you want to go big for maximum drama, a table-length board is the way to do it. Not sure where to find one? It’s surprisingly easy to make it yourself.

2. Go Seasonal

Are you creating your cheese board for a festive occasion? Consider adding extra decoration to your board. Mini pumpkins are perfect fall for fall. Use real or fake ones and cluster them along the center of the board. Go ahead and keep it a little messy, not too perfect. If you’re making a Christmas board, you can even consider the shape of your arrangement. Get creative! Props can help set your cheese platter above and beyond.

3. Get Cheesy: Place Your Cheese Down First

woman placing cheese on cheese board Cheese is the star of this show, so lay it down early, before things get too cluttered. Splurge on hefty wedges in lots of different varieties, plus a mix of crackers for even more visual interest. Do everyone a favor as you decide on placement: where there’s cheese, there should be crackers.

If you’re feeling extra, layer in some delicious prosciutto or salami. Arranging these meats in little mounds (not tightly packed stacks of slices) makes them easy to for your guests to grab.

4. Put Your Best Fruit Forward

If wine’s on the menu (and we hope it is!), add it to your board now. Sure, you could serve your wine separately, but putting it right in your display provides height and makes the whole thing look even more luxe.

Fruit gives you another opportunity to celebrate the season — hello, fresh fall figs! Whatever fruits you choose, add them to you board in size order from big to small to make the most appealing arrangement.

Not sure what wine to serve? Check out this little cheat sheet:

What it is:
A fresh goat cheese that has a tart, distinct flavor.

Pair with:
Sauvignon blanc: the acidity in this white wine works as a beautiful team in tandem with this tart cheese.
Albarino: this crisp, Spanish wine is strong in citrus flavor, which is strong enough to stand up to the strong flavors of goat cheese.
Sherry: sweet, well-rounded sherry makes for a thought-provoking contrast with the distinct goat cheese flavor.
Syrah: rich with berry undertones, this sometimes plummy wine rounds out the tart cheese.

What it is:
A semi-hard cheese that can range from mild to extra sharp.

Pair with:
Merlot: this full-bodied wine is bold enough to meet cheddar’s sometimes assertive taste.
Rioja: the full flavor of this red wine, which has a concentrated fruit flavor, is a wonderful complement to the rich cheese.
Champagne: the fizzy bubbles are a beautiful contrast with the full-flavored cheese.
Riesling: with its fruit undertones, this calls to mind the adage that “apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze”.

What it is:
A mild, semi-soft fresh cheese made from cow’s milk.

Pair with:
Chianti: could there be a more classic combination than this acidic red wine paired with mellow mozzarella?
Pinot blanc: this full-bodied white wine is a harmonious team with the mild flavor of this cheese, which plays well with other flavors.
Pinot grigio: a crisp wine with citrus flavor, it pairs well with the creaminess of mozzarella.

5. Go the Extra Mile, Honey

Fresh honeycomb is one of those cheese-board extras that screams fancy-festive. Layering it on top of some crackers or cheese (the sharper the better!) will keep things from getting too messy. Don’t have honeycomb? Jams and regular honey are great options to add to round out your cheese board. Place them in small containers or jars to be able to place within your board. Make sure to have small spoons or knives to spread your sauces!

This is a good moment to step back and admire your work, which is probably looking pretty darn amazing. Fill in any gaps with a few handfuls of nuts, then tuck some fresh herbs here and there — they’ll lighten things up visually and make the whole wonderful display smell even better.

Place serving knives next to your cheese, and try not to do too much snacking before your guests arrive.

Share tips, start a discussion or ask one of our experts or other students a question.

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5 Responses to “Create a Jaw-Dropping Cheese Board in 5 Easy Steps”

  1. Pamela Taylor

    Great photos!

  2. Joyce

    Why not show a couple of photos? Not everyone has that "artistic eye" when it comes to displaying foodstuffs. Why bother to read the "article" (as sparse as it was) if there aren't some decent photos of the finished product to spur us on to greatness? Very disappointing.

  3. Barbara

    I totally agree pictures would have been very nice and helpful.

  4. Lois

    Some good ideas but wondering if honey is a great idea. Maybe have a honey pot with server and let guest decide. Also, really disappointed there’s no visual.

  5. Mara

    Nice idea