A cheese board is an essential component at almost every get-together I host at our home. They look beautiful and offer a little of something to everyone. Honestly, I could make an entire meal off of it and often do! Today I’m going to share how I put together this cheese tray last weekend for a dinner party I hosted. This is something you can put together in no time at all and will leave your friends so impressed!
Pick your platter. While a cutting board will certainly do the trick, I used the Incanto Striped Rectangular Platter by Vietri this time. The whole line is so stunning. I also found it on Amazon. Though if you’re searching for a more budget friendly find, check these out.
Here’s a tip: This platter is 20in x 9.5in and I think it’s a great size for the amount of food I was planning to put on it for 11 girls to munch on before dinner. I personally always stick with a round shape or rectangular!
Add some greenery as a base layer. It might be hard to add this later, so be sure to do it at the beginning. I used magnolia leaves, but you could use kale, bib or romaine lettuce leaves, or honestly any type of leaf from your yard! Just be sure to clean them off first. When placing them on your tray, try not to make everything symmetrical. Add a leaf here and a couple leaves there. In other words, you don’t want to do one in every corner, as that will make it boxy. Imperfection is the focus. Oh and be sure they hang off the platter so that they are visible once all the fixings are loaded on there.
Add the cheese. Set out as many as you’d like, but for a party of about 10 people, I think three different cheeses is just fine. Although I don’t think anyone would complain if you had more! I like to cut up about 1/3 of the block of cheese so that people don’t have to cut right from the start. Makes for easy picking. But don’t cut more than that because a chunky block of cheese looks so pretty displayed! One of my blocks was really big, so I made a little pile to the bottom left and then put the rest of it to the bottom right. Then, take a cheese knife (this set is what I have) and stab it into the top of the cheese. Not only does this make it convenient for your guests, but it also gives a lot of visual interest to the display.
My picks: I often grab cheeses from Trader Joe’s. The Creamy Toscano Cheese Soaked in Syrah is always a crowd pleaser. I also love the Unexpected White. So good! I think goat cheese is always great to add, but I left it off this time because I knew I wanted this board to have a “stacked” appearance and I was afraid the soft goat cheese would get smushed.
Add fruit and a few extra snacks. Let’s talk fruit first. To me, grapes are always a must. This time, I also added dried apricots, apple slices, and mission figs, which look beautiful cut in half and displayed in groups across the board. This way, they are not only garnish but also delicious to eat! If you’ve never eaten a bite of fig with a little bit of cheese at the same time, you’re missing out. I picked up the dried apricots at Trader Joes and all the other fruit at Earth Fare.
My picks: dried apricots, apple slices, grapes, and mission figs.
I think it’s great to also add something cold and crunchy, so I picked up some hot pickled okra. Gherkins or any variety of tiny pickle would also be great if you can’t find that. Then I added nuts. Although not pictured directly below, if you haven’t tried the truffled almonds from Trader Joes, you must! I added them later on.
Here’s a tip: Pick 2-3 areas to add each item. You’ll see I have grapes in two different spots, the apricots in two different spots, and the okra in three areas of the board.
My picks: Truffled Almonds from Trader Joes, any other nuts, pickled veggies like okra or any small pickle like Gherkins.
MEAT. Instead of laying the different charcuterie meats out flat, I think it’s nice to roll thin slices of salami and sort of lightly fold the prosciutto into little ribbons, if that makes sense. Use the same grouping method I mentioned above when it comes to adding the meats to different areas of the board. I only have three types of meat on the board below, but it looks like a lot more since it’s all spread out into different spots.
My picks: You can’t go wrong with the variety pack trio that Trader Joe’s sells, which includes Prosciutto, Salami, and Capocollo. If you can’t find it, ask a sales associate and they can quickly point you in the right direction.
Spreads, jams, and other sauces. This is where you can really have fun choosing unique jams and spreads from gourmet shops. I think a sweet spread and a type of mustard is perfect and all you need.
My picks: Always a nice dijon mustard. I also love fig spread and honey! The fig spread I have below is “Fig Butter” from Trader Joe’s. Also, if you have goat cheese on your platter, you can always drizzle honey over that if you don’t have it in a ramekin elsewhere. Here’s a great price on a set of ramekins if you don’t have any.
Add a variety of crackers! Don’t go too heavy on them, though, but do keep them nearby in case they need to be restocked. You don’t want the crackers to make the board too “beige” and carb-heavy from a visual standpoint. It’s also great to add crackers of different shapes and sizes. I have four different kinds below! Round crackers, some shaped like butterflies, “breadstick” pretzels, and square pumpkin cranberry crisps.
My picks: Always Carr Water Crackers, Trader Joe’s Honey Wheat Pretzel Breadsticks, and also from TJ’s… they always have some sort of sweet cracker. This time I chose the pumpkin cranberry crisps, but I know they also make fig and raisin ones. I think Trader Joe’s also has a cracker variety box. Can you tell that store is one of my favorites for this type of spread?
Add garnish. A little green garnish might seem like an afterthought, but it makes a huge difference. I used pieces of Rosemary and trimmed them in 3-4inch pieces. Just stick them throughout—no rhyme or reason. I believe I used 7 pieces. Odd numbers normally always work best to keep things from looking too uniform.
My picks: Grocery stores typically always have herbs in the produce department already cut and packaged. Can’t go wrong with Rosemary. You can also buy greenery from Trader Joe’s in the flower department. Or just steal a few little pieces from your floral arrangement, if you happen to have one.
After you do all of this, you might need to fill in with a few more nuts or fruit or crackers—whatever you need here and there so that you don’t see any of the actual plate underneath. Of course there are lots of ways to make beautiful cheese plates, but I think there’s something so special about one that looks stacked like this. And don’t be afraid of the fruit touching the cheese and so forth. It will be fine! Just layer it all up.
Let me know if you have any questions. I hope this helps and inspires you to create a cheese board of your own this weekend! If you do, tag me on instagram so I can see!