From your Friday night dinner parties to your signature holiday celebrations, cheese and crackers platters are usually a fan favorite. Show off your hosting skills with a creative display of the best cheese pairings your guests won't be able to resist.
Get inventive for a gourmet cheese experience at your next party or the next time you share a bottle of wine.
Start With a Theme or Flavor Profile
You could set out the usual cheeses and box of crackers, but choosing a fun theme or a certain flavor profile might help guide your platter's purpose.
- Base your platter around a holiday or a season, like a fall-themed platter.
- Feature traditional flavors or items from certain countries or regions.
- Build a fruit and cheese board around favorite flavor pairings, like apples and cheddar or berries and goat cheese.
- Make your board all about what's in season or choose elements from your local area like honey, jams, and produce.
- Create a theme based on anything: colors, flavors, and even movies offer fun ideas for a creative cheese platter.
Choose the Right Platter
A showstopping cheese platter starts with the actual platter. You want to make sure you choose a platter that can hold everything you plan to include and still look beautiful as elements begin to be devoured by your guests.
Small Cheese Platters
If you're hosting only a few people or you're including a cheese platter in your dinner courses, a small wooden cheese board should do the trick. You can also use a beautiful plate or tuck your elements into a shallow serving dish.
Large Cheese Platters
Once you start making platters for large gatherings, it's time to invest in a large wooden charcuterie board. Marble boards are also a popular option.
You might also consider using butcher paper across your counter or over your island for an extra large cheese-eating event. This idea gets extra points for easy cleanup.
Don't forget about the utensils your guests will need for serving themselves. Include sharp cheese knives for the hard cheeses, small spoons for jams or berries, spreaders for soft cheeses, and forks for pre-sliced cheeses and fruits.
Vary the Textures & Tastes of Your Cheeses
The fun of a cheese board is all about the variety. Guests tend to gravitate to platters because they usually offer a little something for every taste and preference. Be sure to include plenty of variations within your cheese selections as well as within the other additions like crackers and fruit.
- Add cheese content varieties: Rather than just cow milk cheeses, try including one cheese from other animal products like goat cheese or feta.
- Include aged and fresh cheeses: Many cheese boards feature a few fresh cheeses with one or two aged cheeses thrown in. You might even include some cheeses with light mold (or "bloom"), like brie.
- Feature hard and soft cheeses: From cheeses that spread to cheeses that need a sharp knife, a mix of both will keep your platter interesting.
- Add flavor variations: Creamy, smokey, earthy, nutty, and mild are just a few descriptors for tasty cheeses. You don't have to use them all, but you might choose two or three flavors to feature on your platter.
- Vary your crackers and fruit, too: If you're keeping things interesting with the cheese, you may as well do so with the other elements on your board. Include a few variations of crackers (like buttery crackers and multigrain crackers) and a few different fruits (like berries and citrus).
Elevate Your Platter With Fun Additions
The cheese may be the star, but there are countless items you can add to your platter to help elevate the flavors and textures of your selections. Consider some of these fun items on your next cheese board that go beyond crackers and fruit.
- Small slices of bread
- Jams and jellies
- Mustards and other spreads
- Olives and pickles
- Dips and sauces
- Fresh vegetables
- Edible flowers
- Fresh herbs
- Charcuterie meats
- Dried fruit
- Chocolate squares
- Favorite candies
- Small cookies
- Nut butters
- Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- Balsamic vinegar
- Beef Jerky
- Deli meat slices
- Boiled eggs
Adding other elements to your platter is a helpful way to serve a large crowd without blowing your budget on pricey cheeses and fruits.
Get the Wine Just Right
For some of us, cheese platters are just a good excuse to indulge in our favorite wine. If you're planning a platter for a party or a small gathering of close friends, make sure you choose the right wine for your cheese platter selections. If you're ever in doubt, just check our official wine and cheese pairing guide.
Arrange Your Platter Like a Pro
Now it's time to arrange your cheese platter, and this is the part that might be intimidating. But don't worry, if you've mastered selecting your cheeses and choosing their perfect pairings, you can arrange a beautiful platter with these simple steps.
- Start with your cheeses and layer on your largest pieces first. Place your blocks, then your soft cheeses, then your pre-sliced cheeses.
- Add in any meats or large fruit pieces at this stage.
- Place any bowls or dishes for dips and spreads and go ahead and fill them up.
- Stack and layer in your crackers.
- Fill in gaps with smaller fruits like grapes and berries.
- Finish with nuts, fresh herbs, and any sweets.
- Place any large bread slices or oversized crackers in a bowl or platter nearby.
Rearranging is just part of the fun! If you need to alter a previous step as you go, that's okay.
Other Cheese Platter Tips & Tricks
Now that you have the process of making a cheese platter down, keep these tips in your back pocket for your next event or potluck.
- Slice any bread you plan to include as close to eating as possible. You want everything to be fresh.
- Add lemon juice to pear or apple slices to keep them from browning.
- For traveling, place your cheeses and meats on your board and wrap the whole board in plastic wrap. Assemble your remaining elements upon arrival.
- Fill in every gap for a charcuterie board, but leave a little blank space for an elegant cheese spread.
- Avoid placing berries or nuts on the very edge of your board as they may roll off.
- Follow the general rule of one ounce of cheese per guest to make sure you have enough.
- Always bring an extra box of crackers — people love crackers.
- Have a separate knife for each cheese. Apply this same rule to dips and spreads.
- Label all of your cheeses, meats, spreads, and sauces. Fruit and crackers are pretty self-explanatory.
- Always check with guests before including nuts on the board, and make sure you mention any potential allergies present.
- Serve cheese at room temperature.
You're Getting Gouda at This
You don't have to be a professional chef or party planner to make a delicious and appealing cheese and crackers board. Remember, your guests will eventually deconstruct it anyway. What matters most is that you enjoy the process and savor your platter with the people you care about.