How to Make a Cheese Plate

Everything You Need to Know to Make a Cheese Plate or Cheese Platter for a Party! What cheese to buy, what goes on a cheese platter...everything! Here's your simple guide

When I arrive at a party and see a cheese platter–full of cured meats and aged cheeses, dried fruit and jams, olives and nuts, crusty bread and crackers–it’s pretty much a done deal that I’m dropping my anchor next to it. I love the mix-and-match. I love it even when I’m the one relentlessly pursuing the dill havarti until it’s, “oh what happened to all the havarti?”  

But for anyone who has never made one, or recalls putting together their first, it can be intimidating. How many cheeses? What kinds? And wait–what crackers should I use? By the time you get to the market and come face-to-face with the cured meats. You hadn’t even considered them. Cheeseboards shouldn’t leave us in a flop sweat.

Everything You Need to Know to Make a Cheese Plate or Cheese Platter for a Party! What cheese to buy, what goes on a cheese platter...everything! Here's your simple guide

 

I’ve been there–overwhelmed by the sheer number of options and ways to pair flavors of cheese with meat, fruit, and on and on. Now I’ve got the hang of it, though, and I’m able to enjoy experimenting. The key to making a cheese plate without losing your mind or spending a fortune is just a little planning and following a simple formula.

Plan

How many people are you serving?

As long as you’re serving other things, and cheese is not the main course, it’s safe to plan on 2 to 3 ounces per person. For 5 people, plan to buy 1 pound of cheese.

How many cheeses should I buy?

Minimum 3 cheeses. Max 5/6–any more and you’re likely to overwhelm your guests with too many flavors and too many choices.

Everything You Need to Know to Make a Cheese Plate or Cheese Platter for a Party! What cheese to buy, what goes on a cheese platter...everything! Here's your simple guide

Choose Your Cheeses

To keep it interesting, you want to vary textures (soft, firm, hard) and flavors. Consider choosing something creamy and mild, like brie, something bright and tangy, like goat cheese, something bold and stinky, like blue or gorgonzola, something aged and sharp, like cheddar, gouda, or gruyere, and maybe something hard, like Parmigiano Reggiano. Keep in mind that these are all cheeses you can find at your supermarket.

 

Recommendations:

Sharp Cheddar Cheese 

Goat Cheese 

Brie (Check out Cook’s Illustrated’s great guide to supermarket brie!)

Aged Gouda

Blue Cheese (Castello Danish Blue

Havarti with Dill (Arla Dofino Dill Havarti – my newest cheese obsession. It’s buttery, rich, and semi-soft, with the bright flavor of dill)

Choose Your Accompaniments

Simple plan: baguette, 1 type of cracker, 1 dried fruit, 1-2 fresh fruits, 1 jam or honey, 1 type of nut (or a mix), 1 cured meat, and a mix of olives

Remember that the fun of a spread like this is the variety of flavor and texture, so even unlikely pairings are great–though, if you’re friends with anyone who would point out an improper pairing, fire that friend immediately and come over. Have fun with your choices and live a little <– also great dating advice.

Crackers/Bread

Baguette, thinly sliced (toasted or not, depending on your preference)

Crackers – simple water crackers are great because they don’t impart any distinct flavor–just a crisp wafer-like texture

 

Fruit/Nuts

Dried Fruit – apricots, dates

Fresh fruit – figs (sliced and halved), grapes (any kind/color), pears, oranges

Jams, Jellies, Preserves – apricot, orange, raspberry, fig, cherry, pepper

Honey

Nuts – almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews

 

Meats/Olives

Prosciutto (sliced), Salami (sliced) or Pepperoni (or choose 2 if you’re having a large group)

Olives (a variety is nice – I buy them at the Italian market or in the prepared foods section of my grocery store)

Everything You Need to Know to Make a Cheese Plate or Cheese Platter for a Party! What cheese to buy, what goes on a cheese platter...everything! Here's your simple guide

Arrange

The most beautiful cheese platters look effortlessly styled. They invite guests to dig in because the ingredients are scattered imperfectly, which is not to say they’re messy, rather, they’re rustic.

 

Use Food as Decor

Sprigs of rosemary and thyme are beautiful garnishes, as are grapes, oranges, and figs.

 

1 Knife per Cheese

You don’t want to transfer flavors among cheeses.

 

Take Cheese Out 30 Mins to 1 Hour Before Serving

Obviously don’t put anyone at risk by leaving the cheese out for hours, but the flavor of the cheese will come through much better when it’s closer to room temperature.

 

Label the Cheeses

 

I hope this helps you with party planning for the holiday season ahead, friends! Make a cheese plate and let me know what you used–either in the comments below or share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #andiemitchell.

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25 thoughts on “How to Make a Cheese Plate

  1. Laura ~ Raise Your Garden

    I just read this post like 6 times. Was just sent a $200 handcrafted cutting board ~ In love this it~ gorgeous. Has my last name on the back. And I wanted to put together a cheese plate. It sounds in theory so simplistic, but your tips are wonderful. It’s certainly not for me!!!!

    I was cutting out ads from the Sunday ad to help me put together a cheese board, and they weren’t very good. But with the holidays coming, I just feel this is a skill I need. I want to be able to entertain our friends and neighbors and not have a dorky cheese board.

    Your tip about labelling the cheese is my fav, I’m really picky about cheese I’ll eat but want to offer lots of variety to my guests and don’t like to assume everyone knows what’s what. Awesome and timely post. Thank you =)

    Reply
  2. amy

    I used to really love your blog, and looked forward to reading it regularly. Since you’ve added all the advertisements and sidebars, etc it crashes my internet every time I visit. I understand your need to make a living, but I wish it wasn’t at the expense of the time it takes me to recover my web browser after your site crashes it.

    Reply
    1. Andie Mitchell Post author

      Oh no Amy!! I’m so sorry to hear it’s crashing your browser! Can you tell me which ads in particular are troublesome? I can tell my ad team and work on this issue immediately. I appreciate you telling me!

      Reply
  3. Carol Hansen

    Andie,

    This guide is so awesome!! I love having wine and cheese party’s and I do think I overwhelm people…I make signs and write on chalkboards, etc. but still I think I buy to much…this was really helpful for me… keep it simple and reallllllly good:) Great cheeseboards and great wine..theres nothing better! Thanks xoxox0

    Reply
    1. Andie Mitchell Post author

      Carol I LOVE that you use chalkboards! YES–that’s what I always want! I see the little ones at craft stores and I’m always tempted to buy them for that very reason :)

      Reply
  4. Routh

    No matter what I plan to put on a cheese plate, I am reminded of the mantra: something old, something new, something stinky, something blue. My girls love a cheese plate dinner, a treat for when their father is away.

    Reply
    1. Andie Mitchell Post author

      Cheese plate for one is definitely a thing :) Isn’t the dill havarti the best? I brought it to Sabrina’s Halloween party and I kid you not, I think I ate every slice! It’s so buttery and fresh at the same time. Love it
      xo

      Reply
  5. Lindsay

    I shall live vicariously through your (stunningly, deliciously gorgeous!) cheeseboard photos, until I move home permanently, and can make a proper one of my own. South Korea has many yummy culinary delights, but they do not appreciate cheese. Sadface. Hope you are settling into the new digs with Daniel, and know this expat is drooling and appreciating your wonderful posts! Eat some dill havarti … if only for me ;) ♥

    Reply
  6. [email protected]

    Wonderful advice! Cheese plates are my love language….

    Reply
  7. Laurissa

    I don’t think there’s a single person reading your blog who doesn’t feel like they could just plop down next to you with a cup of coffee (or a cheese plate!) and talk for hours—like you’ve been best friends for years! You seem like such a lovely person.

    Reply
  8. ErikawithaK

    When I first saw this post, I didn’t read it b/c I never thought I’d need to make a cheese tray. I attend Thanksgiving at my Mother-in-law’s house, and when I asked her if I should bring anything, guess what she requested……

    I immediately came back to this and read it! Thank you so much for the suggestions! It seriously couldn’t have come at a better time. I work at Trader Joe’s, so I have access to all the yummy cheeses. I can’t wait to impress everyone!

    P.S. I have read your blog for years, and I ate your book right up. You inspire me more than you could ever know. =)

    Reply
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  10. Deborah

    It looks absolutely gorgeous, the cheeses, nuts, ham, salami and wine. Top marks for the pictures and presentation, it all looks not just yummy but also very professional. Just irresistible.

    Reply
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  12. Melissa Kahn

    This looks beautiful! I think I might just try this this weekend when I have company! Who wouldn’t love it?!! (Well, more for us if they don’! ha!)

    Great post, thanks!

    ~Melissa Kahn

    Reply
  13. Jane

    As a beginner, this was really helpful….I’vw been wanting to try this out & now reading this tips I feel more confident to go out and find the ingredients and try it for my partner and I with his family.

    Reply

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