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Build the Ultimate Cheese Board - An Epic Plate Of Perfection

A cheese board is a great way to entertain guests and provide them with an array of delicious flavors and textures. Since they only require a few ingredients, cheese boards are relatively easy to assemble and can be customized to your tastes and preferences.  

With her intuitive design sense and innate love of entertaining people, Fran Berger offers her decades of experience to help you craft the perfect cheese board with an attractive presentation that will impress your guests for any celebration. From curating the perfect cheese board for your next gathering to creating a unique and tasteful cheese board gift basket to bring to your next celebration, you’ll find all the tips and tricks you need in this article.


Selecting The Cheeses

Soft Cheese

Soft cheeses can be mild in flavor and have a tangy creaminess that no other food can replicate. Unripened or fresh soft cheeses will have a relatively neutral taste and do not have a rind. Soft ripened cheeses are aged to allow the mold to intensify the salty and earthy flavors. Some have a harder rind or outer shell that is edible. Some of the soft cheeses you can include on your cheese board are:

  • Cream Cheese
  • French Brie 
  • Brillat Savarin (Fran’s Favorite)
  • Chevre (Goat Cheese)
  • Ricotta

Semi-Hard Cheese 

Semi-hard cheeses are more complex in flavor and have creamy, milky textures. Diversify your cheese board with one of these preferred semi-hard cheeses:

  • Cheddar
  • Petit Basque (Fran’s Favorite)
  • Manchego
  • Gouda
  • Fontina
  • Provolone

Hard Cheese

Hard cheeses often have a mild tang and sharpness in taste. Since they are ripened for longer periods, their water content is lower, which can give  them a crumbly, dry texture. Add any of these hard cheeses to your next cheese board:

  • Parmesan
  • Roomano Pradera (Fran’s Favorite)
  • Pecorino
  • Swiss
  • Ewephoria (Fran’s Favorite)

Blue Cheese

There’s no mistaking the taste of blue. Blue cheeses may have a soft and crumbly texture (some are creamier – like Fran’s Favorite) with a pungent salty, piquant flavor. Bring a funky twist to your cheese board with one of these blue cheeses:

  • Gorgonzola
  • Roquefort
  • German Chiriboga Blue (Fran’s Favorite)

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Selecting Accompaniments


Crackers come in many varieties - some are even flavored with different herbs and spices. Herbed crackers tend to pair well with soft, buttery cheeses. Simple, multi-grain or water crackers always make for an easy choice, as they have a mild taste, leaving all of the flavors of the cheese available for enjoyment. These can complement any type of cheese, especially semi-hard and hard cheeses.  

Crostini, small toasted rounds of baguette bread, can give an added crunch and texture to your cheese and other toppings. These are perfect for soft cheeses, jams, and other garnishes.


Nuts add a bit of crunch and earthy taste when paired with cheese. The natural sweetness of pecans and pistachios brilliantly complements the saltiness of cheeses. Texture can also make a difference - walnuts, for example, have a smooth texture that pairs perfectly with soft goat cheese. Marcona almonds, a variety of Spanish almond, is softer than the classic almond and has a buttery flavor that is fit for any cheese board. Candied nuts also add a fun, pop of sweetness. 

Fresh & Dried Fruit

Fruit makes the perfect accompaniment for a cheese board. It offers more flavors, colors and textures to pair with different cheeses. When choosing fruit to add to your board, pick ones that add both color and flavor, such as solid strawberries, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, pear and apple slices, and cherries. 

You can also try dried fruits that make for easy eating and cleanup, such as dried dates, figs, cherries, apricots and currants.


Jams are commonly paired with cheeses as they offer a unique texture to each bite. Try pairing jams and preserves that both match and contrast the flavors of your cheeses of choice. Here are a few jams pairings to help you choose which to introduce to your cheese board:

  • Blackberry Jam - Manchego, Cream Cheese 
  • Apricot Jam - Cheddar, Blue Cheese, Goat Cheese
  • Dalmatia Fig Spread - Cheddar, Gouda, Brillat Savarin
  • Orange Marmalade - Ricotta, Cream Cheese
  • Quince Jam - Pecorino, Parmesan, Swiss


The sweetness of honey is perfect for drizzling over salty cheese and crackers. Some cheeses even have honey infused in them, like goat cheese. Try adding in the complex flavors of truffle honey for fun and fancy accompaniment. Honeycomb is another fun addition to your cheeseboard (yes, the whole honeycomb is edible)


Garnishes give your board a pop of color and flavor. Once all of the items are arranged on the board, decorate with garnishes like fresh herbs and edible flowers. 


Choosing the Right Board

Before you can create your masterpiece arrangement, you need to choose the right board to serve it on. Depending on the area where your occasion will take place and the number of people you plan to entertain, consider some of these factors when choosing the perfect board for your cheese spread.


The shape of the board you choose can depend on several factors, such as the variety of food options you plan to serve, the number of people you are hosting, and the overall aesthetics of your event.  

Rectangular boards, while simple, can come in many different lengths and sizes. This particular shape allows for more cheese and accompaniments to be placed on the board. Circular-shaped boards allow for organized arrangement options and are easy for multiple hands to grab from different sides at once. 

Natural wood takes on a unique shape and can often be custom-made to your needs for a one-of-a-kind look. Glass can also be found in unusual shapes like ovals and hearts. 


The size of your board will depend on the occasion and the number of people you plan to serve. Larger-sized boards allow more food items to be placed on the board, while smaller sizes are easier to store and transport. 

The standard size of a cheese board is 9”x13”. If you plan to serve more than 5 people, boards longer than 20” would be the most efficient. You can, however, use more than one board in different rooms to spread guests around for more space.

Circular cheese boards typically come in sizes of  14”, 16” and 20”. You can use multiple smaller-sized boards for additional accompaniments and cutlery. 


  • Wood is a popular choice for cheese boards as it is highly durable and aesthetically pleasing. Wood finishes are typically made for easy washing but look for one that is non-porous, such as maple, cherry, or teak, as some can soak in the aromas of cheese or leave stains from fruit. 
  • Bamboo is also a popular option because it is both inexpensive and easy to clean. You can purchase a bamboo board for a lower price, while still obtaining the natural look of wood. Bamboo is also very sturdy and durable, as well as non-porous, which makes it more resistant to bacteria. 

    Bamboo cheese boards come in many sizes, but typically 13”x13” is the most common. Some even have built-in drawers with cheese knives, which is an extra incentive for the cost.
  • Slate is a great option as it comes in varying shapes and sizes. The black color of the slate is the perfect contrast for every cheese, accompaniment and garnish. It is non-porous and easy to keep clean.
  • Marble is another option. Marble is a higher-quality material in terms of color and appearance. While it is very easy to clean, marble can chip or scratch if not handled with care. Marble boards also tend to be fairly small (about 12 x 12 inches), so it best used for smaller gatherings and intimate settings.
  • Glass boards are beautiful aesthetically and can come in different, unique shapes. They're clear, so they allow light through them and create an interesting visual effect for your spread. The downside of glass boards is that they tend to be very fragile and difficult to repair if they break. In general, the thicker the glass, the stronger it is.


Cheese boards that are stained darker colors create a contrast with lighter-colored cheeses.  Lighter-colored wood boards may blend in better with your kitchen decor as well as highlight the bright, floral colors of jams and fruits. Marble can have hues of pink and glass can be stained in different colors. A glossy finish adds an extra layer of protection against spills and stains.


If your cheese board will be moved around, some boards have handles for easier transportation from room to room. Boards or trays that have a lip help to keep items from rolling or falling off of the sides. There are also rotating boards that turn so you don’t have to reach over everything to pick your items. 

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Arranging the Board

While there is no set structure for arranging your cheese board, consider these steps to help arrange the items in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and organized:

  1. Slice your cheese to maximize texture. Cut the cheese into smaller pieces, so that it’s easier to pick up and eat and different shapes and sizes for presentation purposes. If the cheese is soft, include a small cheese spreader for guests to use for spreading it on their crackers. Cut only the first few pieces from each cheese and then place a cheese knife on the cheeseboard for guests to continue to slice the rest.
  2. Place the cheeses and large items on the board first. This leaves more room for filling in the smaller spaces with accompaniments. Try not to put cheese next to cheese to offer more variety and color on the board
  3. Fill up the additional spaces with accompaniments like nuts, jams, and fruits. These can be placed either in small bowls or directly on the cheeseboard.
  4. Place serving utensils, such as spoons, cheese knives and toothpicks on or beside the board. Place cocktail napkins next to the board.
  5. Garnish with fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme, or edible flowers to add vibrant colors against the cheese and crackers.
  6. Label each cheese on your board (optional). This will help guests identify what they are eating and make it easier to find their favorite flavors!

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If you plan to arrange your board ahead of time, you will need to keep the cheese chilled. When ready to serve, take your cheese board out of the fridge 30 minutes beforehand, as cheese tastes best when served at room temperature. Serve with cocktail napkins and toothpicks as needed. Keep anything you want to stay crunchy (nuts, crackers, etc) on your counter until you take the cheese out of the fridge and then place them on your cheeseboard.

Other Tips

Play With What’s in Season

  • Spring - In the spring, sweet and bright fruits, like apricots, cherries, strawberries, or citrus are in season. 
  • Summer - During summer, play up the berries, like raspberries and blueberries, as well  as stone fruits like peaches, plums, nectarines, and cherries.
  • Fall - Fall is full of fruits that complement many spices. Serve up cranberries, figs, and grapes. 
  • Winter - Warm your board during those cold winter months with fresh apples, chestnuts, pears, and oranges.

Add Something Crispy

Provide more than one kind of cracker or crostini with different textures for a different mouthful of flavors and crunch each time. Consider cracker options that contrast in size and shape to make new, unique pairings and create a visually pleasing spread on your board.


Alternatives to A Cheese Board

Charcuterie Board

A charcuterie board is a great alternative to a cheese board,  especially if you plan to serve more people, as it offers an array of cured meats, cheeses, and other accompaniments such as olives, pickles, nuts, and crackers. It can be more filling than just cheese and crackers. Fran’s guide to building a charcuterie board will help give you inspiration and ideas for crafting the ultimate arrangement to wow your guests.

Fruit Platter

A fruit platter is another option that could be considered instead of a cheese board. Fruits are naturally sweet and pair well with savory items like cheeses or meats. They also offer vibrant colors, which makes them visually appealing on the table.

Dessert Platter

If you're looking for something sweeter than either of the above options, then consider making a dessert platter instead. This could include cookies, chocolates, cakes, pastries, or any other type of sweet treat that your guests would enjoy!


Uplevel Your Gatherings With A Delicious Cheese Board

Cheese boards are a fun and delicious way to entertain your guests, from the smallest, most intimate moment to the dinner extravaganza of the year. With limitless options, you can get as creative as you’d like with your cheese board ingredients. Consider some of the different pairings suggested in this guide or try some of your own favorites to arrange the perfect spread. 

Need a unique and tasteful gift idea? Fran Berger also offers simple tips and tricks on how to make a cheese board gift basket to bring to your next celebration in this article!



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