A stellar cheese board can be the centerpiece of any party or occasion. Learn how to pair flavors and textures and how to create unique cheese boards for every season with this step-by-step guide!

A cheese board styled on a silver platter

Offer a variety of cheeses

It’s important to feature different types of cheeses to satisfy a range of preferences. But how do you achieve balance and variety?

Include a variety of:

  • Milk types
  • Ages
  • Textures
  • Shapes
  • Colors
  • Flavors

To keep things simple, focus mostly on type of milk, texture, and age.


In regards to texture, have a couple of both semi-hard/hard and creamy cheeses. The same goes for age, offer some “fresh” cheeses as well as some aged cheeses.

And for milk type, offer cow milk cheeses but explore goat and sheep milk cheeses as well.

As a rule of thumb, always include one pungent cheese like blue cheese or milder fresh goat cheese.

Photograph of someone assembling a cheese board
Photo by: Andrew Peterson

Include some sweet components

Since cheese can be quite salty, it’s important to add some sweetness to a cheese board to balance out the flavors. Turn to fruits, jams, and honey to do the trick. Again, since variety is key when it comes to creating a cheese board, include at least one fresh fruit, one dried fruit, and something spreadable.

Sweet ideas:

Fresh fruits: Pair with the season

  • Sliced stone fruit (plums, apricots, peaches)
  • Black berries
  • Sliced pear
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Cherries
  • Mandarin Oranges
Dried Fruits:
  • Dried apricots
  • Dried figs
  • Dried cherries
  • Honety
  • Honeycomb
  • Chutney
  • Jams

Carbs are key

Always offer some type of carb, like crackers and bread. Although they’re often eaten with the cheese, crackers and bread also act as palate cleansers between bites. Opt for crackers and breads that have minimal flavors added, like water crackers and a good crusty bread, such as a French baguette. For a gluten-free option, I like Mary’s Gone Crackers.

Miscellaneous additions

A few small bites offer additional variety in flavor and texture, while also being an option for people who may not be overly adventurous with cheese.

  • Olives (Castelvetrano are a great choice)
  • Cornichons
  • Raw or roasted nuts (marcona almonds are a classic)
  • Candied nuts
  • Some type of green (microgreens, fresh herbs), for color

How much cheese do you need for a party?

As a general rule, account for about 4 ounces of cheese per person. And to be safe, having extra is better than not having enough.

  • 6–10 guests = 2 pounds
  • 11—15 guests = 3 pounds
  • 16–20 guests = 4 pounds

When and how to prepare cheese for a cheese board

  • Let cheese come to room temperature before serving, this takes about an hour. Doing so allows the flavors of the cheeses to become more pronounced.
  • Thinly shave or “chip away” semi-hard and hard style cheeses (such as Parmesan, Manchego, Gruyere, Pecorino) for serving. Harder varieties are often quite salty, so sampling in smaller bites will actually benefit the flavors of these types of cheeses.
  • For shorter-aged, fresh cheeses with a soft rind (such as brie and triple cream), slice some of the round into wedges. This gives guests an entry point, making it more likely that they will cut into it. Plus, it shows how to cut it once the precut pieces have been taken.

How to store cheese

Wrap leftover cheese in parchment paper, then loosely warp in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
Photograph of someone assembling a cheese board
Photo by: Andrew Peterson

Cheese Board Ideas:

The Classic Anytime Cheese Board


  • Maytag Blue Cheese
  • 6-Month Soirée Manchego
  • Sartori Montamore Cheddar (Cross between cheddar and Parmesan)
  • 5-year Aged Cheddar
  • Triple Cream Goat Brie
  • Burrata
  • Mimolette — a classic bright orange, salty cheese. A staple on any cheese board.


  • Honeycomb
  • Dried apricots
  • Fresh cherries

Misc. additions

  • Pistachios
  • Roasted almonds
  • Whole-grain mustard


  • Torn French baguette
  • Black pepper crackers

The Holiday Cheese Board


  • Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar
  • Sartori Sarvecchio Parmesan
  • AmaBlu Blue Cheese
  • Mimolette — a classic bright orange, salty cheese. A staple on any cheese board.
  • El Trigal 12-Month Manchego
  • Clarina 3-Year Gouda
  • Chevre (fresh goat cheese)
  • BonHomme French Brie


  • Dried figs
  • Honey with honeycomb
  • Sugared Cranberries

Misc. additions

  • Rosemary for garnish
  • Candied Pecans
  • In-shell pistachios


Stay tuned for more ideas and examples!


This content was originally featured during a demo I did at Cooks’ Emporium in Ames, IA.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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