Cheese boards are fun, easy and delicious appetizers for holiday gatherings with loved ones! You can make them as creative or simple as you want.
In case you are stumped on pairings…We have some suggestions—balance out your ﬂavors, and add in extra nutrition from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds when you can!
“The best pairing is the one that balances ﬂavors in your palate. I use the cheese as the basis of the match. If the cheese is sweet, look for a savory condiment or a drink with some acidity. If the cheese is creamy, serve it with a vegetable or cracker with more structure. Finally, if you like a particular style of cheese, for example sharp cheddar, look for other cheeses with a similar proﬁle. Use your favorite cheese as a gateway to others in the same style, milk, and origin.”
—Carlos Yescas, former Director of the Oldways Cheese Coalition
When planning your cheese board, our recommendations are as follows:
Choose at least one cheese that you already know and love. Chances are that others will love it too and you won’t end up with a lot of leftover cheese.
Choose at least one cheese made from a diﬀerent milk type than the majority in your board. If you are serving 2 cow’s milk cheeses, try adding a cheese made with goat or a sheep’s milk.
Choose at least one cheese with a diﬀerent texture than the majority in your board. If you are serving mostly hard aged cheeses, include a soft or a fresh cheese.
In selecting accompaniments, your safest bet is to ﬁnd things that balance ﬂavors or texture. Sweeter cheeses do well with accompaniments with acidity like pickles or sour fruit jams, while very savory cheeses like Feta or Gruyere match better with softer ﬂavors. Fresh fruits go with aged cheeses, while dried fruits like apricots or dates balance the saltiness of blue cheeses.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can also pre-assemble some appetizers to add to your cheese board to dress it up a bit. Some ideas are:
Blue Cheese and Pistachio Stuﬀed Strawberries
Sun Dried Tomato Holiday Crackers
However, before creating your traditional cheese plate, remember that cheese should be enjoyed not in great quantities at one sitting, but rather in reasonable portions. That advice is part of the Oldways Cheese Coalition’s mission: we aim to inspire people to embrace the joys of the old ways of eating traditional cheeses in healthy amounts. For a well-balanced cheese plate, be sure to include some of the healthy ingredients described above, such as fresh or dried fruits, whole grain crackers or breads, nuts, and even fresh or grilled vegetables.
If you love traditional cheese and want more information about choosing great cheeses, Oldways has a number of resources to help you:
- Subscribe to The Cheese Plate, Oldways’ Cheese Coalition’s monthly newsletter featuring traditional cheeses and wonderful pairings.
- Download our free e-book, The Cheese Lover’s Guide to Cooking with Traditional Cheeses.
- Travel with Oldways. Oldways Culinarias are also a great place to learn about and experience wonderful traditional cheeses through watching the production and by enjoying them in the countryside where they are made. On a recent culinary tour to Naples & Amalﬁ, travelers learned how fresh mozzarella is made. In September 2023, we’ll take travelers to Switzerland for a cheese-focused getaway in the Swiss Alps!
- Use our recipe search to look for recipes with traditional cheeses.
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