Cheese Board Making 101 (a.k.a. How To Make A Cheese Board)

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Cheese Board Making 101 (a.k.a. How to make a cheese board in 10 minutes or less OR How to make a cheese board without breaking the bank) is simpler than you might think.

When it comes to making cheese boards, the possibilities are truly endless. Whether I’m pulling together a late night snack, an easy lunch, or appetizers for 20 people, cheese boards are my choice for every occasion.

Cheese Board Making 101 - get the directions at barefeetinthekitchen.com

A few years ago, my friend Maegen came to visit along with some other great friends. (Hi! Rebecca, Meseidy, Lynne, and Christi!) Maegen made us a fabulous cheese board while she was here and she made it look so easy. As it turns out, it really is that easy!

Cheese boards can be as fancy as you’d like, but most of the time, my boards are pretty simple. 2-3 meats, 2-3 cheeses, a pile of crackers, and a few handfuls of snack foods that I pull from whatever is stashed in the pantry.

You can pull something together in about 5 minutes or spend half an hour assembling something fancy. I lean towards the quick and simple in pretty much every aspect of life, so I’ll give you one guess how I make a cheese board most of the time.

Cheeseboard Ideas

The secret to a great board? Just pile it on there. In all seriousness, you might not think you have what it takes to pull together a great board, but I bet you do.

If you’re a fan of fancy meats and cheeses, go for it with all your favorites. Sometimes our boards cross the line to fancy, but most of the time, my kids ask for a cheese board lunch (a.k.a. snack lunch) and I just use whatever is on hand.

Our everyday cheese boards usually wind up with a couple different deli meats folded into piles, some sliced cheddar, a wedge of brie (if it happens to be in the refrigerator), peanut butter pretzels, assorted bits of leftover crackers, and whatever fresh vegetables or fruits and nuts are in the house.

Sweet and Spicy Almonds, Candied Walnuts, and Cinnamon Roasted Pecans are terrific additions if you happen to have some stashed in the pantry or have a few extra minutes to make them.

Making a cheese board doesn't have to be complicated! check out these handy tips at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Cheese Boards

I went to my Instagram account to pull some photos of the cheese boards I’ve shared. When I hit 25 photos, I realized that there is probably a reason why people always ask so many questions about our cheese boards.

Every time I share a snap or Instagram story of our cheese boards, I get a bunch of questions about my favorite things to pile on the board.

So, this is a very long list of everything we use. And NO, all of this does not get used at the same time. (Not unless you’re feeding a small army.)

As you can see from the huge variety of boards I’ve shared on Instagram over the past few years, there are rarely two boards just the same, but there are a lot of favorite foods that show up frequently.

We do a lot of Simple Cheese Boards and even a Breakfast Parfait Board every now and then.

Cheese Board Making 101 - there's a board for every occasion!

Meat and Cheese Boards

When you’re ready to build your board, start with the cheese. When I’m building a board for at least 5-6 people, I typically use 3 varieties of cheese.

Ideally, there will be a mild, medium, and strong cheese. For my family that could be a mild brie, a medium or sharp cheddar, pepper jack, and a stronger or funkier smelling cheese like Humboldt Fog, stilton, bleu cheese, or goat cheese.

We love Cabot’s Everything Cheddar and the Unexpected Cheddar from Trader Joe’s. During the holidays, we especially love the cranberry goat cheese, also from Trader Joe’s.

For a frugal tip, splurge on a small chunk of your favorite fancy cheese and fill out the rest with the much less expensive brie and cheddar options.

For the meat lover’s in my house, this Meat Lover’s Cheese Board is always a hit.

Make a great cheese board without breaking the bank!

For the meat, my favorite thing to buy is the 3-pack of charcuterie meats from Trader Joe’s. It’s super affordable and gives a great variety without breaking the bank.

If there isn’t a Trader Joe’s in your area, just ask at the deli counter for about 3 ounces each (very thin slices) of your favorite meats. I also like to pick up one hard salami each time because that’s always a favorite with my boys.

You really don’t need much meat. Just a little scattering of meats on the board for salty savory bites.

Capocollo, prosciutto, salami (there are countless varieties of hard and soft salami that you can try), plain old ham, turkey, and roast beef will work as well. Don’t be intimidated by all of the choices.

A hard salami runs about $5 and when you slice it thin it will fill a lot of space on the board.

Like I do with the cheese, I usually splurge on one fancier meat and fill in the rest with the more budget-friendly choices. Those skinny little meat sticks that show up on almost every one of our boards are these Citterio Italian Salame sticks.

Cheese Board Making 101 - aka How to make a cheeseboard without breaking the bank!

How To Make A Cheese Board

Next, I pile on a few different crackers. I like to use a basic sea salt cracker, a multigrain or wheat cracker, and then a nutty cracker that’s filled with dried fruits or other more unusual ingredients.

The unusual crackers pictured on almost every board are the Raisin Rosemary Crisps from Trader Joe’s. I add pickles and olives in little bowls most of the time so that their juices won’t mix with any of the other ingredients.

Little pinch bowls with a spicy jam and a sweeter option, honey, mustard, fresh vegetables, dried fruits (apricots, apples, banana chips, oranges, pineapples), nuts (we love the rosemary Marcona almonds and the candied walnuts from Trader Joe’s as well), and fresh fruits are all added according to what I have on hand or what we are craving.

Some other random things I’ll add are roasted peppers, pepperoncini, sun-dried tomatoes, giant dried corn or corn nuts, pretzels, wasabi peas, edamame, pretty much anything goes from the snack section of the pantry.

Sometimes I’ll add my Aunt Judy’s Cheddar Cheeseball or the Everything Bagel Cheeseball. When I have it on hand, I’ll add a dill pickle dip or ranch dip, fruit salsa, or even these salad-on-a-stick skewers. (My kids love to help make those.) Sliced and toasted leftover baguette makes a nice addition as well.

Cheese Board Making 101 - how to make a killer cheeseboard without breaking the bank!

Initially, I was overwhelmed by the abundance of ultra fancy boards that I had seen in restaurants and online. Now, when I plan to make a cheeseboard, I just try to add something new to try just for fun each time.

And to clarify, planning a cheese board is different from throwing one together from the pantry. Both kinds of cheese boards are delicious, but sometimes it’s fun to get a little fancier with it and make sure you have all your favorite bites on hand.

For the cheese board pictured above, I purchased all of our favorite things and then poured some wine and shared the board with some friends.

We’d just wrapped up a massive weekend of shooting recipe videos and it was the perfect way to end our night.

Kitchen Tip: I use a cutting board, a serving tray, or even this small sheet pan to make my cheese boards. Truth told, by the time you get it piled high with deliciousness, no one will even notice what you have used.

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Cheese Board Making 101 - get the directions at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Cheese Board Making 101 {a.k.a. How To Make A Cheese Board in Minutes}

5 from 21 votes
Cheese boards can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like – typically 2-3 meats, 2-3 cheeses, a pile of crackers, and a few handfuls of snack foods that I pull from whatever is stashed in the pantry. You can pull something together in about 5 minutes or spend half an hour assembling something fancy.
Pin Print Review
Prep Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 10 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American

Ingredients 

CHEESES (about 1-2 ounces TOTAL per person)

  • Brie
  • Cheddar
  • Pepper Jack
  • Humboldt Fog
  • Stilton
  • Goat Cheese

MEATS (about 1-2 ounces TOTAL per person)

  • Salami hard and soft
  • Prosciutto
  • Capocollo
  • Deli meats: ham turkey, roast beef, or chicken

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS (choose your favorites)

  • 2-3 varieties of crackers
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Dried fruits
  • Fresh berries or other fruits
  • 2-3 varieties of nuts
  • Pickles
  • Olives
  • Jams
  • Mustard

Instructions

  • First, arrange the cheese around the board. Add the meats. Then, add the crackers.
  • Add little bowls or piles of pickles and olives. Small dishes of jam, mustard, and chutney can be added next.
  • Fill in the gaps with plenty of fresh vegetables, dried or fresh fruits, nuts, and other assorted snack foods. Dig in and enjoy!
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{originally published 9/28/17 – recipe notes and photos updated 3/15/21}

Cheese Board Making 101 - get all the ingredients and directions at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. averie @ averie cooks says

    I love this post and I have a massive cheese board post going live next week! Great minds think alike 🙂

    I also love TJ’s Unexpected Cheddar. For $3.99 it is one of the best value cheeses around. And love their goat cheese and overall, the quality of their cheese for the price is a great value. And I spy their rosemary marcona almonds and the raisin rosemary crackers…my faves! We could swap cheese boards 🙂

  2. Sandra Robinson says

    Love your cheeseboard suggestion. This will be great for the upcoming holidays. Thank you very much.

  3. Sabrina says

    I love this post it is very detailed and has tons of great ideas and beautiful pictures. I am in charge of appetizers for thanksgiving and I am going to make one of these.

  4. Robert Milleer says

    This was a great pin – informative and complete. Just scanning the wonderful pictures gives one an idea of what to include. As a permanent part of our larder we try to stock many of the items you list. It’s nice to have an adequate supply if friends drop in, or we don’t feel like cooking an evening meal and these items can supplement a couple of glasses of wine.
    Also, we were given a gift of a large lazy-susan and this is great for parties.
    Good work!5 stars

  5. Anne M Hughes says

    OK.. These ALL look delicious and I have dabbled by making my own Insalata Caprese platters that include the basics and prosciutto. After that it’s all a jumble of deliciousness. Now, I know how we eat that salad/platter but how do people eat from a vast sea of choices as pictured here? I would find myself a chair and began grazing until someone told me to “STOP IT!” or “STEP AWAY FROM THE TABLE!” – Small plates? Tiny pluckers to grab up the goodies? Inquiring Epicurious Minds need to know! 🙂5 stars

    • Mary says

      I typically have a stack of small plates on hand near the cheese board. But we’ve also been known to just gather around the board with glass of wine in one hand.

  6. Candace says

    Gorgeous! Lucky to have some great inspiration for cheeseboards on this page. I’ve had the fortune of trying yours, and then making my own! Thank you Mary 🙂5 stars

  7. Barbara Schreiber says

    Looks great. I don’t happen to have a Trader Joes, but guess I can work that out.

  8. Tammy says

    I love a great cheeseboard! Thank you for the great ideas!! I’m making one for mothers day!!!5 stars

  9. Brittany says

    i have what might be a very dumb question. But how do you eat from these? I’m always so intimidated by them because I’m not sure if you are supposed to build something on a cracker/toast or if you just eat some of the items by themselves? for example, what do you do with the jams, or honey? Sorry, I’m probably just over thinking it.

    • Mary says

      Not a dumb question at all! You aren’t the first person to ask either. I typically layer a cracker with a slice or spread of cheese, a small piece of meat, and maybe some jam or mustard. Crackers spread with brie and topped with a bit of hot pepper jam is one of my favorite snacks or light dinners. There aren’t any rules to it. You simply layer up bites as you are ready to eat them. I hope that helps!

  10. Mary K Ingram says

    My mother is 88 with Lymphic cancer and I am fixing soups but would like to come up with other items that may make her want to eat. She looks at food and turns her head. I am at a loss. Any help would be appreciated.

  11. Molly says

    Wow! This is an excellent article. It is so useful and informative . I look forward to creating my cheese board! Thank you for your advice and encouragement ☺️5 stars

  12. Molly says

    This is a very helpful article explaining how to prepare a Happy Plate Platter. It helped me figure how much of each item to purchase. And the tips were great regarding how to make it affordable, and how to plate it. I was so pleased with how my board turned out! Thank you! 🍷🧀🥖

  13. Richard Handley says

    Thanks for some inspiring presentation tips.
    Sadly no Trader Joe’s here in Collioure, France. Luckily though, the locals make some half decent cheese and the wine’s not bad either!5 stars

  14. jan says

    your pictures and lists were so helpful. Always wanted to do a cheese board for our big family. We will Super bowl Sunday. We have 6 sons and 5 daughter in laws and 13 grandkids all living in the area, they will all love this “grandma” creation:) Thanks so much.5 stars

  15. Nancy Miller says

    I’m impressed with your cheeseboard suggestions. I especially like your suggestions to make an impressive board affordable. In the deli department at Walmart they have these fruit jellies that you can cut up into little squares to compliment your cheese and cracker. They come in all different flavors and although they seem expensive, a tiny square goes a very long way. My last purchase was the pear flavor and when I feel like a snack and turn it into something decedent, the fruit jelly dab on top does the trick. Also, don’t discount the sleeves of crackers that can be found at the Dollar Store (just the plain flavor, I wasn’t impressed with the vegetable one.).

  16. Julia Stearns @ Healthirony says

    That cheese board looks absolutely fantastic. Beautiful photos, too. I look forward to trying this.5 stars

  17. Jordan says

    I like how you make the cheese board so simple and easy yet very delicious. One of these days I am going to try out your tips! Thanks5 stars

  18. mary ferrar says

    thank you – you gave me a lot of ideas. Yummy! Leaving out the meat – cause Im a vegetarian. 🙂5 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      You could prepare the meats and cheeses on the board a bit in advance, but the crackers will definitely soften if they’re laid out ahead of time and then refrigerated. This isn’t something I typically prep in advance, Kelly.

  19. Michelle says

    Ah-mazing! I think when you get all the ingredients the start can be a little overwhelming. I love how you write start with the cheese, then the meat, etc. It makes is so simple. Just created a board and it was all the rage! I’ve shared your article on my FB page. All my best! (PS – I don’t cook 🙂5 stars

  20. Sarah Wyatt says

    Love the cheese boards you have done. Do you put out small containers of toothpicks for guests to spear items wanted to put on small plates?

  21. Carolyn Moran says

    Maarrrrryyyy!!! Having a little dinner party tonight and came to the web for cheese board ideas. Little did I know it was my dear friend from Albuquerque’s website!! These ideas are phenomenal, can’t wait to set mine up. 🤗5 stars

  22. Cathy Sagmo Parks says

    This may be an odd question, but aren’t the leftover food cross-contaminated? Or at least needing different storage thank originally due to the other contents on the plate?

    • Mary Younkin says

      I put all the meats together, the cheeses in separate bags, and everything else is mostly separate. I don’t put anything back in the original container, Cathy.

  23. Gloria Burgess says

    Wow your blog is such an inspiration. Doing a luncheon for 60 and the budget allows a little leeway for an appetizer- a cheese board it will be. Thanks for the breakdown and the step by step to getting it all together.