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How to Make an Awesome Cheese Board in Minutes

Slate cutting board with 5 wedges of cheese, each with a cheese knife. Various crackers, nuts, dried apricots, olives, condiments, and charcuterie are around the cheese. The board is garnished with fresh rosemary.
Recipe At-A-Glance
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Appetizers, Holiday5 minutes
Cheese boards are always crowd-pleasers! Learn how to make a cheese board in just a few minutes with our no-fuss tutorial.

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Cheese boards are my JAM for holiday entertaining. They are delicious. They are impressive. And they are crazy easy to put together. I’m a big fan of dishes that have a high oooh-and-ahhh to elbow grease ratio. And cheese boards are the epitome of a great return on investment. They take just a few minutes to put together, and man, do they ever look sharp. So much so, that when you bring one out, more often than not, one of your guests will say, “Oh, you didn’t have to go to that much hassle for me!” To which you will then laugh and tell them it took you like three seconds to put together. Or you’ll let them continue to feel impressed. Depending on how much you like your houseguest.

Now, there are a lot of cheese board tutorials out there. So let me tell you why mine is different—it isn’t ridiculous. Some of the cheese boards you see that are making the rounds on Instagram have hundreds of dollars worth of ingredients put into them, tons of food styling time, and so many moving parts, it seems almost impossible to wrap your brain around. That isn’t my cheese board. I’m so not that kind of girl. 

Close up of a cheese board arranged on a slate platter, with various cheeses and crackers, grapes, dried apricots, fresh rosemary, and charcuterie.

How do you make a cheese board?

My basic principle when making a cheese board is to put piles of stuff I like on a board. Done. It really is that simple. I just pile stuff on a board until it’s full, and then when people eat some, I pile on some more. There isn’t really anything magical to it!

It can’t really be that easy to make a good cheese platter, can it?

If you want a little more rigidity, try to make sure you have items in each of a few categories—cheese (of course), salty, sweet, crackers, and condiments/sauces. I’ll talk a little bit more about each of those categories in a sec, but when you’re gathering ingredients at the store, it’s good to think of filling up those flavor “buckets.”

Or don’t. Seriously, don’t overthink it if you don’t want to. I promise you can’t mess this up.

In fact, the messier, less organized, more rustic a cheese board is, the more beautiful I think it is. I don’t pre-slice my cheese, mostly because I’m lazy (I use these really affordable cheese knives instead). I don’t make perfectly organized rows—I’m a big fan of the pile method. Seriously, friends. Just put stuff you like on a board and serve it. I promise your guests will love it.

Can you use a cutting board for a cheese board?

Stack of boards to use for a cheese board - slate platter, bamboo cutting board, a baking sheet, and a white board.

I have a large slate board that I nabbed from Crate and Barrel that I love. I think the black background really makes everything look beautiful—it also allows you to write on it in chalk (if I ever left extra space on my cheese boards to do so).

Don’t have a specialty cheese board? Ain’t no thang. Use a big cutting board (I have this bamboo one that is perfect), a serving platter, or even a cookie sheet works—it looks all rustic and cute-like. Any large flat surface will work.

What cheeses should you put on a cheese board?

I generally recommend picking 3-5 cheeses for your cheese platter. For most cheese boards, you’ll want to select varieties that cover the whole cheese spectrum in terms of texture and flavor. Here is a general idea of what kinds of cheeses to get:

  • A mix of cheese textures—Get at least one soft cheese (like brie), one hard cheese (like Parmesan), and one crumbly cheese (like bleu cheese).
  • A mix of strengths—Not everyone loves stinky cheese, so make sure one or two of your options are mild or buttery.
  • A variety of colors and shapes—This is just to make the board look more visually interesting and pretty! 

Most of those cheese counters at higher-end grocery stores will let you sample cheeses if you don’t know what you’re buying. And many also have a bargain bin where you can get small wedges or wheels for just a few bucks—this is great for cheese boarding!

Wholefully Protip

Lots of cheese counters will have a bargain bin of cheese ends—pieces that were too small for people to order. This is a great place to get cheeses for your cheese platter, because you can get lots of variety for only a few dollars!

Should I pre-slice the cheese before I assemble my cheese board?

Like I mentioned above, I don’t normally pre-slice my cheese before it goes on the board—instead, I use cheese knives. There are two reasons for this:

  1. It just looks better. Perfectly aligned rows of pre-sliced cheese remind of deli cheese trays. There is something really organic and beautiful about seeing the whole wedge or wheel.
  2. It’s so much easier! Let your guests do the work, and slice as thin or as thick as they want.

Close up of a full cheese board on a slate platter

How much cheese do you need for a cheese board?

It can be a little tricky to estimate how much cheese board is enough cheese board. The answer to this question of course entirely depends on how many people you are serving and if you are serving the cheese board as an appetizer for a larger meal, or if it’s the only food available. Here is a good rule of thumb that I use:

  • For an appetizer: One standard-size wedge/circle/log (4-6 ounces each) of cheese per three people served. 
  • For a main: One standard-size wedge/circle/log (4-6 ounces each) of cheese per two people served

Of course, this doesn’t take into account the fact that you might just want to have more cheese available so you have a mix of textures and flavors! Take those numbers as the bare minimum, and remember: more cheese is never a bad thing. I try to always have at least three cheeses on a cheese board, just because I think visually it looks the best.

Wholefully Protip

Alway err on the side of too much cheese instead of not enough cheese.

What meats, crackers, fruits, veggies, and condiments go on a cheese board?

The possibilities for adding to a cheese board are almost endless, so I find that it’s better to think of the categories of foods you need instead of the individual items. Here are some suggestions for all the non-cheese categories I try to include:

  • Meaty/Salty: Prosciutto, salami, sausage, olives (stuffed are great), marinated artichoke hearts, fermented veggies, pickles.
  • Crunchy: Nuts, seeds, rice crackers, water crackers, Triscuits, crunchy breadsticks, cheese crisps, bagel crisps, pita chips.
  • Sweet: Dried apricots, chocolate squares, chocolate-covered almonds, dried mango, yogurt-covered raisins.
  • Fruits: Grapes, apple or pear slices (treated with fruit preserver), orange slices, pomegranate arils, persimmon slices, cherries, strawberries, blueberries.
  • Veggies: Grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced bell pepper, caprese sticks, any blanched veggie (asparagus, broccoli, etc.).
  • Condiments: Grainy mustard, chutneys, honey, hot sauce, jams, salsa, sauerkraut, hot honey, pesto.
  • Garnishes: Rosemary sprigs, sage leaves, parsley sprigs—anything green!

Close up of a cheese board with cheeses, crackers, olives, fruits, and almonds.

How do you arrange a cheese board?

As I’ve already established, I have a very “pile and go” mentality when it comes to cheese boards! I do have a little bit of method to my madness, and that comes in the order I put things on. Here is the order in which I build my cheese board:

Step 1: Cheeses on.

I put my cheeses on first, spread evenly throughout the open space of the board. The cheese wedges are the “hubs” of the board, so I like to get those on first.

Slate cutting board with 5 wedges of cheese, each with a cheese knife.

Step 2: Salty (but not cracker) things on next.

Now, I start using the cheese wedges as the center and build out from there. I pile meats, nuts, and olives around. Sometimes I use small bowls (especially for roly-poly olives), but more often than not, I just pile. 

Slate cutting board with 5 wedges of cheese, each with a cheese knife. Various nuts and charcuterie are around the cheese.

Step 3: Sweet things start to fill in the gaps.

You don’t need a ton of fresh or dried fruit here, but a little bit can be a nice thing to bite on between cheese tastes. 

Slate cutting board with 5 wedges of cheese, each with a cheese knife. Various nuts, dried apricots, olives, and charcuterie are around the cheese.

Step 4: Add piles of crackers.

I like to use a mix of crackers, just because it’s fun, but use whatever makes you happy. I just pile them on the cheese board wherever there are openings. You can always restock if you run low on crackers. I also like to include some crunchy breadsticks. They look pretty and they’re fun to snack on!

How to Make an Awesome Cheese Board

You could stop working on your cheese board right here, and it’d be delicious, beautiful, and everyone would love it. For overachiever status, continue on.

Wholefully Protip

If you stop here, you’ll still have an amazing cheese board! Read on to take your cheese platter over-the-top.

Step 5: Add condiments.

Condiments are a really fun addition to a cheese board. Some of my favorite options: honey, fancy mustards, jams, and preserves. You can add sauces and chutneys and whatever else makes you happy. This is a really great excuse to use all those little gift jars of jams and mustards and such that people have gifted you (Or is that just me? Am I the only person that gets 400 tiny jars of jam a year?).

Slate cutting board with 5 wedges of cheese, each with a cheese knife. Various crackers, nuts, dried apricots, olives, condiments, and charcuterie are around the cheese.

If the bottle the condiment comes in is small enough, I just take off the lid, stick a spoon in it, and call it day. If I need to transfer it (like with honey), I move it into a small jar or bowl to save space.

Step 6: Fill empty spaces.

This is what will help make your cheese board look really amazing—fill in all the empty spaces. I like to do this with little clusters of grapes. They fill in all the nooks and crannies nicely, and they’re the perfect size for someone to grab and just eat a few grapes. Another good option: cherry tomatoes. Both grapes and tomatoes help add some really beautiful color!

Slate cutting board with 5 wedges of cheese, each with a cheese knife. Various crackers, nuts, dried apricots, olives, condiments, and charcuterie are around the cheese. A hand places bunches of grapes on the board.

Step 7: Garnish.

Finally, garnish that baby. For the holiday season, I love just adding a few sprigs of fresh rosemary—it looks a lot like a Christmas tree, and it smells amazing. I also tend to use fresh sage a lot, too. Is this step important? Heck, no. Does it look good? Absolutely! And it takes about 10 seconds to do.

Slate cutting board with 5 wedges of cheese, each with a cheese knife. Various crackers, nuts, dried apricots, olives, condiments, and charcuterie are around the cheese. The board is garnished with fresh rosemary.

Can I make my cheese board ahead of time?

Putting a cheese board together is done in just a few minutes, but if you want to do some of the work ahead of time, you absolutely can! Just leave off any crunchy items—like crackers or nuts—or they’ll get soggy. Other than that, you can have the entire cheese board assembled up to a day in advance. Just make sure to wrap the whole thing well in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge.

And that’s it! I know that was a lot of explaining, but honestly, the whole process takes less than five minutes. And look at this beauty!

Slate cutting board with 5 wedges of cheese, each with a cheese knife. Various crackers, nuts, dried apricots, olives, condiments, and charcuterie are around the cheese. The board is garnished with fresh rosemary.

Now, of course, I’ve been talking a lot about using a cheese board for serving to guests at the holidays, but it’s also important to note that a cheese board dinner is a favorite in our house! We have it every few weeks. It’s a super speedy dinner (perfect for weeknights). It’s fun for everyone (even my toddler loves it). And it’s pretty healthy (especially if you go heavy on the fruits and veggies). Happy cheese boarding!

Want more appetizer recipes like this one?

  • White Bean Dip. Just a few minutes with your food processor, and this creamy dip will be ready for your table!
  • Bacon Wrapped Dates. There is perfection in simplicity, and these rosemary bacon-wrapped dates prove it.
  • Crispy Baked Vegetable Chips. Homemade veggie chips are perfect for summer cookouts and game day parties.
  • Split Pea Hummus. This beautiful green dip works well with all kinds of dippers, from bread, to veggies, to pita.
  • Crockpot Buffalo Chicken DipLet your slow cooker work its magic and keep this spicy-cool dip warm and creamy all night long.
  • Caramelized Onion Dip. Cooking the onions on low and slow until they are browned and sweet takes the classic onion dip to the next level.
  • Quinoa Patties. Put two superfood favorites to work in this spinach quinoa patties.

And check out these other reader favorites:

  • Almond Flour Pizza Crust. Pizza night is so easy when you keep this mix on hand.
  • Cantaloupe Frozen Rose. You’ll want to make this frose recipe with the sweetest cantaloupe you can find—it is perfect for summer.
  • How to Dry Brine a Turkey. Never face a dry bird at Thanksgiving again once you’ve learned to dry brine turkey!
  • Limoncello. This tangy-sweet limoncello recipe is super simple to make, and makes a great summer sipper or hostess gift.
  • Infused Water. Up your hydration game with these eight flavors of infused water.
 
Close up of a cheese board with cheeses, crackers, olives, fruits, and almonds.

How to Make an Awesome Cheese Board in Minutes

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Cheese boards are always crowd-pleasers! Learn how to make a cheese board in just a few minutes with our no-fuss tutorial.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Begin by spreading the cheese wedges, logs, and wheels evenly throughout the cheese board surface. Add cheese knives.
  2. Next, fill around the cheese with the salty items.
  3. Then, add a few piles of sweet items.
  4. Pile in the crunchy items and the condiments in small jars or bowls.
  5. Next, fill in any empty spaces with space-filling items like grapes, cherry tomatoes, or cherries.
  6. Finally, garnish the cheese board with fresh herbs.

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Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

Leave a Reply

38 Responses
  1. Carmen Bodziak

    We made this for our dad for Father’s Day using your tutorial and it turned out amazing!! Thank you for this post!

  2. Cassie, this is SUCH a great post! I’m going to send readers to your site for these great instructions in my every-day-of-the-week email celebration; this time for June 4, National Cheese Day! Yay! Nice work. Now I’m hungry.

  3. Nicole McGuyer

    What cheeses did you use here? I read this post and then cruised by the cheese section at Whole Foods and was overwhelmed. I don’t know much about cheese so soft, hard, mild, strong, etc….I’m still like huh?! Sorry for being cheese-ignorant.

    1. Cassie

      I don’t exactly remember what I used here, but I do know there is a Brie wheel, Bellavitano Merlot from Sartori cheese, and a blue cheese. And I think there is some sort of herb-covered soft cheese up there, too. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with cheese! (And the
      people at the Whole Foods’s cheese counters are very helpful and knowledgable!)

  4. yash

    Great post!! Super awesome recipe. I just loved it. I will definitely try this as soon as possible. Thanks for making and sharing such a great post with all of us. Keep sharing. I appreciate your work.

  5. Britnee

    I always thought this looked like such a fun idea when you originally posted it, and when I got assigned appetizers for our Christmas/New Years celebration I knew I wanted to make a cheese board! Yum!

  6. nancy

    Loved your post… will use my grandmother’s bread board from the early 1900’s as the base and vintage Carnival glass for spreads this Thanksgiving.
    My way to honor someone I never had the opportunity to meet. Thanks for the inspiration!!

Meet Cassie
Meet Your Host

Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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