How to Make the Perfect Cheese Board for Beginners

How to Make the Perfect Cheese Board -learn how to combine sweet, salty, sour, spicy, crunch, and creamy to create the perfect cheese board for beginners!
How to Make the Perfect Cheese Board -learn how to combine sweet, salty, sour, spicy, crunch, and creamy to create the perfect cheese board!

I love a good charcuterie board.  In fact crackers and cheese is pretty much my favourite, especially when I’m entertaining.

How to Make the Perfect Cheese Board

A good charcuterie board though, takes crackers and cheese to a whole new level!  There’s certain elements that go into creating the perfect combo, if you have these elements covered, I pretty much guarantee a perfect charcuterie board.  If you’re a beginner, these simple charcuterie board instructions will make the whole process really easy for you.  There are certain elements that every great board should have.  Include these and you will have a great charcuterie board, even if you’re a beginner.

What is charcuterie?

Charcuterie comes from the French word for cured meats.  Think things like Italian dry salami, summer sausage, and prosciutto ham.  Recently though, people have starting using the term charcuterie boards to refer to more than just a selection of cured meats.  These days a charcuterie platter not only includes different kinds of meats, but also includes a variety of cheeses, crackers, fresh fruit, pickles, and more.

This is the perfect appetizer for your next party.  Or serve it as a summer snack charcuterie board with drinks.  It’s the perfect food for book club.  Or even a romantic dinner for two.  We love that guests can help themselves and enjoy.  They look great too.  And they’re always, always a hit with guests.

how to make a grazing table

1.  Creamy

The creamy element of the perfect charcuterie board is the cheese.  We used a great selection of smoked aged gouda,  flavoured monterey Jack, aged cheddar,  cheese curds, and swiss.  Yum, yum.

It’s good to think about different textures, from hard cheeses to soft cheeses, when choosing your different types of cheeses, and a variety of flavors, from mild to strong.  Choose 4-3 types of cheese, and cut them into different shapes.

2. Salty

I love to add in some salty elements when putting together a charcuterie board.

how to make a cheese board as an appetizer

Think nuts -I added some salted roasted cashews, and I made a batch of spicy candied walnuts.  Mixed nuts are a great choice too.

olives for a cheese board

Another great salty hit could be some olives.  I like to pick up a variety of kinds, including green olives, black olives, and stuffed olives.

I also included some cured meats.  These were picked up at the farmer’s local market -a great place to shop for these extra elements.  We picked up a spicy hard salami.

how to make a grazing table

3.  Sweet

When I was younger I didn’t get the whole sweet with savoury thing, I’m happy to say I outgrew that, and now I love it.  This time of year, there’s so much great seasonal fruit available.  I’ve included some lovely fresh plums and peaches from the farmer’s market.  Small bunches of grapes are a great choice too, and a classic pairing with cheese and a glass of wine.  I also love fresh apples cut into slices.  The best fruits to include are whatever is in season at the time.

adding fruit to a cheese board

Another great addition is figs, these are fresh, but other times of year dried fruit works great too.  Any dried fruit make a great addition.

fresh figs on a cheese board

Another great hit of sweet, with the salty included, are these pieces of beautiful fresh local cantaloupe wrapped with prosciutto -such a delicious appetizer always the first thing to go at a party.

cantaloup wrapped in prosciutto ham

4. Sour

Sour is a great addition to a cheese board.  Think pickles and chutneys.  I’ve included a favourite of mine -red onion and balsamic chutney.  I just pick it up at the grocery store, it’s such a great combo with the cheese platter.

How to Make the Perfect Cheese Board

5.  Crunchy

The crackers are a great crunchy element.  I’ve made my flatbread salt and pepper crackers -they’re pretty simple to make and always a big hit.  I also picked up a few of my favourite crackers from the store.  I like some plain and some more fancy with dried fruit and seeds, also some crusty bread is a great addition.

Homemade crackers flatbread

The nuts are also a great crunchy element.

cheese board grazing table

Fresh veggies can add a great crunch too.  These grape tomatoes add a little, think of the crunch of breaking through the skin of fresh sweet tomatoes.

6.  Spicy

A little spice is a nice addition to a cheese tray.  I love a red pepper honey (that sweet and hot combo is great) and the spicy candied nuts pack a little punch too.  Any spicy jam is so good with savory accompaniments.

spiced nuts on a cheese board

Another little spice comes from the meats, one crusted in peppercorns.

I love to serve a little grainy mustard too, it’s got a touch of heat to it that’s so nice with cured meats, or great with pate.

grainy dijion mustard on a cheese board

7.  Presentation

Last but not least, make it pretty.  Use a pretty wooden cutting board or serving platter and lay everything out for guests to help themselves.  Overflowing containers look great, and create a feeling of abundance.  

We’ve made a large board, covering most of the table.  This is great for a party and gives guests lots of options and room to help themselves.  For your own charcuterie boards, you can make something smaller, depending on the size of your party.  Just make sure to include the different elements.  

On the board use small bowls to hold some elements.  Be sure to cut some cheese and meats to get your guests started, and include cheese knives for guests to continue to cut more as needed.

queen annes lace in a vintage glass bottles

I added a few fresh flowers too, just some wild flowers from behind my house, and few sweet peas from the garden.  The flowers are such a pretty way to fill in the remaining space.  Fresh herbs or edible flowers are a great finishing touch too.

By including all these elements, you’re sure to create the perfect charcuterie board -or charcuterie table, as my daughter said. 😉 Following these simple rules makes it easy even for a beginner to make the best charcuterie board.

How to Make the Perfect Cheese Board grazing table

With the perfect charcuterie board,  life really is a party!

More Appetizer Recipe Inspiration

You might also like our Caramelized Onion and Goat’s Cheese Tarts recipe here.

Caramelized Onion and Goats Cheese Tarts: an easy and delicious appetizer for entertaining.

Also check our Stuffed Mushrooms recipe here.

Stuffed Mushrooms -A simple, go-to, tested and true bread crumb stuffed mushroom recipe perfect a party, and guarentted to be a hit with mushroom lovers.

You might also enjoy our Slow Cooker Spinach and Artichoke Dip recipe here.

Slow Cooker Spinach and Artichoke Dip: Perfect for easy entertaining, just add everything to the slow cooker and forget about it!


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