The Perfect Cheese Platter

Ahhh the perfect cheese platter. Is anything better? It’s the simplest appetizer to put together (and requires absolutely zero skill in the kitchen). When done right it’s everyone’s favorite. I have a little formula to make sure all of the right boxes are checked, and it makes it easy to create variety each and every time:

  1. Meats: Choose 2-3. Thin-sliced prosciutto is non-negotiable in my opinion. other options include salami (so many varieties to choose from), capocollo, serrano.
  2. Something sweet: It’s always nice to have some sweet things to top cheese with. I like to choose 1-3 things from this category. Examples: Honey or a chunk of honeycomb if you can find it, dried fruit, grapes, apples, dates, jams
  3. Something salty: To create balance against your sweets, choose 1-3 things from this category. Examples: Olives, mustard, paté, pickled vegetables, nuts (my favorite are Marcona almonds), roasted chickpeas, tapenade.
  4. Carbs (duh): Choose 2-3 here. Fresh baguette, crackers, breadsticks…you know the drill.
  5. And finally…Cheeses: Be sure to have a variety of textures (firm, creamy, spreadable, crumbly) and flavors (mild, pungent, tangy, smooth). You want there to be an option for someone with a more adventurous palette, while also giving an option for someone who has simpler tastes. Also, consider the milk type (sheep, goat, cow) and try to choose a variety. Choose 3-4 kinds of cheese, one from each category below. I like to splurge on 1-2 kinds of cheese, then go slightly cheaper on 1-2. Costco is an amazing source if you have a lot of mouths to feed. If you have a good budget, head to a cheese shop or a boutique grocery store where you can sample and get 1:1 help. There are hundreds of types of cheeses, and dozens of ways that you could categorize them. This is simply a few examples and how I organize them in my brain:

Soft + Creamy: Triple Cream Brie (my fav), Burrata, Camembert,
Taleggio, Humboldt Fog

Firm: Aged cheddar, Gruyere, Gouda, Pecorino, Manchego

Crumbly: Chèvre, Feta

Pungent: Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola

Other tips:

  1. Start by placing your cheeses on your board to give them proper real estate. Then, slowly scatter other items in neat piles around cheese.
  2. Serve cheeses at room temp. Take them out at least 30 minutes before guests arrive (you can keep them loosely covered).
  3. Always “start” the cheeses so that it looks inviting. You can create neat slices/cubes or more rustic crumbles. Add a small cheese knife for each type of cheese.
  4. Think seasonal. Choose items that go with the season, like berries or heirloom tomatoes in the summer or roasted squash in the winter.