If you haven’t figured this out about me yet, I’m sorry I haven’t made it abundantly clear. I love cheese.
Cheese is probably my favorite food. I could eat cheese every single day and never grow tired of it. There are cheeses I love, cheeses I like, and cheeses that I don’t get along with. But ultimately, my soul longs for cheese.
All this being said, I love a good cheese plate. I will find any excuse to make a cheese plate. For a family gathering, for a fun surprise, or just because I’m craving cheese.
I think a lot of people associate cheese plates with high costs, but they don’t necessarily have to be expensive. Mine tend to range more in the $30-$50 range, but only because I like trying new things, and I load up my plates. Exhibit A:
The above is a cheese plate I made for Thanksgiving. You can see it referenced in my Thanksgiving 2017 post! I made this plate for my family, who I knew wouldn’t be into cheese as much as my husband and I are. I included some simple cheeses, some fruits, condiments, and meats that are great to enjoy while waiting for the meal to be ready.
This is a cheese plate I made around Christmas time. We went to this amazing cheese shop in Austin called Antonelli’s, and we bought about $50 worth of cheese and charcuterie (which isn’t all shown on the plate).
This was just a simple plate I threw together for my family, with high quality cheese and meat, and we sat around the table sipping wine and beer, snacking on cheese. What a wonderful time.
Before I get into my how-to, I just want to share one more cheese plate!
I made this plate for my husband on his birthday. I’m actually extremely proud of this plate. All the cheese and meat cost around $20, and I also bought some wine and sparking cider to go with it. The total cost of this plate was about $30. Including all the fruit, crackers, bread, etc. And between the two of us, we destroyed the entire thing, and went back for even more cheese.
Now, I want to start by saying that putting together a cheese plate does not have to be expensive or difficult. When I make a cheese plate, even if it’s just for my husband and I, I always include at least 4 cheeses. I like to have a variety. But you don’t have to include that much. I’ll break it down in more detail below.
How to Put Together a Cheese Plate
1. Get some cheese!
A good rule of thumb for building a cheese plate is having about 3-5 cheeses. I always aim for a variety of soft, hard, and strong cheese. For example, a brie, maybe some sharp cheddar, and a blue, if I’m just going for three. That way there’s a good variety and they’re all different flavors, textures, and strengths.
2. Maybe add some meat?
I like to add charcuterie (meat) to my cheese plates. This doesn’t necessarily have to be super expensive either. You don’t need to have the highest quality prosciutto in store. Just find some decent salami or even just pepperoni and lay a few pieces on the plate. It adds a new dimension to the flavor pairings, plus, it just tastes good!
3. Crackers, bread, yum..
I always try to have water crackers and toast points on a cheese plate. They’re neutral vessels for anything you want to put on top, and that’s what you need. I would stray away from flavored crackers, unless you’re going for very specific flavor combinations. You definitely don’t want to ruin the combinations, especially if you’re adding condiments into the mix.
4. Speaking of… Condiments!
When I say condiments, I usually refer to anything that isn’t cheese, meat, or bread, but I’ll keep it simple for the sake of my explanation. I highly recommend having honey on any cheese plate you create. If you can swing it, get honeycomb. It will change your world! Also, get some jams, add it to whatever cheese you want. I usually like jam with softer, brie-like cheeses, but it works well with a variety! Don’t forget your mustards either! Especially if you have a decent amount of charcuterie. The acidity of the mustard helps cut the fattiness of the meat, so you don’t feel so heavy when enjoying everything.
I do have a slightly weird combination to try, if you’re feeling adventurous. The cheese shop my husband and I went to, the person helping us had me try blue cheese and caramel sauce. Now, I straight up do not like blue cheese. But man. It was such a fantastic combination of flavors. If you’re feeling adventurous enough to try it, I definitely would recommend it!
5. Nuts and more!
This is basically everything else I would include on a cheese plate. Fruit, olives, pickles, nuts, etc.. This is typically what I follow- dried apricots, always; pickles or olives, or both; two kinds of fruit; two kinds of nuts scattered throughout.
Important rule of thumb- this is a cheese plate. Don’t go overboard with all your extras, because the star of the show is ultimately the cheese. You want to find extras that pair well with your cheeses, you want those flavors to mesh and make you want to come back for more and more, until you’re going back into the package for more cheese.
Spread the extras throughout the plate, sparingly, and keep in mind, you can always add more if you feel like it.
6. Money money money
Again, I tend to lean towards a more expensive range of cheese plates, but I also go for more expensive cheeses. There are plenty of cheeses you can find that are relatively cheap. Even some that are $2 a pop. Pair that with a cheap bottle of wine, and a pack of pepperoni slices, and you are set.
But really, you can definitely make an affordable plate. Also, keep in mind, my prices include cheese that’s leftover. So the amount of cheese you see is only a fraction of the amount of cheese I actually bought (because leftovers).
Ultimately, this is your cheese plate. Do as your heart desires! Only want cheese? Then have all the cheese! Want to load up on fruit and nuts? Have at it! There’s no one perfect way to create a cheese plate.
I moreso want to provide this as a guide, especially when making a cheese plate for a larger group. This ensures that everyone *should* find something that they enjoy on the plate. Plus, it looks cute, which never hurts.
Let’s give it up for cheese plates one last time!