With Christmas coming up in less than a week, I thought it’d be fun to do a small DIY on something I love to do for Christmas Eve and Day — create a cheeseboard! It’s a favorite holiday activity, and something you can easily whip up to impress and entertain, even on a budget. Here is my process for constructing a cheeseboard. Keep reading for some pro-tips!
The most fundamental aspect of any cheeseboard is the board itself. You can pick up a staple board for around $20 that you can use over and over again for other parties, holidays, and get-togethers. This is your chance to set the tone of your overall cheeseboard. Wood emits an earthier, richer aura. Slate has a more industrial feel. Marble exudes a chic and clean look. Cater your board to the style you’re striving toward! Here are some of my favorite boards and cheese knives.
Of course, you need cheese!! I’ve found that mixing and matching textures of cheese, as well as sweetness, savoriness, and sharpness works best. I aim for about three key cheeses when constructing a cheeseboard. Normally, the result is a soft cheese (like goat cheese, Saint Andre, or brie) and then two harder cheeses (like cheddar, gruyere, gouda, jarlsberg, commte, or manchego). Of these, normally one is sweet and two are savory. An example of a sweet soft cheese might be a honey goat cheese, while an example of a sweet hard cheese might be a white cranberry cheddar cheese. Depending on what’s available, looks good, and is on sale, I construct my cheeses accordingly. Pro-tip: a lot of grocers have a $1-$3 “Try It” cheese section, where you can find small cuts of random cheeses at great price. The selection and cuts are normally perfect for a cheeseboard!
Another cornerstone item of cheeseboards is the cracker. Of course, first and foremost, you need crackers that are going to positively compliment your cheeses. I generally purchase two varieties of cracker, one sweet and one savory. That mixture seems to do the trick! I recommend checking out Trader Joe’s for crackers. I love their dried fruit crackers and rosemary-infused crackers as well!
Dried Fruit and Nuts
Incorporating dried fruits and nuts add another dimension to your cheeseboard. You could also add a dollop of honey or jam for a little spread that doubles as a pop of color on the board. I love using ramekins for these little accessory items — they cut up the board evenly and neatly. I recommend selecting two to three in this category and playing around with placement on the board. Pro-tip: buy dried fruits or nuts (candied nuts are also great!) in bulk so that you only pay for what you need!
Attractive Cut Fruit
For color and definition, add intricate cut fruits. Pomegranates, blood oranges, persimmons, and figs all offer stunning patterns and brilliant colors to spice up your cheeseboard. These items double as edible pieces of your cheeseboard. They add equally to presentation and to taste — a win-win!
An easy way to tie the whole board together is to lay garnish in the “white space” between each item. By this I mean any space that’s open and empty. I recommend fresh herbs or flowers as an easy way to fill in the gaps. Rosemary, sage, pine, and lavender all work beautifully!
I love how easy cheeseboards are to construct, and yet, they look so elegant! What a fantastic Christmas Eve surprise too, bon appétit!