How to make an easy cheese board (charcuterie for beginners)

5 from 4 votes
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How to make the perfect easy cheese board. This is a how to make a charcuterie board for beginners post; learn the basics of what to include and how to make a beautiful appetizer centerpiece.

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easy cheese board charcuterie tray

It’s funny, the things that separate food bloggers from regular people. Occasionally someone will send me a Facebook link of some outrageous concoction, brownies with ice cream and cookies and cake or something, and they’ll be incredulous like OMG can you believe this? And all I have to say is, yes, I can believe it, and I’ve probably made it.

The other night my husband and I were watching Christmas Cookie Wars and he said, “wow that lady is really talented” at the same time I thought, “Wow, that chicks cookies are really basic.” ?

But the biggest difference I see between myself and my non-blogging friends is when it comes to charcuterie cheese boards. When I look at these photos, I think that this board is nice, but pretty basic. This cheeseboard, while fantastic, isn’t anything special. I mean, I’m not Mary or Holly or Averie.

However, whenever my friends come over and they see my cheese boards, they think they’re fantastic.

Pot-ae-to, pot-ah-to. (<< that works better out loud)

Anyway, after a mom’s night last month, a few of my friends begged me to tell them my “secret” to making the perfect cheese board. I’m pretty sure they wanted more in depth than throw cheese on a plate, so that’s why I decided to write this post.

This cheese board is an easy charcuterie tray for beginners. It’s fancy enough but not overly so; it’s the perfect appetizer to wow your guests.

To me, making a cheese board is all about balance: salty, creamy, sweet, soft, crunchy. If you check all the boxes you’ll have the perfect easy appetizer that doubles as dinner!

beginners cheese board

What kind of cheese do you put on a charcuterie tray?

I’m sure there are rules somewhere about this, but my opinion is: put cheese on your cheese tray that you like to eat. Are there going to be kids at your party? That will also shape what kind of cheeses you select.

Head to the deli/specialty cheese section of your grocery store for all these picks.

Here are my general cheese rules:

  • Dubliner – this is always on every single cheese tray I make. It’s made by Kerrygold and it’s wonderfully nutty. It has the consistency between cheddar and parmesan. Most grocery stores have it in the specialty cheese aisle (even Walmart and Target).
  • Sharp Cheddar – I love a nice sharp cheddar. My favorite brands are Tillamook and Cabot.
  • Parmesan or Asiago – you can often find flavor infused wedges with pepper or rosemary or wine.
  • Gouda or Gruyere (optional) – I often include Gouda when my daughter will be joining us. It’s one of the only specialty cheeses she (and lots of kids) likes.
  • Medium Cheddar is important to have if you’re having kids. Or Colby, but cheddar is better. I love Tillamook!
  • Brie or Goat cheese (or something soft and spreadable).

I like to try and cut each cheese in a different way (cubes, slices, wedges, etc) so they’re distinguishable.

cheese tray

What kind of meat do you put on a cheese tray?

Again, this is like the cheese: use what you like. Here are my suggestions:

  • Salami, for me, is a must. It’s often the only meat I put on my charcuterie tray, because it’s a universal meat. I often use regular salami and peppercorn salami on my trays (one for the adults and one for kids).
  • If you want to be a little fancier, try prosciutto, mortadella, or sopressata.
  • You can use thinly sliced meats or stick salami that you cut into chunks.

Really, there is no recipe for a cheese board. It’s all about what you like and then throwing it all together.

Vegetables and Fruits

I always like to add a few kinds of raw vegetables to my charcuterie. My two favorites are carrots and cucumber, but snap peas or celery go well also.

Cheese and grapes go well together, so I usually ad a few bunches of grapes as garnish.

how to make a charcuterie tray

Besides meat and cheese, what else goes on a cheese board?

The cheese and meat are the backbone of the tray. I always add them to the board first. Then I add my vegetables. Then, think about the following:

Crackers. Crackers and cheese are important. Just get about 2-3 different kinds of crackers, but you don’t need to put a ton on there. You’ll notice I don’t have many; you can always add more but believe me, you probably won’t need to unless you have lots of kids. Adults are weird and don’t eat tons of carbs with their meat and cheese.

My favorite crackers for a charcuterie board:

  • Pepperidge farm “Trio” crackers
  • Water biscuits (such as Carr’s)
  • Something gluten-free, like a Nut Thin or something similar

Other items to add to your board:

  • Olives and/or mini pickles, for a salty bite. I love a mix of green and black olives.
  • Nuts! My favorite to use are Marcona Almonds (get them at Trader Joe’s) but mixed nuts, almonds, cashews – anything works
  • Honey – I love drizzling honey on my cheese!
  • Jam or mustard
  • Chocolate – chocolate and cheese pair well together. Get a dark chocolate bar and just break pieces to fill in the board.

how t make a cheese board

That’s everything that goes into one of my easy cheese boards. My rule of thumb is that it should seem messy but it’s really not.

How to assemble a cheese board:

  1. Add your cheeses spaced around your board.
  2. Add your salami or other meat in a few different places.
  3. Place bowls of olives or honey or jam down the middle.
  4. Add crackers and vegetables in large open spaces.
  5. Place bunches of grapes, nuts, and chocolate in all the cracks.

It really is SO easy to make this on your own. You’ll never buy a cheese plate from the grocery again! Believe me, serve this cheese tray as an appetizer and people will be wowed. 

Looking to buy a great cheese board? Here’s where I find mine:

  • The board you see in these photos (or, rather, don’t see) is from Target. They have several options that are fantastic prices. Check out the kitchen aisle to grab a few.
  • Check out Ross, Home Goods, or TJ Maxx. They often have them cheap!
  • Amazon has some great options, just search “wooden serving tray”.
  • Want to splurge? Buy a Boos Block!

Want even more? Subscribe to Crazy for Crust to get new recipes and a newsletter delivered to your inbox. And stay in touch on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram for all my latest updates.

Easy Cheese Board for Beginners

How to make the perfect easy cheese board. This is a how to make a charcuterie board for beginners post; learn the basics of what to include and how to make a beautiful appetizer centerpiece.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 12 servings
Serving Size 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cubed
  • 8 ounces parmesan sliced
  • 8 ounces medium cheddar cubed
  • 8 ounces Dubliner, Gruyere, or other cheese sliced
  • 1 wedge Brie
  • 1 can black olives
  • 1 jar green olives use your favorite flavor
  • 6 ounces almonds or marcona almonds
  • 6 ounces other nuts (like cashews)
  • 6 ounces seedless grapes red or green
  • 2 packages crackers use your favorite kinds
  • 2 packages salami or Prosciutto use your favorite
  • 3 cups chopped vegetables carrots, cucumber, snap peas, etc.
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Instructions

  • Arrange all ingredients on large serving tray. 

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 397kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 1257mg | Potassium: 121mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 475IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 436mg | Iron: 2.2mg

Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Keyword appetizer, cheese

**Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!**

Some of my other favorite appetizers:

Pepperoni Pinwheels

pepperoni pinwheels on white plate

Ham and Cheese Croissant Sliders

spatula holding up ham and cheese croissant slider

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5 CommentsLeave a comment or review

  1. I wish we could share a cheeseboard again! Merry Christmas, Dorothy. Here’s hoping that we can spend time together again next year.

  2. Thank you Dorothy for this! I’ve been wanting to create my own cheeseboard. Your tips has been very useful. Wish I could read more about the kinds of Cheese you are using and other kinds of cheeseboard.

  3. Finally a cheeseboard recipe that perfectly spells everything out! Love how suggestions are provided for which types of cheese to use and include adults vs kids (knowing the targeted audience). This recipe gives name suggestions for crackers to use – love it! I am a true beginner and other sites/ blogs do not master the craft of speaking to a novice like myself or equally to an experienced reader. I’m so excited to try this recipe and will be back with my full review. For now, the shopping list is completed. Thank you!

    1. Made this recipe and it was fantastic! All the party guests loved it! I followed Dorothy’s receipe and didn’t deviate. Interestingly, one guest assumed that another fellow party guest that is well known for her impressive food spreads made it. That was quite a compliment!

  4. Made this recipe and it was fantastic! All the party guests loved it! I followed Dorothy’s receipe and didn’t deviate. Interestingly, one guest assumed that another fellow party guest that is well known for her impressive food spreads made it. That was quite a compliment!