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

cheese board items laid on a wooden cutting board with words on top

What should be in a Simple Charcuterie Board for Beginners?

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.

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!

cheese board items laid on a wooden cutting board with words on top

Best Cheese for Charcuterie

I’m sure there are rules somewhere about this, but my opinion is: put cheese on your cheese tray that you like to eat.

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

  • 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).
  • You can even put stronger cheese, like blue cheese, if you want it.

I like to try and cut each cheese in a different way (cheese cubes, cheese slices, some wedges, etc) so they’re distinguishable. I also love mixing hard cheese and soft cheeses.

cheese board items laid on a wooden cutting board with words on top

Meat for a Simple Cheese Board

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.

Vegetables and Fresh Fruit

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.

cheese board items laid on a wooden cutting board with words on top

Best Crackers for Charcuterie

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.

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

Other Ingredients on a Simple Cheese Platter

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 or other dips
  • Chocolate – chocolate and cheese pair well together. Get a dark chocolate bar and just break pieces to fill in the board.
  • Dried Fruits go great on charcuterie platters too
cheese board items laid on a wooden cutting board with words on top

How to assemble 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.

  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. 

What can you use as a charcuterie board? What else do you need?

  • Usually you’ll use a large wood board or cutting board or even a platter, large plate or tray.
  • The type of 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!
  • Small bowls are perfect for holding olives or dips
cheese board items laid on a wooden cutting board with words on top

Easy Cheese Board for Beginners

5 from 10 votes
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.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Yield 12 servings
Serving Size 1 serving


  • 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
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  • Arrange all ingredients on large serving tray. 

Recipe Nutrition

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

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

Some of my other favorite appetizers:

Last Updated on November 2, 2023

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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  1. Wonderful article! Have been trying to decide what I could do for my Wedding reception. How great to put small Charcuterie boards on each table as part of the centerpieces. My brain is on overtime! We will also be serving an Italian dinner. I’m really stoked now! Thank you for the idea!!

  2. Our daughter served a beautiful charcuterie board when we visited last spring. Now my entire family is coming here this weekend and my husband was hoping I could use my new bark-edged board to serve as nice a selection as she did. Your post inspired me and gave me a direction to start! Thanks!