A cheese plate is a delightful, well-rounded sensory experience. Serve before or after a meal, or as a focal point of entertaining. You’ll be amazed how a thoughtful selection of cheeses enlivens the conversation. Click here to see all of our cheese plate ideas.
General Guidelines for Creating Your Own Cheese Plate
Remove cheeses from the refrigerator at least an hour minimum before serving. The flavor of cheese is enhanced when it is eaten at room temperature, so allow yours to temper and take the chill off.
Any wooden board will do for your platter. You don’t need a special cheese board, just make sure each board is big enough so the cheeses can be placed a few inches apart, thus avoiding any transfer of aromas between them. Many people like to have a special platter to serve their cheeses on, but it’s really the cheeses that speak for themselves
Serve enough of each type of cheese so all your guests can taste them. If you’re serving a small party (4 people), choose three cheeses. To gauge quantity, assume the average guest will consume 0.75 ounces of each cheese.
Vary your cheeses by texture and flavor. Italian and Italian-style cheeses are always favorites when entertaining guests. As are cracker-cut sliced soft cheeses being the perfect size to top your favorite type of cracker. Picking other types of cheeses from the categories below will round out your cheese platter.
Fresh: The traits of fresh cheeses are soft, mild and creamy. Anything without a rind is considered a fresh cheese, including goat, feta and fresh mozzarella.
Soft: These cheeses have a creamy, sometimes runny texture and their flavor is usually bold and distinct. Brie is a good example, but don’t limit yourself to familiar cheeses.
Pressed/Firm: Known for harder rinds and full flavor that deepens over time, these cheeses vary from semi-hard (Cheddar) to hard (Asiago) to extra hard (Parmigiano Reggiano).
Bleu: Mold (the good kind) gives these cheeses their intense, idiosyncratic flavor. Bleu and Gorgonzola cheeses feel creamy on the tongue.
Expand your flavor range based on milk type. Cheeses made from different types of milk (cow, goat, sheep) have different taste profiles. For fun, ask if your guests can correctly name the type of milk used to make each cheese.
Serve at least one familiar cheese. Shy eaters will become more adventurous after they’ve started with a cheese they know. So be sure to include a cheese in your assortment that all your guests may have tasted before.
Separate strong-smelling cheeses. A noticeably odiferous cheese deserves its own plate apart from the others. This will help avoid transferring the aroma and altering the taste of other less odiferous cheeses.
Label each cheese. Labeling cheeses can be fun and creative and you won’t have to keep answering the question, “which cheese is this?” You can write directly on slate cheese plates with chalk or buy small chalk board name tags that stick right into the cheese. If you enjoy crafting, let your imagination flow. Any type of creative name tag can be glued to a toothpick or skewer to hold it in a chunk of cheese.
Give each cheese its own knife. The knife can be specialized, especially when cutting a soft cheese. You’ll find that having a variety of cheese knives is useful and fun. See our recommendations for cheese knives here.
Accompany the cheese with complementary foods, as well as palate cleansers. Choose a few different foods to eat with the cheeses that bring out their unique flavors. Cheese paired with fig jam, for example, offers an extremely flavorful sensory experience.
Breads: Offer sliced baguettes, breadsticks and crackers, but make sure they are mild. Avoid anything flavored with onion, garlic or other spices.
Fruits, nuts, preserves, meat: Go for slightly sweet and salty. For example, put out sliced apples, pistachios, tart chutney and cut salami.
Looking for other ideas? Check out our suggested pairings.
To provide a palate break between cheeses, encourage guests to eat a plain cracker or take a drink of water.
Explore cheeses at different ages. The flavor profile of cheese changes as it ages. Try creating a cheese flight consisting of several wedges of the same type of cheese. Choose a variety of Parmesans, as an example, that have been aged for different lengths of time. Notice how the age of the cheese affects its flavor and texture. You may be surprised which one you like the best.
Cello® and Cello® Riserva Cheese Plate Ideas
After Dinner Cheese Plate:
Cello Riserva Hand Crafted Asiago with dried apricots and roasted almonds
A Taste of the Italian Countryside:
Creamy Monteforte Bleu Cheese and Cello Riserva Hand Crafted Asiago with stone ground wheat crackers
Cello Riserva Parmigiano Reggiano and Monteforte Gorgonzola paired with Chianti, walnuts and grapes
Game Day Assorted Cheese Tray:
Dutch Gouda, Creamy Havarti, French Swiss and Aged Cheddar with assorted crackers
The Italian Trio:
Dutch Gouda, Creamy Havarti, French Swiss and Aged Cheddar served on assorted crackers with red pepper jelly, fig jam, sliced pears and assorted olives with sun-dried tomatoes
Cracker Cut Holiday Kabobs:
Dutch Gouda, Creamy Havarti, French Swiss and Aged Cheddar with cubed salami, country ham, smoked turkey and pumpernickel bread. Surrounded by small bowls of cherry tomatoes, small gherkin pickles and a creamy dressing. You can also put out bowls of mayonnaise and fancy mustard’s.
A Fruity Festival of Fun Cheese Plate
Cello Riserva Traditional Romano & Cello Riserva Parmigiano Reggiano with fruit vinegar glazes such as raspberry, apricot and blueberry and their corresponding fruit. Serve with an assortment of flat bread crackers. You can also serve with anisette biscotti and sweet holiday treats.
Healthy Holiday Veggie Platter Cheese Plate
Cello Riserva Copper Kettle Parmesan and Cello Stravecchio Provolone with fresh vegetables such as red radishes, baby carrots, green or white asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower florets, green beans and mushroom caps. Serve with whole grain crackers and your favorite herb dressing for dipping.
A Soft Touch of Elegance Cheese Plate
Cello Thick and Smooth Mascarpone and Cello Taleggio with small pieces of toast or blini. Top with a roll-up of smoked salmon and finish with a dollop of black caviar and garnish with a piece of dill. Serve with lemon wedges. Minced red onion and capers can also be added for a boost of flavor.
A Sweet and Salty New Year’s Treat Cheese Plate
Fan our slices of Cello Variety Pack Cracker Cut Aged Cheddar, French Swiss, Creamy Havarti and Dutch Gouda on a rectangular piece of slate, along with Montfort Bleu cheese. Stack country style walnut fruit toast slices or biscotti slices. Serve with a bowl of oven toasted mix almonds, walnuts and pistachios tossed in extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.