Best cheese to buy for charcuterie boards
A charcuterie board has evolved into the ultimate snack platter served at gatherings of all sizes. And why not? With a mix of crispy salty crackers, savory or even spicy meats like pepperoni, salami or ham, sweet fruits like grapes and cherries, and best of all – cheese!
Not only a popular appetizer, the charcuterie board, is found in homes and restaurants, and loved for its ability to have something for everyone to enjoy. The ingredients are specifically chosen and artfully arranged to complement each other in texture (hard to soft) and flavor profile (sweet, salty, spicy, sour, bitter). Creating your charcuterie should include the meats, cheese, and small bites like nuts, pickles, and fruits, that you like best, but here are some tips to help get things started.
Chose different textures for your charcuterie board. Although purists identify cheese in subcategories like semi-hard and semi-soft, it is enough to make sure you have a blend of textures that will be great contrasts for the other ingredients on your charcuterie board.
Hard cheese can include thick slices or cubes of Gruyere or Swiss, or Manchego (made from sheep’s milk instead of cow). While parmesan and asiago are popular hard cheese, they can crumble and may be challenging to serve on a charcuterie board.
This category holds the largest number of options and the texture is super friendly to being left at room temperature. No need to worry about melting or running across the board.
Some great cheeses are cheddar, Colby, gouda, Monterey Jack, and provolone.
Using soft cheese often requires the use of an ingredient to act as a delivery system like a cracker, pretzel, or dippable food. Soft cheeses like brie, or even ricotta, are perfect for spreading and would work well with small bits of toast on the board.
Flavor Profile Pairing Ideas
One more step to choosing the best cheeses for your charcuterie board is by choosing flavor profiles that will complement the other components like salty meats and nuts, sour pickles, and sweet fruits. Here are some popular pairings to consider.
Brie is enjoyed with many foods, but this cheese is an absolute must if figs are on the charcuterie board.
Cheddar is a complimentary contrast to apples, grapes and pears or pickles, nuts, and a flavorful companion to pepperoni.
Colby and apricots, or on a rye cracker, this cheese is milder than cheddar, but can also be paired with similar fruits.
Gruyere and gouda work well with berries, crackers, and nuts.
Manchego’s versatility means it a great choice with almonds, hazelnuts, crusty bread, and figs.
Mozzarella, creamy and mild, a wonderful classic caprese style duo with tomatoes will always be welcome.
Provolone’s distinct flavor is perfect for spicy salamis, olives, and roasted red peppers.
Ricotta spread on toast and topped with strawberries can be great choices for a charcuterie board.
Swiss cheese is classically well partnered with ham.
Build your Board
Selecting a few key ingredients from the starter list above, the ones you already know you love, are a great way to build a delicious charcuterie board. Mix in elements like goat cheeses, hummus or other spreads, honey, and roasted vegetables to create a main dish feast.
For more tips on building the perfect charcuterie board by Sharon MacGregor, click here.