PARTNER POST- Create the perfect holiday cheese board spread with Castello’s selection of expertly crafted cheeses. It’s sure to bring extra joy to this wonderful time of the year. Find inspiration here.
Learn how to serve the perfect holiday cheese board this season in just five simple steps. Plus, check out an easy cheese board condiment, cranberry salsa.
Ohh it’s officially that time of year again and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Christmas is one of my favorite holidays because this season is always filled with great friends and family surrounded by tons of delicious food! I can’t tell you how quickly my weekends fill up in December because of all the festive parties we’re invited to and cheeseboards have always been my go-to appetizer to share because not only are they an absolute staple when getting together with my friends, but they really create a whole centerpiece for the table. Cheese platters are always such a crowd-pleaser at parties too because they’re usually the spot where everyone ends up gathering, I mean they literally have something on it for everyone.
Oh and did I mention they pair perfectly with great wine??
Cheeseboards might be the easiest app to throw together because first of all you don’t have to actually cook anything. That alone makes them a winner for most people, especially during the busy holiday season, but second you can totally make this your own either by keeping it super simple or overflowing with delicious flavors, textures and shapes. Keeping a nice variety is key and I’ve listed some simple steps to follow when building your killer cheeseboard!
Step 1: Selecting your cheeses
I always like to have a wide variety of cheeses because everyone is different in what they prefer, but I like to serve about 3 to 5 different types on my board. A few staples to have are a soft cheese like brie or semi-soft such as havarti, a firmer cheese such as aged cheddar, fontina or smoked gouda, and I also like to throw on a strong blue cheese as well because some people just love it! For this particular cheeseboard I partnered with Castello Cheese and used a variety of their Creamy Havarti, Extra Mature Cheddar, Extra Creamy Danish Blue, and Havarti Jalapeño for some added spice!
I like to cut my cheeses in different ways too, which makes styling the board much more fun! Cut your firmer cheeses into cubes, the softer cheeses into slices and I like to leave the brie and blue cheeses whole, crumbling the blue just a bit to give the overall board some texture. You really can’t go wrong though because no matter what you do, it’s a beautiful mess!
Step 2: Perfect pairings
That’s right, every cheeseboard needs delicious accompaniments and I always like to have the perfect mix of sweet and savory. Here are some ideas for those little extra pairings:
Sweet – This can include fresh fruit like grapes, apples, pears, etc., (but make sure to keep it seasonal!), dried fruit like cranberries or raisins, and a dollop of honey also tastes perfect on top of brie or other soft cheeses. I also like to use different types of spreads and for this board I used my favorite fig and orange jam along with homemade sweet and spicy cranberry salsa which tasted incredible on top of cheese and crackers! You can find the recipe for this salsa below.
Savory – Here’s where you add your favorite charcuterie! I love to use a mix of spicy salami and prosciutto along with some Marcona almonds and candied walnuts. Olives are great to add to your cheeseboard as well, but I ended up making the cranberry salsa, rather than a tapenade, for some fun holiday flare.
Step 3: Your cheese needs a vehicle
I mean hey you could totally go to town and just grab your cheese as-is (hey I’m liking your style!), but every cheeseboard needs a variety of crackers to place that cheesy goodness on! For this board I used some basic round crackers, some crunchy bread sticks and Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps that I am legit utterly OBSESSED with!! Seriously guys these are THE best crackers and have so many different flavors to choose from giving you that perfect salty/sweet bite. My current favorites are the pumpkin spice and the cranberry hazelnut crackers, but for this board I went with rosemary raisin pecan crackers because UM amazing.
Seriously go buy these NOW.
Step 4: Garnish, garnish, garnish!
This part is so important for displaying your killer holiday cheeseboard and it also fills in any of those little holes or gaps you have leftover to complete the overall look! Make sure to choose garnishes that go with the season, so for example I added sprigs of rosemary and juicy pomegranate seeds which added a pretty pop of color, but I also placed a little greenery and pine cones around the sides just to give the display a little something extra. Your guests will be impressed and it sure makes everything that much more appetizing!
Step 5: Pour the wine
Every great cheese display needs a bottle or two of wine to go with it! Some of my favorite wine pairings are Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and a bubbly prosecco, but since we’re diving into the winter months, I served Folie à Deux Pinot Noir which paired perfectly with all the flavors on this board.
Now that your cheeseboard is assembled, it’s time to dig in! Here’s a quick little tip: I always like to set my cheeseboard out at room temperature for about 30 minutes to an hour before serving because this makes the cheese much softer and SO much more flavorful. Plus I mean who wants to eat cold cheese??
Okay so let’s talk about this sweet and spicy cranberry salsa!! I just love this recipe because it is super fun for the holidays and tastes delicious with crackers, bread and, yes you guessed it, CHEESE! You could either make this recipe as-is and simply use it as a topping OR you could easily mix the salsa with a block of cream cheese and make more of a spread. The possibilities are endless, but I promise it will look gorgeous on your cheeseboard and be a huge hit either way you serve it!
Looking for more cheese board spreads and inspiration? Try this butternut squash and cranberry recipe. It’s perfect on a crostini with blue cheese!
- 1 12 oz package fresh cranberries
- 1 Tbsp orange zest
- 2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
- ½ cup sliced green onions
- ½ Tbsp lime juice
- ½ cup raw sugar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- In a food processor or blender, pulse cranberries, orange zest, jalapenos, and green onions until finely chopped.
- Transfer to a bowl and mix in lime juice, sugar and salt, cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Enjoy!
Kelly is a DC based food blogger with a true passion for cooking and a love for photography. Her blog "Eat Yourself Skinny" has been featured on such sites as Cooking Light Magazine and Women's Health and she shares how maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be fun. As a home cook, she loves to put a spin on classic favorites by substituting calorie-loaded ingredients with healthier alternatives that still taste delicious.