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Cheese Board Ideas

HI everyone
I am making a cheese board for a cocktail party of about 20 people. What are some cheeses you like to put on your cheese platter? I am thinking of 3-5 different cheeses.

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  1. I am passionately fond of Hooligan, which is a very stinky cheese and not to everyone's taste. It's from Cato Corner Farm and available by mail order. I also love Montenebro, which is relatively easy to find.


    1. It isn't often I get to reply early to a CH post!

      It never hurts to start with an English or Canadian cheddar. There are dozens of good ones, but don't overlook Ireland and Vermont as good sources as well.

      You must have a blue...St. Augur or Roaring Forties are my favorites, but Cashel, Bayley Hazen, Port Reyes, Stilton or Gorgonzola may be more available.

      A soft creamy cheese is usually very popular. Avoid the supermarket brands of Brie or Camembert and look for Fromage d'Affinois, Brillat Savarin, Boursault or Seal Bay, all of which are delicious.

      To contrast the soft cheese, try something firm like Manchego (or Womanchego if you are an ERA fan!), 3-year-aged Gouda, Parm-Regg or Abbaye de Belloc.

      Every cheese board needs a goat or sheep's milk cheese. Consider Humboldt Fog, Petit Basque, or Tomme de la Grand Mere are very good and some of my other recommendations are sheepy as well.

      That's probably plenty, but if you are adventurous, throw in an unusual selection that some people may hate and others love, perhaps Huntsman, Cambozola, or a dessert cheese like white Stilton with Mango or Gourmandise.

      You may want to pick a theme like all French (or Italian or American) varieties. One thing that goes over well is to print a little card with some of the history of each cheese (or a short poem praising its virtues) to start a conversation going.

      Happy fromaging!

      4 Replies
      1. re: DonShirer

        amen on the stilton. my personal faves are typical: camembert or brie - no way you can go wrong with either of those two.

        1. re: epabella

          If you can get your hands on Chabichou from France, do so! It is wonderful.

          1. re: millygirl

            What great ideas!!! Thank you thank you . I recently tried explorateur ( not sure if I am spelling it right) would that be considered a soft cheese? I am also fond of aged Gouda ... And I think I am going to do a dolce gorganzola with a little fig jam :)

            1. re: italiana3

              Yes, Explorateur is a soft Brie-like triple creme similar to Boursault, Pierre Robert or Saint Andre. Aged Gouda is often available in both 3 and 5 year versions. Ask your fromagerie for a taste of each. I happen to have some gorgonzola dolce in the fridge right now and agree it is a contender in the blue category.

      2. I love Red Hawk, by the Cowgirl Creamery in Northern Cal. You can buy online.

        1. I love Buchereon, it's got the tangy crumbly center and the oozy stinky rind. Love it. I also think the Manchengo is a good choice, as well as aged gouda's. You didn't mention where you were, but see if there's a local cheese shop that stock local cheeses - that can always be a great conversation starter. And they can help you find a nice balance.

          1. You have such great suggestions, I don't want to add too much - just want to second the suggestion of a Brillat-Savarin. Everytime I've served that particular cheese, it's been gobbled up by everyone from French friends to Wisconsin farmers.

            1. Brilliant suggestions so far. I just discovered Valedon Bleu, which is a wonderfully strong Spanish blue wrapped in Sycamore (?) leaves, which might make for an interesting presentation. I love the ash-wrapped goat cheese out of Quebec

              (Alexis de Portneuf's Le Cendrillon), but not sure how easy that is to get outside of Canada.

              One uncommon cheese (for a cheese plate anyway) might be Haloumi. It'll take a bit of last minute-prep to brown up some thin slices on a pan or grill, but it's awesome -- gooey and toasty and slightly crispy.

              Have fun at the party! :)

              2 Replies
              1. re: CuriousCat

                thank you for the great ideas!! I will keep you posted on my cocktail party outcome! I am making these great zucchini risotto squares as well! :)

                1. re: italiana3

                  ohhh sounds good italiana3. care to share the square recipe?

              2. Don't forget to add some dried fruits like apricots and cherries. We like to also add fig jam.

                1. Humbolt Fog! Love it. Manchego. Aged gouda. Cambazola is great with chutney. My $.02.

                  1. I rarely stray outside regional cheeses. So, I'd go for a blue cheese - like Shropshire Blue. Something as powerful as a strong cheddar - so Shorrocks Lancashire. And something a bit softer but still with punch (I see little point in mild tasting cheese) - probably Bourne's Cheshire.

                    Makes it easy to sort out the accompaniements. Maybe some apple and walnuts. Maybe celery and rich fruitcake.

                    1. I loved aged gouda, its my favorite and that's the one cheese that I'd splurge on.
                      That and a good brie or goat cheese, I would probably have a Cheddar for the people that like it and without a doubt Bleu cheese. Good dried cherries, apricots and little dish of smoked almonds. Red Grapes, pears, and apple.
                      Good grief that's dinner for me! I'm not a cracker lover, but I do like bread, so I'd probably make or order some nice dark breads for the wine.

                      1. I really like Rogue Creamery's Smokey Blue with apples and grapes.

                        1. Cheese can be a bit rich and intense, even when served with crackers or bread, so I'd suggest serving fruit too. Pears are great with blue cheeses, and apples with cheddars, and it's hard to go wrong with grapes, which are attractive and easy to serve. The fruit compliments the cheese's texture and really does refresh the palate.