Build a summer cheese board the fun and easy way! With fresh summer flavors and a variety of cheeses, your board is sure to be a hit as an appetizer at barbecues or backyard get-togethers!Jump to Recipe
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Comté Cheese Association. All opinions are 100% mine.
Summer is here and it’s time to treat your guests to good food and good company!
Putting a summer cheese board together is easy, fun, and makes a fresh and flavorful snack for a crowd. If you’ve never put a charcuterie plate together, I have all the tips and tricks you’ll need to make your very own.
Step by step, we’ll move through the basics of a summer cheese board, how to match flavors, and how to turn it into a work of art. I’ve kept this board simple, but feel free to fill yours with as much cheese, meat, and fruit that you want.
What is Charcuterie?
Charcuterie (pronounced “shahr-ku-tuh-ree”) is all about beautiful presentation and refined flavors. It’s a French word for cured meats, such as bacon, salami, and prosciutto. Nowadays, the word is associated with assembling meat products together with other accompaniments, such as dried fruits, nuts, and cheeses.
You’ll often see charcuterie boards on menus at restaurants. The flavors typically change with the seasons, but you will always find cheese and cured meats on the boards.
Step 1: Use a great cheese
If cheese is the star of the board, it’s gotta be good. Pick a few high-quality hard and soft cheeses from your local deli. Aim to serve 2 to 3 ounces per person when deciding how much to buy.
I highly recommend including a delicate and creamy Comté cheese. Pronounced Comté (“con – TAY”) cheese. Handmade every day by artisans in about 150 small village cheesemaking facilities in the Jura Massif region of France, it’s sure to start a conversation and delight your guests. Comté is also a pure and natural food as it’s made with no additives or artificial colorants, and it’s controlled at each level of production.
Comté is a staple for charcuterie boards because it’s truly unique. Each wheel has a distinct flavor and aroma based on the micro-region where it was produced, the season in which it was made, and the style of the cheesemaker. No two wheels taste alike!
Step 2: Choose your serving dishes
Add to the presentation by using beautiful serveware. This is what you’ll need:
- Wooden board or ceramic platter: For aesthetic purposes, I love to plate the snacks on wood or marble board, trays, or large platters. You could also use slate and label all of your ingredients in chalk!
- Small bowls or ramekins: To hold the small, loose ingredients, such as olives and nuts.
- Cheese knives: Have multiple sets of knives if your board has more than 1 type of cheese.
Step 3: Include All Of The Basics
All good cheese boards contain a variety of not only cheese, but also meats, fruit, vegetables, bread, crackers, and other accompaniments. I’m breaking it down for you below and including all my summer go-to favorites. Remember: the more color, texture, and flavor on your board, the better!
Include both hard and soft kind of cheeses. Hard cheeses such as Comté and sharp cheddar would be enjoyable on their own. One or two soft cheeses, like brie or wine-soaked cheese, would be delicious on crackers and bread.
Use a variety of fresh and dried fruits for balance. Choose fresh fruits based on the season, such as stone fruit, berries, figs, apples, pears, persimmons, and kiwis. Dried apricots, lemons, oranges, and freeze-dried strawberries would add sweet flavors and beautiful colors.
It’s up to you whether you want to include only one kind of meat or more. Use salty and savory cured meats that are easy to grab, like sliced prosciutto, salami, or soppressata. You could even keep it easy and slice pepperoni sticks into bite-size pieces.
The Dips and Spreads
The dips and spreads you choose will depend on the season and what you’ve included on the board. Keep it simple with a bowl of fresh jam, honey, or hummus. Alternatively, if your board is on the savory side, try my smoked salmon dip instead.
Add texture and break up the cheese board by filling your small bowls with all sorts of sweet and salty treats! Fill them with nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, and pistachios), crackers and bread (pretzel sticks, crackers, pita chips, sliced baguette), olives (kalamata, green, or black), and cornichons. If you still have space to fill, add slices of cucumber or an avocado rose for an elegant presentation.
Step 4: Make it look beautiful
Presentation is everything when it comes to charcuterie. Follow these simple steps when layering on all of your ingredients and flavors:
- Start by placing your cheese in a triangle shape on the board (A.K.A.: place a cheese in each corner).
- Next, fill your small bowls with the extras and dips, like olives, cornichons, jam, or hummus.
- Add to the presentation by wrapping and folding your cured meats. I like to wrap prosciutto into little rosettes and fold the slices of salami next to each other.
- To finish, fill the empty spaces on your board with the fresh and dried fruits, crackers, nuts, and bread. You could add edible flowers or fresh herbs as an additional garnish if you’d like.
Tips and Tricks
- Cheese is best served at room temperature. Remove the cheeses from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. Soft cheese might need closer to an hour at room temp to get that ooey-gooey texture.
- Whole Foods has a great cheese selection and deli counter. Trader Joe’s sells great cheeses on a budget and already packaged meat selections. Costco is a great place to find cheese and meats in bulk and at a lower price.
- Serve a knife for each cheese so the flavors don’t mingle. Include small knives or toothpicks and small spoons for things like jam, olives, and cornichons.
If you follow these tips and make your own summer cheese board, let me know! Leave a comment below, and don’t forget to take a picture and tag it with #lenaskitchenblog on Instagram. I love seeing what you come up with!
How To Build A Summer Cheese Board
- 1 Comté cheese, sliced
- 1 soft cheese
- 1 cheddar cheese, crumbled
- 2-3 assorted cured meats, such as prosciutto, salami, or soppressata
- stone fruit, sliced
- baguette slices, toasted
- Assemble all the ingredients on a wood board, platter, or tray.
- Add crackers and bread last so they don't get soggy if making in advance.
- Make sure to take your cheeses out of the fridge at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.