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How to Make the Perfect Cheese Board This Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving, a time-honored tradition that brings families and friends together to express gratitude and share a sumptuous feast around beautiful fall tablescapes. We have some amazing While turkey may be the star of the show, creating a captivating and diverse cheese board can elevate your holiday gathering to a whole new level. 

Why You Should Include a Beautiful Board in Your Thanksgiving Menu

A Thanksgiving cheese board not only offers a range of flavors and textures but is also the perfect appetizer that includes everyone’s favorite things, but it also serves as a visually stunning centerpiece! Here are more reasons why:

  • Get it Anywhere – You can shop for these items at any local grocery store but I also recommend picking up some items at Trader Joe’s. Their selection of fall flavors is spectacular. 
  • It lasts long – A cheese plat can stay out at room temperature for a few hours. This appetizer is the perfect way to keep guests satiated while waiting for Thanksgiving dinner. 
  • It is easy – there is ZERO cooking involved which really comes in handy when there are a ton of different foods cooking on the stove and in the oven.

Aside from the food, you will need these three items to put your board together:

First, let’s cover the basics on what kinds of any cheese platter. Then we’ll explore the art of crafting a beautiful fall charcuterie board with unique designs!

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cheese board ideas

The Foundation: Different Types of Cheeses

The foundation of any exceptional cheese board lies in the selection of cheeses. While we all have our favorite cheeses, it’s important to aim for a balanced combination of unique flavors, different textures, and types of milk to cater to different palates. A good rule of thumb is to include three to five cheeses, offering a variety of intensities from mild to bold. Consider including:

1. Soft Cheese: Think creamy brie or delicate camembert. Their luscious texture and mild flavor provide a gentle introduction to the cheese board.

2. Aged Cheese: Aged cheddar, Gouda, or Manchego bring a richer flavor and firmer texture. Aged cheeses provide depth and complexity to the board.

3. Blue Cheese: Roquefort, Gorgonzola, or Stilton offer a bold and tangy profile. Their distinct flavors add a unique dimension to the assortment.

4. Goat Cheese: With its characteristic tanginess, goat cheese complements the other flavors on the board and adds a delightful contrast.

5. Hard Cheese: Parmesan or Pecorino Romano can be grated or shaved over other elements on the board. They provide a salty kick.

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Creating a Visual Feast

The saying “we eat with our eyes first” couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to cheese boards. The visual appeal of a well-arranged cheese board enhances the dining experience. Here are some tips for crafting a visually appealing cheese board:

1. Diverse Textures: Arrange cheeses of varying textures alongside each other. Place soft cheeses near hard cheeses, and crumbly cheeses beside creamy ones. This variety encourages guests to explore the tactile dimension of the board.

2. Fruits and Nuts: Incorporate colorful and seasonal fruits like apples, pears, fresh figs, grapes, and pomegranate seeds. These pops of color add vibrancy to the board. There are also many great options when it comes to dried fruit. Pick up some dried apricots, apples, or pears. Complement the fruits with a variety of nuts, such as pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, and pecans, for crunch and richness.

3. Charcuterie: Delicate slices of prosciutto, salami, or smoked meats not only provide a savory counterpoint to the cheeses but also contribute to the visual appeal. Fold or roll the Italian dry salami for an elegant touch.

4. Crackers and Bread: Offer an assortment of crackers and sliced baguette to provide a neutral base for the cheeses and accompaniments. Opt for a mix of flavors and textures, such as plain, whole grain, and seeded options.

5. Garnishes: Fresh herbs like rosemary sprigs or thyme leaves add a fragrant element to the board. Edible flowers can be used sparingly to introduce a touch of elegance and color.

6. Dips & Spreads: If you have crackers or bread (try french bread), you can’t forget a good dip! This can be as simple as olive oil with herbs. To enhance the fall flavors, we also recommend cranberry sauce, apple butter, fig jam, or a pumpkin dip. Don’t forget the pretty fall bowls to serve the dips in.

RELATED: Bright and Fun Thanksgiving Table For Kids

pear shaped like a turkey

Balancing Flavors and Accompaniments

Crafting a Thanksgiving cheese board isn’t just about arranging cheeses and accompaniments; it’s also about orchestrating a symphony of flavors. Aim to strike a harmonious balance that takes your guests on a delightful taste journey:

1. Sweet and Savory: Integrate sweet elements like honey, fruit preserves, or chutneys to counterbalance the savory richness of the cheeses. The sweetness enhances the overall flavor profile and provides a pleasant contrast.

2. Acidic Notes: Pickled vegetables or cornichons bring acidity to the board, cutting through the richness of the cheeses and refreshing the palate.

3. Texture Play: Use a mix of creamy, crumbly, crunchy, and chewy elements to create an engaging sensory experience. This interplay of textures keeps each bite exciting and dynamic.

4. Wine and Pairings: Consider the types of wines that pair well with the cheeses you’ve chosen. Red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon complement aged cheeses, while white wines like Sauvignon Blanc go wonderfully with creamy and soft cheeses.

RELATED: Simple Fall Tablescape with Mason Jar Lanterns

How to Design the Perfect Turkey Day Charcuterie Platter

The main key to putting together your grazing board is to completely fill it up. Do not leave any empty spaces. You will want to spread around the ingredients so that guests have access to different tastes at once. If there are any small empty spaces, fill them up with seeds or nuts. For a simple fall look, you can also add a few mini pumpkins throughout the tray.

Here are some fun ways to arrange all the ingredients.

First up is a festive Thanksgiving cheese board I made one year. I own this super useful lazy susan board that everyone always love. This year I turned it into a huge turkey using a pear as the face. Then I placed the cheese, crackers, meats, and grapes all around. This took minimal effort.

Simply cut the pear in half so it lays flat. Make the beak and legs from cheese and two chocolate chips for the eyes.

grazing board
cheese, crackers, grapes
cheese legs

In order to recreate this fun look, it’s best to use a lazy susan tray so guests spin it around to taste a little bit of everything. Here are some great options:

Our friends at Sugar and Charm took the classic approach with a nice large round tray. This board is completely full of delicious fruits, nuts, veggies, and cheese. Notice the green beans which are a unique addition. To complete the look, they added some simple fall leaves.

fall fruits and veggies

RELATED: 5 Reasons to Try This Fall Buffalo Checkered Tablescape

Urban Bliss Life created this super cute turkey simply with cheeses, meats, crackers, and a few almonds where the turkey legs stand on a large orange platter.

turkey appetizer

Here’s a hack that you must try for your board. Use a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter to cut your cheese. Delicious Table used a pumpkin cookie cutter to cut the brie cheese.

pumpkin cheese

If you are really crafty with wood, here’s how to create an amazing holiday board that stand ups! Oh The Things We’ll Make created this cool wooden turkey that holds skewers.

cheese skewers

Who says you can only use slices cheese? This rolled up cheese ball by Love from the Oven will certainly impress all your guests.

turkey cheese ball

As you prepare to gather with loved ones for a memorable Thanksgiving celebration, don’t overlook the power of a well-crafted cheese board. Elevate your feast by offering a variety of cheeses, textures, and flavors that engage the senses and create lasting memories. From the delicate arrangement of cheeses to the careful selection of accompaniments, a Thanksgiving cheese board is more than just an appetizer – it’s a work of edible art that brings people together in a truly delectable way. So, embrace your inner cheese connoisseur and curate a cheese board that becomes the heart of your holiday table.

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