Making a Fruit and Cheese Board
One of my favorite things ever is a fruit and cheese board! If you’ve never tried one, you need to, seriously.
The different savory flavors of the cheeses mix so happily with the different sweet flavors of the fruits. All the flavors combine with a variety of scrumptious nuances. Plus, they’re fun to eat because it involves eating with your fingers! For some reason eating a fruit and cheese board somehow makes you feel like you’re lounging in the Garden of Eden.
It is indulgent and special, and sometimes we need something that is just that! Sure, making a fruit and cheese board is perfect for a special occasion, but it’s also great for a special treat at regular times too! Whip one up for just you, or just you and your S.O. on any given day.
Special occasions when you might consider serving a fruit and cheese platter include:
- book clubs
- dinner parties
- holiday celebration
- baby shower
- bridal shower
- birthday party
- graduation party
- New Year’s Eve
Let’s discuss how what fruits, cheeses and accompaniments to use for a most delicious fruit and cheese platter! It’s not that hard, with a few tips and tricks it is quick easy and fun. Plus, you’ll get to be a bit artistic and creative as you arrange your ingredients on the board. Take pleasure in the process!
Fruits to pair with cheese
Let the seasons be a guide here! The best fruits available are those in season—in winter, it is sliced pears, apples, persimmons, and quartered pomegranates. In addition, dried fruits are perfect in winter, such as dried cherries and dried apricots.
In the summer, fruits abound, so choose from a wide variety of berries, cherries, plums and peaches. Really juicy fruit such as watermelon is a bit trickier to work with for a cheese board, so precautions will need to be taken if your heart is set on it! Keep reading for some of my must eat pairings of fruit and cheese to choose from.
- Apples: Thinly sliced Pink Lady, Envy (so good!), Honeycrisp, Opal, Granny Smith, Gala or Fuji apples are all great options that go perfectly with almost any cheese you can think of, like pears, since their flavor is mild the cheese can be the star. Try apples with a drizzle of honey or a dollop of fig jam. Apples contrast well against powerful cheese flavors like a sharp cheddar, Gruyere or the crumbly cheeses.
- Pears: D’Anjou, Bosc, Comice or Barlett are all delicious pear varieties to pair with most any cheese, although I tend to especially love them with Gouda and brie!
- Persimmons: Fuyu persimmons can be sliced up just like an apple. They are sweet and mild and yummy and it seems like so few people have tried them! Pair them with soft cheeses like Burrata, goat cheese or Camembert. Persimmons give an added bonus of bright orange color to your cheese board—beautiful!
- Pomegranates: These jewels have bursts of sweet-tart juice that are amazing with feta, Swiss, or goat cheese. I recommend segmenting the pomegranate into quarters for a beautiful presentation on the cheese board.
- Grapes: A cluster of green or red grapes still on the vine is picturesque and just feels likes indulgent luxury—that’s what we’re going for! Leave it as one large cluster, or snip it into smaller smaller clusters with scissors if people will want to grab them off the platter.
- Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are all fantastic with cheese and make for perfect finger food. I especially love berries with feta, but it’s also awesome with brie (I mean, what is NOT awesome with brie, right?)
- Apricots: During the summer, grab those fresh apricots for your platter! The rest of the year, dried apricots are delicious too. Bleu cheese and goat cheese go well with apricots, yummy!
- Plums: Bold, sweet plums go well with strong, salty cheeses like Fontina or Manchego. Or brie, of course.
- Oranges and blood oranges: Blood oranges are strikingly pretty—use their sweet citrusness to dress up your platter and pair them with brie’s salty creaminess.
- Dates: Dates are really sweet—like, insanely so. Which means they are amazing with stronger flavored cheese like goat cheese.
- Fresh or dried cherries: Try them with Camembert, brie or goat cheese for a classic combo.
- Fresh or dried figs: One of my favorite things on earth is fresh figs! It’s surprising how many people haven’t tried them. Get them in the summer if you can from farmer’s markets, and cut them in half vertically for a stunning visual on your cheese platter. Pair figs with walnuts, honey, and brie or Manchego cheese.
- Cherry tomatoes: Tomatoes are technically fruit, and they fit on a fruit and cheese board! They fit right since they have bright color and can be eaten easily with fingers.
- Veggies: If you like add some veggies too, like sliced cucumber or radish rounds, or sticks of carrot or celery!
Best cheeses for a fruit and cheese board
Choosing cheese for a cheese board is all about considering variety in texture, taste and appearance. The goal is to mix it up! A good rule of thumb is to have three different cheeses, ideally visually different—something circular, something wedge-shaped, something sliced or cubed, for instance. Another way to plan for this difference is purchasing a soft cheese, a hard cheese, and a crumbly cheese.
Explore the specialty cheese sections located next to the delis in most grocery stores. Some places will give you samples and a cheesemonger will help you pick out good ones if you start feeling overwhelmed.
I recommend trying cheeses a bit out of the box sometimes, you may be surprised how delicious your discoveries can be! For example, if you’ve had standard, regular Gouda, try exploring one of the many more variations on Goudas that exist, for fun.
My favorite soft cheeses
- Brie: Brie is one of my favorite cheeses with its creaminess and soft, mild flavor, it’s often my go-to for a fruit and cheese platter! Brie comes in varying sizes of wedges or rounds with a white, edible rind, and it works well as a centerpiece on the board. It goes with just about anything on your platter but it goes particularly well with apples, cherries, dates, strawberries, figs, pistachios and French bread. Use a separate cheese knife or other small knife for brie on your board.
- Camembert: Camembert is a lot like Brie in terms of flavor and texture, although with a slightly stronger taste. I would choose either Brie or Camembert for a cheese plate, but not both because they are too similar.
- Boursin/Gourney: This is a spreadable flavored cheese that’s so yummy eaten on crackers and there are a few flavors like the Shallot & Chive or Garlic & Herb. You can find it at Costco and in most grocery stores. Make sure to include a small knife on the cheese board for this one especially.
- Fresh mozzarella: Fresh mozzarella is a soft, creamy cheese with a mild flavor. The fresh little mozzarella balls (or pieces of mozzarella) go well with slices of persimmon, and you don’t need a knife for them.
- Burrata: This is an unusual and interesting cheese where the outer part is made from mozzarella and the inside is made from stracciatella and cream for a super soft texture. Burrata is amazing paired with figs or peaches! This is another situation where I would choose between either burrata or fresh mozzarella cheese, but not both for the same fruit and cheese board.
My favorite hard cheeses
- Parmigiano-Reggiano (aka Parmesan) cheese: Pieces of this sharp, salty, nutty cheese are always a great selection! It contrasts other cheese varieties and it’s often called for in other recipes so you might have some lying around already. Parmesan pairs well with pears, figs, walnuts, dates, grapes and honey. If you choose Parmesan for your fruit and cheese platter, it’s helpful to have a wide knife to cut off chunks or slivers.
- Aged cheddar: A really good, cubed or sliced aged cheddar is a nice option for a fruit and cheese board—adults (and kids) like it! There are many cheddar varieties, and whether you choose sharp or mild, it’s hard to go wrong with cheddar on your cheese board. You might want to try a bolder flavor like a white cheddar, which pairs wonderfully with apples, pears, grapes, dates, nuts, and honey. But a mild cheddar is familiar to everybody and also pairs well with apples, pears, grapes, nuts, honey, and dates.
- Gouda: There are many variations of delicious Goudas on the market! Smoked Gouda is a semi-hard cheese with a sweet, creamy interior and rich flavor that goes well with apples, pears, cherries, and apricots. Goudas are another one of my very favorite cheeses—there’s a reason why it is FAMOUS in the Netherlands!
- Pepper Jack cheese: Pepper Jack cheese is just a creamy Monterey Jack with added spicy peppers for a kick, which is so yummy! This is a great snacking cheese and because it’s full of flavor it also works well for a fruit and cheese platter. Pepper Jack cheese pairs well with peaches, apples, pears, honey and crackers.
- Gruyere: This distinct cheese from Switzerland has a amazing flavor that I love to use in cooking, but it also works well on a fruit and cheese platter. Gruyere works well with walnuts, hazelnuts, dark chocolate, apples, plums and cherries.
- Manchego cheese: This firm, sheep’s milk cheese is from Spain and has a rich, lightly nutty taste. Pair Manchego cheese with figs or fig spread, almonds, or crusty bread. Give your fruit and cheese platter some Spanish flair by including Manchego cheese!
- Asiago cheese: Asiago is a super hard, strongly flavored cheese that is kind of like a cross between a sharp cheddar and Parmesan. It’s fantastic paired with plums, tart apples, and grapes.
- Bleu cheese (Gorgonzola/Roquefort/Stilton): Some people don’t like bleu cheese and some people LOVE them (I’m a bleu lover!). Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton are three of the most popular varieties and go so well with pears, apples, honey, figs, hazelnuts and candied walnuts.
- Chèvre/goat cheese: Goat cheese is a full-flavored soft cheese that’s versatile because, like brie, it seems to go with almost everything! Go for a plain goat cheese or choose from many different flavored options at well-stocked grocery stores. Goat cheese pairs well with apricots, pears, apples, pepper jelly, figs, cherries, honey, grapes, dried cranberries, dates, oranges, strawberries, almonds and walnuts.
- Feta cheese: Feta is tangy and salty, a flavor that goes perfectly with blueberries, strawberries, apples, grapes, oranges, pears, and nuts.
Additional goodies to include on the board
- Honey or honeycomb: One of the best additions for fruit and cheese is honey! Put some yummy raw honey (which also has great health benefits!) in a small dish on the board. To be even more special, use actual honeycomb as a pretty chunk on the platter.
- Dark chocolate: A little dark chocolate goes a long way on a fruit and cheese platter! Dark chocolate is super delicious with both fruits and cheeses, and who doesn’t want chocolate on their platter?!
- Nuts: They should be either candied in a healthy way, or roasted, salted, and shelled. My favorites for a fruit and cheese board are walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts, although pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts, and other mixed nuts are good choices too.
- Bread & crackers: There are lots of different shapes and textures from buttery to crunchy to seedy options. Try pretzels or a French baguette sliced thinly. I don’t usually include them on my fruit and cheese boards, but if I do I get gluten-free ones!
- Sauces or spreads: Little jars or bowls can hold a couple additions of mustard or jam. Go for unique flavors like sour cherry preserves, fig orange jam, or bacon jam because they add a lot of variety to a fruit and cheese board.
- Olives & pickles: I am in LOVE with the many delicious olives and pickles available at my local health food stores. They’re great for you too! For a fruit and cheese platter, try dark kalamata olives, cornichons (little tart French pickles), or pimento stuffed green olives.
- Charcuterie meats: Sometimes I mix it up with my fruit and cheese platters and include sliced pepperoni, sliced salami, summer sausage, or other Italian meats. Their savory saltiness definitely flavor variety.
Tips for serving the fruit and cheese board
- Bring cheese to room temperature, for optimal flavor. Cheese flavors become more pronounced at room temp, rather than cold.
- Serve cheese with small cheese knives and spoons. If you’re having a party of more than 2, have a cute cheese serving utensil set you can whip out for the occasion. If you’re eating alone, feel free to cut up and prepare everything and just enjoy with your FINGERS!
- Plan on 2 or 3 ounces of cheese per person, depending on the occasion.
Making the fruit and cheese board attractive
Fruit and cheese boards are an opportunity to get a little creative and make a work of food art! Cheese boards can be so gorgeous, right?! Plus, your cheese board looking beautiful is part of the enjoyment of it—your eyes feast on it first. Use these aesthetic tips for arranging your platter:
- Use odd numbers (3,5,7) of cheeses, meats, bread options, etc., because odd numbers tend to be most visually appealing in design.
- Geometric shapes provide visual interest, like cheese wedge triangles, cracker rectangles, and cheese wheel rounds.
- Contrasting colors look more striking and dramatic. Like red grapes and green pears, or green grapes and red pears.
- An overflowing fruit and cheese platter looks more enticing. Instead of being sparse and restricted feeling, make your board abundant and even almost overflowing. It’s the luxury feeling.
Work with the platter you’re using and stack or pile items or fan them out as needed to make things fit on the board! Display and array all the scrumptiousness.
How to make the best fruit and cheese board
- When arranging a fruit and cheese platter, first position larger items. This includes anything in containers like little jars of jams, bowls of olives, or a ramekin of honey.
- Next, place the cheeses near items they go well with. For instance, feta cheese might be near a bowl of olives. Try placing the cheeses on different corners of the board to distance them. Place a cheese knife next to each cheese so the flavors don’t get mixed.
- Lay out crackers or slices of French baguette near the cheese (if using). These items can take up a lot of space so you might want to keep them off the board and instead in a separate bowl or plate next to the cheese board.
- Add charcuterie next, if you are using any cured meats.
- It’s time for fruit! Sliced pears, apples, persimmons, pomegranate quarters, and so on. At this point, your board will be looking pretty full!
- Fill in empty areas with smaller fruits such as berries, grape clusters, dried fruit, nuts, and dark chocolate squares. An herb like basil or sprigs of fresh rosemary can also be used to add some decoration and fill in space.
Best platters to use
Beautiful wooden cutting boards make for perfect fruit and cheese boards—you can choose one small-, medium- or large-sized depending on what the occasion calls for. Find handmade versions of these at farmer’s markets or lots of great options at stores like Target.
Choose board details that appeal to you, you can find wood boards with rustic, rough sides, or circular shapes.
Slate or marble boards also make excellent surfaces! They are so decorative and pretty. Or try any other flat serving dish or platter you have in the kitchen. You could put a piece of white parchment paper loosely on top of a plain white ceramic platter, then add your goodies on top of that. It would make it feel more deli-like.