This post contains affiliate links.
Cheese platters and charcuterie boards are popular at events and for dinner parties, but knowing how much to prepare can make your preparation less stressful.
You will need 1-3 oz. of cheese per guest on a charcuterie board for a snack or appetizer. If you intend to feed a crowded dinner with a cheese board, you will need to have 7-8 oz. per person. Cheeses served as a dessert or a light lunch should be 1.75-4.5 oz. per person.
Read below to learn more about what should go in each type of cheese platter and how to craft the perfect charcuterie spread for your guests.
Cheese as a snack or appetizer
Castello Cheese recommends 1-1.75 oz. per guest, if you are serving cheese as a starter. When you are preparing an appetizer your goal is to wake up the taste buds and get guests ready for a meal. Your cheese choices should be tasteful and light. If you prepare too much cheese, you will spoil the meal by filling your guests prematurely. When serving an appetizer, choose about three types of cheeses.
You want to keep your guests in mind when choosing types of cheeses. As with any cheese board, you should provide a variety of mild to strong cheese. If you know your guests are accustomed to stronger cheeses, you can wow them with a couple of strong cheeses, but make sure they are served with some mild or medium cheese as well. If your guests don’t usually venture out for bold cheese flavors, keep things mild and add a medium or less pungent strong option, such as a sharp or aged cheddar or a salty ski queen.
Serving cheese as a snack is a little more flexible with cheese amounts. If you want a heavier snack, plan on about 2-3 oz. of cheese per person. If you are looking for something light, use the recommended amount for an appetizer.
If guests will be mingling at your event with cheese available as a snack, you have some freedom with the choice of cheese. Because you won’t be limited on space the same way you are when serving to a table, you can offer more varieties of cheese. The types of cheeses you offer should depend on what other types of snacks or refreshments you are providing, but there are some basics when it comes to cheese.
As a snack, you should offer strong options and mild options. You can impress your guests with a variety of sweet, creamy, earthy, and salty cheeses. You should also consider cheese texture. Goat cheese or brie cheese is soft and spreadable, whereas blue cheese or aged sharp cheddar can be crumbly. A fun combination for a cheese buffet could include some mild havarti, muenster, or mozzarella cheese, some sweet and creamy spreadable like blueberry goat cheese and brie. You can offer some medium options with sharp, aged cheddar, a sage derby, or ski queen. It’s also tasteful to offer some stronger options like bleu cheese or Roquefort.
If you have cheese out for snacking during an event, you should provide crackers or another food item to pair with the cheese. You should also consider adding other items to the spread, such as fine dried meats, nuts, fresh and dried fruits, and pickled foods.
Cheese for dinner
Each guest at a cheese dinner should be served 7-8 oz. of cheese. When preparing cheese for dinner, it is good to offer about five types of cheese. You can serve more than five, but try not to serve under five types of cheese for dinner.
When you are looking at types of cheese to serve, consider one or two strong cheese options, a couple of medium cheeses, and some mild or sweet cheeses to delight the palate. Consider a manchego or a more earthy Limburger to give some variety and strength to the cheeseboard. Also offer some familiar favorites, such as mozzarella, goat cheese, or Havarti.
When serving cheese as a meal, it’s important to serve other items with the cheese. A staple when serving cheese is some crackers, artisan bread, or fruits so your guests have something to enjoy cheese on. Fine meats are typically served on a cheeseboard as well. Consider adding some salami to your dinner. Dried fruit, nuts, and pickled foods are also great additions to a charcuterie dinner.
Cheese for lunch
Prepare 2.5-4.5 oz. per guest when planning a cheese lunch for an event. It is tasteful to keep the same guidelines as a cheese dinner, offering about five types of cheese and other complementary foods.
Cheese as dessert
Castello cheese recommends serving 1.75-2.5 oz. of cheese per guest as a dessert. The type of cheese you choose can help you determine how much cheese to serve within the range listed above. A stronger cheese should be served in a smaller quantity than a mild, sweet cheese. You may choose to offer only one type of cheese or a few options, but don’t offer too many options as a dessert. Keep it simple and to the point.
There are plenty of sweet dessert-type cheeses out there that can add a delicate touch to a fancy dinner. Goat cheeses come in all sorts of flavors and can be spread onto thin nutty crackers to offer a sweet, but textured taste. Pair goat cheese with fruit to achieve a sweet and satisfying dessert option.
Another sweet and salty option for a dessert cheese is ski queen, known by its fans as caramel cheese. Ski queen served on apple slices offers a unique sweet, caramel flavor that has just enough cheese essence.
While there are a lot of cheese options that are sweet and seem ideal for a dessert, it isn’t out of the question to end your meal with strong cheese. Offering a strong cheese can wow your guests and give them something to talk about. If you choose to use only sharp or stinky cheese, be sure to offer berries or something sweet to complement the intense cheese flavor.
Any cheese dessert should be served with something simple. It can be served with crackers, fruit, or sweet or artisan bread. Berries are a great option for a cheese dessert because they will keep nicely throughout the entirety of a meal and offer a gentle sweetness to any cheese.
Cheese types and flavors
One important aspect of crafting a charcuterie board or a cheese buffet is offering a tasteful variety of cheeses. Knowing about types of cheeses can help you know how to pair cheese with other food items, such as fruits and meats.
Not all cheese lovers immediately gravitate to the stinkiest or sharpest cheeses. Knowing some good mild options can help you cater to all palettes.
Havarti is a gentle cheese that goes well on any type of cracker or bread. Havarti is mild all over and will appeal to those less interested in cheese. It offers a mild creaminess and a mild flavor. Havarti is a great cheese to pair with meat. Because of its neutral flavor and soft texture, adding a slice of salami or prosciutto to a cracker and Havarti makes for a full flavor.
Goat cheese is a mild cheese with so much potential. In its common form, it is soft and spreadable, but it can be aged to sharpen the flavor and make it hard. Often, goat cheese is flavored with fruits or herbs and spices. Flavored goat cheese is a great addition to any charcuterie board or cheese platter and many consider it a staple. Because goat cheese has such a mild texture, it is great paired with nutty and grainy crackers that offer a lot of texture and wholesome flavor. It is also great, paired with fruits.
Leicester is sweet, creamy, and nutty in flavor. Adding Leicester to a cheese platter will impress your guests. Leicester can stand on its own and doesn’t need much enhancement from other foods. That being said, it goes really well with a simple cracker or baguette slice, with almond or pecans on the side.
Mozzarella is a cheese most are familiar with. When serving it on a charcuterie board, it can stand alone and offer a satisfying flavor with a creamy texture. It is very soft and can easily be paired with meats or fruits, but be careful in choosing your meats. Because it’s so mild, the mozzarella flavor may get lost in heavily spiced meats.
Gouda has a rich nutty caramel taste. It has a stronger flavor than other mild cheeses but is still a good one to serve for those who are less enthusiastic about cheese. An older gouda will be harder and stronger, but typically, gouda isn’t aged for very long. Gouda is very versatile and can easily be paired with any fruits, meats, crackers, nuts, or bread.
Muenster cheese is a very mild cheese that goes nicely with any cracker. It can offer a unique flavor, but it isn’t very strong. It can easily be paired with meats, fruits, and crackers, but because the flavor is very mild, you may risk losing some flavor if you pair it with strong meats.
Butter Cheese is as mild as you can get. As the name implies, it has a buttery taste and is on the creamier side. Butter cheese isn’t typically added to a cheese spread because it is so mild, but it can serve as a very nice palette cleanser. Butter cheese is easily paired with anything as a nice texture addition, but its taste will easily get lost when combined with any other flavor. (source)
Sharp, aged cheddar
Everyone loves a good cheddar, but you can’t beat a sharp, aged white cheddar. As cheddar ages, it gets harder and sharper. After it’s been aged, cheddar is a great medium cheese to offer with fruits. The sweet fruit complements the sharp cheddar taste and gives your mouth a gentle variety of flavors to enjoy.
Swiss cheese is a classic option for a charcuterie board. While swiss cheese offers a sweet, nutty flavor that can easily be paired with any other food, it is pretty common and won’t feel very remarkable on a cheese platter. While it doesn’t offer a high-status appeal, it still gives the great benefit of being very versatile and well-liked among many.
Derby cheese offers some visual pleasure to a charcuterie board, boasting bright green veins throughout the cheese block. A plain derby will give a smooth buttery flavor that is a great addition to any cheese meal, snack, or dessert, but a sage flavored derby will take that rich flavor to the next step. Sage derby goes well on crackers or fruits, but the delicate flavors may be stifled by meats.
Brie is a favorite among cheese enthusiasts. Brie is typically creamy and spreadable. Its flavor is rich and soft at the same time. Brie has a slight tang at the end but delivers a superb buttery flavor the moment you put it in your mouth. Brie is versatile and can be eaten with any crackers, fruits, or meat.
Ski queen is a less common addition to a charcuterie board, but it can wow your guests with a sweet and salty caramel taste. Ski queen is best on apple slices because of its caramel nature, but it can also be paired with other items.
Provolone is another common addition to a cheese platter. It provides a creamy buttery taste that is more noticeable than those in mild cheeses. Provolone can easily be paired with meats and crackers.
Bleu cheese is well known as a crumbly, moldy, stinky cheese. It has an intense tangy, metallic flavor. It is very strong, so it can hold its own when combined with any other food. Bleu cheese is a great addition as a strong cheese for those looking for something pungent.
Limburger has a tangy earthy flavor and has been compared to mushrooms. This earthy flavor works well with grainy or nutty crackers, but can also add a nice tang to fruit.
Roquefort is tangy and metallic. It is very strong and can hold a flavor when paired with any other food. Roquefort can be used similarly to bleu cheese.
Manchego is another very strong cheese that offers a rich and zesty flavor and a slightly salty finish. Manchego works well with fruits, but can also be paired with any other food item. (source)
What to serve with cheese
When serving charcuterie boards or offering a cheese buffet, you should consider offering other food items to complement the cheese and give some variety.
Crackers are nearly a must when serving cheese. They are great for accompanying cheese. There are many different types of crackers you can choose from, even gluten-free options. You should consider a hearty grain or nut-filled cracker to complement your softer mild cheeses, but other cracker choices are up to preference.
Fruits are a great addition to any charcuterie board. They can be paired with the cheese or eaten on the side. Offering a variety of fresh berries or apples and grapes is tasteful, but you can also consider providing some dried fruits that can stand alone and offer some familiar flavors to the tray.
Meats are another common addition. Serving fine cured meats, such as salami, pepperoni, pastrami, and prosciutto is a good move and can enhance a platter of cheese.
Other additions to a cheese platter or meal are pickled vegetables, such as olives, pickles, capers, or even mushrooms. Also, add nuts to add variety. Another side addition is artisan bread and jams, jellies, mustards, and butter.
In anything you add to your cheese, make it tasteful and simple. Impressing your guests and filling them doesn’t require a lavish display of unlimited variety.