Best Cheeses For Your Next Charcuterie Board

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So, you’re thinking of putting together a charcuterie board and need some ideas on different types of cheese to include? Want to impress your family, friends, or clients at a gathering? Or, maybe you’re just curious and want to educate yourself. You’ve come to the right place! We’re going to introduce you to types of cheese for a charcuterie board that go above and beyond the standard cheddar.

What Is Charcuterie?

Charcuterie, a French word originally referring to the craft of preparing and arranging preserved meats, has evolved to encompass the creation of visually appealing and delicious charcuterie boards.

These boards often include an assortment of cheese, carefully selected to complement the flavors of the meats. To choose the best cheeses for your board, consider a variety of textures and flavors.

What Are the Two Main Charcuterie Items?

Charcuterie is a delightful culinary art known for its two main components: cured meats and great cheese. Cured meats result from an age-old preservation technique that combines the flavors of salt, spices and sometimes smoke to create mouthwatering, savory treats.

On the other hand, cheese is an essential part of any charcuterie board, offering a diverse range of flavors, textures and aromas.

Is Charcuterie a Meal or an Appetizer?

Charcuterie can be both a meal and an appetizer, depending on the portion size and how it is served. As an appetizer, charcuterie boards usually feature a variety of cured meats, cheeses, olives, fruits and crackers, intended for sharing among guests before the main course.

When served as a meal, the charcuterie board or platter typically includes larger portions and a more extensive selection to make it more filling and satisfying.

What Is Traditionally Found on a Charcuterie Platter?

A charcuterie platter is an enticing and aesthetically pleasing array of cured meats, cheeses and accompaniments. The star of the board is typically an array of high quality, thin sliced meats such as prosciutto, salami, and chorizo.

Various kinds of cheese are complemented ranging from soft and creamy brie to sharp cheddar or tangy blue cheese. A well-curated charcuterie board includes accompaniments such as crusty breads, crackers, olives, pickles, and dried or fresh fruits to enhance the flavors and textures.

The Best Cheeses for a Charcuterie Board

Cheese is one of the main staples of a great charcuterie board. Understanding the different flavor profiles, textures, and pairing companions is essential to creating an epic board.

Parmesan (Best Hard Cheese)

Parmigiano-Reggiano, more commonly known as Parmesan, is an Italian classic that definitely deserves a place on your board.

This salty cheese pairs well with just about anything on a charcuterie board. Its grainy texture and nutty, savory, and slightly sharp flavor pairs well with a variety of accompaniments, from sweet fruits to salty cured meats.

Parmesan can be served in a chunk, as thin shavings, or coarsely grated.

You must also bear in mind that not all parmesan is created equal: look for DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) on the label to ensure you are getting the real deal from the specific region in Italy where it is made with the utmost quality and care.

Aged Gouda

Aged Gouda is a flavorful hard cheese from the Netherlands that adds a touch of richness to any charcuterie board. With a deep amber color, it’s impossible not to notice this delicious cheese on your board.

Gouda is one of the most popular cheeses in the world today. It is a sweet, creamy, yellow cheese and is often used in many dishes.

Aged gouda, however, has a much more distinct flavor, that can be both sharp and sweet, compared to the gouda cheese many are familiar with. Cheese aging is an important part of the cheese making process and aged gouda is a great example of how aging can transform cheese.

Pair aged gouda with figs, walnuts, dark chocolate, or a robust red wine for a mouth watering combination that will elevate your charcuterie experience.

Aged Asiago

Asiago is an Italian cheese with a unique flavor profile depending on its aging process.

When young, Asiago is semi-soft and creamy with a mild fruity taste. However, as it ages, it becomes a hard cheese, boasting a sweet, sharp, and slightly tangy flavor.

The cheese pairs beautifully with cured meats like sopressata and prosciutto as well as marinated vegetables, olives, crusty bread, and a full bodied red wine. To ensure you are getting the highest quality product, look for the Asiago DOP label when purchasing your cheese.

Gruyere

Gruyere cheese, a classic Swiss variety, is an exceptional choice for any charcuterie board. This hard cheese, made from high quality cow’s milk, offers a delightful combination of taste and texture that will leave you craving for more.

This cheese shines when paired with fruits like apples or grapes and a drizzle of honey to create a splendid balance between sweet and savory.

Manchego

Manchego is Spanish sheep’s milk cheese that can only be produced within the region of La Mancha. The taste of Manchego can range from mildly tangy and buttery in younger varieties to a substantial nutty and tangy flavor in aged versions.

With a firm creamy texture that’s slightly crumbly in aged varieties, Manchego makes for a remarkable companion to Spanish meats like chorizo, jamon, and salchichon. Pair it with olives, crusty bread, and a dash of aged balsamic vinegar.

Cheddar

There’s no denying Americans love their cheddar! White cheddar, mild cheddar, sharp cheddar – if it has the word ”cheddar” we usually love it. A simple slice of cheddar cheese goes just as well with salami as it does with crispy apples, so it’s ideal for a charcuterie board.

Just remember, the more aged the cheddar the sharper the flavor. So bold flavors like pickles and mustard accompany cheddar nicely.

For something extra special opt for aged white cheddar. The sharp bite can be a nice contrast to fruits like apples and grapes.

Havarti (Best Semi-Soft Cheese)

Originating from Denmark, this creamy, buttery cheese is made from cow’s milk contributing to its rich and smooth texture. Havarti is a versatile cheese that pairs well with a variety of accompaniments such as fresh fruits, artisanal crackers, and thinly sliced cold cuts.

Its semi-soft consistency allows it to be easily spread or sliced, making it a crowd-pleasing option for your next charcuterie board.

Muenster

Muenster, a popular American cheese of French origin, offers a more complex flavor and profile than its semi-soft counterparts. Ranging from mild to sharp depending on the age, its versatility allows it to be enjoyed with a variety of foods in numerous ways.

Muenster cheese pairs well with salty meats like prosciutto or capicola along with toasted almonds and fresh berries. Savor the unique combination of flavors, textures and visual appeal that Munster brings to your charcuterie board.

Burrata (Best Soft Cheese)

Burrata has become all the rage in recent years. One bite and you can easily see why. Fresh, creamy, and buttery, it is a singular taste treat. It’s soft Italian cheese that gives mozzarella a run for its money.

Salty and savory ingredients like olives, cured meats, artichoke hearts, pimento peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes work particularly well with this cheese.

Double Cream Brie

Brie is one of our favorite cheeses to serve on a charcuterie board for many reasons. The round, white, soft cheese looks beautiful surrounded by colorful fruits, green and deep brown olives, creamy colored nuts, and cured red meats.

In addition to its aesthetic appeal, brie pairs well with both sweet and savory combinations. And the soft texture plays beautifully with crunchy crackers.

And for your charcuterie, we highly recommend baked brie with herbs and honey.

Goat Cheese

Pile the crackers on your charcuterie board, because you’ll want to smear goat cheese all over them. Goat cheese is one of the most versatile cheeses to use on your charcuterie board. This underrated cheese can be transformed by simply adding different ingredients: from honey to everything bagel seasoning to crushed nuts to fresh herbs like basil, sage, and cilantro. Adding a non-cow’s milk cheese can help elevate your board and provide options for your guests.

Boursin

This cheese is deliciously creamy and spreadable. It is also extremely rich and decadent. Bourasin is much more “spreadable” than brie, making it a perfect topping for crackers and slices of bread. Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs is our favorite and a must-have on any charcuterie board. Boursin can also be found in most grocery stores, too, which makes it accessible even for the spur-of-the-moment charcuterie boards when you have pop-in guests or on a night when you simply don’t feel like cooking.

Gorgonzola (Best Blue Cheese)

Gorgonzola, an Italian classic, is an all-purpose choice that can be found as either a more piquant and firm, aged version (known as a Gorgonzola Piccante) or a creamier and milder one (Gorgonzola Dolce).

Made from cow’s milk, Gorgonzola is carefully crafted to develop its characteristic blue veins, which import a sharp tangy taste that perfectly complements the cheese’s rich, buttery undertones.

If you’re a fan of tangy cheese but don’t want anything too overpowering, Gorgonzola can be an ideal starting point.

Roquefort

Roquefort is a French cheese renowned for its pungent aroma and intense complex flavor. Made from sheep’s milk, Roquefort is easily distinguished by the blue veins that run through the moist and crumbly body.

Roquefort is rich, creamy, tangy, and salty making it a perfect addition to salads and dressings. If you want a bold and intense flavor, then this cheese is an ideal addition to your charcuterie board.

Why Choosing the Right Cheeses Matters for Your Board

When it comes to assembling the perfect charcuterie board, the selection of cheese can make or break the overall experience. Choosing the right cheese is critical for several reasons.

Enhancing the Overall Flavor Experience

A well-curated cheese selection contributes to a wide variety of food flavors from mild and creamy to bold and sharp. The right combination of cheese allows you and your guests to explore new taste sensations and enjoy the complexities of different flavors.

Pleasing Guests with Various Preferences   

It’s essential to cater to your guests’ diverse tastes when creating a charcuterie board. A balanced assortment of cheese ensures that everyone can indulge in their favorites while also discovering new favorites.

Creating a Unique and Memorable Spread

The cheeses you select for your charcuterie board are a reflection of your style and taste. By choosing a variety of visually appealing and flavorful cheeses you can create a one-of-a-kind spread that family and friends will remember long after the party is over.

Selecting the perfect assortment of cheeses for your charcuterie board is an essential aspect of creating a memorable and delicious experience.

By considering taste, aesthetics, and guest preferences, you can create a unique spread that is sure to delight and impress.