There is nothing more eye-catching and appealing then a well selected assortment of cheeses that are artfully arranged for a party. The cheese tray offers popular party sustenance with make ahead convenience. Today's deli section in the market allows you to choose from a wide variety of soft, creamy, dry, sharp and mellow varieties to keep it interesting and uniquely you.
Not sure what cheeses or how much to put on a platter? Below is a basic guide to popular cheeses and offers something for every taste. Pair with mild crackers, bread and fruit and you will have an opening act that will please every party guest!
Traditional Cheese Platter
For an appetizer cheese tray figure about two ounces of each cheese per guest. Below is an example of a typical assortment. When it comes to presentation, you can give even the most simple cheese assortment a dash of rustic charm or glitz and glamour with wooden cutting boards, marble tiles and other clever serving pieces.
6 ounces sharp Cheddar (or choose aged Cheddar or Comte)
6 ounces Swiss style cheese (or Emmental)
6 ounces Cotswold cheese
6 ounces pepper jack cheese
7 ounces Brie (or Camembert)
7 ounces Bleu or Gorgonzola cheese (or Stilton)
6 ounces Gouda (or Edam)
6 ounces Muenster (or Havarti)
Other good choices to add are Chevre, Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Fetta.
4 sleeves of crackers
- Substitute any suggested cheese for something that you prefer or if your guests have milder pallets, leave off blue or sharp cheeses.
- Serve at least one high quality but familiar cheese.
- Colorful cheeses are beautiful and appetizing. Choose cheeses with interesting rinds and leave whole for display.
- Try herbs, wine or smoked versions of your favorites. Choose a variety of flavors from mild and creamy, to tangy, sharp and a little spicy.
- For texture choose at least one soft, one medium and one hard cheese.
- Cut gourmet cheeses have a short shelf life so check carefully for mold and spoilage before you buy.
- Theme your assortment choices by choosing all cheeses from one region, like an Italian or French collection.
- Choose at least 3 different cheese selections for smaller gathering of 4 to 8. For every 2 additional guests, add an additional selection. Most guests will only eat 2 ounces per person before a meal, but that might look like a small amount on the tray, you might plan to put out a little more.
- Larger groups of 20 or more, plan on serving a selection of 8 different cheeses about 2 ounces per person when other appetizers are served, 3 to 4 ounces if cheese is the only appetizer.
- Cheese only parties, plan 6 ounces per person.
Set the cheese out a half hour before eating to bring them up to room temperature.
When using wedges of cheese, put out a separate knife for each cheese.
Label cheeses for guests who may not be familiar with them.
For a small event, arrange cheese on a roomy platter, marble or cutting board, put cheese cutting tools near for guests to cut.
Garnish platters with dry fruits like grapes and whole berries. Dried-fruit like apricots and cranberries are perfect with cheese.
Other great garnishes and condiments are whole nuts, honey, fresh ground black pepper, thick balsamic vinegar and olives.
Serve 3 types of crackers and or thin sliced baguettes along with the cheese.
For large events slice some of the harder cheeses into thin flat squares so its easy for a guest to slide right onto a cracker.