Happy 4th of July, everyone! And what better way to celebrate than with some cheese, am I right? This particular cheese board is easy to make and customize and it will make you the hit of every party.
Mix it up with Some Local Cheese
The key to a crowd-pleasing cheese board is, not surprisingly, good-quality cheese. But rather than going for super expensive imported cheese, why not do a little bit of research and see if there are any creameries in your area producing high-quality cheeses?
I’m lucky enough to live in Eastern WA, right on the border with Idaho. It’s an agricultural area with lots of farms, creameries, and two large public universities. The beauty of living in an agricultural area where there also happens to be a university is that they often conduct research using local products, including milk. In Pullman, WA we have Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shop, the birth place of Washington State University’s Cougar Cheese. If you’ve never tried these award-winning cheeses, I strongly recommend that you swing by our neck of the woods. If that’s too far for you to go for cheese, don’t worry; you can also order it online!
The best known flavor of Cougar Cheese is Cougar Gold, a robust white cheddar that goes well with pretty much anything. It would be great in a cheese board like this one because it’s not too overpowering or funky, so your guests are guaranteed to like it. Ferdinand’s also produces some other delicious flavors, including a dill garlic semi-soft cheese.
For this cheese board, I decided to go to the other side of the border and feature two Idaho cheeses instead. I chose a super-soft and tangy marinated labneh from Brush Creek Creamery in Deary, ID. I cannot explain to you how obsessed I am with this cheese. It’s the consistency of cream cheese but marinated in oil and flavored with tons of garlic, black peppercorns, rosemary, and other spices. I love it because it’s super versatile. It would be great on sandwiches, salads, and even on some pita bread topped with fried eggs and harissa for breakfast.
The other Idaho cheese that I chose for this board is a truffle and salt cheddar from Ballard Family Dairy & Cheese. If your ears perked up at the mention of truffles, then we must be soulmates because that’s exactly what first attracted me to this cheese. That hint of truffle makes it perfect for a cheese board but also interesting enough for a fancy mac and cheese.
For my third cheese, I went classic and used Saint-André from France. This triple cream cheese is well… super creamy. It’s also pretty mild, and guaranteed not to scare any of your guests off.
See a trend here? I prefer to keep my cheeses on the milder side because I know quite a few people who find blue cheese, or even Manchego, too overpowering.
Some Tips for Highlighting all that Cheese
So you went ahead and spent quite a bit of money on cheese, and now what? While cheese is delicious on its own straight out of the package, this is a PARTY cheese board after all, so it has to make your guests want to party after eating all of that cheese.
Here are some tips for designing a cheese board that is both beautiful and balanced.
1. Bring your cheese up to room temperature or as close to it as you can. I know this sounds scary, but cold cheese doesn’t taste that great. You lose all the nuances of the cheese because the flavors haven’t had a chance to develop. Hard cheeses, in particular, really benefit from being left out a bit. Softer cheeses like brie, or the Saint-André I used for this board, are easier to spread if they are not straight out of the fridge. If you are going to be outside on a 95 degree day, then feel free to skip this step. The weather will probably do the trick for you.
2. Have a mixture of textures and flavors. My favorite cheese boards feature a mixture of sweet, salty, spicy, and tart accompaniments. For this particular board, I achieved this by serving blueberries, tamari almonds, cherry tomatoes, and a jalapeño-tomatillo jam on the side. All of these additional flavors keep your palate from getting bored, therefore allowing you to eat more cheese.
3. Change the theme to fit your party. As you can probably tell, I wanted my cheese board to have some red, white, and blue to make it more suitable for the 4th of July. But the sky’s the limit. Feel free to use seasonal fruits and vegetables to make it suit the celebration.
4. Less is more (unless you are on Instagram). All those super elaborate cheese boards on Instagram with 50 ingredients look great, but they are expensive and time-consuming to make. I prefer cheese boards that are a bit less busy because you can really appreciate the cheese and each individual ingredient. Your board can still be beautiful, but don’t feel that you have to fill every inch of space with food.
5. Serve bread and crackers on the side. This is a personal preference. When people pile the bread and crackers on the cheese board and all of your guests descend on it at the same time, it can get messy really fast. I like to serve the bread and crackers in different containers so that they don’t get soggy if something spills, and so that I can easily refill the container if we run out.
OK, enough. Go and stuff yourself with cheese now!
If you would like a vegan option for your party, make sure to check out this Rainbow Veggie Platter.
Party Cheese Board
This red, white, and blue cheese board is perfect for the Fourth of July, but also easily customized for any party or holiday.
- A variety of soft and hard cheeses (I used truffle and salt cheddar, marinated labneh, and St. André)
- ¼ cup of store-bought or homemade tamari almonds
- ¼ cup of blueberries
- ¼ cup of cherry tomatoes
- Store-bought or homemade jalapeño-tomatillo jam or your favorite jam
- Your favorite crackers
- Step 1 Take out your cheese about 30 min before your party and let it come up to room temperature
- Step 2 Assemble your cheese board by putting the cheeses down first and arranging the rest of the ingredients around them
- Step 3 Serve with a basket of crackers and bread on the side
If you like this recipe, please make sure to pin it, share it on social media, or email it to your friends. Don’t be shy! People are always grateful for some cooking inspiration 🙂
Also, if you have any questions or just want to let me know that you liked the recipe, please leave a comment below. Hearing from other adventurous home cooks always makes my day!