Learn how to make the best fruit and cheese platter that is perfect for entertaining anytime of the year with this easy tutorial! This is more than just cheese and crackers. It can be an elegant and impressive spread that is sure to delight guests.
When it comes to effortless entertaining, nothing is easier than a gorgeous fruit and cheese platter loaded with all sorts of sweet and savory goodies. It changes with each season and is just as wonderful for summer gatherings as it is for cozy Christmas and New Year’s parties.
Some other occasions when you might consider serving a fruit and cheese platter include:
- dinner parties
- book clubs
- holiday celebration
- bridal shower
- baby shower
- birthday party
- graduation party
- game night
- New Year’s Eve
- and basically any other time you can think of.
In this post, I’m sharing my best tips and tricks for not only the best fruit and cheese pairings, but also how to make a fruit and cheese board look attractive, as well as my favorite ideas for what to include on a fruit and cheese platter.
Don’t be intimidated by creating a fruit and cheese platter – it took all of 5 minutes to pull the one in these photos together for an impromptu family get together the day after Black Friday while cousins were still in town. I mostly just took things I already had on hand in the fridge or pantry, then thoughtfully placed them on one of the large wooden cutting boards that Paul made for me last Christmas.
What Fruits go well with Cheese?
First, think seasonally! If it’s winter, definitely go with sliced persimmons, pears, apples, and pomegranate quarters, along with dried fruits like dried apricots or dried cherries. In the summer, berries are an obvious choice along with stone fruits like plums or cherries. I avoid super juicy fruits like watermelon or peaches that will run all over the board.
Here are some of my favorite fruit and cheese pairings to pick and choose from. Pears, persimmons, blackberries, strawberries, grapes, dried apricots, pomegranates, and fig jam all made their way onto the board in these pictures, but you could use any of the following!
- Apples: Thinly sliced Envy, Pink Lady, Opal, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Fuji or Gala apples are all delicious options that go perfectly with almost any cheese you can think of, especially with a dollop of fig jam or a drizzle of honey. Apples hold up well against stronger cheese flavors like Gruyere, a sharp cheddar or the crumbly cheeses.
- Pears: Bosc, D’Anjou, Barlett or Comice are all great pear varieties that also go well with most any cheese, although I tend to especially love them with brie and Gouda.
- Persimmons: Fuyu persimmons are sweet and mild with a great texture and it seems like so few people have tried them! They go well with soft cheeses like goat cheese, Burrata, or Camembert. And I love the beautiful pop of orange color they add to a fruit and cheese board. Instant beauty! Just cut in half and slice thin.
- Berries: Blueberries, raspberries, blackberies, and strawberries are all fantastic with cheese. I especially like berries with feta, but it’s also awesome with brie (I mean, what is NOT awesome with brie, right?)
- Grapes: Juicy, crunchy grapes are an obvious choice for fruit and cheese boards. I use scissors to clip either red or green grapes into small clusters to make them easy to nab off the platter. Grapes and Gouda are so, so good-a together. Forgive the pun, I couldn’t help myself.
- Apricots: Fresh apricots are a wonderful choice during the summer, but dried apricots are just as delicious during the rest of the year. Apricots pair well with goat cheese and supposedly bleu cheese, although I wouldn’t know because I can’t stand the stuff – sorry!
- Plums: Bold, sweet plums go well with strong, salty cheeses like Manchego or Fontina. Or brie, of course.
- Pomegranates: These sweet-tart jewels have bursts of juice that are fantastic with goat cheese, feta, or Swiss. I recommend segmenting the pomegranate for a beautiful presentation on the cheese board. This is my oldest daughter’s first choice every time when a gorgeous spread is set before her.
- Dates: Dates are super sweet – like, intensely so. Which means they are great with stronger flavored cheese like goat cheese.
- Fresh or dried cherries: Try them with brie, camembert, or goat cheese for a classic combo.
- Fresh or dried figs: I have already shared a baked brie with figs, walnuts, and honey, but figs also go well with Manchego cheese for a bolder pairing. Fresh figs, cut in half, are another stunning visual addition to a fruit and cheese platter.
- Oranges and Blood Oranges: My love for blood oranges is strong and they make a striking presentation on a fruit and cheese platter. Try them with brie – the sweet citrus of the fruit and the salty creaminess of the brie is wonderful.
Best Cheese for a Cheese Board
When deciding what to include on my fruit and cheese board, I like to think about taste, texture, and appearance and let that be my guide. Offering a variety of types of cheese from different milk sources is also a good idea: cow, goat, and sheep cheeses all have different tastes and textures. That being said – be sure to serve at least one cheese that most people will recognize and be comfortable with. Plan on 2 ounces of cheese per person.
I try to choose three different cheeses, since odd numbers tend to be the most visually appealing, and go for something wedge-shaped, something circular, and something cubed or sliced so there is nice visual variety. Another way of thinking about it is to aim for a soft cheese, a hard cheese, and a crumbly cheese.
For the board in these pictures, I chose a spreadable Boursin garlic & herb cheese, a sweet, soft brie, and a classic sharp cheddar cut into cubes.
Many grocery stores have specialty cheese sections right next to the deli, which is where you want to go to pick out the cheeses for your cheese board. At some places, you can even sample cheeses and a cheesemonger can help you pick out a good variety if you feel stumped or overwhelmed.
I will say that I don’t get too ambitious with my cheese choices since I don’t love super intense cheeses (looking at you, blue). So all of the cheese listed below are going to be pretty safe (but not boring!) choices for most people.
My Favorite Soft Cheeses
- Brie: I love Brie so much that it almost always makes its way onto any fruit and cheese platter I am creating. It’s a soft, mild cheese with a creamy texture. Brie usually comes in wedges or rounds of varying size with a white, edible rind and I always think of it as a dessert cheese. Brie is great with almost any fruit and nuts, but especially apples, pears, cherries, figs, strawberries, and dates. You will want a separate cheese knife or other small knife for this cheese on the board.
- Camembert: Camembert is a lot like Brie in terms of texture and flavor, 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: I love this flavored spreadable cheese! It’s so wonderful spread on crackers and comes in a different flavors like the Garlic & Herb or Shallot & Chive. I used the Garlic & Fine Herbs Boursin on the fruit and cheese platter in these pictures. I got mine at Costco in a three-pack, but you can find it 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 in flavor and it pairs well with salami and other Italian cured meats, olives, and olive oil. I also think the little fresh mozzarella balls go wonderfully with persimmon slices, and you don’t need a knife for them. I feel like fresh mozzarella is the soft cheese that most people have experience with, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a place on your fruit and cheese platter!
- 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 fantastic paired peaches or figs. 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
- Aged Cheddar: It may be basic, but if kids are eating off the cheese board you are preparing, I think a really good, sliced or cubed aged cheddar is a great option. There are lots of 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 beautifully with apples, grapes, pears, nuts, dates, and honey. But a mild cheddar is familiar to everybody and also pairs well with apples, pears, nuts, honey, grapes, and dates.
- Parmesan (aka Parmigiano-Reggiano) Cheese: Slivers of this salty, sharp, nutty cheese are always a good choice. It’s distinct from other cheese varities and you can always use the leftovers in salad or pasta recipes! Parmesan pairs well with figs, pears, dates, walnuts, grapes, prosciutto, cured meats, and honey. If choosing Parmesan for your fruit and cheese platter, it’s helpful to have a wide knife for guests to cut off slivers or chunks.
- Pepper Jack Cheese: Pepper jack cheese is just a creamy Monterey jack with added peppers for a spicy kick, which I love! This is honestly my go-to snacking cheese, so obviously it’s one of my first choices for a fruit and cheese platter. Pepper jack cheese pairs well with apples, peaches, honey, pears, and crackers.
- Gouda: Smoked gouda is a semi-hard cheese with a creamy, sweet interior and rich, unique flavor that goes well with apples, pears, and apricots. It’s another one of my very favorite cheeses and we sampled a bunch of it when we were in the Netherlands this year before bringing a couple different ones home with us.
- Gruyere: This cheese from Switzerland has a distinct flavor that I love to use in cooking, but it also works well on a fruit and cheese platter. Gruyere pairs well with dark chocolate, apples, plums, cherries, and nuts.
- Manchego Cheese:This firm, sheep’s milk cheese is from Spain and reminds me of Monterey Jack in terms of flavor, but with an even richer, lightly nutty taste. Give your fruit and cheese platter a Spanish flair by including both Manchego cheese and romesco sauce!
- Asiago Cheese: Asiago is a very hard, strong flavored cheese that is sort of a cross between parmesan and a sharp cheddar. It’s delicious paired with tart, crisp apples, plums, and grapes.
- Blue Cheese (Roquefort/Gorgonzola/Stilton): Admittedly, I am one of those people with a strong aversion to any type of blue cheese. But my husband LOVES them. Roquefort, Gorgonzola, and Stilton are three of the most popular varieties and are known to go well with apples, honey, pears, figs, and nuts. But I honestly couldn’t say since I won’t touch the stuff, lol.
- Chèvre/Goat Cheese: Now goat cheese I DO love (and my husband does not!). It’s a full-flavored cheese that, like brie, seems to go with almost everything. You can get plain goat cheese or choose from many different flavored options at most grocery stores. Goat cheese pairs well with pears, apples, apricots, pepper jelly, cherries, figs, honey, grapes, dates, dried cranberries, oranges, strawberries, and nuts.
- Feta Cheese: Perhaps best known to Americans for sprinkling over salads, feta has a strong salty, tangy taste that pairs well with strawberries, blueberries, grapes, apples, nuts, oranges, and pears.
What else goes on a fruit and cheese platter besides fruit and cheese?
- Charcuterie meats: I like to include sliced salami, summer sausage, sliced pepperoni, or other Italian meats on my fruit and cheese platters. I like the salty, savory flavor they add and it makes them a little more of a substantial appetizer.
- Nuts: They should be roasted, salted, and shelled. My favorites for a fruit and cheese platter are cashews, almonds, and macadmia nuts, although pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, and other mixed nuts are great choices as well.
- Olives & Pickles: Go to the deli section of your grocery store and you will usually find an area with olives to choose from. A variety of pimento stuff green olives, dark kalamata olives, or cornichons (tart little French pickles) are always a welcome addition to a fruit and cheese platter.
- Dips, sauces, or spreads: You don’t want to go overboard here, but small jars or bowls of mustard, honey or honeycomb, or unique jams like the fig orange jam I served on the board in these pictures, sour cherry preserves or bacon jam are a good additions to a fruit and cheese platter because they add great variety, balance out flavors, and go so well with many fruits and cheeses.
- Bread and crackers: Pick out of a variety of shapes and textures from buttery crackers to seedy ones. A nice French baguette sliced into thin slices is always a good choice as well. Even pretzels or crunchy breadsticks can work well and provide some visual interest.
- Dark Chocolate: Who DOESN’T want a little dark chocolate on a fruit and cheese platter?! It goes so well with so much of the fruit and cheese, with another great flavor contrast that I almost always include a little of it on my fruit and cheese platters.
How to Make a Fruit and Cheese Platter Look Attractive
I approach putting together a fruit and cheese platter with the concept that it will feed the eyes of my guests even before it feeds their bellies, so the more beautiful the better. Try to keep the following principles in mind when planning and arranging your fruit and cheese platter:
- Use odd numbers of cheeses, meats, cracker options, etc.
- Geometric shapes provide visual interest.
- Color contrast amps up the drama
- An overflowing fruit and cheese platter looks more enticing.
Color contrasts like red grapes and green pears or green grapes and red pears add beauty and visual variety to your board, as do geometric shapes like triangles from cheese wedges, rectangular crackers, or round cheese wheels.
This might be personal preference, but a really full, almost overflowing board looks more appealing to me than a sparse one. You could always use a smaller board, although typically my problem is that I am running out of space! It’s okay to stack or pile things a bit or do the opposite and fan out sliced fruit to take up more space depending on how full your board is or isn’t looking. It’s all about making it work!
Keep in mind that you can always add in more of various items on the fruit and cheese platter as they start to dwindle down. You may also want to have small plates to the side of your fruit and cheese platter for guests to fill with their favorite picks from the board.
How to Make the Best Fruit and Cheese Platter
- When planning out a fruit and cheese platter, arrange larger items first, particularly anything in containers like bowls of olives, small jars of jam, or a ramekin of honey.
- Next, place the cheeses you have chosen near items they pair well with. For example, brie might be near a small bowl of honeycomb. I tend to place the cheeses on different corners of the board so they aren’t too close together and place a cheese knife next to each selection so the flavors don’t get mixed.
- Arrange slices of a crusty french baguette or crackers near the cheese. Try not to go overboard since these can take up a lot of real estate on your fruit and cheese platter. Sometimes I will just have these in a separate bowl or plate for bread and crackers next to the cheese board instead. Keep in mind that you can easily restock these items as they deplete while guests are enjoying the fruit and cheese platter.
- Charcuterie goes next, if you are using any cured meats like salami or summer sausage, which I like to do for contrast and something salty and savory to break up the sweetness of too much fruit.
- Then add larger fruits like sliced apples, pears, persimmons, pomegranate segments, and so on. At this point, your board should be starting to look pretty full!
- Fill in empty spaces with smaller fruits like grape clusters, berries, dried fruit, nuts, and squares of dark chocolate. Sprigs of fresh rosemary are another good choice for something decorative to make the board look full if there is any empty space.
What to serve your fruit and cheese platter on?
You can find lots of great options for large wooden cutting boards like the one my husband made for me in these photos at Target or Home Goods. I think they are perfect for fruit and cheese platters because they are sturdy and beautiful. Choose something that appeals to you visually, and maybe even consider something circular or rustic looking with rough sides. Marble or slate surfaces are also good choices!
If you are having a lot of guests come over, you could even use cookie sheets to create your fruit and cheese platters, or just use multiple cutting boards.
Tips for the Best Fruit and Cheese Platter
- Cheese is more flavorful when served at room temperature. Remove cheeses from the fridge half an hour before serving.
- Plan for 2 ounces of cheese per person for a fruit and cheese platter. If including charcuterie (cold, cured meats) on your tray, I would plan on 2 ounces of various meats per person as well. If this is going to be more of a meal than an appetizer, you might want to go a little on the higher side.
- Any leftovers can be used in panini or quesadillas the next day.
- Variety of cheeses: Ideally a mixture of textures, shapes and strengths. For this board I used brie, goat cheese, gouda and wine soaked aged-cheddar.
- Variety of fruits (fresh, dried and fruit spreads): Apples, pears, cherries, berries, grapes, apricots, raisins etc.
- Something salty: Nuts, olives, mustard or cured meats.
- Something sweet: Honey, glazed nuts or chocolate feel free to skip this since the fruit adds sweetness
- An assortment of crackers, bread or crunchy breadsticks
- Place everything on a board.
- Brie, fig jam and Granny Smith apples
- Gouda and pears
- Goat cheese with pepper jam, honey or blueberry jam
- Ricotta, dates and pistachios
- Fresh mozzarella and peaches
- Aged white cheddar and grapes
- Brie and fresh berries or cherries
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