I love that feeling when the first hints of fall start showing themselves. A slight chill in the air when I take my kids to school, the rustling of leaves on the cusp of turning, sunset happening just a bit earlier in the evening. It’s a feeling that immediately makes me want to embrace all things cozy—and that includes inviting a few friends to curl up for a wine and cheese in front of the fire (or at least a fall-scented candle)!
This time of year is ripe for an appetizer-centric happy hour, and all you really need is a big wooden board piled high with snacks, plus a bottle of wine or two. In honor of the season, I teamed up with Target to create the ultimate fall grazing board, aka all my favorite snacks from Target in one big spread for everyone to enjoy. This is the perfect solution for the person who loves to gather friends together but may not want (or have the time) to cook from scratch. One of the best things about a grazing board is that you can buy everything from a deli, farmer’s market, or in the case of today’s ultimate fall grazing board—Target!
Every item on today’s board was sourced from Target’s owned Food & Beverage Brand, Good & Gather. If you haven’t yet experienced the joy of Good & Gather grocery items, let me familiarize you. Every item is absolutely delicious, and none of it contains artificial flavors, synthetic colors, or high fructose corn syrup. And there are tons of organic options. It’s proof yet again that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get high-quality and delicious flavors.
Scroll on for exactly how to make a Pinterest-worthy spread that’ll be the star of every get-together all season long.
Think about your grazing board the way an artist approaches a blank canvas. Consider which items will be your focal point, the overall “flow” of your design, and how the different colors will work together. For my greatest inspiration, I look to the changing seasons for the colors, tastes, and produce that excite the senses. You can also think about different parts of the world and culinary traditions as you brainstorm ideas. Your grazing board can take inspiration from Mediterranean mezze, Spanish tapas, or in the case of my board today, Italian cheese and charcuterie.
Pick your palette
When I’m shopping for my items, I like to have a color palette in mind to guide what I pick up. It may sound silly, but knowing that you’re going for fall tones of burgundy and eggplant will guide your selections at the store: Think purple grapes, fig chutney, and salami for a perfectly pulled-together fall palette! It makes all the aesthetic difference when you start building your board.
Determine your quantities
This board will serve 8 – 10 people for a happy hour situation. You can easily scale up or down depending on how many people you’re serving. For each type of cheese, I typically plan on having 1 ounce per person. For meat, 2 – 3 ounces per person is a good rule of thumb. And don’t stress too much about running out of a certain type of meat or cheese—the beauty of a grazing board is that there are tons of different things to sample, and we’re going to fill in with so many fruits, nuts, olives, and crackers, there will be plenty to munch on.
Choose your cheese
My favorite grazing boards use a selection of cheeses as their focal point—yes, it’s to be expected, but it’s always a crowd-pleaser. I’ve learned from the pros to bring in a balance of textures and flavors when choosing your cheeses.
To make the most of my budget, I usually choose three or four different types of cheeses including:
- a hard, sharper cheese (cheddar, parmesan, or gruyere)
- a soft cheese (goat or blue)
- a creamy cheese (like brie)
It’s also fun to incorporate at least a couple of different kinds of milk (cow, goat, sheep, or nut milk) to keep things interesting and make you look like a pro. On this board, we’ve got a Good & Gather aged gouda, which is a classic firm cheese option that is nutty and sweet. Second, there’s creamy goat cheese studded with garlic and herbs. And then one of my personal favorites: Good & Gather makes this double creme brie that is so delicious spread on a baguette with a drizzle of honey.
While three was the perfect number of cheeses for this board, a blue cheese, parmesan, or aged cheddar are always other favorites of mine to include on my grazing boards.
Add the accoutrements
What makes a grazing board different than a standard cheese board is the addition of vibrant, in-season produce and snacky bits for visual and flavorful interest. So, when crafting the ultimate fall grazing board, think about creating a feast for all the senses.
Fruit and herbs
Fresh rosemary sprigs not only smell cozy and woodsy, they add a beautiful touch of greenery. Figs are a stunning and sophisticated pairing for almost every cheese. I love incorporating apples and pears for some added sweetness on the board, too. Thinly slice and fan them out in different sections on the board. And finally, you can’t go wrong with gorgeous fresh grapes.
Good & Gather has an amazing selection of crackers, and I like to add a variety to please different palettes. For this grazing board, I used the Everything Flatbread Crackers (because I am obsessed with all things “Everything” seasoning), Fig and Rosemary Cracker Crisps which just ooze fall vibes, and then I always include a classic water cracker for the traditionalists in the group.
Cured meats make a grazing board more filling and substantial. Proscuitto and salami are always a hit, but your meats are also a chance to embrace warming spices, maple, and other fall flavors. I tend to go lighter on the meat and just add slices of one or two types among the more aesthetically pleasing elements of the board.
Divide and conquer
All my grazing boards include nuts (like the Good & Gather glazed pecans and salt & pepper pistachios I used here), and olives (these castelvetranos are king). Use mini bowls here and there to keep things organized and corral these smaller snacks plus any dips or spreads you might add. I love this Good & Gather Honey Fig Spread that is such a delicious complement to manchego—put it in a little bowl with a spoon, and let guests create their perfect bite.
Make a night of it
A great grazing board and cold drinks are really all you need for a fun night with friends, but if you want to level up, try throwing one of these activities in the mix:
Watch a movie
Especially when it comes to family nights at home, few things are more fun than setting out snacks for dinner and choosing one of the best fall movies to stream.
Play a board game
Game night need some fresh energy? We’ve got you covered with these game night games that are anything but boring.
Set out a few questions for conversations
My favorite activity with friends is simply to go beneath the surface and connect. Ensure juicy conversation ahead with these great conversation starters. Pick your favorites, write them down on a piece of paper, and then let guests randomly draw and read aloud to the group.
You can shop the entire look on my Target storefront, where you’ll find all of my favorite Target buys for every space.
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