A show-stopping charcuterie board is my favorite way to get everyone’s attention at dinner parties and gatherings during the summer months. Who doesn’t love cheese and fruit after a day in the heat? Snacks for dinner, y’all! But there are quite a few differences between constructing your typical platter and creating a summer cheese board—including fresh, seasonal ingredients and cheeses that can hold up in the intense summer heat.
If you’re hosting an upcoming gathering or are simply craving a creative meal, these tips will help you curate a summer cheese board that perfectly encapsulates the season. The best cheese boards are well-balanced, with a variety of sweet, salty, and savory ingredients.
Keep reading for inspiration and tips that will help kick-start your summer charcuterie endeavors!
What makes a summer cheese board?
Seasonality is huge when deciding upon your summer cheese board ingredients. Using herbs, fruits, and flowers that flourish in the summer months will help your board to stand out in both color and flavor. Basil, rosemary, and dill make for a beautiful presentation when paired with savory nuts and rich cheeses. And apricots, strawberries, and blackberries bring the best flavor in the summer months. And to finish things off with a little natural flourish, lavender and hibiscus are both beautiful ways to brighten up your board.
What cheese is best for hot days?
Generally, softer cheeses work best for summer boards that will be enjoyed outdoors. Harder cheeses like Parmesan, Gouda, and Swiss have dense textures or are high in fat—meaning they tend to release oil and become waxy in the heat. Soft, ripe cheeses like brie and chèvre are some of your best, spreadable choices for a summer cheese board.
How to Create Ultimate Summer Cheese Board
Below, Camille shares her tips for making a summer cheese board like a pro. As our go-to source for summer entertaining confirms, the trick is to let the cheese take center stage, invest in a beautiful board, and let the seasons guide your way.
1. Start with a standout cheese that makes the entire board feel special
Forget what you’ve heard about always serving a variety. If it’s REALLY good cheese, you only need one. This is a great tip for affordability since cheese is typically the priciest part of a cheese board. It could be an aged cheddar or Gruyère, as used here, or a soft cheese like a triple crème brie or a really good goat cheese. I also love a good blue cheese like Roquefort or Stilton. If you’re serving a larger group, use a combination of three cheeses with different textures and flavor profiles.
2. Use a board that’s big enough to make it feel really abundant
The Casa Zuma Large Gathering Board is a personal favorite when constructing a large cheese board. It creates a stunning scene on your table and can hold an abundance of ingredients. Before selecting your board, be sure to take note of the amount of small and large ingredients you wish to include.
3. Add a cured meat
Whether you choose prosciutto, salami, soppressata, or all three—adding cured meat will make your board feel heartier, and the saltiness is a great foil to some of the sweet items on the board.
4. Include something sweet and something savory
The addition of seasonal fruit like berries and figs is a great way to keep your board summery and fresh. To complement your cheeses, a jam or honey is also a sweet addition to any board. As for the savory element, salted nuts, olives, and roasted peppers can help fill in the gaps and make your cheese board feel abundant.
5. Create summer vibes with herbs and edible flowers that add an elevated touch
Adding edible flowers or fresh herbs is a unique touch to any cheese board. Not only do these toppings have the potential to bring flavor, but they also serve as stunning decorations that create a pop of color wherever they are placed.
6. Offer a couple of variations of bread
I usually do sliced, toasted baguettes and a gluten-free seeded cracker to give people options. However, feel free to lay out whatever bread variety or crackers you desire to pull your board together and create a balanced palate.
7. Place the largest items on the board first and group like items together for the prettiest presentation
Larger items—like sliced bread and cheeses—should be the first to make their appearance on your board. This process makes it easier to implement smaller and more delicate ingredients strategically to create a cheese board with professional attention to detail.
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