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Learn how to compliment a bounty of fresh summer fruits and vegetables with cheese and meat on this Summer Meat and Cheese Board. It’s the best party snack and a wonderful way to celebrate the sunny season.
Eat the rainbow on a summer-themed meat and cheese board!
Cheese boards are my go-to party snack. As a culinary professional for over 10 years, I’ve put countless boards together both for work and my events and get-togethers. So, it should come as no surprise that, in addition to this summer meat and cheese board, I also have cheese board recipes for spring, fall, and winter!
For this summer charcuterie board, I picked some great summer produce from the farmer’s market, as they’re the star of the show. I also had a blast choosing a handful of cheeses and meats that complement the fruits and veggies, not overpower them.
I’m teaching you everything I know about putting a gorgeous and delicious meat and cheese board for summer together in this comprehensive guide. You’ll find ingredient recommendations, pairing tips, step-by-step assembly instructions, and so much more! Your board is guaranteed to be the buzz of the party after you’ve soaked up these charcuterie board ideas and tips.
What should be on a summer meat and cheese board?
There’s a certain art to assembling a cheese board with a summer assortment of cured meats, cheeses, and fruits. Finding fruits that go well with cheese, the most complementary cured meats, and an abundance of seasonal produce is all part of it! Shopping for a charcuterie board is almost as fun as eating it.
Scroll through the ingredient suggestions below to find out what you should put on a summer cheese board:
Meat is cool and all but I think cheese is the star of the show on a grazing board. It’s what everyone reaches for, especially if you’ve taken the time to curate the cheese to the rest of the accompaniments.
I always recommend including three to four types of cheese on your board, depending on how many people you’re serving. For this board, I used four kinds of cheese from four different categories: aged, bloomy, blue, and fresh.
You can add a lot of personality to a summer grazing board by including cheeses from all across the spectrum! Learn more about where to buy these cheeses and how to pair them with the rest of the ingredients below:
- Aged cheese: Like sharp cheddar or Vermont Cheddar from Cabot. This type of cheese has been left to ripen for weeks, months, or years. As it ages, it develops a more complex flavor profile and interesting textures. The depth of flavors pairs particularly well with the cherry tomatoes on the board.
- Bloomy cheese: Bloomy cheeses are known for their white rinds, almost “funky” flavors (in a good way!), and creamy centers. Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery is a favorite of mine. It’s a triple cream cheese with a bloomy rind and salty undertones that complement sweet and tart stone fruit, nectarines, and more.
- Blue cheese: This semi-soft cheese is known for its strong flavor, smell, and veins of blue “mold.” Point Reyes Blue Cheese is my go-to for meat and cheese boards because of its mild crowd-pleasing flavors (the perfect introduction for blue cheese skeptics). It’s also made from cow’s milk, which gives it a creamy, buttery mouthfeel that helps it pair well with fruit spreads and nuts.
- Fresh cheese: AKA young, soft cheese. Fresh cheeses are usually very creamy, fluffy, and spreadable. I used small balls of mozzarella cheese (like Perle or Ciliegine) because they’re easy to grab and pair wonderfully with tomatoes. You can also use goat cheese, ricotta, or feta.
Fruits and vegetables
Summer is a magical time for produce, and we want to show that off on our board. There are almost too many seasonal fruits and veggies to choose from! You can use what you like, what will pair best with your meats and cheeses, or include anything from this list:
- Tomatoes - Cherry or grape tomatoes are the easiest to grab and pop in your mouth.
- Stone fruit - Apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, etc.
- Fresh figs - If you can find them. If not, fig jam is almost always available in well-stocked grocery stores.
- Berries - Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, etc.
- Melon - Cantaloupe, honeydew, or watermelon.
- Other fruits - Grapes, sliced grapefruit, or nectarines.
- Veggies - Cucumbers, baby carrots, peas, radishes, bell peppers, etc.
- Fresh herbs - Basil, dill, or mint can fill in some of the empty space.
Want to serve your snack board for dinner? Then I recommend assembling it with more substantial fruits and veggies, like grilled zucchini batons, grilled eggplant slices, roasted tomatoes on the vine, or halved and grilled peaches on the board.
The meat on a meat and cheese board is typically called “charcuterie,” hence the name, “charcuterie board.” Charcuterie is a French term that refers to prepared meats, otherwise known as cured meats (i.e.: bacon, prosciutto, etc.).
Sliced charcuterie is a must on meat and cheese boards, no matter if they’re small and humble or made to impress. They’re a salty and fatty treat that goes well with everything.
Are you expecting meat lovers at your party?
Feel free to include up to three varieties of charcuterie on your board. In this case, go with prosciutto, soppressata, or whatever you already have on hand.
Snacks and spreads
Last but not least, complete the snacking board with complimentary snacks and spreads:
- Snacks: Fill small dishes and bowls with a variety of nuts (like Marcona almonds or pistachios) and Castelvetrano olives. Any leftover empty spaces can be filled with crackers, breadsticks, and homemade crostini.
- Spreads: Small bowls with hummus, pesto, honey, ranch dressing, and fruit jams are great for dipping and spreading.
How to assemble a summer grazing board
Technically, there are no rules when it comes to assembling a charcuterie board. But these step-by-step instructions will show you how to set it up in the most pleasing way for your guests! Check them out:
Step 1: Start with the cheese.
Place some of the cheeses near the corners and pre-slice the harder cheeses for easy grabbing. Also, include a cheese knife for the softer, spreadable cheeses.
Step 2: Place the preserves and olives in jars, then on the board.
Step 3: Now you can add the fruits and veggies.
Keep the juicier fruits (like melon) in small bowls and place the rest in piles all around the board.
Step 4: Add the crackers near the sides of the board for easy access.
Step 5: To finish, fill the empty pockets with sliced meat and nuts. Enjoy!
To assemble a meat and cheese board, you need:
- Board: This is the most important piece of equipment! I love using a giant Boos block cutting board, but you don’t need anything fancy; layer everything on a serving tray or even a dinner plate.
- Small bowls: To hold little snacks and spreads, like nuts, jam, and olives.
- Cheese knives: These especially come in handy for hard and stiff cheeses.
- Cutlery: Place a butter or spreader knife next to the spreads, and have a few spoons ready to scoop up the olives, mozzarella balls, etc. Also, keep some cutlery on the side for your guests so they don’t have to eat with their hands (if they don’t want to).
Tips and tricks
These helpful tips will save you time and ensure you put the summer charcuterie board of your dreams together:
Room temperature cheese
Always take the cheeses out of the fridge and set them on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes before serving. Once they come down to room temperature, they’ll be easier to slice and spread on crackers and bread (making your guests much happier).
Fill the empty space
After assembly, you may notice some empty gaps in your otherwise colorful and beautiful summer cheese board. Not to worry! Fill these gaps with ingredients you have lying around, like fresh herbs, nuts, crackers, edible flowers, or even small summer-themed toys.
Perfectly paired cocktails
Want to be the hostess with the mostest? Pair your extravagant cheese board with perfectly matched summer cocktails. A fruity punch is a must, like my Sparkling Hibiscus Lime Punch or Sparkling Negroni Punch. Or you can make both… after all, it’s your party!
For smaller crowds, make a pitcher of my Sparkling Blueberry Lemonade, Peach Grapefruit Sangria, or Frozen Mojitos (my guide on batching craft cocktails will show you how to double or triple these recipes with ease).
Frequently asked questions
This board will serve around 6 people. Each guest should get around 2 to 3 ounces of cheese and 1 to 2 ounces of meat. But if you plan on making this board along with extra appetizers or main dishes, cut those amounts down.
Yes, you can almost fully assemble the cheese board 1 day ahead of serving it. Assemble the board as normal but keep any crackers or bread separate. Wrap it in plastic and place it in the fridge.
Remember to take the board out of the fridge 30 minutes ahead of serving. This way, the cheese has time to come down to room temperature.
The FDA recommends leaving the charcuterie board out at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours. That is, however, if it even lasts that long!
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30-Minute Summer Meat and Cheese Board, Step by Step
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese like Cabot Vermont Cheddar Cheese
- 8 ounces bloomy cheese like Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam Cheese
- 8 ounces blue cheese like Point Reyes Blue Cheese
- 8 ounces small ball mozzarella cheese like BelGioioso Pearl Mozzarella
- 5 ounces hard Sopressata cut into chunks
- 4 ounces thinly sliced Sopressa
- 8 small stone fruit
- 6 figs
- 1 small melon
- 1 small bunch grapes
- 1 cup berries
- 12 ounces crackers or crostini
- 1 cup castelvetrano olives
- 1 cup marcona almonds
- ½ cup apricot preserves
- ½ cup honey
- Cut the sharp cheddar cheese into slices, the bloomy rind cheese into wedges, and put the mozarella balls into a small dish.
- Place the cheeses on the serving board.
- Add items in bowls or jars (jam, honey, olives, etc.)
- Start filling in gaps with fruit and vegetables.
- Fill in the remaining gaps with crrackers, charcuterie and then nuts.
- Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve.
- If chilling the cheese board before serving, remove from the refrigerator for an hour before serving so the cheese can come to room temperature.