Winter is for soups, cozy recipes, and cheese boards. Really, cheese boards are not just for the holidays or summer months. I’ll show you how to assemble this winter meat and cheese board that uses seasonal produce and will blow your guests' minds!
THE NUMBER ONE THING TO KEEP IN MIND
Like I’ve said in my other cheese board posts, like in this Fall themed Board, there are not any rules to follow when making a cheese and charcuterie board. Seriously, no hard fast rules...at least in my world.
There are guidelines I do like to follow, and I encourage you to consider as well.
The number one thing I like to keep in mind when building a cheese board is what produce is in season.
Cheese boards are a great way to highlight seasonal produce. It’s really nice to pair some creamy brie with fresh berries during the summer or a slice of persimmon during the fall.
When putting together a winter meat and cheese board, you might hit a bit of a snag because there isn’t a ton of in-season produce that pairs well with cheese.
Yeah, there is a ton of gorgeous winter citrus around right now, but have you ever tried a slice of orange with some gruyere? It’s not great, but there are ways you can incorporate winter citrus into a killer cheese board and I’ve got all the tips for you.
WHAT GOES ON A WINTER CHEESE BOARD?
The answer, in all honesty, is whatever you want! Try new cheeses, go to the deli and pick up some fun new charcuterie you’ve never tried, and have fun with it.
If you’re looking for some ideas to help you build a winter meat and cheese board, other than “have fun with it,” here’s what I did...totally feel free to copy my board when building your own!
Like I said earlier, citrus and cheese don’t go well together. The citrus is too tart to go with cheese. The only way you’ll find balance with a bite of citrus and cheese is to add a little sweetness.
So there are a few things you can do to incorporate things like blood oranges, kumquats, and caracaras onto your board:
- Add them and their leaves as decoration. Whole pieces and cut pieces are really pretty
- If you want to be fancy, incorporate them as a palate cleanser (have people eat them between bites of different cheeses).
- Have them as an option for your friends who don’t eat dairy or are vegan.
- Cut them up and mix them with something sweet, like a little sugar, agave, or honey.
For this cheese board, I decided to do a mix. I used some whole and cut citrus (and their leaves) as decoration, mixed some orange zest into goat cheese with honey, and have them as an option for my dairy-free friends.
Also, I highly encourage you to head to your local farmer’s market to pick up your citrus. There is such a cool variety of citrus during winter and you’ll be able to find some gems. Here’s what I picked up and used on this board:
DRIED FRUIT AND PRESERVES
The other way I suggest making a winter meat and cheese board is by using preserves and dried fruit.
Winter is the perfect time to highlight dried fruit and preserves since the fresh version of the fruit isn’t necessarily in peak season.
For this cheese board I used:
- Dried apricots
- Dried cherries
- Homemade golden raspberry preserves (a gift from my friend Deanna!)
- Quince paste
- Fig and Almond Cake
- Tangerine Spread
I was seriously, trying to pack as much summer goodness into this winter cheese board with all the dried fruit.
ALL THE CHEESE PLEASE
The cheese is the hero on a cheese board...obviously. When I choose which cheeses to include on a board, I like to keep it to a mix of six kinds of cheese and charcuterie. For this winter meat and cheese board, I stuck to my usual of four kinds of cheese and two types of meat.
I always like to include something:
- Bloomy (This time I used a washed rind cheese!)
For this winter-themed board, I used the following cheeses:
- Aged: Gruyere
- Firm, salty, and when aged a bit complex. It’s a delightful cheese from Switzerland
- Washed Rind: Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk
- A Northern California favorite. It’s a washed rind triple cream, that is a little funky, creamy, and salty.
- Blue: Point Reyes Original Blue
- When you think of blue cheese, think of Point Reyes Classic Blue. It’s punchy, sweet, and salty with that blue cheese ripeness you expect
- Fresh: Goat cheese mixed with orange zest and honey
- Sweet, creamy and a great way to highlight winter citrus (recipe below!)
I purchased all of these cheeses from Whole Foods, so if you are looking to copy my winter cheese board, your best bet is to shop there too.
Trying to get some citrus flavors into the cheese was a tough one to figure out. I opted to make a Honey and Orange Whipped Goat cheese. With the honey, the orange zest goes really well with the goat cheese. It’s creamy and delightful! There is a recipe below if you want to try it out!
LET’S GET MEATY
Charcuterie is such a treat. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but if there is some quality cured meats in front of me, I get down.
One cool thing about putting together a cheese and charcuterie board is figuring out what cured meats to purchase. It’s fun to try something out of the norm or even just stick to your favorites.
For this winter meat and cheese board, I opted to try two different cured types of meat. I picked up some bresaola and varzi salami.
Bresaola is a cured lean beef, from the top round cut of steak. IT BLEW MY MIND. A friend recommended it to me and I tried it at my local Italian deli. If you’re able to pick some up, have the deli slice it super thin like you would prosciutto. It’s really great with some of the Red Hawk and little tangerine preserves, trust me!
The varzi salami came from Whole Foods. It has a little nutmeg and a beautiful shape. It’s delicious and you should pick it up if you see it.
ALL THE OTHER BITS: CRACKERS, OLIVES, NUTS
A cheese board without all the other little bits makes make sad. You definitely need something to spread creamy cheese on, something a little salty, and a little crunch.
For this cheese board, I found some fun long rectangle crackers which are delicious. Raincoast crisps and Trader Joe’s pita crackers also made the cut.
Olives and nuts are almost always on a cheese board of mine! I used dry-cured olives and pistachios.
HOW TO ASSEMBLE A WINTER MEAT AND CHEESE BOARD STEP-BY-STEP
You have all of your cheese board components and you are SO ready to build it for your party. You’re probably a pro at this, but if you need a few extra tips to assemble a killer cheese board, I’ve got ya!
Rememer...have fun with it!
Step 1: Put that cheese down!
Keep in mind the best way for your friends to get to that cheese. The cut gruyere and honey and orange whipped goat can go anywhere.
The Red Hawk and Point Reyes Blue should go points out toward the edges of the board. That way your friends can easily cut chunks off. Give them that easy access!
Step 2: Add the jars of things!
And anything else that isn’t easy to move around once it’s placed, like the quince paste.
Step 3: Time for the fruit!
This is a great time to add all the citrus. Since the pieces are larger, you want to place them down while you still have space
Step 4: Crackers get added now.
When placing them think about where they will be easy for people to grab them and also where they’ll look good.
Step 5: All the meats.
Get all the charcuterie in there. You’ll want to fold the pieces up and place them nice and close to the other things on the board.
Step 6: Those last bits get in there.
You’ll want to add anything left, like the dried fruits, nuts, and the pretty citrus leaves.
Use those bits to fill in any gaps.
WINTER MEAT AND CHEESE BOARD TIPS
You are now ready to assemble a killer cheese board, but you might have some more questions. Like...How much cheese and charcuterie should I buy? Can I assemble it ahead of time? I’ve got some extra tips below to help you out!
HOW MUCH MEAT AND CHEESE SHOULD I BUY?
The quantities you purchase depends on how many people you plan to serve and what other food is going to be at the get-together.
If this winter meat and cheese board is the only thing you’ll be having, maybe with a few drinks, then I suggest you stick to about 2 to 3 ounces of cheese per person and 1 to 2 ounces of charcuterie per person.
This winter cheese board, which is meant to be the main-ish thing served at a get-together, I purchased about 26 ounces of cheese and 12 ounces of charcuterie. So it is meant for around 8 to 14 people.
If there is going to be other food at a party or less people, you can definitely cut down on the amount of cheese and charcuterie. Also, if you’re getting your cheese at a cheese counter, like at Whole Foods or Murray’s Cheese (which is in my local Ralphs but you can order from online!), they will often be happy to cut wedges of cheese into whatever size you want.
CAN THIS CHEESE BOARD BE ASSEMBLED AHEAD OF TIME?
The easy answer is yes.
Yup, you can assemble a cheese board ahead of time. I’d suggest no longer than the night before you plan to serve it.
The more detailed answer is that you shouldn’t necessarily put all the things on the board when making it ahead of time. The crackers may not do great in the fridge overnight.
You can easily build your board, remove the crackers before wrapping it up and then pop it into the fridge. Another option is to just add the crackers right before serving or even plating the crackers separately. All of those are really great options!
If you do make this cheese board ahead of time, remember to remove it from the fridge at least an hour before serving. The cheeses will be best at room temp!
IT’S TIME TO PARTY WITH ALL THE CHEESE
Do you feel ready to assemble your winter meat and cheese board? I hope so! When you do, make sure to tag me on Instagram @cupofzest so I can see how gorgeous your cheese board turned out!
Winter Meat and Cheese Board Step-by-Step
- 6 ounces Varzi salami
- 6 ounces Bresaola
- 12 ounces crackers
- 1 cup dried fruit
- 1 cup jam
- ½ cup olives
- ½ cup pistachios
- 2 ounces quince paste
- Cut the gruyere into slices and place in the center of the serving board.
- Place the cheeses on the board near the edges with the points placing out.
- Add the jars of jams, olives, etc. and the quince paste, which should be placed near the edge of the board.
- Place the fruit onto the board.
- Add the crackers and the meat.
- Fill in any gaps on the board with dried fruit, pistachios, etc. and serve!
Honey Orange Whipped Goat Cheese
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- Whisk ingredients together in a medium bowl until well mixed. Chill and serve!
NEED MORE PARTY FOOD RECIPES?
The party food adventures don’t stop here! Check out these other recipes to get your party going!