The cold weather calls for cozy meals, lots of snacks, and elegant appetizers. Enjoy all 3 in one perfect party snack board by learning how to make your own Winter Meat and Cheese Board Step-by-Step! The array of seasonal produce and cheeses will blow your guests’ minds!
The most epic cheese board to impress your guests
Winter is a time to unapologetically overindulge in snacks and appetizers at a long list of parties and holidays. When it’s your turn to host, impress your guests with a Winter Meat and Cheese Board full of all of the good stuff!
This step-by-step guide will show you how easy it is to make your own winter charcuterie board for parties. It details all of the best seasonal produce, cheeses, and meats to include, as well as comforting dips, spreads, and extras to fill in the pesky gaps. In the end, you’ll have a colorful, savory canvas that’s fit for the cold weather!
What to put on a winter snack board
Let me stress that there are no rules when it comes to a meat and cheese board. You can easily get away with piling on anything you love! When it comes to seasonal boards, however, it’s best to stick to a theme.
Cheese and fruit pairings for winter can be a little challenging because fresh produce isn’t widely available. You can easily pair some creamy brie with fresh berries during the summer or a slice of persimmon during the fall, but what about when snow is on the ground?
Use this guide to figure out what exactly to put on your winter cheese board and how to pair all of the comforting flavors together:
I’ll be honest: citrus and cheese don’t really pair well together. It’s just too tart for creamy cheese! Instead of layering blood oranges, kumquats, and caracaras on the board, find new and creative ways to incorporate the seasonal fruit:
- Add the whole fruits, their stems, and leaves as decoration in empty gaps.
- Wanna be fancy? Incorporate the sliced citrus as a palate cleanser to eat in between bites of different cheeses.
- Sliced fruit is always nice to have for those who don’t eat dairy or are vegan.
- Cut them up and mix them with something sweet, like a little sugar, agave, or honey.
When it’s time to shop, head to a farmer’s market or grocery store to see what’s on display. Try to buy fresh or organic produce so you can have the very best flavors. Any of these seasonal citrus fruits will pair well:
Dried fruit and preserves
Like I said, fresh fruit isn’t always available or in season during the cold months. That’s why I always love to include small bowls of dried fruit and preserves to spread onto cheese and crackers. These are a few of my favorites:
- Dried apricots
- Dried cherries
- Apricot preserves
- Golden raspberry preserves
- Quince paste
- Fig jam
- Tangerine spread
Now THIS is where we can have some real fun. Cheese in the winter is a staple… it’s creamy, comforting, and so luscious. There are so many different varieties, giving you plenty of space to get creative!
A rule I give myself is to include a total of 6 kinds of cheeses and meats when I’m serving a lot of people. For this board, I went with 4 kinds of cheese and 2 types of meat.
You should cover the 4 cheese categories on a cheese board: Aged, Bloomy, Blue, and Fresh. This is what I used:
- Aged: Gruyere
- Firm, salty, and a bit complex when aged. It’s a delightful cheese from Switzerland.
- Possible substitutions: Jarlsberg, Raclette, and Comté.
- Bloomy (Washed Rind): Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk
- A Northern California favorite. It’s a washed rind triple cream that tastes a little funky, creamy, and salty.
- Possible substitutions: French Brie, Mt. Tam, and Camembert.
- Blue: Point Reyes Original Blue
- It’s punchy, sweet, and salty with that blue cheese ripeness you expect.
- Possible substitutions: Gorgonzola, Stilton, and Roquefort.
- Fresh: Goat cheese mixed with orange zest and honey
- Sweet, creamy, and a great way to highlight winter citrus.
- Possible substitutions: Feta, Ricotta, and Cotija.
You can be flexible with the sliced charcuterie meat you choose to use. Go with your favorites or head to an Italian deli to find something new and fun. For this board, I went with two punchy cured sliced meats: bresaola and varzi salami.
Bresaola is a cured lean beef from the top round cut of steak. If you’re able to pick some up, have the deli slice it super thin, just like prosciutto. It’s really great with some of the Red Hawk and little tangerine preserves!
I found the varzi salami at Whole Foods. It’s spiced with a little nutmeg so it’s perfect during winter.
If these two options aren’t for you, try any of these classic suggestions:
- Spanish chorizo
The extras: crackers, olives, nuts
Now’s the time to fill in the holes and make sure your guests have an “edible plate” for their cheese and meat. These fun extras will add some brine, salt, and crunch to the platter.
Make sure to include lots of hearty crackers, pita chips, crostini, and sliced veggies to spread the cheese on top. Put olives and nuts in small bowls or right on the board so guests can easily grab what they like.
How to assemble a winter meat and cheese board step-by-step
Assembly is really fun and not at all challenging. You can follow these easy steps or let your creativity flow. Like I said, there are no rules!
Step 1: The cheese comes first.
Place all of your cheeses (whole, crumbled, or sliced) close to the edges or corners of the board. This makes for easy access to all that cheesy goodness.
Step 2: Now the jars.
If you have nuts, olives, or preserves in jars, place them around the board or near the cheeses they pair well with.
Step 3: Time for the fruit!
First, place any large pieces of fruit down while you still have the place. Sprinkle smaller fruit all around for a nice decoration.
Step 4: Cracker time.
The crackers should be easy to grab and also look good on the plate.
Step 5: Finally, the meat!
Fold your sliced meat and place them nice and close to the crackers and cheese.
Step 6: Finish it off with decorations.
Add any extras you have leftover, like nuts, dried fruit, and citrus leaves, in any leftover gaps.
Winter cheese board tips
You’re almost ready to make your winter cheese board! Follow these tips to help you prepare and present the most beautiful board:
How much should I buy?
The quantities of ingredients you buy will depend on how many guests you expect to be serving. If this holiday snack platter is all you’ll be serving, stick to about 2 to 3 ounces of cheese per person and 1 to 2 ounces of charcuterie per person. You can easily cut down from there if there will be more fun appetizers served.
Making it ahead of time
You can easily make a charcuterie board up to 1 day ahead of time by adding everything to the board except the crackers. Wrap the board with plastic and keep it in the fridge.
Take the board out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving so the cheese can come back down to room temperature. Add the crackers and any last minute decorations, then enjoy!
Obviously, you need a board! Use a large serving tray, wood board, or a dinner plate if there’s only a small crowd coming over.
Other than that, all you need are a few cheese knives to make slicing easy, small bowls or jars to hold the extras, and some cutlery for the dips or spreads.
Pair it with a cocktail!
You know what would make this appetizer even better? A winter cocktail!
I suggest pairing this comforting snack board with a French 77 or Pear and Gin Prosecco Cocktail when you’re ringing in the New Year or feeling fancy. Or keep things tame with a wintery cranberry mocktail instead. You really can’t go wrong!
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!
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