How to Make the Perfect Cheese Plate for Every Season

A cheese-plate expert spilled to us how she keeps her cheese plates seasonally appropriate so you can, too.

Sure, cheese plates are a staple at a picnic or outdoor-party, but any true cheddar-lover wants a grazing board at all of their gatherings—no matter the month. Because cheese boards are typically dotted with fresh fruit, jams and veggies, it can be hard to imagine the crowd-favorite app making an appearance any time other than spring or summer. But with the right ingredients, they can easily be a year-round indulgence.

We spoke with Marissa Mullen, the cheese-plate influencer (yes, that’s a real thing!) behind Instagram’s @ThatCheesePlate and @CheeseByNumbers, for some tips on how to make everyone’s favorite party-starter more seasonal.

Although Mullen’s personal fave is a fairly traditional plate with an “Italian antipasti vibe” (think prosciutto, olives and stuffed peppers), she constantly pushes herself to create inventive cheese boards based on the current season or upcoming holidays. She’s crafted everything from “That ‘Simple Summer’ plate” to “That ‘Trick or Treat’ plate” to “That ‘New Years Eve’ plate.” She even has a series of cheese plates based on each astrological sign.

Read more cheese-plate pointers from our experts in the Test Kitchen.

How to Build the Perfect Cheese Plate

Mullen builds a cheese board in Sonoma, California, in late September 2019.Alexandra Heston Photography

According to Mullen, the six components of any successful cheese plate are

  1. Cheese
  2. Meat
  3. Produce
  4. “Crunch,” like crackers, nuts or bread
  5. Dip
  6. Garnish

She places them on her plate, tray, board, etc. in that same order. To distinguish a summer plate from, say, a winter plate, she recommends switching up the produce, crunch and garnishes in order to align the board’s mood and color scheme with the appropriate season. Here are her go-to’s:

Spring/Summer Cheese Plates

Produce

  • Melon
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Fresh figs

Crunch

  • Fresh bread
  • Flatbread crackers

Garnish

  • Fresh edible flowers

Fall/Winter Cheese Plates

Produce

  • Pomegranates
  • Cranberries
  • Dried fruits

Crunch

  • Spiced nuts
  • Seeded crackers

Garnish

  • Fresh rosemary
  • Non-toxic leaves

Simple enough, right? The other categories—cheese, meat and dip—can stay largely the same throughout the year. Some of Mullen’s suggestions for those include California-made cheeses, such as Mt Tam from Cowgirl Creamery and Bay Blue from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.; Italian speck and fresh-cut prosciutto; and fresh honeycomb and tart cherry compote, respectively. Consider trying one of these 14 lesser-known cheeses, too!

Try It at Home

Mullen’s main suggestion though? Don’t be intimidated! You don’t need to be a professional to curate a top-notch (and seasonal!) cheese plate, and you certainly don’t need to settle for a pre-packaged one from the supermarket. “It’s really easy to get creative and have fun,” she says. “It’s an extra step to find the items around the grocery store, but the process of making the plate gives you something to be proud of.” If you loved these tips, check out how to make cheese crisps.

Feeling Snacky?
1 / 20

Popular Videos

Annamarie Higley
Annamarie Higley is an Associate Print Editor for Taste of Home magazine, as well as the brand's special issue publications. A midwestern transplant originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she enjoys hiking, trivia-ing, and—you guessed it!—all things cooking and baking.