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.
How to Build the Perfect Cheese Plate
Alexandra Heston Photography
According to Mullen, the six components of any successful cheese plate are
- “Crunch,” like crackers, nuts or bread
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
- Fresh figs
- Fresh bread
- Flatbread crackers
- Fresh edible flowers
Fall/Winter Cheese Plates
- Dried fruits
- Spiced nuts
- Seeded crackers
- 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.”