This simple fall-inspired cheese board is tailor made for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving celebrations! Use this step by step tutorial (with photos at every stage of the process!) to build an amazing cheese plate for your holiday gathering. Includes plenty of ideas to help you customize the cheeses and other ingredients!
If I had to pick just one essential Thanksgiving appetizer, it would be a cheese plate. They're infinitely customizable, visually stunning, and easy to assemble (so you can relax and hang out with your guests!)
To build this Thanksgiving cheese plate, we started with our go-to Cheese Plate 101 process and made a few key swaps to fill the platter with lots of autumnal flavors.
Here's a snapshot of exactly what we used:
You can scroll to the end of this post to find a printable recipe card with the exact quantities of everything we used for this board - but don't worry too much about following those guidelines exactly!
This is a very loose recipe - use our list as a jumping off point and change out different elements to suit your own taste buds.
Cheese plates are one of those rare things that look real fancy (*twists imaginary moustache*), but are actually a snap to throw together. Follow the photos below to assemble a gorgeous board one step at a time!
Start with big things like bowls and cheese
Place the largest items on the board first. You'll tuck other ingredients into the remaining space later on to build a cheese plate that fills full and interesting!
We like to use a few small bowls or jars as the "anchor point" of any cheese plate - this is a great place to use any cute little jars of jam, honey, or mustard you might have lying around!
Place the cheeses down next, and leave as much space as you can between them all (this makes it easier to grab different cheeses off the plate!)
We recommend leaving soft cheeses (like brie or goat cheese) intact, and slicing any hard cheeses (like cheddar or manchego) so they're easy to pick up.
Add charcuterie and crackers
Arrange meat and charcuterie items in any big remaining pockets of space (you can see a few different ways to fold and style various cuts of meat in our Cheese Plate tutorial!) We used a couple of hard salami options here, but prosciutto would also be great here.
Next, add any crackers, bread, or crostini pieces you'd like to include. We always like to do a mix of things so people can try a few different combos! On this board, we used two types of water crackers and some toasted whole wheat baguette slices.
Add small, loose items
Now that the big pieces are on the board, it's time to start filling in those smaller spaces with some fun extras!
Place small handfuls of fruit (we used dried cranberries on this board - throw any leftovers into these maple roasted brussels sprouts or a loaf of cranberry pecan bread!) and nuts (we grabbed walnuts and almonds here) into any small spaces throughout the middle of your board.
Fill the jars and add garnishes
Fill any empty bowls or jars you have left with spreads, dips, or extra small items! We added some marinated olives here, as well as some fresh cranberry sauce and a jar of stovetop apple butter. (Pro tip: Pair that apple butter with some creamy cheese à la our apple butter brie crostini!)
These small jars are also great places to add extra nuts, pickles, breadsticks, chocolate almonds, or some local honey!
Finally, tuck some greenery into any last empty spaces to finish things up. We love using a bit of arugula on cheese boards: it lends a beautiful pop of color and its peppery bite is a great balance for some of the sweeter, richer elements on the board (crostini + brie + walnuts + a bit of arugula with a drizzle of honey? Next. Level.)
Three tips for an excellent cheese plate
- Take cheese out of the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before serving. Cheese is best at room temperature (it's softer and easier to cut, and the flavors are more pronounced - more on that in this article from Serious Eats).
- Choose a variety of cheese shapes and textures. We recommend aiming for a 50/50 split between soft cheeses and hard cheeses so you have a few different textures. Soft cheeses can be left whole: put a small butter knife on the board to let guests cut off their own pieces of things like brie, goat cheese, or camembert. We like to slice any hard cheeses up ahead of time to make it easy to grab a piece without sawing through a giant cheese block. Cut each hard cheese a little differently to add some visual interest to your cheese board (this also helps you be able to tell each cheese apart later!) In these photos, we sliced our manchego into large triangles and cut the sharp white cheddar into cubes.
- Prep some elements in advance to save time on Thanksgiving. Set out any dishes - like cutting boards and plates, small bowls, or cheese knives - the night before so all you have to do on Thanksgiving is add the cheese and accoutrements. You can also slice any hard cheeses ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until you're ready to assemble the cheese plate (we like wrapping cheese in beeswax wrapping paper or parchment paper to let them breathe a bit without drying out).
Riffs and Substitutions
This grazing board is endlessly customizable! A few of our favorite Thanksgiving charcuterie board ideas:
- Fruits: Add some pomegranate seeds, seedless grapes, or sliced apples or pears (put these out at the last minute, and drizzle them with a tiny bit of lemon juice to prevent browning!)
- Spreads and jams: Fig jam, pumpkin butter, and local honey are all excellent here.
- Nuts: Pistachios, dark chocolate covered almonds, or Marcona almonds.
- Flakey sea salt
- Cornichons or pickled veggies
- Different types of cheeses: Try some blue cheese, sheep milk cheeses, gouda, camembert, a homemade cheese ball, or any other cheeses you like!
- Other garnishes: Fresh thyme or rosemary sprigs look beautiful on a Thanksgiving cheese board.
Still have questions?
Our Perfect Cheese Plate tutorial walks you through everything you need to know to build fantastic cheese and charcuterie boards, including:
- How much cheese to serve per person
- How to build a cheese plate on a budget (including done-for-you sample ingredient lists!)
- What types of cheese to choose (and how many kinds you need)
This easy charcuterie and cheese board is full of fall flavor - perfect for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, or any autumn get-together!
Note: The below list includes everything we used to make this particular cheese board (including links to some of the exact products we chose) - but this is a VERY loose recipe! Use this list as a reference or a starting point: feel free to eyeball the exact amounts and make any adjustments you like!
- 6 ounces brie
- 6 ounces Manchego cheese, sliced
- 6 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, cubed
- 4 ounces goat cheese (we used this cranberry goat cheese log from Vermont Creamery!)
Note: We grabbed store-brand salami options from our local Wegmans for these photos, but we also love these salami from Olympia Provisions.
Crackers and bread:
- 1 sleeve plain water crackers
- 1 sleeve poppy & sesame crackers
- 1 whole wheat baguette, sliced and toasted
- Take cheeses out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before you plan to serve so they can begin to come to room temperature. Slice any hard cheeses (like cheddar or manchego) before adding them to the cheese plate.
- Arrange all ingredients on a large cutting board or serving platter. We recommend arranging any small bowls you’ll be using first, then adding cheese, meat, and a few crackers.
- Add small handfuls of nuts and fruit into any remaining open spaces, then fill the small bowls/jars you laid out before with your spreads (like apple butter and cranberry sauce) and olives.
- Tuck some fresh arugula into any remaining spaces as a garnish, then serve immediately.
Serving sizes if you make this as written, with the quantities above. If you're serving this cheese plate as an appetizer and you will have other appetizers available, it will serve 15-20 people. If you're serving this cheese plate as the only appetizer, it will serve 10-12 people. If you're serving this cheese plate as a graze-able dinner with a quick arugula side salad, it will serve about 6 people. That said, you know your guests better than we do - so if you know they're not big cheese people (or if you know they'll hit the cheese plate HARD), adjust the quantities here to suit your group!
This is a very loose recipe - feel free to eyeball the exact amounts of everything, and swap any ingredient you like! Read through the full post above for some of our favorite Thanksgiving cheese board ideas, or check out our ultimate Cheese Plate guide for our best tips on selecting cheeses, serving sizes, and more.
It's hard to get a full sleeve of crackers on a cheese board - we recommend placing just a few crackers on the board itself for aesthetics, and setting out a bowl full of any remaining crackers and crostini next to the cheese board so you don't have to worry about replenishing them too often.
Food safety. The USDA recommends leaving food out at room temperature for no more than 2 hours. Plan to give your cheeses about 30 minutes on the counter to come to room temperature, and set a timer to remind you to put any extra food back in the fridge after the cheese board has been out for an additional 60-90 minutes. If you'd like to leave your cheese board out longer than an hour and a half, we recommend "cycling" your meats and cheeses: Put small pieces of cheese and charcuterie on the board when you first set it out, then add new pieces every 30-60 minutes as the original pieces run out.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 524
- Sugar: 7.5 g
- Sodium: 1181.3 mg
- Fat: 28.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 42.3 g
- Protein: 24.9 g
- Cholesterol: 74.8 mg
Keywords: thanksgiving, holiday, autumn, platter
Nutrition facts are approximate and will vary widely by the brand and exact quantity of each ingredient you use.