Tips for A Thanksgiving Cheese Plate

Thanksgiving Cheese Plate

Pictured above is a board Elizabeth and I created with some of our favorite cheeses.   We used a variety of sheep, cow and goats milk cheeses with quince, honey, figs and grapes to create a real harvest feel for our plate. We served the cheese with a crisp Chardonnay and enjoyed a great day!

A cheese plate is a great way to give your guests a nibble before Thanksgiving Dinner without killing their appetite.  There is nothing worse than putting out too many appetizers, then inviting full guests to sit down for a dinner you slaved over, only to have your guests stuffed from the pre-dinner treats. Since Thanksgiving is an All-American Holiday, select cheese for your plate from a growing number of American Artisan Cheesemakers. Here are some of my favorites:

Mt Townsend Creamery – my pick Seastack, award winning with a real salty earthiness.

Cow Girl Creamery – my pick Pierce Pt a delicious cheese that is washed in a muscato wine and rolled in dried herbs.

Cypress Grove – my pick Humboldt Fog®, I could take a bath in it and Lamb Chopper which I love with honey.

You can visit a good cheese shop, order online from the cheesemongers above, or I highly recommend the great selections of USA cheese at Murray’s

Tips for Creating a Great Cheese Plate:


  • When preparing a cheese board, plan on serving from three to five cheeses .  Aim for variety. You want to tempt the taste buds with cheeses of distinctly different styles, tastes, and textures. For a simple, but interesting cheese board, start with these three selections: one soft cheese, one firm cheese and one blue vein cheese. To expand your offerings, add a spreadable cheese like fresh chevre, or a “surprise” cheese flavored with wine, spices or herbs.
  • For a more creative twist, build your cheese board around a theme. You might offer cheeses from different milks (cow, sheep, goat) or cheeses from a particular region (California or Iowa).
  • As an appetizer or course, plan on serving 70g of cheese per person.
  • If you’re on a budget, better to buy 2 of good quality rather than many of a lesser quality.  Make your cheese board a memorable experience: avoid the common and go for artisan cheeses that are new to your guests.


  • Once you have selected your cheeses, choose a tray or platter large enough to keep cheeses of different shapes and sizes from touching.
  • Wood boards are my pick, they are traditional and offer a contrasting background color to make your cheeses stand out.
  • When arranging your selections, be sure to display them in a manner that makes them most accessible to guests. Put smaller cheeses in the middle, and then place soft cheeses around them. Hard cheeses should be arranged around the outside of the cheese board to make them easier to cut.


  • To make your cheese board an edible piece of art, garnish it with natural ingredients. Figs, grapes, apples, and pears all add beautiful color and flavor to your board.
  • In separate dishes, offer honey, quince, jam or lightly roasted nuts.
  • Include a variety of breads and crackers that aren’t too strong or salty.  Slices of tangy sourdough or crackers flavored with cracked black pepper pair well with cheese.
  • In general, fresh cheeses pair well with Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir, blue cheeses with Sauternes and Port, and aged cheeses with Zinfandel or Burgundy.

Serving Tips

  • Remove the wrapping from cheeses, but leave on rinds.
  • Serve each cheese with its own knife to avoid mixing flavors.
  • Bring cheeses to room temperature for optimal flavor – take out of the refrigerator up to two hours before serving.

* was a reference for this post.

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