A vegan cheese board is the pièce de résistance when it comes to entertaining. There is no other dish that requires so little input but impresses so much. It's also the perfect centrepiece for any gathering as you can make it as simple or as complicated as you like.
And fortunately, the days are long gone when the only cheese options available for us dairy-free folk were rubbery, tasteless slices: instead, we have a variety of the most delicious cultured, artisan vegan cheeses to enjoy. In some ways, creating a plant-based cheese board today is almost overwhelming as there are so many options! So, if you've ever wondered how to make your own ultimate vegan cheese or grazing board, this post is for you.
Below, I'll show you how to make a beautiful plant-based cheese board using my top tricks and tips. I'll talk all about the importance of colour, texture, tastes and cheese varieties, so you'll be a pro at assembling a vegan cheese board in minutes! It's really just a simple formula. Once you've got the hang of it you can adapt it to make your own themed or seasonal spreads. Enjoy!
1. Keep Your Vegan Cheese Board Simple
Cheese boards are meant to be easy-to-assemble and fuss-free. They are - in essence - simple food: a mix of cheese, bread and fruit. If in doubt, keep things easy - focus on my formula below and use minimal ingredients.
Don't overcrowd your board if you aren't confident: a mess of flavours that don't work together is less impressive than a simple plate of well-matched cheese, crackers and fruit.
2. Size Matters
Well, when it comes to the size of your board, it does. Be sure to use the correct-sized board for the ingredients you have. Do you just have one cheese, some baguette and some jam? Great. Put them on a smaller cutting board or plate and they won't look like they're surrounded by empty space. Or maybe you're making your cheese board using #allthethings? Fantastic! Get a larger board or platter so it won't look totally overcrowded.
(That said, making your cheese board look well-packed is one of my favourite tips for an eye-catching platter. There's nothing that makes people want to nibble from a cheese board more than if it looks abundant!)
3. Colour is Key
It sounds overly simple, but a completely beige cheese board isn't that appealing to anyone. Colour is so important when you're creating a snacking board, and just adding little pops of colour throughout can make even the most simple platter look really sumptuous. Try scattering berries, colourful jams and eye-catching fruits like fresh berries throughout your board to draw people in.
4. Add Texture
Just as colour is important to make your vegan cheese board pop, so are contrasting textures to make it look extra delicious! This doesn't need to be complicated at all and you're probably doing it automatically.
Try placing a smooth, velvety cheese next to a crusty French baguette, or juicy fresh berries alongside a creamy cashew dip. This will add layers of texture to your board and make it look mouth-watering.
5. It's all about the (Vegan) Cheese
Obviously, cheese is the most important part of your platter (I'm hoping we're all on the same page there!). So it goes without saying that emphasising it and making it the star is key to creating a great vegan cheese board.
If you're planning a large platter, go with a good mix of different flavours to give your guests choice and variety. Try a mix of any of the following: hard, creamy, aged, herbed and blue.
And don't let being vegan make you think you don't have options! I never liked the 'dairy' taste of cheese, so going vegan was a gift for me in that way. It opened up a world of artisan plant-based cheeses that I hadn't wanted to try until that point.
6. Pair those Flavours
Whilst it's important to have a variety of cheeses, try to make sure their flavours don't clash too much! If you've got one really tangy blue cheese, perhaps go for a smooth, creamier one to accompany it.
The same goes for the other items on your board. For example, if you have a very creamy cheese, try to make sure you've got something tangy like olives or pickles nearby to compliment it.
Don't forget to mix sweet and savoury too - try pairing fruity preserves with salty cheeses and crusty breads for a delicious contrast.
7. Go Seasonal
Yes, strawberries are delicious on a cheese board, but they're only in season for a short time of year. For a sophisticated grazing board, make use of seasonal ingredients as they become available.
Fruits such as figs, pomegranates, pears, cranberries, red currents and persimmons will all make for a beautiful platter. You may not want to eat them all raw, but there are many ways they can be incorporated into your spread. Try making a cranberry preserve, for example.
The Ultimate Vegan Cheese Board - A Simple Formula
I hope I've shown you in this post that creating a vegan cheese board can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be! Really, it all comes down to a basic formula that can be adapted to any size or style of platter.
Cheese Board Formula:
Cheese + Bread/Crackers + Sweet/Savory Spread + Fruit + Something Pickled or Tangy + Nuts
Vegan 'Meats', Dips, Raw vegetable crudités
(And if this still looks a bit overwhelming to you, simply follow my example recipe below!)
How to Make the Ultimate Vegan Cheese Board
- 2-3 vegan cheeses (include a mix of different flavours and styles)
- 1 jar savoury tapenade, pâté or spread
- 1 jar sweet jam or preserve
- 1-2 loaves good quality, artisanal bread (such as sourdough, walnut bread or French baguette - gluten-free if needed)
- 1 pack savoury crackers
- 1 jar something salty or tangy, such as olives in brine, pickles, sun-dried tomatoes or artichokes
- 2-3 cups fruit or berries (a mix of fruits such as figs, pears, apples, grapes, apricots and/or seasonal berries works well)
- 1 cup mixed nuts (walnuts, toasted almonds and pecans work really well)
- A selection of your favourite vegan mock 'meats', such as sausages and hams
- Sprigs of herbs or colourful vegetables, to decorate
- Start by spreading your cheeses and spreads/preserves out on the platter/board. Ideally they should be in different areas of the board to balance it visually. If you have wheels of cheese, cut a wedge or two out of them for decoration.
- Cut small slices or chunks from your bread and fan them out with the remaining loaf around the cheeses and spreads/preserves.
- Fan the crackers out around the cheeses and spreads in the same way.
- If using vegan meats, cut slices of them and fan them out near the crackers.
- Place groups of your tangy foods (olives, artichokes etc.) around the board close to the cheeses. Alternatively just place them on the board in their jars.
- If using fruits like apples or pears, slice them thinly. If using figs or apricots, slice in half. Create clusters of the different fruits/berries you're using and place throughout the cheese board.
- Finally, add small clusters of nuts to fill out any bare spaces on the board.
- If using, add a couple of sprigs of herbs and colourful veggies to decorate the board.
- Place a clean knife next to each cheese, and a small fork/spoon in each jar, and enjoy!