An Expert Shares How To Cut Cheese For The Perfect Charcuterie Board

Custom grazing board curator Courtney Wright shares her tips for building beautiful boards.

Cheese Arranged on Cheese Board
Photo: Caitlin Bensel/Southern Living

These days, it feels as if no cocktail party or girls night in is complete without an Instagram-worthy cheese board, but it's not as simple as throwing a few varieties and whatever's in the kitchen on a wooden plank. As it turns out, cutting the cheese itself requires some know-how. We asked Courtney Wright of Savor Style, a custom grazing board curator, to dish on her cheese board knowledge to help us create edible masterpieces with ease and confidence.

"I always have tips and tricks to share in my workshops but I do always mention that you don't have to follow all these hard and fast rules with cheese boards because I want people to get creative and have fun," says Wright. "I don't want anyone to feel pressured into making their board look a certain way while still having some guidance."

How Many Cheeses Do You Need for a Charcuterie Board?

Wright recommends starting with three cheeses in varying textures to offer variety, which she says is an easy way to help people narrow their focus when in the cheese aisle at Whole Foods or Piggly Wiggly. For her, that typically looks like a soft cheese like brie, a semi-firm cheese like young gouda or manchego, and a firm cheese like parmesan or an aged cheddar.

"What's most important is to serve a variety of flavors and textures," says Wright. "There are certainly some other fresh cheeses that can be great to include on a board as well. While goat and blue cheeses can be a bit polarizing, I think they also work beautifully because they pair well with so many other foods you often find on a board."

She advises spreading out the cheese varieties across your board, placing one in the upper left hand corner, lower right hand corner and in the center of the board, for example. She says it's important to give space between your cheeses in order to create a balanced look.

How To Cut Cheese for Charcuterie Boards

Fresh or Softened Cheeses

Soft Cheeses on Cheese Board
Caitlin Bensel/Southern Living

When it comes to fresh or softened cheeses, Wright says there are two ways to serve them. You can leave a ball of mozzarella or a log of goat cheese whole and let people go for it. However, if you are hosting a large gathering or cocktail party, it may make more sense to serve your cheeses pre-sliced, she says.


Cut Brie Cheese
Caitlin Bensel/Southern Living

"A whole wedge of brie can look beautiful on its own topped with dried fruit and herbs but when served to a large group, it's easier to let guests pick up what they need and move on," says Wright. "I like to cut the round in half, turn it, and then keep cutting until I get 16 wedges out of it. Pre-cut brie can still be topped with honeycomb, herbs, fruit, and just about anything else you'd like"

Semi-Firm Cheeses

Semi-Firm Cheeses
Caitlin Bensel/Southern Living

Cutting semi-firm cheeses depends on the shape they are sold in. Wright says that since havarti comes in a rectangular block, she will slice them longways and possibly in half again for smaller pieces. Manchego comes in a wedge which will allow you to cut small triangles and bring a new shape to the board.

Firm Cheeses

Hard Cheeses
Caitlin Bensel/Southern Living

Wright says that the more aged a cheese is, the firmer it will be and she loves that these varieties can become crystallized, which brings a unique texture to the scene. "I'll carefully take a very sharp knife and cut into it at different angles to create these shard-like crumbles because they are going to that naturally anyways," she says. "It brings a nice texture, shape, and display to the board. You can do this with an entire wedge or just cut into part of it and have a mound of pieces around the wedge."

Finding the Right Knives for Charcuterie Boards

Wright likes to keep several different sizes of knives on hand to prep her cheese boards. She says that a basic chef's knife works great for larger blocks like manchego or parmesan. For softer cheeses, she does have some specialty knives for these varieties that are also beautiful for presentation. A wire cheese slicer also works well for the semi-firm types.

"One tip for semi-firm cheese is that if you pop it out of the fridge and do some prep before you slice, it can be tricky to cut," says Wright. "In a pinch, you can pop it in the freezer for a few minutes to make it easier to slice again and if you're not serving it right away, store it back in the fridge until you need to put it on the board."However, Wright notes that most cheeses are always best-served at room temperature, so you can prep your entire board the morning of a party then take it out 30 minutes before showtime. Some of her favorite ways to source cheeseboard knives is from stores like Williams Sonoma, Anthropologie, and Sur La Table as well as local home and gifts shops like At Home and A'mano.

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