This Thanksgiving Cheese Plate is great for a small Thanksgiving or for a crowd. A simple to assemble cheese board with easy to find ingredients is a great Thanksgiving appetizer. An easy make ahead appetizer that travels well for Thanksgiving.

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Overhead view of Thanksgiving cheese plate with cheddar cheese, goat cheese, rosemary, crackers, honey, almonds, dried figs and fresh apples

Beginners Guide to Thanksgiving Cheese Plate

There are a lot of cheese plates that are beautifully assembled with specialty cheeses and meats all over Instagram and Pinterest. Those cheeseboards are probably delicious, but can be very intimidating. Sometimes it can be hard to find each ingredient and then you’re not sure what to substitute.

The secret to a great cheese plate is that they don’t need to have expensive cheeses and meats to be a crowd pleaser. Not everything on a cheeseboard has to be perfectly paired together. You can make suggestions, but ultimately everyone has different tastes. 

The ingredients I picked for this cheese plate are all very approachable to buy and eat. It doesn’t do you a lot of good if you have a bunch of expensive cheeses that no one at Thanksgiving wants to try. It’s okay to try to broaden people’s horizons, but you want it to be approachable. 

This nine ingredient cheese plate is the perfect appetizer for Thanksgiving. All the ingredients can be easily found in the supermarket or local grocery store. I also picked ingredients that you can easily use leftovers. For example, honey is great in marinades or sauces, but a specialty jam might be harder to find a use for the leftovers. 

Tips and Tricks

How much cheese do you buy for Thanksgiving? This depends on how many people are going to be at your Thanksgiving. Remember that your goal isn’t to provide dinner but an appetizer or a snack. If you’re buying for four to six people, I’d suggest four to six ounces of cheddar and four ounces of goat cheese. For eight to twelve people I’d buy eight to ten ounces of cheddar and use an eight ounce log of goat cheese.The recipe I’ve given below is for four to six people. 

Where do you buy a platter/tray? I got my platter at Target. The reason I like this one is because it has handles as well as a lip. A lip makes it easier to move around without losing any ingredients to the hungry floor monsters or dog. If you don’t want to buy a tray or you’re worried you won’t get it back, you can easily buy a disposal one that has a little lip to keep the ingredients together. This is the exact one I have.

Method

How do you assemble a cheese plate? There is no wrong way to assemble a cheese plate as long as everything fits on the board. But you can always refill! Below are some general guidelines but there are no hard and fast rules. 

  1. Start with the cheese. Place it at opposite ends of the board. I cut up any cheese that isn’t soft and spreadable. 
  2. Add your dips/sauces/honey next in a small bowl. This goes great in the middle of the cheese board. If you’re traveling with your cheese board, be sure to just place the bowl and pour the honey when you arrive at Thanksgiving. 
  3. Starting at one cheese and going to the other add the meat. If you’re using deli sized salami, cut each piece in half and fold twice. If you’re using small sliced salami fold in half twice. Another option is to layer it flat on the board slightly overlapping. 
  4. Crackers take up a lot of space so I add these next. You can place them along the edges to keep smaller ingredients from falling off. 
  5. Cut up and add the fresh fruit. Chop fruit up into easy to bite pieces like slices of apple. If it’s a big apple, cut the slices in half. Arrange in two different spots around both types of cheese.
  6. Add dried fruit into any holes that you have left. Cut into smaller pieces if not bite sized.
  7. Scatter almonds around the board, these are small and can be placed in multiple spots
  8. Garnish with rosemary or sage where you need some color. 
The final 2 process photos for the cheese plate.

Transport and Storage

Does this appetizer travel well? Yes! This is a great appetizer to bring to Thanksgiving because it travels so well. A cheese board keeps well and is the perfect make ahead room temperature appetizer. This no heat appetizer is great for Thanksgiving because it doesn’t take up any oven space or fridge space!

How to transport a Thanksgiving cheese plate? I wouldn’t recommend bringing a cheese plate on a plane but it will travel fine in a car. I like to plate everything at home EXCEPT the honey and bring a few extras like crackers, fresh fruit or pepperoni on the side. Put the bowl where the honey will go, but pour the honey right before serving. I wrap multiple layers or either plastic wrap or tin foil around the platter. Be sure to keep the platter flat. You can fix anything that moves once you arrive and pour the honey.

How do you store a cheese plate? If you have leftovers from Thanksgiving, the best way is to store anything that needs to go in the fridge in small containers. Make sure to store cheeses, meats and fresh fruits in the fridge. Crackers, bread, dried fruit and almonds can be stored in an airtight container on the counter.

Ingredients

What to put on a cheese board? There isn’t a wrong answer to this question. I start with two or three different types of cheese. Next, pick a jam, honey or sauce that would go well with one or two of the cheeses. Honey is great because it goes with so many different types of cheese and it is easy to find. Add a meat like salami or pepperoni. Crackers or bread is a great cheap way to fill up space on a cheese board, plus goes great with any soft spreadable cheese. Fresh fruit and dried fruit add great texture and sweetness to the board in contrast to the salty meat. Dried figs, fresh apples, fresh grapes are all easy to find, are in season during the fall and go with a variety of cheeses. Finally, finish it with nuts like almonds or cashews for a nice crunchy texture. Garnishes are always optional but rosemary and sage stay fresh looking throughout the party. 

All 9 ingredients laid out in a 3x3 grid with labels

What pairings go with cheddar cheese? Cheddar cheese goes great with whole wheat crackers, salami or pepperoni, apples and almonds. 

What pairings go with goat cheese (chevre)? Fresh goat cheese or chevre goes exceptionally well with honey, crackers and dried figs. 

Substitutions

What substitutions can I make for this cheese plate? Cheese plates are very forgiving! If you don’t like an ingredient I posted or can’t find it, you can try out these substitutions.

  • Cheddar substitute: aged gouda
  • Red apple substitute: fresh grapes
  • Salami substitute: pepperoni
  • Almond substitute: cashews
  • Goat cheese substitute: triple cream brie
  • Honey substitute: apple butter or jam
  • Dried figs substitute: dried dates or apricots
  • Rosemary substitute: fresh sage
Overhead view of Thanksgiving cheese plate with cheddar cheese, goat cheese, rosemary, crackers, honey, almonds, dried figs and fresh apples

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Thanksgiving Cheese Plate

This Thanksgiving Cheese Plate is great for a small Thanksgiving or for a crowd. A simple to assemble cheese board with easy to find ingredients is a great Thanksgiving appetizer. An easy make ahead appetizer that travels well for Thanksgiving.
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese sliced
  • 4 oz fresh goat cheese
  • 1-2 oz honey
  • pound sliced salami
  • 4-8 oz crackers
  • 1 red apple sliced
  • 4-6 oz dried mission figs
  • 2-3 oz salted almonds
  • 3 sprigs rosemary

Instructions

  • Before starting, cut up cheddar cheese, apples and any other ingredients that need to be bite sized.
  • Place cheddar cheese on one side of the board and goat cheese log on the other side. Arrange cheddar cheese in a pile together.
  • Place a small bowl in the center for honey. If you are you traveling with the cheese board, WAIT to pour honey until you’re at the host’s house. If you are serving immediately, pour as you assemble.
  • If you’re using large pieces of salami from the deli, cut in half. Fold in half twice and arrange from one cheese to the other going around the bowl of honey. If you’re using smaller pieces of salami simply fold them in half twice and arrange from one cheese to the other going around the bowl of honey.
  • Add crackers around the edge of the platter.
  • Place cut up fresh fruit in two spots near each type of cheese.
  • Fill holes with dried figs. Cut in half if they are large.
  • Sprinkle almonds over the rest of the board in various locations.
  • Garnish with rosemary.
  • Add small spoon to the honey and a small cheese knife to the goat cheese.

Notes

  1. If traveling with the cheese plate, place bowl for honey but don’t pour until you get to the host’s house.
  2. Cut up any cheese that isn’t a soft spreadable cheese before adding to the cheese plate.
  3. Storage leftovers separately off the board. Cheese, fresh fruit and meat should be stored in the fridge. Crackers, bread, dried fruit and almonds can be stored in airtight containers on the counter.
  4. These proportions are for four to six people but can easily be scaled up.

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  1. Reply

    alyssa | everydaymaven

    October 23, 2019

    Thanks for incluidng my salmai bites!

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