A great cheese board can be the centerpiece of the table when entertaining. And whether you’re a guest or playing host, it is the easiest snack to throw together and the perfect addition to any get-together, especially around the holidays. They’re classy, they look amazing, and they take minimal time to prepare. But what if you have a dairy allergy? I put myself to the challenge to create a dairy-free cheeseboard I would be proud to serve, and wanted to share with you how to do it.
CREATING A DAIRY-FREE CHEESEBOARD
There is no other dish that requires so little input but impresses so much. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you like. It’s versatile and customizable.
A year ago I would not have thought to create a fully dairy-free board, but my, how vegan cheeses have changed. There are more and more nut-based cheeses available and suddenly there are styles that are perfect for a cheeseboard type of presentation.
I stopped by Rainbow Grocery, the large Co-op health food store in San Francisco to see what kinds of cheeses I could find for my experiment. There was a vast 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.
CHEESE BOARD FORMULA
Here are some suggestions for how to build a cheese board and create variety. Pick a mix of these:
- A Hard Cheese
- A Soft Cheese
- A Spreadable Cheese
- Crackers or Sliced Baguette
- Sweet/Jammy Spread or Tangy Mustard Spread
- Fresh Fruit
- Additional items to fill in the spaces like nuts or olives
CREAMY, SHARP, MILD
Using a variety of cheeses allows your guests to enjoy different textures and flavors. I love all the flavors, so I would try them all, but some people only like monterey jack, so having different flavors ensures you satisfy everyone’s tastebuds! Try for a creamy cheese, a sharp cheese, and a mild one. Some people will want to just grab a piece of cheese and move on. Others stay nearby longer and will enjoy spreading some cheese on their crackers and bread.
THEN, PICK A BOARD
I bought this wooden serving board specifically for making cheese and meat trays, and as you can see in the pictures, the board is half of the beauty. You can also use other boards like a cutting board, a grey slate board like this, a silver tray, whatever you have on hand.
I also purchased this Rectangle Serving Platter from Target because I thought it would look great piled high with sandwiches or turmeric lattes.
PLACE THE CHEESES DOWN FIRST
Arrange your dairy-free cheeses on the board with room around them. Pre-slice some of the hard cheeses to invite people to dig in. Then fill in the spaces with grapes, figs, olives, nuts, and crackers. I kept my board pretty simple and uncluttered to really show off the cheeses for you. If I were making this for a party, I may fill it in a little more. Think about colors when you choose your other additions. Adding more color really invites our eyes in, since we eat with our eyes first.
THE CHEESES I USED
I have four cheeses here:
Oatzarella – Italian Herb, mini oak milk cheese wheel. The first oat milk cheese I have tried, good flavor, but would have been better inside a cooked casserole as it really wants to melt and soften when left out of the fridge.
The Uncreamery – Dill Havarti Block, almond milk based cheese, perfect for slicing. This is my favorite vegan cheese for snacking. The flavor is just so good and the texture is perfect with crackers.
Jule’s Foods – Black Garlic Cashew Brie, a cashew-based cheese. This Brie is completely plant-based and oil-free with no lactose or milk allergens. It is aged 2 -3 weeks, and just look at that color of the cheese. This one was such a treat, and you can order this online.
Miyoko’s Creamery – Straight Up Sharp, Cultured Vegan Roadhouse style cheese spread. This is the intense flavor on my board, LOTS of sharp in this cheese. Miyoko’s also make cheese wheels that would be perfect on a dairy-free cheeseboard
MAKE YOUR OWN CHEESE
If you are curious about how to do this yourself and have the patience to wait out the fermentation process, there are books on how to make nut cheeses. I picked up this book from Miyoko Schinner on Artisan Vegan Cheese. There are recipes for aged cheeses, sauces, and even sweet ones all made from non-dairy milks.
And godairyfree.org has a recipe for Dairy Free Brie on their website that looks amazing and worth trying.
OTHER CHEESES TO TRY
Treeline – This line of delicious nut-based artisanal vegan cheese is sold at Whole Foods.
Kite Hill – The Soft Ripened and the Soft Fresh Truffle, Dill & Chive are absolutely divine! These heavenly cheeses are made from almonds and sold at Whole Foods Markets nationwide!
If you want a great tutorial on how to construct yours, check out this post from Williams Sonoma on how to build the ultimate cheeseboard.
OTHER SNACKS TO SERVE WITH A DAIRY-FREE CHEESEBOARD
And to round out your festive meal, how about some of these dairy-free snacks to place on the table as well!
These Broccoli and Zucchini Fritters are dairy and gluten-free, full of veggies and make a great snack or breakfast.
These Curried Cauliflower Fritters would be gorgeous on your party table next to the cheeseboard, and a delicious treat that you can make as mild or spicy as you want.
Add a little sweet snack to your table with these Snickerdoodle Cookies.
And don’t forget about the cheese knives! I got this mouse cheese knife at a gift swap party with a bunch of other chef friends. Isn’t he cute? If you are in the Bay Area and looking for a Personal Chef, you can search our website for Chefs that service your area.