Grocery Store Cheeses That Make A Perfect Cheese Board

Cheese and charcuterie boards have always been pretty popular, to say the least. And they've skyrocketed to ultimate popularity during the pandemic, according to the Washingtonian, but you don't have to go for imported cheeses from fancy (read: expensive) cheese shops to go all-in on this trend. And you really should get into the charcuterie trend when you get a chance. Surprisingly, there are more than enough delicious cheese choices hiding in plain sight in the seemingly humble grocery store cheese aisle.

When building a cheese plate, a variety of approaches presents themselves. You can opt to curate based on a region, like California or France, or a milk type, like goat or sheep. You could also attempt to show off a wide range of flavors and textures by including one cheese from each of the major "families": fresh cheeses, goat cheeses, hard cheeses, washed-rind cheeses with assertive orange coatings, bloomy-rinded cheeses like Brie, and funky, dark-veined blues. 

Choose an assortment in an odd number for the prettiest presentation, and opt for a wide variety of textures. For instance, a three-cheese board might feature a soft goat, a pressed cheddar, and a creamy bloomy, for example. A five-cheese board might add a crumbly blue and an assertive washed rind to round things out. Served with bread, crackers, and jams, it will be perfect for any party or gathering. And, with these affordable grocery store cheeses, you won't have to break the bank to do it well, either.


Fans of Brie will fall head-over-heels over Saint-André, a rich, triple-cream bloomy worthy of praise. Like other bloomies, Saint André boasts a slightly mushroomy aroma that's truly delightful on any cheeseboard. But this particular variety stands apart from Brie and Camembert thanks to its velvety, buttery texture that comes from its whopping 75% fat content. The resulting cheese is rich and oh-so-creamy. It's no wonder it's one of the most famous triple creams out there!

Today, Saint-André is made in Pacé, in Normandy, which is known for its rich dairy production. In 2019, reports French Cheese Corner, it received the Gold Medal at the World Cheese Awards — the highest of praise!

Saint-André is delightful on its own, but it truly sings when paired with a slightly sweet condiment like fig jam or black Concord grapes. French Cheese Corner recommends pairing it with macarons — a French meringue cookie made with almond flour — for the ultimate sweet and savory delight.

Ile de France goat cheese

Goat cheese is a widely beloved culinary favorite for a reason. It's light and creamy, for one. It's also often one of the least assertive cheeses on any cheese plate, making it an excellent entry point for diners who aren't too sure about the slightly more assertive offerings on a charcuterie board. This imported cheese from Ile de France is light, creamy, and mildly tangy, making it the ideal example of a typical fresh French goat.

Goat cheese tends to marry well with white wine, particularly wines from the Loire Valley, where goat cheese reigns supreme. It was here that the Saracens had settled in the 8th century. The legend goes that, when they were chased out of the country, they left in haste, abandoning the goats they had brought from the Arab world. Along with a few key recipes, this paved the way for a rich French tradition of goat cheese. 

Consider serving this soft, mild cheese with a chilled Sancerre — that's one of the Loire Valley's most sought-after whites — for the ideal pairing.

Humboldt Fog

Blue-averse, stand down! That's not a blue vein of Penicillium mold you see running through Humboldt Fog; it's ash. Ash has long been used in traditional cheesemaking to keep the curds fresh overnight as well as to neutralize the cheese's natural acidity, paving the way for a more balanced finished product. 

Trademarked as The Original American Original, this soft-ripened goat's cheese was ostensibly first invented in a dream by its creator, Mary Keehn. The resulting cheese is white and creamy, with a color that provides the perfect foil for that distinctive line of dark ash winding through the middle of the cut. 

Humboldt Fog is known not only for its creamy texture but also for its lovely, balanced flavor. It boasts floral, herbaceous aromas, a citrusy tang, and a deep, goaty funk. It's no wonder Humboldt Fog remains a standout example of goat cheese and the perfect American-made option for any cheese platter!

Herbed goat cheese

If you want a goat cheese with a bit more presence, consider opting for one that's been coated in herbs, garlic, or both. This one from Vermont Creamery is widely available in supermarkets and juxtaposes a mild, creamy cheese with a rich coating of basil, rosemary, oregano, and thyme

If this particular variety isn't available to you, then you can always make your own herb blend to coat a plain goat's cheese for a DIY version of this delicious idea. Consider a crust made from herbes de Provence, some freshly cracked black pepper, smoked paprika, or even fresh chives. You can either roll the cheese in your seasonings of choice, for a cheese that most closely resembles the one from Vermont Creamery, or you can whip the seasonings into the cheese for an easily spreadable final result. You could even marinate the cheese in fresh herbs and olive oil for even more flavor (and longer shelf life!)


Boursin is widely considered to be a classic for a reason. After all, what could be better or more crowd-pleasing than a mild, creamy cow's milk cheese infused with garlic and herbs? 

This cheese is lovely all on its own, of course, but you could also take a page out of French entertaining books and use the cheese to craft a sophisticated appetizer atop or alongside your cheese platter. Spread the cheese on thin cucumber slices, for example. Or, you could also roll the Boursin into slices of ham or smoked salmon for pretty pinwheels that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are delicious!

And by the way, did you know that in addition to the classic garlic and fine herbs flavor, the Boursin brand also makes other iterations of this cheese spread? Offerings range from black pepper to basil chive to balsamic fig, each of which boasts its own unique attributes. Whether opting for these creative flavors or simply selecting the classic, Boursin is always a welcome choice on a cheese platter.

Cracker Barrel aged cheddar

These days, there are tons of artisanal cheddars available. Yet we keep coming back to that old stalwart known as Cracker Barrel. Look, this cheddar may be omnipresent, but just because something is ubiquitous doesn't meant that you should turn your nose up at it. With loads of different flavors and strengths from Vermont Sharp White to marbled and more, this brand has something for everyone.

That said, if you really want to wow the folks digging into your cheese platter, go for the Aged Reserve cheddar, which offers a bold, pronounced flavor and a lovely, lingering sharpness. "This is my favorite cheese!!" writes one enthusiastic reviewer. "I love sharp cheese and the sharper the better! This cheese has amazing flavor, I could eat the whole brick!"

Sliced and served with apple wedges or red grapes, it's the ideal addition to any cheese board. Once they're persuaded to get over their prejudices, even cheese snobs won't be able to resist the brand's delightful flavor!

Port Salut

Washed rind cheeses are a bit a of mystery, historically speaking. According to VinePair, they may have emerged as early as the 7th century in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. According to Culture, it was 16th-century monks who reportedly engineered or at least refined the technique. These cheeses typically have a milky flavor to their curd and an orange rind that is a result of this now-traditional washing technique. These cheeses are quite literally washed in brine or alcohol to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria that lend these cheeses their trademark aroma (via Vice). 

Port Salut is a variety of cheese in this great washed rind tradition which you can easily find in most supermarket specialty cheese sections. The cheese is made according to Trappist monk tradition in the Loire Valley and is known for its creamy texture and full flavor. Despite its distinctively assertive aroma, Port Salut isn't actually all that assertive in taste. It boasts creamy, lactic flavors, while its orange color makes it a beautiful addition to any cheese plate. 

If you can't find Port Salut, Saint Paulin, another Trappist cheese, makes a great substitute.

Red Hawk

California-based Cowgirl Creamery has been a reference point for stellar American cheese since it first opened in the '90s, and Red Hawk is one of this producer's bestsellers for a reason. This washed rind cheese begins with an organic, triple-cream base that is delicately washed in brine to facilitate the development of its trademark reddish rind. Equal parts funky and rich, this balanced, pungent cheese is sure to turn heads at any gathering. Serve it with wine that has a lingering sweetness, like Alsatian Gewurztraminer, for an unforgettable pairing.

Take note: as is the case with other washed rind cheeses, this one is 100% edible, red rind and all. That said, the most assertive flavors are on the outside of the cheese. So, if a guest somehow finds that Red Hawk is a bit too much for them, you may consider suggesting that they trim the rind and eat only the rich, lactic interior. Now, trimming the rind won't give you the full flavor power of the cheese, but may make it more palatable for those who prefer a milder experience.

Trader Joe's Creamy Toscano Cheese

Remember that, as with many things in life and in the culinary world, don't knock it until you've tried it. With that in mind, we'd argue pretty vehemently that the Trader Joe's cheese aisle is nothing to scoff at! There are loads of offerings to discover here, but fan favorite Creamy Toscano is a crowd-pleaser in more ways than one. 

This rich, nutty cow's milk cheese is delicious all on its own, with notes reminiscent of a marriage between a good Parmesan and a creamy farmhouse cheddar. But when it's soaked in Syrah red wine, the cheese takes on a deep purple hue and a slightly fruity, tannic flavor with notes of plum and blackberry. It's a choice that easily pushes this grocery store cheese to next-level deliciousness! 

It bears mentioning that the wine-soaked version of this cheese is as much a feast for the eyes as for the palate. Adding this gemstone-hued choice to a charcuterie board certainly creates some colorful variety as compared to other offerings that more often range in color from white to beige. A purple cheese? Yes, please!

Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda

Gouda is the cheese of choice for many Amsterdammers, and for good reason! This nutty hard cheese has an underlying fruity aroma that, over time, develops into flavors more akin to toffee or caramel. And when it comes to this Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda, those are definitely the kinds of flavors you'll be getting. Rest assured that you won't regret it one bit. 

This gouda boasts a slight sweetness and a wealth of tyrosine crystallization (think those little crunchy bits in an old Parmesan — otherwise known as the part of the cheese that makes it downright irresistible). It's no surprise that it's a delightful addition to any cheese board or sandwich.

While this gouda is nice on bread, like some other hard cheeses, it's even better when allowed to melt on the tongue almost like hard candy. This process of savoring the gouda releases even more of its aromatic complexity. Consider using a cheese chisel or other fine cheese knife to cut super thin slices for that experience.

Swiss Gruyère

Swiss Gruyère is fruity, nutty, and rich, making it the perfect base for Swiss classics like fondue. But it's also the ideal hard cheese to join a phenomenal cheese platter. Hailing from the Swiss Alps — oftentimes hailed as one of the dairy capitals of the world — this flavorful imported cheese is rich with centuries of tradition. Aged for up to nine months, the resulting cheese boasts fruity flavors reminiscent of apricot as well as deep, rich toffee. It's lovely on its own or paired with your favorite seasonal fruit.

A word to the wise (and to those who may have bitten off a bit more than they can chew in the cheese department): Gruyère freezes phenomenally well, so any leftovers can be tightly wrapped and saved for another cheese board or recipe. We're partial to creamy potatoes au gratin or a grown-up grilled cheese served up with some fig jam on flavorful sourdough bread.


Blue cheese is divisive, it's true, but one bite of Amablu will have even skeptics hooked. Blue cheese is a category known for its distinctively piquant nature, an attribute it owes to the veins of blue Penicillium mold that run through the body of the cheese. Ranging from nutty and creamy gorgonzola to Roquefort that's reminiscent of a barnyard, the blue category offers something for everyone.

Minnesota-made Amablu is perhaps a bit harder to find than some others on this list, but try to put in an effort to procure it. Originally aged in sandstone caves that offered the ideal temperature and humidity for careful aging, per Culture, today Amablu is cellar-aged for 75 days for the perfect rich, smooth texture and flavor — and the trademark funky bite shared by the whole blue cheese family. Amablu is delicious all on its own, but it's also perfectly paired with ripe pears or black cherry jam, the sweetness of which offers a counterbalance to the blue cheese's power.