An easy cheese platter idea, perfect for entertaining, featuring summer sausage, cheeses everyone loves, crackers, and pickled relishes. It's perfect party food!
BEST CHEESES FOR A SAUSAGE AND CHEESE PLATTER
Over the years I've done plenty of experimenting when it comes to cheeses for the board, however, what I've found is the cheeses that actually get eaten up are fairly common and mild in flavor.
- Cheddar Cheddar Cheese
- Colby Jack Cheese
- Monterrey Jack
- Gouda (regular or smoked)
- Pepper Jack
Pick your three favorites to use on your cheese and sausage platter. The cheeses I most commonly use on my own personal platters for casual entertaining are Cheddar, Colby Jack, and Monterrey Jack.
Any of the listed cheeses pair perfectly with sausage right off the grill, summer sausage, deli ham and turkey, and even cured Italian meats as well.
Sometimes I just can't help myself, but to throw in a "fancier" cheese, and on a game day, this will usually come in the form of a Smoked Gouda, as it pairs well with smoked meats and beer.
HOW TO PREPARE CHEESE FOR CHEESE PLATTER
All of the fancy entertaining books are going to tell you to leave the cheese whole. But, I can tell you from many years of personal experience, you're better off slicing the cheese before it goes on the platter.
Guests don't want to work for their food. Humans are just lazy that way. Your cheese is much more likely to get eaten if you cut it up beforehand.
When I am slicing cheese for a cheese platter, I try my best to keep it in the same shape as the block itself as I'm making my cuts. This not only helps guests to know what the cheese is that their eating but also makes for a pretty cool presentation (if you don't mind me saying so).
MEATS FOR A CHEESE and SAUSAGE PLATTER
Beyond the cheeses, you'll want to have a little protein on your cheese platter. If you aren't a fan of summer sausage you could always substitute an assortment of Italian cured meats such as salami and soppressata or throw on a link of grilled sausage.
However, in the defense of the summer sausage, I'll say this: Summer sausage is inexpensive (which is great for entertaining), and also, easier to chew than cured meats.
When you are serving salami and the like, it's very important that it is sliced thin or it is difficult to chew. Summer sausage is much more forgiving when it comes to the sizes of the slices, and a little goes a long way.
DON'T FORGET THE CRACKERS
What's a meat and cheese platter without the crackers? For the crackers, go with a mildly flavored cracker that actually allows the flavor of both the sausage and the cheese to come through.
- Water Crackers
- Stone Ground Wheat Crackers
- Triscuits Crackers
- Ritz Crackers
- Town House Crackers
- Toasteds Crackers (comes in a variety of 3)
- Carrs Assorted Biscuits
Saltines, water crackers, and stone ground wheat crackers are all great choices for a cheese and sausage platter, and they are the ones I typically use for entertaining.
LITTLE EXTRAS GO A LONG WAY
Cheese and sausage can be pretty heavy on the pallet, so to help cut the fats, I like to serve an assortment of pickled relishes on the platter.
Small dill pickles, pickled okra, olives and such make a great addition to the platter, and also add a little variation of color, making it extra pretty.
HOW TO ARRANGE A CHEESE PLATTER
Anytime you are arranging a cheese platter, the bulkiest items should go down first.
1. ADD CONDIMENT/RELISH BOWLS TO THE PLATTER FIRST
Add your relishes to small bowls or ramekins, and have ready a large platter, cheese board, wooden cutting board, or tray. Place the ramekins on each end of the platter.
2. PLACE THE CHEESE AND FAN OUT THE SLICES
Next, the cheese goes on. Bonus for those of you who managed to slice up the cheese and still keep it in the same shape as the block you bought it in! Gather the slices, and if you can, transfer the cheese to the platter all at once.
Place it toward the outer edges of the platter, and fan out the slices. Alternatively, drop it directly in the middle and fan out the slices.
3. ADD THE SLICED SUMMER SAUSAGE OR MEATS
Find an opening for the summer sausage and arrange it in a fish scale pattern on the platter. It's ok if the sausage touches the cheese. A crowded platter looks better than an empty platter.
4. USE CRACKERS TO FILL IN THE EMPTY SPACES
Take your assortment of crackers and fill in the empty spaces, and if there are extra, either place them in a little bowl or a cracker tray near the platter.
Cheese platters are great for entertaining for so many reasons, but the simplicity and ease of them is quite possibly the best part. They enable your guests to serve themselves and nibble as they please, while you (the host!) actually get to enjoy your own party.
MORE APPETIZERS TO GO WITH YOUR CHEESE PLATTER
And if your looking for more appetizers to win over your game day crowd, consider throwing together a batch of these Fried Sausage Stuffed Olives from Inside the Rustic Kitchen. They're crispy, salty, and the perfect little nibble to serve alongside your cheese and meat platter!
And, then there's this Pimento Cheese Spread. Easy to whip up and features a mix of Cheddar and Havarti. Serve it with a basket full of toasted pretzel rolls or use it a bonus cheese on your summer sausage platter!
And if you're really looking to amp up your game day spread, Maroon Out Meatballs will undoubtedly wow your crowd. Baked meatballs tossed in a semi-spicy raspberry-chipotle BBQ will look stunning alongside your platter.
An easy cheese platter idea, perfect for game day entertaining, featuring summer sausage, cheeses everyone loves, crackers, and pickled relishes.
- 1 (8 ounce) block Cheddar cheese, sliced at a ¼" thick
- 1 (8 ounce) block Colby Jack cheese, sliced at a ¼" thick
- 1 (8 ounce) block Smoked Gouda cheese, sliced at a ¼" thick
- 1 (16 ounce) link summer sausage
- 2 sleeves of Saltine, stone ground, and/or water crackers
- 2 cups small dill pickles, pickled okra, and/or olives (drained)
Add ingredients to a large platter, serve and enjoy.
See blog post for how to arrange your cheese platter and ingredient substitutions.