You’ve gathered several artisan cheeses, and you’re ready to turn them into a tasty cheese board. But before you grab your cheese knives and start cutting up those wheels and wedges, it’s a good idea to plan out how you’ll cut each different-shaped cheese based on different shapes and textures.
Aside from aesthetics—who doesn’t want a gorgeous cheese and charcuterie board to admire before they dig in?—how you cut a cheese can affect the eating experience, too. In general, you want each piece to be a cross-section from the center to the rind so that each piece includes the full range of flavors and textures. Here’s how to cut different cheeses so they’ll taste and look their best.
How to Cut Log-Shaped Cheeses
Logs of very soft cheese like Miracle Springs Farm’s Everything Chevre don’t necessarily need to be cut. These types are so soft and spreadable that often, it’s best to serve them whole with a spreader or soft cheese knife and allow guests to cut their own pieces.
But if you want to pre-portion, the best way is to cut each log into several uniform rounds. Use a thin-bladed soft cheese knife or cheese wire for this delicate job. They’ll keep the cheese from sticking to the knife blade and getting crumbly and misshapen.
If you don’t have one of these specialized knives handy, here’s a trick: you can use unflavored, unwaxed dental floss to cut very soft cheeses like this. Simply lay the cheese on top of the floss at the point you want to cut it, then draw up both ends of the floss towards each other in one quick, decisive motion.
How to Cut Soft Wheels of Cheese
Small, whole wheels of cheeses like bloomy rinds and washed rinds are simple to cut: just pretend you’re slicing up a birthday cake.
Cutting equal-sized wedges from the center out ensures that each piece will include the cloudlike center, lush cream line, and delicate rind, giving each bite the full range of flavors and textures for the cheese. A thin-bladed knife or skeleton knife will give you the best results. This method also works for square-shaped bloomy and washed rind cheeses like the ones from Tulip Tree Creamery or Boxcarr’s robiola-style blocks.
If the cheese you’re serving is too gooey and liquid inside to cut normally—like Firefly Farm’s Merry Goat Round Spruce Reserve, for example—that’s no problem! Simply use a sharp knife to cut through the top rind, almost as though you were opening an aluminum can. Peel back the “lid” and let your guests dip in with bread, crackers, veggies, or a spoon.
How to Cut Pyramid-Shaped Cheeses
These uniquely shaped cheeses can feel intimidating to cut, but they’re actually quite simple to handle. Use a sharp, thin-bladed cheese knife or skeleton knife so the soft, delicate cheese doesn’t stick to the blade.
Cut Valençay-style cheeses like Black Diamond from Yellow Springs Farm or Firefly’s Mountain Top Bleu into even quarters from the top down. Next, lay each quarter flat on your cutting board and cut through the rind into quarter-inch thick slices. This method ensures that each piece looks uniform and has a relatively even rind-to-paste ratio.
How to Cut Wedges of Cheese
For larger wheels that have been portioned into wedges, cutting is pretty simple. The skinny end of the wedge comes from the center of the cheese, and the wide end includes the rind, so it’s easy to ensure each piece includes a good cross-section.
Use a good hard cheese knife—like a chef’s knife, a skeleton knife, or a utility knife—to portion cheeses like Green Dirt’s Prairie Tomme or these aged goat’s milk wheels from Boston Post Dairy. Lay the wedge down on one of its cut sides, then trim off the top and bottom rinds. Next, cut through the wedge to create even, triangle-shaped slices with the rind on one end.
If you’re working with very firm, crystalline cheeses aged for more than a year like Vermont Shepherd’s Queso Invierno Extra Aged, skip the slices and serve wedges whole for guests to portion themselves (don’t forget to include a nice, sharp Parmesan knife). You can also place the wedge on your board, then chunk the paste yourself, leaving the rind intact so that it’s “framing” the pieces of cheese.
How to Cut Blocks of Aged Cheese
It’s tempting to cut a simple block of cheese into a bunch of little cubes, deli tray style. But this isn’t the best way to cut cheese.
To get the most flavor out of each piece of cheese we eat, we need to increase the surface area. Thinner, wider slices are the best way to do this. Cubes, on the other hand, minimize the surface that hits our tongue when we first pop a piece of cheese in our mouths.
Luckily, breaking down blocks of cheese is easy to do with a chef’s knife or skeleton knife. Simply slice the cheese into eighth-inch-thick planks, cutting those planks into smaller rectangles as needed. You can also cut rectangular-shaped slices diagonally in half to create triangles.
For very firm, dry cheeses that come in blocks, smooth slices may be out of the question. In that case, use a Parmesan knife or narrow plane knife to break the cheese into rustic-looking chunks before serving.
Once all your cheese has been cut, sliced, or chunked, you’re ready to assemble your cheese board! Check out our ultimate cheese board guide for tips on how to make your board beautiful and delicious.
What are your favorite ways to cut, slice, and portion cheese for your cheese boards? Tag us on Instagram @cheesegrotto and let us know!