Vegan or otherwise, no one can resist a cheese board. It’s a playground of sweet and savory pairings, and it’s perfect for gatherings of any size—from an intimate dinner party of four to a 200-guest bash. While you can’t really go wrong as long as you set out a selection of quality vegan cheeses, there is an art to creating the most palate-pleasing cheese board. Choose one cheese from each category below— compliment with crackers, jams, nuts, and fruit—and you’ve got yourself a vegan cheese board even Martha Stewart would approve of. 

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1. Aged
Like wine, most cheese gets better with age. Several plant-based brands have implemented the practice of aging their products to instill an umami flavor that only presents itself over time. Try Parmela Creamery’s Nutcheese Block in Cheddar or Havarti Dill (found in Whole Foods and other health-focused supermarkets); Reine Vegan Cuisine’s Smoked Gouda (online or in select health food stores); or the herb-encrusted Pan from Pure Abundance (Georgia Whole Foods and online).

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2. Soft
Vegans have plenty of options in the soft cheese category, as most cashew-based cheeses tend to fall into this variety. Crowd-pleasers include Treeline’s Herb-Garlic flavor (Whole Foods and other major markets); Jule’s Brie in classic or truffled varieties (independent markets and online); or Vromage’s Camembert (Vromage Los Angeles shop or online). 

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3. Hard
Remember to include a few knives on your cheese board—you can’t cut this variety with a cracker. Virgin Cheese—a Southern California-based cashew cheese company (that ships nationwide via Vegan Essentials)—is the dominant player in this category. From conversation-starting flavors such as Port Wine White Cheddar to the elusive Swiss, the inclusion of a hard vegan cheese will set your cheese board above the rest. 

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4. Familiar 
Not everyone at your party is bound to be an adventurous eater. Offer them something basic without being boring. Miyoko’s Roadhouse Cheese Spreads (most health-focused supermarkets and online) and Treeline’s Scallion French-Style Soft Cheese or Classic Aged Cheese appeal to all—especially the picky eaters. 

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5. Funky
Round out your epic cheese board with a bit of funk. Bring in a goat, blue, or other funky variety for the guests with bold palates. Miyoko’s Smoked English Farmhouse provides just the right amount of complexity without being overpowering while Yvonne’s Kitchen Goatless Goat Cheese with Cranberry and Dill delivers an herby, tangy, and slightly sweet trio of harmonious flavors (select Southern California markets and online). As with all these cheeses, remember to create labels so your guests don’t mistake a mild havarti and for a sharp cheddar. 

Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.

Photo credit: Anniina’s Kitchen

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