Isn’t it exciting that even if you’re eating keto, you can still enjoy a keto-friendly cheese plate? While muggles may default to traditional honey and crackers as accompaniments, there’s a lot you can add in terms of flavor, texture, and umami that’s not just keto friendly – it’s delicious!
The fundamental thing you need to know about making a keto-friendly cheese plate is that there should be at least three different types of cheeses that are very different in both flavor and texture. You can pick one from a few different animals, like cow, goat or sheep, or choose by texture instead. My favorite types of cheese to include are:
- An aged cheese like a golden, extra-aged Gouda (at least 18 months)… the more crumbly and crystalized the better. Gruyère works here as well.
- A blue cheese, like a Stilton, or a Gorgonzola. If you don’t like blue cheeses, a Chèvre tastes great too and offers the same kick.
- A soft, cow’s milk cheese like a Fontina, a young Gouda or even mozzarella
- A firmer cheese like a Cheddar, Swiss or Emmentaler
- A hard, shaveable cheese like an aged Parmesan or Asiago
For a smaller party up to 8 people, three kinds of cheese would suffice, and I would stop at up to five cheeses for a larger party.
Many people also love to include brie on their cheese plates, but you have to know your guests, because the rind, which is edible, can freak people out (don’t be a snob!), and then you end up with a weird mess on your pretty cheese plate. I tend to go with the stuff I know will be well-loved by everyone and won’t end up with an empty rind looming over the other items.
To cut the cheese, or not to cut the cheese?
Ha! Couldn’t leave that joke at home, could I? But whether or not to pre-cut the cheese, or to leave each of your cheeses with a small cheese knife is a great question.
For smaller parties where convenience isn’t an issue (in other words, there’s no line for the cheese plate like a wedding), I like to leave them partially sliced with a cheese knife, because I find the softer cheeses will last longer and be less prone to hardening after a couple hours if people cut their own cheese as they go.
Rosemary is my favorite garnish to make cheese plates look great. You can weave them around different items that need separation, and for holiday parties they add that little bit of holiday cheer because they look a bit like baby Christmas trees.
Color is important for a beautiful keto-friendly cheese plate, and since a token grape centerpiece has too much sugar for a ketogenic cheese plate, I like to include berries like strawberries and sometimes blueberries. They always pair great with cheeses and add a bite of freshness and color to the arrangement.
For managing all the fixins, mixed jars and even teacups to hold different things like nuts and olives will make it look pretty, and draw people’s attention around the cheese plate.
Whatever you do, don’t crowd your cheese plate too much, especially if you’re asking people to cut their own cheese (still snickering over here…). Whatever size cheese plate you have, you probably need a bigger one.
Serve the cheeses from mildest to most strong, and use labels to let people know what kinds of cheeses they’re eating. You can find cheese plate markers on Amazon, or you can make them yourself.
How much cheese to get?
I’m probably the wrong person to ask because once you get me in a cheese shop, I always come home with way too much cheese. I love a good cheese sample, what can I say?
For a group of keto-friendly people who love cheese, I suggest three one-pound blocks of cheese for a party of 5-8 and scale up from there. As you add people to the guest list, you may consider going up to five different kinds of cheese but I wouldn’t add more than that.
More than just the cheese, please!
There’s so much more to a keto-friendly cheese plate than the cheese. Different finger foods that pair well with all different types of cheeses is a must, so fill out your cheese plate with a few of these ideas, which are all very low in net carbs, except nuts which can vary.
- Rosemary for decoration
- Keto-friendly chocolate, or a Dark Chocolate Coconut Keto Bar broken into pieces like I did above!
- Dips like pesto, which pairs great with mozzarella and prosciutto—whole grain mustard is great too!
- Marinated olives
- Pickled cucumbers, cauliflower or tomatoes
- Raw or roasted almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pumpkin seeds
- Cured meats like sliced prosciutto, homemade beef jerky with no added sugars, and salami
- Parmesan chips, which you can make yourself or buy in the store and can be used in place of traditional crackers
- Small rocket greens which pair great with softer cheeses like chevre
- Berries like strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries
- Keto-friendly jams like sugar-free chia strawberry jam
- Banana peppers stuffed with cheese and prosciutto (you can usually find these in an Italian deli)
- Slices of avocado, drizzled with lime juice and sprinkled with freshly cracked black pepper
- Smoked salmon
- Salted pork rinds
- Deviled eggs