The 10 Best Grocery Store Cheeses for a Quick and Easy Cheese Board

published Nov 23, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Maybe you’re in a pinch and don’t have time to go to the specialty cheese shop for cheese? Maybe you’re on a budget? Maybe it’s raining and the big chain grocery store is the closest place around? Maybe all of this is happening at once? The point is: You’ve found yourself in the cheese section of a Stop & Shop, a Safeway, an Albertsons, a Publix, or another mainstream grocery store. And you need to assemble some sort of cheese board. Now. 

The good news is that more and more, there are some pretty great selections to be found, even at big chain supermarkets. You’ll find Murray’s Cheese outposts in more than 300 Kroger stores around the country now. Even Walmart has a small specialty cheese section. 

But when truly relegated to the cheese section of a grocery store that might not have a wide variety of options, here are some picks that will be reliably tasty, plus some fun snacks that perhaps you wouldn’t think to combine with cheese — also easily sourced at your grocery store. 

Add some snacks: 5 Super-Surprising Grocery Store Finds to Elevate Any Cheese Board

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

1. Cabot Cheddar

Top of the list is cheddar. Cabot cheddar, to be exact. Go for the sharpest possible, and get their Private Stock label, if you can. Even their mild cheddar is still good because it’s, well, cheddar. Their horseradish cheddar has a kick, too, if you’re looking for something a little different. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

2. Montchevre Chèvre

Despite that this chèvre doesn’t hail from the Loire valley, you’ll still get that signature tangy bite in this creamy schmear. (Perhaps because the cheese is made in the great cheese-making state of Wisconsin.) Shallow-fry some skin-on almonds in olive oil as an accompaniment to bump up the cheese’s nutty notes.

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

3. Polly-O Fresh Ricotta

Fresh ricotta on a cheese plate acts as the ultimate foil for other flavors. Add honey, herbs, salt and pepper, or serve it next to apricot jam. In taste testing, Polly-O impressed us with its sweet milkiness and super-mild flavor profile. If your store stocks a local variety of ricotta, go for that, but Polly-O works, too.

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

4. Kerrygold Dubliner

The Kerrygold brand boasts that everything in their line is made from the milk of grass-fed cows. (The deep golden color of their butters sure doesn’t lie.) Their Dubliner is super snackable, with a slight crunch from those amino acid clusters called Tyrosine that develop in a well-aged cheese. Bright, lactic, and nearly fudgy in texture, this is our go-to cheese-and-cracker cheese.

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

5. Belgioiso Fontina

Here’s another Wisconsin-made headliner, from the Belgioiso family. A well-made fontina will be somewhat stinky, as it’s in the washed-rind category of cheeses. This one is on the mild side, but it does the trick. If fondue’s in your future, you’ll especially want to make sure this amazing melter makes its way into the mix. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

6. Boar’s Head Gruyere

This isn’t going to be your two-year cave-aged version of the famed mountain cheese, but there are certainly Gruyère-ish notes to be had. Chip away at the wedge and give people nice, irregular morsels for snacking. Eating cheese in various forms — sliced, chunked, or shaved — is a simple way to add variation to a cheese board. Another note on Boar’s head cheese: Skip their Havarti, but if you can find it, try their Caramella, a take on a Gouda-Parmesan mash-up, and their Manchego, which is widely available. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

7. Fromage d’Affinois

We were gleefully surprised to find this double-cream Brie at a standard grocery store, to be honest. Fromage d’Affinois is like a gateway cheese to more earthy, bloomy rinded cheeses. It’s like Brie, but more buttery and sweet and less mushroomy. The key: It’s vital to serve this one at room temperature. (If you can’t find it, try a Brie like President and pop it in the microwave at five- to 10-second intervals. Serving it gooey will help transform its mildness into a more jazzy version of itself.)

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

8. Roquefort

Try for Papillon brand. It’s intense but balanced, nearly sweet at its finish, with a pleasant sting and deep crevices throughout. On a recent tasting, this blue came out in front. Another frontrunner was Stella Gorgonzola.

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

9. Boursin

Guys, Boursin is legit. It’s from Normandy, to boot, so you can blame its French origins for making it so darn good. A swipe of Boursin on a cracker or piece of bread is at once creamy but fluffy, like the texture of whipped cream cheese. We like the classic flavor: garlic and fine herbs. But get adventurous if the spirit moves you, with flavors like Shallot & Chive, Cranberry & Spice, and Red Chili Pepper. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

10. Dill Havarti

At the deli counter. Thinly sliced. That’s right. Wrap it around olives, breadsticks, and charcuterie. And don’t apologize. It’s good. And it’s at every grocery store. 

How many of these are on your list? And what do you have to add?