Recipe Review

I Tried Smitten Kitchen’s Cream Cheese Board And My Whole Family Went Wild

published Oct 15, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Stephanie Ganz

Inspiration spreads like wildfire on social media. It’s one of the best things about being hyper-connected to seemingly everyone in the world in real time. A viral recipe or concept gets its wings and then flies off to be endlessly tweaked, riffed, and maybe even improved by millions of people.

When I first saw Justine Doiron’s viral butter board start making the rounds on Instagram, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I’d make one of my own. And I wasn’t alone. Within what felt like a matter of hours, there were already some interesting takes on the concept, and Deb Perelman’s cream cheese board was one that I immediately added to my Saved tab.

When I was growing up, any time we’d visit my paternal side of the family, we’d start the morning with a big bagel spread — lox, cream cheese, capers, the whole nine yards. It was Tradition-with-a-capital-T, so this spread felt instantly familiar yet impressively innovative to me. It’s some of the most beloved flavors of my childhood, presented in a new, trendy way. I love to see it. Here’s what happened when I gave it a try.

Credit: Stephanie Ganz

How to Make Smitten Kitchen’s Cream Cheese Board

Deb begins by spreading a generous amount of cream cheese on a cutting board. Then she adds everything bagel seasoning, chives, dill, and capers. Next, she strategically places some pickled red onion, making sure there are onion-free zones, a considerate move for folks who might not want that big punch of onion flavor. Then sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and raw red onion are shingled next to a mound of lox. To top it all off, Deb serves her board with toasted bagels. 

My Honest Opinion About Smitten Kitchen’s Cream Cheese Board

It’s a great time to be alive when a cream cheese board counts as dinner, but here we are, and I can honestly say that Smitten Kitchen’s cream cheese board was a hit with all four members of my family, which is no easy feat. I’ll be coming back to this idea often, for easy and fun weeknight dinners, breakfast for house guests, and next year’s Yom Kippur break fast, maybe adding some smoked white fish or pickled herring for the full effect.

I decided to make a cream cheese board for my favorite of all meals: breakfast for dinner (known as BFD among the initiated). Usually BFD is more of a pancakes-and-bacon affair, but it was a fun change to make this one all about the bagels. While the bagels were toasting, I began assembling my board. I stayed pretty true to Deb’s version, but I also included Swiss cheese, caper berries, and scallions. By the time the bagels were done, so was the board — about 10 minutes total, making this not only visually stunning and fun to eat, but also super quick to prepare. 

Credit: Stephanie Ganz

4 Tips for Making Smitten Kitchen’s Cream Cheese Board

  1. Let your cream cheese soften. Use a softened block of cream cheese or whipped cream cheese in the tub for maximum spreadability. 
  2. Cream cheese swirls are your friend. Create swirls of cream cheese to keep the toppings from sliding around. Using a spreader or butter knife, make swirls in the cream cheese to trap those tasty toppings and keep them from going overboard.
  3. Consider your crowd. Create different ‘zones’ throughout the cream cheese. Not everyone will enjoy every topping, so let folks choose their own adventure by breaking up ingredients in different sections of the cream cheese board.
  4. Vegan cream cheese, please! Make it dairy-free by using your favorite non-dairy cream cheese.