How a Snack Board Is Different from a Cheese Board

updated May 1, 2019
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Cheese boards tend to have some rules, or perhaps they’re more like guidelines, to make them successful: Choose one aged cheese, one soft cheese, something runny. Even with the best suggestions (here are ours) they can feel overwhelming — and expensive. And they’re not really a complete meal. To address all the things a cheese board isn’t, you should consider the snack board — the smart solution for times when you don’t need a full meal or aren’t satisfied with just a snack.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

What Is a Snack Board?

Let us introduce you to the snack board, the casual, anything-goes cousin to the sometimes-stuffy cheese board. You might even say it’s like a Lunchable, except for adults and families, and more often an option for dinner rather than lunch. In fact, snack boards are what you should make when don’t feel like cooking. All the effort goes into the the shopping, prep, and assembly. To make sure you’re making a snack plate and not a cheese board, here’s what you need to know.

  • Start off with four to five main items. Serve them on a board, tray, or plate and add more items if more people are going to be in on the munching.
  • Since snack boards about are about casual meals on busy nights, rely on pantry staples, store-bought items, or even leftovers when making them.
  • Choose foods that are good at room temperature. This is about snacking, so make sure things can last the length of your meal.
  • Always include vegetables — even when you snack board is full of meat and cheese.
  • Cooking is not required, so if you do make something, keep it simple. This whole fuss-free endeavor should only take 15 minutes to throw together.

3 Snack Boards to Try

A Meal of Snacks, Not Apps

Snack boards can be an excellent option for casual entertaining in the same way a cheese board can, but they’re mostly a quick dinner option for the evenings when you’re running between work and holiday pageants. And while cheese boards are all about the cheese, snack boards are designed for customization so they can be tailored to special diets and different appetites with ease.

It Is Not About the Cheese

At its best, a cheese board features two or three exemplary cheeses — not your everyday cheddar or Monterey Jack. It usually has nuts, fruit, and crackers in supporting roles. The cheese is truly the star of cheese board. Snack boards may include cheese, but the cheese is never the point (and it doesn’t have to be terribly fancy). Your everyday Swiss makes the cut with ease. Also, snack boards make better use of cooked foods, like meatballs or roasted vegetables, which would probably steal the spotlight from more darling cheeses like triple-cream brie or a funky blue.

All Temperatures Welcome

While most cheese tastes best at room temperature, snack boards can be served at any temperature and include both cold and hot food. For example, your board might include pickles, cool and crisp from the fridge, alongside toasted bread slices and warm chickpeas tossed with a little olive oil and sumac. The beauty of all three of these items is that they can sit safely at room temperature and still taste great as you graze.

A Dip Is Essential

A creamy cheese on a cheese board is nice, but not required. A dip helps bring seemingly unrelated items together on a snack board. Now, don’t go thinking that you need to make an elaborate bean dip — yogurt, your favorite vinaigrette, or even store-bought hummus are all great unifiers for a snack board.

Super-Easy Dips, Dressings, and Sauces to Try