8 Perfect Pickles, Chutneys and Preserves for Cheese Boards

No Christmas celebration or dinner party is complete without a selection of cheeses, crackers, some crunchy pickles and a spoonful of a tangy chutney or fruit jam. But which should you serve together for the ultimate festive cheese board?

If you’d like help to plan a deliciously balanced cheese board for Christmas or any time of year, just follow our tips for selecting cheeses and their perfect partners.

How many cheeses should you serve on a Christmas cheese board?

It’s best to exercise a little restraint when it comes to planning the perfect cheese board. If you add too many varieties, you’ll have to serve smaller portions of each and risk leaving a guest disappointed when their favourite disappears too quickly, or larger portions that your guests can barely make a dent in!

If you’ve got several guests coming, we’d advise aiming for no more than five or six different varieties. And if you're hosting a smaller gathering, it’s usually best to settle for just three or four.

The most satisfying cheese boards offer a variety of tastes and textures, so it’s a good idea to choose a hard cheese (or two), a soft cheese and a blue cheese. For larger parties, you might also like to add a goat’s cheese or a sheep’s cheese and, if you’ve invited adventurous guests, something extra special and unashamedly smelly (although it’s always wise to keep this one apart from the rest so it doesn't overpower your other cheeses!).

The perfect cheese board

An ideal Christmas or party cheese board could include:

  • an aged hard cheese, such as a Cheddar and/or a Gruyère or Comté
  • a soft bloomy-rinded cheese such as Brie, Camembert or Baron Bigod (which is made here in Suffolk)
  • a wedge of Stilton or Gorgonzola or your favourite locally produced blue cheese (we like Suffolk Blue)
  • a fresh and creamy goat’s cheese, sheep’s cheese or mixed-milk cheese, such as Rosary Goat Ash or Carboncino
  • A ripe washed-rind cheese such as Époisses de Bourgogne or Vacherin Mont d'Or.

Chutneys, pickles and preserves provide a delicious contrast to the individual character of your cheeses. The sweetness and tanginess they deliver mingles with the cheeses’ creamy, umami flavours, lifting them to a whole new level.

To complement all the cheeses in your selection, we recommend serving at least one onion-based chutney, one fruity preserve, and at least one type of crunchy pickle. Oh, and make sure you don’t forget the crackers!

Onion-based chutneys and preserves for cheese boards

Oniony chutneys and strong Cheddar-type cheeses are a match made in heaven, and no Christmas cheese board is complete without one or the other.

As well as being a brilliant way to use up the last of your marrows, Lizzie's date & marrow chutney is packed with festive flavours that will accentuate the sharpness of aged hard cheeses as well as tangy blues.

Pam Corbin’s piccalilli is also a delight with a cracker and a slice of Cheddar. Make it with baby onions, cauliflower and whichever other vegetables you fancy – and as much or as little mustard as you and your guests like.

Date and marrow chutney on cheese

Fruit jams and butters for cheese boards

Fruit jams and preserves are superb with soft and fresh, young cheeses, while also providing a delectable sweet counterbalance to blues and strong cheeses.

Pam Corbin’s tangy tomato & chilli jam is delicious with any type of cheese and always popular with guests. The number of chillies you add is up to you!

Pam’s spiced blackberry and apple butter is another versatile accompaniment that will complement most cheeses, including soft creamy cheeses, Cheddars and pungent blues. Fruit butters are so named because they’re smooth and spread just like soft butter. The cloves in this intensely fruity recipe add a wonderfully festive warmth and spiciness that makes it the perfect preserve for a festive cheese board.

Spiced blackberry and apple butter

Pickled onions and vegetables

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a jar of crunchy pickled onions! But, if you’d like to enjoy a gentler flavour, swap strong onions for sweet and spiced pickled shallots, which have an irresistible sweet-sour balance and just a little spicy heat.

Fancy adding some more colour to the table? Why not serve a jar of pickled mixed vegetables for guests to crunch with their cheese?

Pickled mixed vegetables

Pickled fruits

Pickled fruits are the ideal companions for a wide range of cheeses, including soft cheeses, blues and washed-rind cheeses.

Rachel Green’s pickled grapes are always a firm favourite with guests, and will disappear in no time at all! Few things taste better than a cracker with a slice of soft or crumbly cheese topped with a couple of these.

Or why not treat friends and family to some scrumptious pickled apples? Their sweetness and tanginess adds a wonderful dimension to Gruyère or Comté.

Pickled grapes with cheese and crackers

More ideas

You can find more recipes for chutneys, fruity preserves and pickles in our Recipe collection. Whether you need a quick pickle to enjoy straight away or one you can make now to enjoy in the weeks and months ahead, there’s something for every occasion – and every cheese.

New to pickling? Download our free guide to pickling and preserving and you’ll be a pickling pro in no time!