For many families, this year’s festive celebrations may bear little resemblance to happy Christmases past, but when so many of our seasonal traditions are based around food, we’re grateful for gastronomic treats to see us through to a new year.
The Christmas cheeseboard is a staple of many yuletide tables, and we’ve found the best.
Food has always been a source of comfort and during this difficult year, we would wholeheartedly recommend having a little (or a lot) of exactly whatever it might be that you fancy.
If you have overindulged and are starting to feel a little sheepish, however, remember that cheese contains protein, calcium, potassium, zinc and phosphorus – essential nutrients and minerals designed to keep the body ticking over.
Turophiles, or cheese connoisseurs, maintain that diners should begin their cheese appreciation with a goat’s cheese, which refreshes the palate.
As tempting as it might be to make a beeline for the stilton – the quintessential Christmas cheese – experts recommend saving this until last, as its big mineral bite can overpower other flavours.
For those unconvinced that cheese from livestock is a delicacy, we’ve also included a selection of vegan varieties.
With the exception of the vegan selection, don’t forget to remove your cheese from the fridge an hour prior to eating; bringing a cheese to room temperature ensures optimum flavour.
In assessing our Christmas cheeseboards, we considered price, quality and, above all, flavour. This meant that traditional favourites sometimes made way for more unique offerings, but taste trumped all.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
The Cheese Society’s Christmas cheeseboard, 1.3kg
What’s included? Colston Bassett stilton, Baron Bigod, Le Delice Des Cremiers, Vintage Red Fox, Godminster cheddar, Hawkshead chutney and savoury biscuits
Comprising “personal favourites, bestsellers and seasonal greats”, this festive cheeseboard from a family-run business in Lincoln really is the cheeseboard to end all others. If Christmas in your household marks a time for indulgence and decadence, the Le Delice des Crémiers cheese makes an ideal addition to any festive feast.
Made in the French region of Burgundy, this soft and foamy cheese is made with triple cream and is luxurious, rich and the stuff that cheese dreams are made of. The piquant Colston Bassett stilton punches well above its weight with a tangy and deep flavour, while the creamy Baron Bigod is the UK’s first unpasteurised brie, making it more easily digestible for those with an intolerance to milk.
Sweet and woody, the Vintage Red Fox is dangerously easy to devour, coming in as the love child of a Barber’s cheddar, red leicester and block of Cornish fudge, while the multi-award-winning organic Godminster cheddar, presented in its distinctive burgundy wax, is a pleasure to eat at any time of the year. Accompanied by Hawkshead fruity chutney and savoury biscuits, this cheeseboard came head and shoulders above the rest, with something guaranteed to satisfy all tastes. Stocks will be back soon.
The Courtyard Dairy, Christmas cheese selection, 1.2kg
What’s included? Dorstone, Tunworth camembert, Kirkham’s lancashire, St Andrew’s cheddar, Young Buck blue and a Spanish membrillo
A previous IndyBest winner, this multi-award-winning cheesemonger based in North Yorkshire is a reliable authority on all matters cheese. Kirkham’s lancashire remains a firm favourite – crumbly, buttery, creamy and incredibly easy to gorge – while the Tunworth camembert’s intense umami flavour makes it a worthy award-winner.
Rolled in ash, the Dorstone goat’s milk cheese is both creamy and zingy and sells here at only three weeks old, while the Young Buck blue from Northern Ireland is refined and accessible.
The St Andrew’s cheddar divided our reviewers, with enthusiastic and indifferent responses to this strong and complex semi-hard cheese. The delicious quince made a welcome alternative to traditional chutney.
Tesco finest cheese selection on a slate, 595g
What’s included? Wensleydale with cranberries and blueberries, red leicester bite, Montagnolo Affine, le gruyere AOP, St Endellion brie and slate cheeseboard
At first glance, this selection may not be much to look at, but its contents impressed our reviewers who agreed it to be a good all-rounder. We loved the Montagnolo Affine, a soft and silky smooth Bavarian cheese with subtle blue tones, while the Cornish brie, made with double cream, proved to be a luxurious version of this popular soft cheese. The classic Alpine le gruyere was suitably woody and nutty, with one taster comparing it to Campbell’s mushroom soup (make of that what you will), while the deliciously sweet and tangy wensleydale with cranberries and blueberries made a welcome addition to this reasonably priced board.
Our reviewers especially liked the cardboard insert accompanying the cheese, which featured tear-off placards for each cheese, plus a suggested wine pairing, elevating this accessible feast. The reusable slate board was also a nice touch. Also available in store.
Tyne Chease, winter favourites trio, 480g
What’s included? Sage, cranberry and rosemary
Described by comic Sara Pascoe as the “best anyone has ever managed, vegan-cheese wise”, this award-winning vegan cheese company in Newcastle specialises in organic, artisan cheese made from cashew nuts. All products are cultured and aged to replicate the authentic cheese experience; they’re also 100 per cent natural, and GMO, gluten, soya and preservative-free.
Presented in camembert-style boxes, the initial appearance of the cheeses once opened was slightly grey, but the taste quickly compensated for this. Our reviewers were impressed with the natural ingredients used and the rich, creamy flavour, and found that the ageing process gave a subtle smoothness to the taste. Sage topped the list of this trio, with a tasty umami flavour, while the cranberry wasn’t overly sweet. In a blind taste test, our reviewers found it difficult to differentiate between rosemary and sage but, overall, enjoyed this soft “cheese” selection for dairy dodgers. More stock expected this week.
Paxton & Whitfield, seasonal cheese collection, 1.9kg
What’s included? Stilton PDO, Montgomery cheddar, mont d’or PDO and brie de meaux PDO
Winston Churchill once commented that “only a gentleman buys his cheese at Paxton & Whitfield”, evidencing the pedigree of this royal cheesemonger. Established in London in the 18th century, it was also the appointed cheesemonger of Queen Victoria, boasts royal warrants, multiple awards and even a cheese podcast. It’s unsurprising, then, that this selection veers towards the more expensive end of the spectrum, but it is worth noting that each wedge is pretty enormous, meaning no squabbling over servings.
The stilton was the Super Gold Winner at the World Cheese Awards 2018 for good reason: it truly is the granddaddy of its type, with a rich and punchy flavour that made it one of our reviewers’ overall favourites of the entire roundup. A decadently milky and oozy mont d’or was an absolute joy to devour, while the award-winning Montgomery cheddar was earthy with a slight crunch.
Allow the brie to warm up to room temperature sufficiently; our reviewers suspected they hadn’t done so, admitting that this may have dulled this silky cheese’s flavour. Nevertheless, this extravagant selection is a treat for all, royal title or not.
Aldi exquisite selection cheese box, 606g
What’s included? Stratford blue cheese, Kidderton Ash goat’s, smoked red leicester, lancashire and Goosnargh Gold double gloucester
Inexpensive does not have to mean inferior, as demonstrated by this quality offering from budget supermarket Aldi. Perfect for festive celebrations, the creamy Stratford blue pairs beautifully with a glass of prosecco, while the Kidderton Ash goat’s was oozy, mild and well balanced. Extremely creamy and mild, our reviewers enjoyed the lancashire, while the smoked red leicester was delicious and best enjoyed huddling around a roaring fire.
While the double gloucester didn’t blow our socks off, the selection as a whole made for happy munching at a competitive price. With many families preparing for a smaller Christmas compared with previous years, this would make an ideal cheeseboard for two. Available to buy in store.
Liverpool Cheese Company, Christmas cheese selection, 1kg
What’s included? Colston Bassett stilton, wensleydale with cranberries, lancashire, vacherin mont d’or, Black Bomber cheddar and biscuits
If you’re looking for top-end cheese at a slightly more economical price, try the Liverpool Cheese Company’s Christmas cheese selection. Ours came with a tangy and creamy Colston blue, their bestselling and eminently moreish crystal-flecked Black Bomber cheddar, and a deliciously intense and gooey vacherin mont d’or. Seasonal favourites of wensleydale with cranberry, and a crumbly lancashire fit to accompany any Christmas Cake, completed the cheese selection, while the Bath Fine Cheese Company’s blackberry and cherry crackers were nothing short of a revelation.
The verdict: Cheeseboards for Christmas
For quality, taste and variety, we loved the Cheese Society's Christmas cheeseboard – a delicious selection, with something for everyone. For cheese fiends on a budget, Aldi's exquisite selection is an excellent choice.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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