Whether they're eating plant-based or are just lactose intolerant, your dairy-free guests will love this vegan cheese board spread. 
Credit: Photo: Jaime Ritter

While it might seem an oxymoron to build a 'cheese' board without any actual dairy in sight, vegan cheeses have made strides over the last few years and deserve to be shown off. Gone are the days of plastic-like products with little flavor and terrible texture. Now, artisanal dairy-free cheese brands are sprouting up like weeds. 

Whether you have dietary restrictions, or just want to try something new with your holiday spread, this vegan cheese board is sure to wow guests, whether they're lactose intolerant or not. 

Be Choosy with Your Cheeses

Most health food stores will have a large refrigerated section in their produce area that features vegetarian and vegan products. There, you should be able to find several options for your vegan cheese board. Choose cheeses that are made for eating as-is, avoid any non-dairy products that tout phrases like 'melts easily' or 'really stretches', since those will be made specifically for warm dishes like pasta or pizza. Instead, pick up a few blocks from brands like Kite Hill (we used their Soft Fresh Original for our board) or Miyoko's Creamery, both of which are cultured nut cheeses. 

Kick It Up with Some Crunch

Crunchy, creamy, and oh-so-satisfying, cheese and crackers are truly the perfect combo. When creating your perfect cheese plate, opt for two cracker varieties if you have room. Choose one that's thick and hearty, ready to stand up to thicker cheeses and toppings. The other choice should be thin and wafer-like, with just enough texture to add a little crunch, but light enough so the main focus on is your cheese. You can also change things up by buying flavored cracker varieties; some of our favorites boast flavors like rosemary or roasted garlic. 

Add a Dash of Sweet

Balance is the key to an optimal cheese board. Adding a little sweetness to your selections will pair well with the salty cheeses and accompaniments. Put a little container of fruit spread or jam (apricot and fig are two of our favorite choices) with a knife for spreading. If you're not opposed to honey being on your vegan cheese board, a small jar can improve your overall spread (if honey doesn't fit into your dietary choices, put out some agave nectar.)

Top Off with Tartness

No cheese board is complete without the addition of some tangy or briny choices. Some great options include olives (we used a mix of Mezzetta's Greek Kalamata and Castelvetrano Italian Olives), gherkin pickles, and cocktail onions. To keep your cheese board vegan, be sure to avoid accidentally purchasing olive varieties that may be stuffed with cheese or anchovies.