What this is: the quick and dirty on “cheese math” and how much cheese to put out on your next platter.
Who it’s for: the entertainer of the group who is tired of their beautiful cheese platters getting devoured in under 20 min.
So, how much cheese should you serve? In our personal cheese eating and cheese selling experience, the answer to this question can vary a lot because it depends on a number of factors. But, never fear! Whether or not you are hosting a large gathering or just a small intimate night in, we will help you figure out the right amount to buy and serve to your guests.
CHEESE MATH: RULES OF THUMB
We call our not-so-secret system “Cheese Math.” As a general rule of thumb, we suggest serving at least 1 ounce of each cheese per person, and we like to aim for about 1/4lb (4oz) of cheese per person (count on less cheese if there are other appetizers, count on more cheese if there are hungry people).
There are 16oz in a pound of cheese which means with this strategy, everyone will be able to have at least a quarter pound. That may seem like a lot but, hear us out. You want your cheese plate to look full, beautiful and well balanced and in our opinion, it is always best to have leftover cheese than to run out mid-appetizer session, or heaven forbid, mid glass of wine (!).
Another thing to ask yourself, will the cheese plate be a main part of your meal or just appetizers before a large feast? Depending on your answer that will also dictate whether or not you purchase on the heavier or lighter side of our suggestion.
3-5 cheeses is the sweet spot for a cheese board, so 1 oz per cheese allows everyone to have the opportunity to have a decently sized tasting portion of each of the cheeses in your selection. While some people may prefer some cheeses to others, it usually all balances out and most of the cheese will get consumed.
CHEESE MATH: THE HARD NUMBERS
If you don’t want to make any judgment calls and would rather a tried-and-true formula you can use every time, then just follow this equation of cheese math in algebraic form:
FORMULAS FOR CALCULATING AMOUNT OF CHEESE
(1oz of each cheese) x (no. of people) = amount of each cheese
(1oz of each cheese) x (no. of people) x (no. of different cheeses) = total amount of cheese
Let’s try an example: say you are serving 4 different types of cheese to 10 different guests, how much cheese should you buy?
Using the formulas above, you count on 1 oz of each type of cheese per person, you should get at least 10 oz of each type of cheese, resulting in about 40 oz of cheese total. Using the equation above, that reads as:
(1 oz of each cheese) x (4 different cheeses) x (10 people) = 40 oz of cheese
Just like traditional math, in cheese math you can start with whatever amounts you know you want and then work backwards from there to fill in the blanks. If you want 40 oz of cheeses spread over 4 cheeses, that means you need 40/4 = 10 oz of each cheese. Or, using the first equation: (1oz of each cheese) x (10 people) = 10 oz of each cheese.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- Scenario 1: There are children around. When there are kids about, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not have a knife lying around, instead cut perfect kid-sized bites ahead of time.
- Scenario 2: It’s a cocktail party. Pre-cutting the cheese makes it easy to serve yourself when you have a drink in one hand.
- Scenario 3: You have cheeses that are hard to cut. If you have hard cheeses that are difficult to cut without touching the cheese, then pre-cut them ahead of time so each bite won’t have been touched by several of the guests first.
- Scenario 4: You have shy guests. If there’s a chance your guests would be too shy about getting in there and cutting their own slices, help them out by making some in advance!
And that’s pretty much all there is to it! Once you get used to it, you hardly think twice about it!
Use the "1oz per cheese per person” and roughly "4oz of total cheese per person" as your rough guide.
If you are having 3 friends over for wine night and you want to buy 4 cheeses, how much cheese do you need to purchase in total? What about 6 friends and 3 types of cheese?
Click the icons to download a pdf of this lesson and our two handy guides: How Cheese is Made and Cheese and Pairing Types.