The Step You Should Never Skip When Baking Brie

The only thing better than digging into a wheel of Brie is digging into an ooey-gooey wheel that's hot out of the oven. Baked Brie is a classic appetizer that turns a tasty but simple soft cheese into a fancy-looking treat worthy of a dinner party. Most recipes are simple: Put a wheel of Brie, rind and all, in a baking vessel; season with optional herbs, oils, or even wrap it in puff pastry; bake until gooey; then top with anything that could be part of a great cheese board. This could include honey, nuts, jams and preserves, or dried fruit.

However, there's one step you should add to any baked Brie recipe you choose. For optimal melted cheese enjoyment, do not skip out on scoring the wheel! You may be tempted to load up the cheese with toppings and put it in the oven as quickly as possible, but scoring the outer rind is a simple step that has a big impact on flavor. Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, make crosswise cuts to create a checkerboard or diamond pattern on top of the wheel. Just make sure not to slice all the way through the Brie — cut down about halfway into the cheese. 

This technique allows your flavorings and garnishes to seep into the cheese, and also helps the heat of the oven reach the interior of the wheel. After baking, the cuts on the cheese can be easily opened up for dipping and scooping.

Ideas for delicious baked Brie additions

You can make your baked Brie a sweet treat, a savory appetizer, or somewhere in between. Either way, you'll want to drizzle a condiment over top so that it seeps into the cuts you've made in the wheel. Otherwise, you'll just have chunky garnishes sitting on top of the cheese, without any sort of well-integrated flavor that brings the whole dish together. 

Brie has a mild, creamy, buttery, nutty, and earthy flavor profile that pairs well with many different ingredients, but can also be overpowered by very bold flavors. You'll want to leave super salty or spicy condiments on the shelf and instead reach for something like honey, maple syrup, balsamic glaze, fruit preserves, or even flavored and melted butter. Add extra flavor with red pepper flakes, black pepper, fresh or roasted garlic, and herbs such as rosemary, thyme, or tarragon. A welcome crunch can come from nuts, flaky salt, and fruits like apples, stone fruits, dates, cranberries, or raisins.

Pair classic Baked brie with fresh vegetables, crisp water crackers, or toasted bread for dipping. You can also top the wheel with maple syrup, blackberry jam, and pecans and serve with croissants for a show-stopping brunch dish. Or, go simple with a drizzle of honey, chopped fresh rosemary, and flaky salt, then serve on a charcuterie board with cured meats, sliced fresh pears, dried apricots, and hot cherry peppers.

Getting the most out of your Brie

Whatever you do, do not remove the rind of your Brie, whether you bake it or serve it as-is. The soft, white outer layer of Brie is just one example of an edible cheese rind, and it's also one of those rinds that cheese experts don't recommend discarding. While it may look off-putting to some, the rind provides just a bit of sharpness and complexity to an otherwise very mild cheese. It also lends a pleasantly firm textural element. 

No matter which preparation you choose, make sure to bake your wheel of Brie in an oven-safe dish that is just slightly bigger than the cheese itself. Since you've scored the rind, some of the creamy inside of the Brie is going to ooze out, and using a relatively form-fitting baking dish helps the wheel keep its shape even as it turns gooey. To keep the wheel looking relatively neat while also adding a delicious richness, wrap the whole thing in puff pastry, pie crust, or even store-bought crescent roll dough. Once the pastry is golden brown and cooked through, you definitely want to let the whole thing rest for around 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Otherwise, you'll be left with a Brie puddle rather than a delightfully gooey treat.