How to Make the Perfect Charcuterie Board

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen {and maybe even eaten} sooo many charcuterie boards full of cheese, cured meats, veggies, nuts, and everything in between. No matter how popular they’ve become, I am constantly seeing new and unique charcuterie ideas all over the place. And even though they’re so common, I’ll never grow any less excited about seeing a charcuterie board in front of me.

But what is it about a cheese and meat board that is so universally lovable to the point where I see jokes all the time about how obsessed we are over these snack trays? {Guilty…}

Well for starters, the best charcuterie board offers something everyone can love, even those that may be self-proclaimed picky eaters. If you don’t like one portion of the board, you can nibble on the part you do enjoy. Also, a good charcuterie board offers a tasty variety of sweet, salty, bitter, savory, and meat flavors that are just so satisfying. You can jump from the tart taste of an olive to the satisfying saltiness of prosciutto, and finally to the sweet and creamy smoothness of brie.

A classic charcuterie board often contains different types of cheeses, cured meats like salami and prosciutto, crackers, olives, capers, and sometimes those delightful little jams. And don’t get me wrong, while these classic assortments always leave me starry-eyed and mouth watering {just get me a glass of wine please!}, I think charcuterie can benefit from an even wider definition. If you’re a diehard charcuterie traditionalist, please forgive me, but my own definition of charcuterie is “any assortment of tasty snacks together on a board or platter, often enjoyed in groups gathered together.”

Now this definition leaves room for creativity!! I’ve made a charcuterie platter for any and all occasions with a variety of ingredients based on the event and people involved. Once I even made a Christmas charcuterie board with Christmas cookies and snacks and decorated it with string lights. I love going with a theme, especially if it’s a holiday! You can make a Halloween themed charcuterie board with popcorn and candies, or a 4th of July themed board with red, white, and blue fruits and veggies. Name a holiday, and I’ll have a charcuterie board idea!

But you don’t need a specific holiday to enjoy some charcuterie. One of my most recent simple charcuterie boards I made was a dessert one! Trader Joe’s has the best sweets—pick 5 or 6 and create a yummy dessert tray. So fun {and easy}. This is perfect if you’re just having friends over for a game night after dinner. You can make your arrangement as simple or extravagant as you’d like! But there’s no doubt however you put together your charcuterie board, it WILL be a crowd pleaser. So don’t expect any leftovers…

If you’re wanting to learn how to put together a charcuterie board, let me give you my best tips for all things charcuterie. Don’t wander the grocery store for hours, and don’t just throw together a random assortment of snacks you already have in the pantry. There’s an art to charcuterie, and after reading this you’ll be an artist ready to make a masterpiece!

  

How to make a charcuterie board
The first step to mastering the charcuterie is to choose the perfect food to include. Whether you’re looking for an easy charcuterie board with just a few ingredients, or an elaborate one with loads of goodies to choose from, you have a huge variety of options.

The best charcuterie board meats are sliced and cured meats. These are easy to eat on their own, or on top of a cracker or piece of bread with some cheese. Some of the most popular choices are salami and prosciutto, but you can choose any type. If you want something with a bit more spice, try Calabrese salami {so tasty!}, or try something more unique like a pâté, smoked salmon, or sausage.

A charcuterie board wouldn’t be complete without cheese! One of my favorite cheese for charcuterie boards is brie! You can get a sweet brie with honey, or a more savory herbed kind. Brie is smooth and goes great on a baguette slice. Or try another soft cheese like goat cheese or burrata. You should also have some slices of hard cheese. Cheddar, asiago, or gouda are enjoyed by most taste buds, so you can’t lose with a block of each.

You of course have to have a base to put your cheese and meat on. Offer a variety of crackers and bread that will pair well with the ingredients you choose. Next, fill in the rest of your board with other treats you know you’ll love. Fruits like berries, apple slices, and melons are always a safe bet, as well as crunchy veggies like baby carrots, pea pods, cucumbers, or cherry tomatoes. These ingredients introduce some sweet and refreshing flavors to the mix.

You can also offer a briney kick with capers, gherkins, or olives. The saltiness mixes well with the meats while still offering a unique texture. Nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pistachios are also a great healthy addition to sprinkle around your board. Lastly, if you’re wanting a spread for the bread or crackers, you can add a variety of jams and dips.

    

How to arrange a charcuterie board
Now that you’ve picked the foods that will go in your charcuterie, the next step is arranging it all together. All charcuteries are placed on a special serving dish, whether that’s a big tray, a wooden cutting board, a pretty dish, or a serving platter. So, the first step to making your charcuterie dream a reality is finding the right dish to serve it on. Since charcuterie is meant to look good when arranged all together, I always like to use a wooden board or a decorative platter. This way, no matter how I set up my board, I know it will still look beautiful! The only criteria is to make sure it’s the right size for the amount of space you’ll need.

Once you have your board, it’s time to place the tasty goodies on top. Rather than randomly placing the snacks, arrange your food together by type or color so your guests have an easy time picking through. I like to place the veggies together, the fruit together, and the cheeses and meats next to the crackers. This way, you’ll know exactly where to find each treat you’re craving.

Now for the best part…
The final step to making a charcuterie board is the best in my opinion— serving it to your guests! I love to see the looks on each of my friends and familys’ faces when they spot a nicely laid out charcuterie board. They immediately look over all the ingredients and find the goodies they want to try. They’re always so excited to pile their plates with the mouth watering snacks. And don’t worry, YOU get to join in on this fun too! Don’t forget to enjoy the fruit of your labor and grab a large plate for yourself 🙂

One comment

  1. That was 22 seconds of perfection – the first video.

    [the round cheese and the cherry tomatoes – that hit me where I live!

    so did the pickles and the gherkins].

    And the moment when you decided to RickRoll us with the sweet platter.

    If I could suggest One Thing – cauliflower stems.

    They fulfill the crunch need and desire especially when fresh.

    You will want to grab them BEFORE they go to seed.

    [This assumes a functioning garden – either your own or a landscape co-operative].

    The togetherness involved in so many senses.

    In Australia there is a great store called Maxi’s which also does the sweet work of Trader Joe’s – or chiming in with expectations.

    And I noticed the snow peas too, Lisa.

    The person who showed me how important the Board was to mother-influencers was Kathryn Jezer-Morton who wrote about them in her substack 7 months ago [5 January 2022].

    [and, yes, I DID put the link in the Website blank instead of my own].

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