When you’re entertaining and need to pull together an appetizer for your guests, a charcuterie board is such a perfect option! In my opinion, there is no appetizer more impressive and with so many nibbles to choose from, there is usually something everyone can enjoy. While there is no perfect formula, I want to walk you through the process I use to make a charcuterie board that is balanced, beautiful and tasty. Bonus…there is NO cooking involved in making these delicious works of art! Get creative, have fun, and think seasonal.
Get On Board
You’ll first need to determine how many guests you are serving and then determine the size board you’ll need. There are SO many options for shape and size and chances are you already have a cutting board or tray you can use. For large gatherings, I like a HUGE board so I can really pack on the goods. I particularly love this one because it has handles and a lip which makes transporting it very easy. You can move it from the kitchen to a coffee table or bring it to a party without anything rolling off! Here are some great boards to consider…
This board etched with a favorite family recipe is so unique! When you scan your recipe card on the site, the exact ingredients and instructions are captured in your loved one’s handwriting. This would be a great gift for yourself or a foodie friend.
Make sure you have some small ramekins or bowls in various sizes to “accessorize” your board. These are perfect for nuts, seeds, jams, dips, pickles and olives. These Christmas tree ramekins and star-shaped ramekins are perfect for the holidays! You’ll also need a coordinating set of cheese knives.
A Trip To The Grocery
For a traditional charcuterie board, use a variety of savory and sweet options, pops of color and texture, and varying heights by mixing in the bowls and ramekins. Also consider slicing the cheese into various shapes like cubes, long thin slices, squares, rectangles and wedges. This keeps it interesting and adds dimension. Here are some options to consider…
- Cheese- I recommend a mix of soft cheeses (like brie, blue cheese, or burrata) and hard cheeses (like Dubliner, manchego, or gouda). Use some that have more of a bold flavor and some that are mild.
- Meats- varieties of salami (spicy, peppered, there are many!), pate’, prosciutto, mortadella, and other cured meats
- Fresh & Dried Fruit- thinly sliced apple, figs, pear, blackberries, raspberries, grapes, tomatoes, melon, strawberries, mango (whatever is in season!) and dried fruits like craisins, apricots, dates, and banana chips
- Veggies- carrots, celery, bell peppers, sweet peppers, cucumber, artichoke hearts
- Crunch- crackers, crusty bread, mixed nuts, pickles, truffle popcorn, pita chips, veggie chips, breadsticks (wrap them in prosciutto!)
- Dips- hummus, tzatziki, dill dip, honey, fig jam, spicy mustard
- Something Sweet– dark chocolate squares, caramels, yogurt covered pretzels, gummy bears, shortbread cookies, licorice
- Garnish- rosemary sprigs, cranberries, chives, thyme, small flowers, mint and other fresh herbs, pomegranate seeds
Slice a wheel of brie in half on the equator, and add a layer of jam to the bottom half. Use a small cookie cutter to punch out a shape (heart, tree, star) of the top half and then place the top layer over the bottom layer so the jam peeks through the shape. Save the shape and add that to your board too!
With the exception of the cheese blocks, try to keep your food items bite-sized and easy to grab. Start by placing your bowls and ramekins on the board and fill them up with spreads, dips, pickles, olives and nuts. Now add your cheese blocks, leaving room for the cheese knives, then add sliced and/or cubed cheeses. Next, add the meats by stacking, fanning, or rolling. You can make salami “flowers” by pinching the center and bringing the sides upward. Place crackers and bread around the perimeter and then sprinkle in your other items. Try not to place similarly colored items too close together. There really is no science to it, just be creative and think about the presentation. Fill in all the nooks and crannies so it looks full and delicious! Finally, add your garnish for texture and voilà!
No Boring Boards
Take your board NEXT LEVEL and try different shapes and themes. Creating a board isn’t limited to cheese and meat! Here are some other great suggestions and ideas that will make any party extra festive…
- Breakfast: avocado toast board, waffles, pancakes, French toast or oatmeal with LOTS of toppings, deviled eggs, bagels and lox with cream cheese and sliced veggies
- Dessert: candy board (choose a theme or color), movie night board, hot chocolate with marshmallows and toppings, cookie board
Do you have any unique items you like to include on your charcuterie boards? Please, share your ideas with us in the comments! Be sure to subscribe to Erin’s weekly newsletter for exclusive content and amazing style resources!