Charcuterie boards have been around forever, more commonly known in the U.S. as a cheese board! However, creativity, innovative products and social media foodies have recently
skyrocketed the charcuterie board into trend-setting status.
Charcuterie (pronounced “shar-koo-tuh–ree”) originated in France, where cured and smoked meats were assembled on a board for guests to enjoy. Today, charcuterie boards have taken on a life of their own and often include a variety of meats, cheeses, fruit, nuts, bread, candy and chocolates, and other finger foods.
To make the perfect charcuterie board, it’s important to have fun with colors, textures, shapes, sizes and different heights while also finding the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors. Here’s a basic guide on how to build the perfect charcuterie board for your next party or gathering. The important thing to remember is to have fun and play with your food!
Choose Your Board
Charcuterie boards come in all shapes, sizes and materials, so choose one that fits your party size and theme.
A small cutting board works well for date night, serving trays are perfect for a bigger crowd, and a butcher paper covered table creates a more casual atmosphere. You can even use a slate board and label your items with a chalkboard marker if you want to get especially creative.
If you’re concerned about the temperature of your meat and cheese, select a marble or stone board for your spread. The cool surface will keep your food chilled for optimal flavor..
Start With Meat and Cheese
As a general rule, choose three to five different cheese varieties and try to include at least one hard, one soft and one blue cheese. Again, get creative! You can slice, dice, cube, and even leave cheese in wedges on your board for guests to cut themselves to make your charcuterie board not only look more interesting, but also inspire interaction and conversation.
Consider selecting different flavors and textures to really add variety to your board. Some ideas include spicy cheese like pepper jack, a mild havarti, or even a spreadable cheese like brie.
Select cured meat that is thinly sliced and arrange it so guests can easily pick up a piece to eat. You can stack the slices or artistically arrange it. Include hard meats like smoked sausage and spreadable meats like pâté to really impress your guests. Other meats to consider include pepperoni, diced ham, salami and pancetta.
Fruits, Nuts and Spreads
This is where you can really have fun! Once you’ve selected the meat and cheese for your charcuterie board, fill in the gaps with brightly colored slices of fruit and/or whole berries, and even different types of dried fruits. Scatter piles of small nuts and seeds in all the open spaces.
Our Lemoncello Chocolate Almonds® have been spotted as the star of charcuterie boards across social media. Their bright yellow hue really makes a board pop. Consider adding a variety of sweets and chocolates to your board, such as dark and milk chocolates, and caramels. For seasonal boards, include special confections with colorful shells that evoke the spirit of the celebrated holiday!
Keeping the balance between sweet and savory, you can also sprinkle a few olives or other pickled ingredients on your board.
Charcuterie Board Extras
Select small bowls to serve jams, jellies and spreadable meats and cheeses that guests can slather on crackers and slices of bread. The bowls will add an element of height to your charcuterie board, making it even more visually appealing. There are endless possibilities when it comes to creating a charcuterie boards! Here are few extra ideas to consider:
Select foods with a variety of colors and textures like bright red cherry tomatoes and crunchy pepitas. Make it seasonal by adding in-season fruits or spices. For Christmas, include cranberries and sprigs of rosemary. For fall parties, consider adding pears, pumpkin seeds or candy corn.
Don’t forget to include crackers and slices of bread on your board. Aim for two to four different options so your guests have some choices to combine their favorite flavors.
Serve your charcuterie board as an appetizer before dinner or even as a main course, and pair it with a bottle of red or white wine.
Once you’ve gathered and arranged all the different elements on your board, you’re ready to serve your masterpiece. If you’re looking for more creative ideas to add to your next charcuterie board, shop our extensive collection of nuts and candies.