Charcuterie boards are fun to make, beautiful to behold, and delicious to eat! Besides being a tasty appetizer, charcuterie boards easily double as a quick alternative summer dinner when it’s too hot to cook! This post includes some great suggestions on what to include on your charcuterie board, as well as some tips on how to make your board look beautiful!
The word charcuterie technically means cold, cooked meats, but over the last five years or so charcuterie boards have become synonymous with all beautifully styled finger foods decoratively placed on a tray. Charcuterie boards have been trending in the food blogger and restaurant community for many years now and show no signs of abating. Want to hop on the charcuterie board trend at home with your family? Enjoy my tips on how to create your own simple and stylish board.
NOTE: Trays of shared food that are meant to be communally consumed with your fingers are not as Covid-friendly as other serving options. If this is something that concerns you, my advice is to use numerous picks, tongs, and serving utensils on your tray. Toothpicks work great in a pinch! Or simply just save this idea for a later date when you feel more comfortable!
What board or serving platter should I use for my charcuterie?
Any food-safe platter, tray, or cutting board can be used to serve your charcuterie. I personally like to use cutting boards as well as circular lazy susans. Choose the size of your board based on the number of guests you are serving. The size of your tray will also depend on whether or not your board is the main course or the appetizer. I use a 22″ round tray for a charcuterie appetizer for 10-15 guests.
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What ingredients should I use on a traditional charcuterie board?
The beauty of a charcuterie board is that there are no hard and fast rules that have to be followed! Make it fun and bountiful and everyone will love it! I typically find some of the best charcuterie ingredients at Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and Lidl but any grocery store will have what you need. Here are my favorite items to include:
1. Cured Meats
I like to serve Genoa salami, prosciutto, Soppressata, and good old fashioned pepperonis. Any cured meats, or even lunch meats can be included.
You can get as fancy or as simple with your cheese as you desire! Many suggest choosing two hard cheeses and two soft cheeses for the board. I like to keep in mind the tastes of my guests (which nowadays are mostly just family members) when choosing my cheeses. I also like to serve pre-sliced cheeses and individually wrapped sections of brie.
Dried fruits and berries work best on charcuterie boards. You want to avoid placing any cut-up pieces of juicy fruit on your tray which may ruin nearby foods. I like to use seasonal fruits, but especially grapes, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, dried apricots, dried mangos, and figs. Figs in the fall look particularly beautiful on your board when cut in half!
I like to offer a variety of soft, plain, and flavorful crackers on my board. Trader Joe’s sells Fig & Olive Crisps that are always a hit with guests! They pair well with any cheese and taste amazing with cream cheese spreads. I also like to buy Naan dippers to serve with hummus or a sweet jam. If I can’t find Naan dippers, I thinly slice a French baguette to serve with brie. Triscuits, ak-Mak crackers, melba toast, and butter crisps are also great cracker options!
Olives are a great item to place in a small bowl on your tray. I often have feta stuffed olives on hand but any olives you enjoy will do!
Trader Joe’s and Lidl is a great place to shop for sweet, salty, and spicy nuts. I served Garlic & Onion Pistachios and mixed nuts on the board pictured below. I often will include candied pecans, smoked almonds, or sriracha cashews.
7. Other ingredient options to include
Jams, honey, pickles, pretzel bites, veggie sticks, cherry tomatoes, and even hard boiled eggs are all options to consider when making your board!
How do you make a charcuterie board beautiful?
When setting up my charcuterie board, I begin by placing a few small bowls around the tray to hold items I want contained such as nuts, cheese spreads, olives, hummus, jams, etc. Next, I add my grapes followed by meats, cheeses, and crackers. To make your tray pretty, stagger your colors and textures just like you would when styling shelves. You want to zigzag or triangulate your colors on the tray to keep your eye moving. Tuck berries around the empty spaces and complete the tray with decorative fresh herbs or edible flowers.