A charcuterie board is an impressive but super-easy way to feed a crowd when entertaining for holidays or any reason! It doesn't matter if you're an avid cook; a great-looking appetizer tray like this amazing assortment of meats and cheeses is surprisingly easy to assemble! Add fruit, nuts, vegetables, dips, mustard spreads, pepper jelly, marmalade, honey, pickles, olives, and more to make a charcuterie board that everyone will love!
How To Make A Charcuterie Board
I know many of the online images of charcuterie boards are these really epic builds of amazing foods. I'm here to say that you can build a charcuterie board in any size to feed any gathering. Most likely, you've been presenting your own version of a charcuterie board without even knowing it ( especially if you host family or holiday gatherings )!
My charcuterie board presented here includes a meat selection of dry salami, hard salami, genoa salami, pepperoni, smoked sausage, and Proscuitto-wrapped mozzarella sticks. Additionally, for cheese, there is a combination of cheddar, Colby-jack, pepper jack, swiss, and baby mozzarella balls.
Other assorted items include carrot and celery sticks along with French onion dip, red and green seedless grapes, blackberries, raspberries, and Medjool dates. Plus, smoked almonds and pistachios, kalamata olives, dill pickles, pickled cherry peppers, Triscuit crackers, cheddar cheese whisps, and grissini breadsticks.
I try to keep the snacks on my charcuterie board pretty family-friendly. However, you can upgrade for more adult tastes very easily!
What Is A Charcuterie Board
Charcuterie comes from the French words chair ( or 'meat' ) and cuit ( or 'cooked' ). The original charcutier presented various cooked or preserved meats in a delicatessen-type store that were primarily from pork products.
The present-day charcuterie board has evolved but is still in essence, a meat board. Like a cheese board or relish tray, charcuterie boards are served as finger food appetizers for gatherings and holiday meals.
Building your own charcuterie board will depend on your gathering size and the elements that you would like to include. While a simple charcuterie board is made with a basic combination of your favorite meats and cheeses, there are many options that can also be included!
In addition to meat and cheese, many charcuterie boards now include artisan bread or crackers, nuts, dried and fresh fruits, assorted vegetables, dipping sauces, pesto, or artisan mustards and jams for spreading, as well as olives and pickled vegetables.
Charcuterie Board Ideas
Whether you're looking for a simple, easy, or small board as your appetizer, start with the basics. Combine your charcuterie (meats board) with your cheese board elements to make the easiest of appetizers!
Add some crispy crackers and salty or sweet components like nuts, olives, pickles, and dried or fresh fruits, and your board is almost done! Slice your cheeses into varying squares, rectangles, or cubes to vary the look of your board.
Like your cheese, vary the shapes of the meat. Roll salami slices or Proscuitto around mozzarella or cream cheese fillings lay some of the meats down in a fan shape, or pile it high in a random assortment.
Whichever you choose, I like to select 4 - 5 meat varieties with 3 - 4 cheeses for my basic, super-easy snack boards!
If you're unsure of your guests' tastebuds, keep the meat selection pretty standard and maybe offer a few adventurous selections. My favorite charcuterie board meats include:
- Salami (Genoa salami, hard salami, Calabrese, dry Italian salami, soppressata, and especially a variety with cracked peppercorn crusting)
- Proscuitto (is a cured pork, typically thin-sliced)
- Mortadella (is an Italian lunchmeat similar to bologne)
- Finocchiona (is a slightly sweet Italian sausage with fennel)
- Capocollo (also called gabagool or capicola, is an Italian pork salami)
- Beef Jerky
My general rule of thumb is to set out servings of 2 - 3 ounces of meat per person. So, for 10 guests, the total quantity of sliced meats should be roughly 20 - 30 ounces.
These are all wonderful cheese varieties to serve on cheese boards, and are the perfect addition to any snack board assortment! My favorite cheeses to use are:
- Sharp Cheddar
- Smoked Gouda
- Pepper Jack
- Fresh Mozzarella Balls
- Baked Brie
- Chèvre (or goat cheese)
My general rule of thumb is to set out 1 - 2 ounces of cheese per person.
How to Make a Charcuterie Board
Once you're ready to assemble your appetizer, think about color contrast and patterns that you may want to try for an attractive visual. I use spots of rounds and lines and then pile my elements in groupings to add height differences as well.
You want colorful, tasty, and contrasting accompaniments that include sweet items like fresh fruit, dried fruit, chocolate, honey, marmalade, jams, and jellies. As well as savory or spicy items like nuts, pickles, olives, cherry tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts, fresh herbs, vegetables, peppers, crackers, spicy mustard, pesto, dips, and bread.
Use small bowls of different shapes, sizes, and colors to vary your design.
For your board, use an appropriately sized cutting board or serving tray that can accommodate your sliced meat and cheese. I've frequently run into the plain white cutting board being my largest available board to use (and it works just fine!).
If you need more space, spread a piece of parchment paper over the counter and serve everything there. If you find (like me!) that your charcuterie board is overflowing, serve extras on the side. No one will complain!
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The word 'charcuterie' is derived from two French words: 'chair' (which means meat) and 'cuit' (which means cooked). The origin of these words dates back to 15th century France, where it was used to describe French shops where you could purchase pork products.
I would not assemble the board until an hour or two before it is needed, though you can certainly prepare all of the components in advance! Slice meats and cheeses ahead of time and keep them in Ziploc bags or airtight containers until you are ready to assemble your charcuterie board.
Nope! Though they are traditionally presented on wooden boards or serving platters, you could get creative and try some alternatives! One popular option has been to do large charcuteries on butcher paper spread out across the entire table. You could also try a marble serving tray, stainless steel, or, for a fancier event, mirrored glass.
😋 More Crowd-Pleasing Appetizers
- Ranch Cheese Ball - A creamy cheese ball for dipping crackers, chips, or veggies that is loaded with bacon and ranch seasoning!
- Buffalo Chicken Dip - This zesty chip dip embodies everything you love about buffalo chicken wings!
- Crockpot Grape Jelly Meatballs - These sweet, sticky meatballs are incredibly easy to make and can be served to a crowd on a platter with toothpicks!
- Cheddar Swiss Cheese Fondue - Guests will love gathering around a big pot of this delicious fondue and dipping anything from meat to bread or veggies!
- Lil Smokies Pigs In A Blanket - These 2-ingredient pigs in a blanket are the perfect finger food for any get-together!
- Deviled Eggs - No one can resist a platter of these classic deviled eggs. Be sure to make extra!
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- 10 oz salami (assortment - dry, hard, Genoa, Calabrese)
- 5 oz pepperoni
- 5 oz smoked sausage
- 5 oz Proscuitto
- 10 oz aged or hard cheese (sliced or cubed - cheddar, colby-jack, pepper jack, swiss, provolone, edam, gruyere, smoked gouda)
- 2 oz soft cheese mozzarella, brie, camembert, chevre, cream cheese, mascarpone, havarti)
- 16 oz grapes (mix of red and green seedless grapes)
- 8 oz berries (mix of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries)
- 4 oz dried dates (Medjool dates are awesome for this!)
- 4 oz dried apricots
Nuts, Olives, Pickles, & Peppers
- 4 oz nuts (assorted - almonds, pistachios, pecans, macadamia nuts etc)
- 4 oz kalamata olives
- 4 oz petite dill pickles
- 2 oz pickled cherry peppers (or pepperoncini, or giardiniera mix)
Assorted Dips & Spreads
Crackers, Bread, & Garnish
- 12 oz crackers (Triscuit, wheat thins, grissini breadsticks, cheese whisps)
- herbs (optional - mint, basil, rosemary, thyme)
- Place dips, spreads, jams, jellies, or marmalade into small bowls and place onto your board.
- Arrange the meat and cheese onto the board, some around the bowls and in other shapes and lines.
- Add the crackers or bread around the meat and cheese.
- Fill in any remaining spaces with your assorted fresh and dried fruits, nuts, olives, pickles, and peppers.
- Garnish with fresh herbs if desired and serve.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!