10 Tips for Making the Ultimate Charcuterie Board (2024)

Don’t sleep on the accoutrements

Charcuterie Tray

10 Tips for Making the Ultimate Charcuterie Board (2)

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While I love to make opulent brunch dishes from time to time (a shiny babka, a quiche packed with neatly chopped vegeables, a tray of fat cinnamon rolls) I’ve recently found myself more interested in snack-style meals. And to me, that means a charcuterie board. I’m not talking about a piece of chorizo and a hunk of whatever Cheddar I have in the fridge, but a discerning selection of meats, cheeses, and accoutrements. Of course, I can talk a big game about my interest in putting together such a platter, but it can be a little intimidating when I actually get to the store. So I consulted Elias Cairo, salumist and founder of Olympia Provisions who provided me with his top ten tips for putting together a killer charcuterie board.

1. Factor an amount of meat per person

“As a general rule, serve two ounces of charcuterie per person,” Cairo told me in an email. Like how you might factor one bottle of wine per person at a dinner party, approximating how much meat to serve per person is a great way to avoid overspending and under buying. Not everyone will eat two ounces of meat, but someone is sure to eat less and someone is sure to eat more.

2. Vary textures on the board

Cairo recommends using a mixture of textures, because “variety is pleasing to the eye and the palate.” For example, instead of putting three hard salamis on the board, use some hard salamis like chorizo or sopressata, some thinly sliced meats like jamón or prosciutto, and softer paste like a pâté, mousse, or rillette. This also ties into…

3. Incorporate different flavors of meats

“We like to have a mix in flavors in our meats,” Cairo said. He suggests pairing dry cured salami with smokier sliced meats.

4. Cheese is necessary

Nothing goes better with cured meats than cheese. Cairo recommends two or three cheeses per board, in a variety of textures. “Make sure to get something hard alongside something creamy.”

5. So are carbs

Really, what are meat and cheese without bread? A sliced baguette is a great choice for salty meats and cheeses, as are crackers and and crostini.

6. Empty out the pantry

After all that meat and cheese, you’re going to need something to balance those rich flavors. Cairo suggests accenting the board with acidic pickles, crunchy nuts, whole grain mustard (Maille is his favorite brand), tinned fish, and something sweet like quince jam or a drizzle of honey.

7. Add something warm

Especially in the winter, Cairo likes to add something warm to the board, like a crisped up sausage or warm rillettes. “This way you're pleasing all of the senses,” he said.

8 Try something fresh

“As a general rule of thumb, we like to pair the decadence of charcuterie with something lively or refreshing, like pears or apples, depending on the season,” Cairo said. Figs, pomegranate seeds, and grapes also work well here.

9. Finishing touches make all the difference

Just before serving the board, drizzle the hard and soft meats with good olive oil, then sprinkle the pâté, rillettes, and mousse with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

10. Don't forget the wine

“Nothing pairs better with an epic charcuterie board than wine,” Cairo said. Since there are so many flavors happening on the board, anything goes when it comes to wine, and he recommends having several unique bottles of red, white, rose, and sparkling wine on hand.

10 Tips for Making the Ultimate Charcuterie Board (2024)


10 Tips for Making the Ultimate Charcuterie Board? ›

The 3333 rule applies to the number of foods to create the perfect board. To follow the 3,3,3,3 rule, stick to three cheeses, three meats, three starches, and three accoutrements.

What is the 3-3-3 rule for charcuterie board? ›

The 3333 rule applies to the number of foods to create the perfect board. To follow the 3,3,3,3 rule, stick to three cheeses, three meats, three starches, and three accoutrements.

How do you make a high end charcuterie board? ›

Keep in mind that serving a plethora of different ingredients with various textures and tastes will make for a more visually appealing board. To do this, use a combination of hard and soft cheeses, crackers, soft bread slices, spreadable condiments and smaller items like nuts, seeds and pickled vegetables.

What should every charcuterie board have? ›

Note: these are suggested ingredients and you should feel free to tweak them however you see fit!
  • Cured meat. Use a selection of 3-4 different cured meats for your charcuterie board. ...
  • Cheese. ...
  • Bread and crackers. ...
  • Nuts and chocolate. ...
  • Condiments and jams. ...
  • Fruit. ...
  • Garnish.
Dec 16, 2023

What are the best 3 cheeses for a charcuterie board? ›

Here's some of the best cheese for charcuterie boards: Hard cheese: chunks of parmesan, aged gouda, asiago. Firm cheese: gruyere, comte, manchego, colby, cheddar. Semi-soft cheese: havarti, butterkäse, muenster.

What is the secret to a great charcuterie board? ›

After all that meat and cheese, you're going to need something to balance those rich flavors. Cairo suggests accenting the board with acidic pickles, crunchy nuts, whole grain mustard (Maille is his favorite brand), tinned fish, and something sweet like quince jam or a drizzle of honey.

What goes first on a charcuterie board? ›

Start by adding structure with little dishes, then place your ingredients on the board starting with the largest elements like the cheeses and meats, followed by smaller items like crackers and fresh produce.

How do you elevate a charcuterie board? ›

The accompaniments you choose can elevate your cheese and charcuterie board to a whole new level. Consider pairing sweet fig jam with your cheese selection to enhance the sweeter notes in your cheeses. The saltiness of olives can beautifully complement both the cheeses and the meats on your board.

How do you make a food grade charcuterie board? ›

How to make a Charcuterie Board or Cutting Board
  1. Select Wood.
  2. Add Holes for Handle with a Spade Bit.
  3. Roughout Basic Shape with Jigsaw.
  4. Carve a Organic Edges with Angle Grinder and Sanding Head.
  5. Finish Sanding with a Circular Sander.
  6. Select a Food Safe Finish, I Chose Food Grade Mineral Oil.
Feb 8, 2021

What are the rules of charcuterie? ›

When making a charcuterie board, try following the 3-3-3-3 rule:
  • 3 meats.
  • 3 cheeses.
  • 3 starches.
  • 3 accompaniments.
Dec 14, 2023

What are the 5 ingredient charcuterie? ›

Often, chocolate or sweets are included, too. However, the simplest board will always have five key ingredients: fruit, nuts or olives, cheese, meat, and a carb like toasted bread or crackers.

What are three things to consider when making a charcuterie board? ›

Here are the five key elements to a perfect charcuterie board:
  • Cheese. ~ You have limitless options in this category so you can not go wrong. ...
  • Sweet. ~ Cheese can pair well with sweet components like honey, fig jam, and/or a chutney. ...
  • Savory. ~ You need to have one or two savory elements to pair up to the meats. ...
  • Meat ~ ...
  • Bread.

What are the three starches for a charcuterie board? ›

3 Starches: we like Taralli (a traditional Italian cracker almost like a small, circular breadstick), Artisan Crisps by Rustic Bakery, and baguettes from Gilles Baguettes. 3 Accompaniments: Cerignola olives, Marcona almonds, French cornichons.

Are there rules for charcuterie boards? ›

Depending on the size of your board, you should have one each of cow, sheep, and goat options with soft rind, firm, and hard cheeses in the mix. Flavors should range between nutty and mild to funky and unique. Rule of thumb: 1 cow, 1 sheep, 1 goat; 1 soft, 1 firm, 1 hard.

How many cheeses should be on a cheese board? ›

A good rule of thumb is 1 ounce of each cheese for every guest and about five types of cheese. For a party in which cheese is the main event, plan on buying 3 pounds for eight people, 6 pounds for 16 people, or 9 pounds for 24 people. If cheese is one of many items being served, plan on buying 3 to 4 ounces per person.

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