The Secrets To A Perfect Charcuterie Board (2024)

First, What Exactly Is Charcuterie?

Charcuterie is our go-to party appetizer for pleasing a crowd. Even if not everyone is a meat eater, there’s literally something for everyone on a well-curated charcuterie board. Whether your charcuterie skillz have never been tested or you’re a prosciutto pairing pro, here are a few tips for creating the perfect board.

Charcuterie, pronounced [shahr-koo-tuh-ree], is the art of curing and/or smoking meats. These meats, which used to primarily be found at fancy restaurants, you can now buy at most grocery stores. A charcuterie board may just have meat on it, often though, it also includes cheeses, nuts and fruit to balance flavors – and offer endless mix-and-match opportunities.

Buy the Right Amount Of Charcuterie

How much charcuterie do you need per person? When building your board, plan for between 3-4 slices of meat per person and 1-2 ounces of cheese. For folks who aren’t into meat, you may “budget” up to 4 ounces of cheese for them. This may not seem like a lot, and that’s the idea. Charcuterie is an amuse-bouche (we love any excuse to use that word). Its job is to pique your guests’ appetites for the meal to come. If your board is too robust, it becomes the meal – which is just fine, if that’s what you’re intending.

Think TextureWhen Preparing A Meat Plate

In addition to balancing flavors (sweet, salty, sour), you also want to balance textures. For cheese, you’ll want something hard, medium and soft. For meat, pair a thinly sliced meat (like prosciutto) with something a bit denser (like a salami) and something more spreadable (like a pate). Add accoutrements that are crunchy (nuts and pickles) and chewy (dried fruit).

Why Presentation Matters With A Charcuterie Plate

With charcuterie, how it looks is half the fun. You don’t have to go creating cheese rosettes (though these are pretty cool) but you do want to think about what you’re serving on and plan for any additional items you’ll need. If you’re serving olives with pits, for example, make sure you have a bowl nearby for putting seeds. If you have a particularly soft cheese, you may serve it in a shallow bowl to keep it from running into the other snacks.

Remember Dietary Considerations When Building A Charcuterie Board

While serving everything on the same tray makes for an abundant presentation, it may not be a good idea depending on your guest list. If you have vegetarians in the house, they’ll likely appreciate having the meat served separately. The same is true for folks who may be lactose intolerant. Make sure to also have a selection of gluten-free and corn-free crackers for pairing, and to separate them out as needed.

Let Creativity Be Your Guide

This is the fun part. Once you know who you’re servings and how much to buy, it’s time to let your creativity run wild in putting your board together. In general, a good charcuterie board will have 2-3 types of meat, 2-3 cheeses, 1-2 fruits, 1-2 crackers, nuts, bread, pickles, mustard and a dip or spread.

The deliciousness of your board depends on the quality of your ingredients. Buy USDA Organic when possible and look for meats that are free from nitrates.

Build The Perfect Charcuterie PlateWithOptions From TheseCategories

Meat: Prosciutto, Peppered Salami, Spicy Soppressata, Smoked Country Ham, Serrano Ham and Jamón Ibérico, Pate

Cheese: Swiss Cheese, Gouda, Camembert, Aged Cheddar, Brillat-Savarin, Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Stilton Blue Cheese

Nuts: Pecans, Walnuts, Marcona Almonds, Hazelnuts

Fruit: Go for a mix of dried and fresh fruit, which in addition to pairing well with cheese and meat, adds a pop of color.

Fresh Fruit: Strawberries, Blueberries, Apples, Pears

Dried Fruit: Goldenberries, Deglet Noor Dates, Apricots, Smyrna Figs, Mission Figs

Spreads & Dips: Hummus, Honey, Tapenade, Baba Ganoush, Fig spread

Other Fun Additions: Cornichon, Kale Chips, Figgy Pops, Veggie Pops, Coconut Chips

Check out these swoon-worthy boards to inspire your charcuterie creation.

The Secrets To A Perfect Charcuterie Board (2024)


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 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.

What are 5 tips to making a charcuterie board easy? ›

Here's an easy, step-by-step guide.
  1. Choose your board, platter, or plate.
  2. Lay out your soft and moist ingredients first.
  3. Place your dips and spreads around the board.
  4. Lay out your dry ingredients, like meats, nuts, and hard cheeses.
  5. Top with your choice of garnishings.

What are 5 things to avoid on a charcuterie board? ›

CHARCUTERIE // Stop Adding These 10 Ingredients To Your Charcuterie Boards!
  • STINKY CHEESES. The cheese section at the grocery store can be overwhelming and intimidating. ...
  • SPICY FOODS. ...
  • Veggies. ...
  • Allergens and Sensitivities. ...
  • Dips, Sauces and Jams. ...
  • Boring and Bland Foods.

How do you make a charcuterie board look professional? ›

Charcuterie Board Styling Tips & Tricks
  1. Consult the guest list. ...
  2. Work with uneven numbers. ...
  3. Keep organized. ...
  4. Start with your bowls or round shapes. ...
  5. Next, move on to your biggest pieces and arrange by category. ...
  6. Avoid same category items touching. ...
  7. Move and adjust as you go. ...
  8. Fill final empty spaces with nuts.
Nov 24, 2021

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 goes first on a charcuterie board? ›

Arrange the items on the board – Once you've selected your meats, cheeses, and accompaniments, it's time to start arranging them on the board. Start by placing the larger items, like meats and cheeses, on the board first. Then, fill in the gaps with the smaller accompaniments.

What veggies go on a charcuterie board? ›

When it comes to what vegetables you should use for your vegetable charcuterie, almost any vegetable can work. Some easy favorite vegetables to incorporate in your boards include, carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and green beans.

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

How far ahead should I make a charcuterie board? ›

You can assemble a charcuterie board up to 24 hours ahead of time, minus the fresh fruit. Just be sure to wrap the charcuterie board with plastic wrap before storing it in the fridge. Take it out of the fridge up to 30 minutes prior to serving.

What are the do's and don'ts of charcuterie? ›

However, some general tips for creating and enjoying a charcuterie plate might include choosing a variety of meats and cheeses, avoiding overpowering flavors, and allowing each person to build their own plate according to their preferences.

What does every charcuterie board need? ›

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

How do you make a high end charcuterie board? ›

Add savory and sweet accompaniments.

For example, mustard, briny foods and nuts near salami and sopresseta, and sharp cheeses like parmesan. Pair sweet accompaniments like fresh fruit, jams, and candied nuts, near the brie cheese or goat cheese. Cheddar cheese pairs well with savory and sweet.

What is the best shape for a charcuterie board? ›

Round is the most popular shape for medium sized parties, and handle boards is the most popular for smaller parties of 2 or 4. Round contrasts nicely with the shapes of a lot of cheeses and crackers. It is also easy for your guests to enjoy without feeling like they're on the "back side" of the board.

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