Elegantly simple, yet culinarily sophisticated. Filled with meat, bread, spreads, fruit, and other components, a charcuterie board offers you the opportunity to be creative in your choice of ingredients as well as with presentation.
Learning how to make a charcuterie board at home will make you want to explore this culinary masterpiece even more.
What is a Charcuterie Board?
Often served as an appetizer or as a light meal for a casual gathering, a charcuterie board begins with selecting a range of ingredients. The term charcuterie is a French term for a shop that sells preserved pork products. That is the main reason why cured meats, like salami, chorizo, and prosciutto, are a central part of the modern presentation.
Cheese is a natural accompaniment to the salty, savory taste of cured meats. You can go with a hard option like manchego or cheddar and add a soft, spreadable choice like brie or cream cheese.
What takes a charcuterie board to the next level are the additional components that expand the texture and flavor options. Think sweet, briny, spreadable, fresh. Each component adds another possible combination, texture, or flavor to the mix. Let’s learn how to assemble a charcuterie platter.
Tips for Creating a Charcuterie Board
In this tutorial, we will teach you how to put together a charcuterie board. But first, we will start with a couple of general tips:
- When selecting your favorite ingredients, always remember to look for a balance in flavor. You can reach this balance by incorporating bitter ingredients (such as some of the charcuterie and cheeses) and sweet ingredients (such as fruits, jellies or chutneys).
- Also look for a balance in textures: include hard cheeses and soft cheeses.
- When assembling the board, start from the center. This will help you create a beautiful structure. Add containers for some of the elements; this will create additional shapes.
- Always remember to add bread or crackers (you can include different types).
- Remember to add at least one knife for each type of cheese.
- Be creative with the ingredients. Besides the charcuterie and cheeses that are often included in boards, feel free to add dried fruits, fresh fruits, olives, pickled eggs and other elements that can add flavors and variety.
These are the products we selected for this board:
Brie cheese: soft and sweet.
Goat cheese: strong flavor, mixed texture.
Manchego cheese: strong flavor, hard texture.
Breadsticks & Crackers
This is a key element of the board, and you can include several types of crackers, breads and other ingredients to have with the cheeses and charcuterie. Cornbread is a popular choice.
Olives are addictive for some, and will offer an acidic flavor that is hard to find on the board otherwise.
Nuts are especially good for holiday parties. We used walnuts.
There is nothing better than dried apricots to bring a little sweetness to the board. Fresh grapes or jams are another great option.
Charcuterie (Cold Cooked Meats)
Chorizo (pork sausage): strong flavor.
Salami: soft or medium flavor.
Prosciutto: salty and medium flavor.
Completed Charcuterie Board
After creating your first charcuterie board, the next step is to explore other flavors and components for your next one.
Think of meat as the heart of your board. Sliced meats like prosciutto and capicola are traditional as are cured meats like salami, pepperoni, and mortadella. Non-traditional options include smoked sausage, chorizo, souse, and summer sausage.
Cheese adds sophistication to the board. Mix up soft and hard varieties. Soft ones give a silky creamy note while hard ones bring sharper flavors and textures. Think Brie, Havarti, Provolone, Mozzarella, Gouda, and Feta for starters.
Go wild with your accompaniments. Add briny flavors with pickles and gourmet olives. Add sweet components like dried fruits. Bring bread and crackers in a few varieties. Whole grain crackers, thin slices of French bread, and hard bread sticks are just a few examples. Add spreads like pate, hummus, tapenade, stone ground mustard, chutney, and marmalade.
The beverages you serve with your charcuterie board add additional flavor and complexity. You can bring out a rich red wine like a Shiraz or go with a lighter white like Alsace Riesling. Offer a variety of craft beers ranging from a pale ale to a rich lager. Add non-alcoholic options like cider, herbal tea, hot chocolate, or lemonade.
Are you ready to start creating a tasty charcuterie platter?
How to Make a Charcuterie Board
- Cheese - (brie, Camembert, goat cheese, Manchego, cheddar, Havarti, Provolone, mozzarella, Gouda, etc.)
- Dried fruit
- Spreads - (hummus, pate, tapenade, stone ground mustard, jam, chutney, marmalade, etc.)
- Charcuterie - (chorizo, salami, prosciutto, ham, pepperoni, capicola, mortadella, souse, etc.)
- When assembling the board, start from the center. This will help you create a beautiful structure. Add containers for some of the elements; this will create additional shapes. The following are what we chose for our board:
- Cheese: Look for a balance in textures: include hard cheeses and soft cheeses. Brie cheese – soft and sweet. Goat cheese – strong flavor, mixed texture. Manchego cheese – strong flavor, hard texture.
- Breadsticks and crackers: Always remember to add bread or crackers to have with the cheeses and charcuterie. Cornbread is a popular choice. You can include an assortment.
- Olives: Olives, pickles, capers, pickled vegetables etc. will offer an acidic flavor that is hard to find on the board otherwise.
- Nuts: Nuts are especially good for holiday parties. We used walnuts.
- Something Sweet: There is nothing better than dried apricots to bring a little sweetness to the board. Fresh grapes, jams or other dried fruit are another great option.
- Charcuterie: Remember to include a variety of flavors: We used chorizo (pork sausage) for a strong flavor, salami for a soft or medium flavor, and Prosciutto for a salty and medium flavor.
- Spreads: You can also add spreads such as hummus, stone ground mustard, etc. Mix it up and get creative with it!
Nutrition information on In the Kitch is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. It may not include toppings and/or sauces.
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This a very helpful post because I really wouldn’t know how to put one of these together and have always wanted to! Thanks for the information – now I have somewhere to refer back to.
I’m so glad we could help, thank you Terri. 🙂
We are charcuterie fans in my family. There is always one at every gathering, and sometimes it’s the whole meal. Nice step by step!
Thank you Colleen. We sometimes eat it as a meal as well, why not?!
You have no idea how helpful this is! I love entertaining with food, and getting the main course nailed is easy, but I struggle with serving the correct appetizers. I love charcuterie boards, but the process of setting one up properly has always intimidated me… You did a great job of laying it all out for us. Thank you! So glad I found this.
Thank you Nick! That was definitely my goal so I’m so glad you found this helpful!