But first, let’s briefly discuss charcuterie (pronounced "shahr-kyu-tuh-ree"). This term describes the art of preparing and assembling cured meats and other meat products. So, a charcuterie board (less commonly referred to as a charcuterie platter), refers to an assortment of meats that are paired with a variety of different accompaniments, from breads and crackers to fruits and cheeses to sauces and dips.
How to Make a Charcuterie Board to ImpressPutting together your first charcuterie board doesn’t need to be intimidating or overwhelming. To make a really impressive (and delicious) completed board, include a good assortment of meats, cheeses, bread, crackers, dips, olives, fresh and dried fruits, berries, nuts, and preserves. While you’ll want to include items from each of these various categories, feel free to play around with the specific ingredients you choose for each one.
1.MeatsMeats and cheeses (see below) are typically the focus of a charcuterie board, so you’ll want to include a good mix of different types of meat, especially if this will be served as a meal and not just as an appetizer. Get about 4-5 ounces of total meat per person and have it sliced thin so you can roll it or fan it out. Some popular choices include:
- Smoked turkey
2.CheesesFor a well-rounded charcuterie board, you’ll want to include a variety of soft and hard cheeses to give the palate some different textures. Get two to three ounces of each cheese per person. Some cheeses you may want to include:
- Aged Gouda
- Chèvre (Goat cheese)
3. Breads and CrackersInclude two or three bread varieties from the following:
- Sliced baguettes (ideal for spreading creamy cheeses)
- Ciabatta loaves
- Country-style French bread
- Artisan sourdough
- Crostini (great to have if serving pâté)
- Crispy sea salt baked crackers
4. Fruits and VegetablesFill in the board with some of your favorite fruits and vegetables, which provide the perfect opportunity to add color and visual appeal to your board. Below are some ideas:
- Mini carrots
- Grape tomatoes
- Sugar snap peas
- Red and green grapes
5. Salty and Sweet ItemsAlways include a few sweet and a few sour ingredients in your charcuterie board. Sweet preparations like jams (as well as fruits above) are ideal to balance sharper flavors, while acidic and salty items like olives cut through the fat of meats and cheeses.
- Kalamata olives
- Black currant jelly
- Lemon curd
- Hummus (try homemade hummus)
- Artichoke spinach dip
Elevate Your Board with These Charcuterie RecipesTo really wow your guests and take your charcuterie board to the next level, you’ll want to take the extra step of making some dips that perfectly complement just about any charcuterie board arrangement.
- Homemade Hummus (as listed above)
- Onion Obsession Dip (from our Quick and Easy Dips Recipe)
- Coastal Ranch Dip (from our Quick and Easy Dips Recipe)
- Easy Sriracha Aioli Recipe
- Garlicky Herb Dip Recipe
Putting on the Final TouchesFinish your charcuterie board strong with the following tips:
- Select beautiful and practical serve ware that will be both beautiful vessels for presenting your food, as well as be easy and practical for guests to gather their food from. A combination of wooden cutting boards, decorative serving platters, and eye-catching dip bowls always creates a lovely display.
- Provide serving tools such as quality cheese knives, a small dish for olive pits and spoons for jarred jams.
- Place all of the boards and trays down the center of the table.
- Fill bowls with olives, spreads, and dips and set them on alternating sides of the boards.
- Arrange your meats and cheeses first, evenly distributing them so no one has to reach over anyone. Arrange larger items like breads and vegetables next. Fill in blank spots with fruits, crackers, and nuts.
- Garnish the meats with a sprinkling of high-quality salt.
- Top cheese with a few pink pepperberries, which add gorgeous color and provide a sweeter, more exotic flavor than peppercorns.
- Dress up fruits with just a sprinkling of coconut sugar.