How To Make An Epic Charcuterie Board
I’ve always been a huge fan of charcuterie boards ever since I could remember. Whether you’re hosting a cocktail dinner party with friends, a date night with your special someone, or an quiet night in with your girl friends – they’re the perfect (and super easy) addition to your table. I remember snacking on meat and cheese boards growing up during holidays like Christmas Eve or New Years Eve when we would traditionally have a variety of hors d’oeuvres for our meal. Meanwhile, Rob and I use to do charcuterie boards all the time for a simple date night meal when we were in college and when we first got married. (Now, I’m totally wondering why that stopped being a thing?!)
Not to mention, charcuterie boards are the perfect ‘grazing’ board for having a quiet night in with your girl friends as you sit around the table – whether that be a dining room table or a coffee table. A few weeks ago I was thinking about how much my bible study girlfriends had been there for me when Layne passed away. I got the itch to do something special for them that would show my appreciation and how much they each mean to me. After some thought, I decided to love on them the one way I knew best – hosting them at my home for bible study. I’m talking sparking cider, an overflowing charcuterie board, and cake from my favorite baker in the Atlanta area (Cake Envy).
So that brings us here.
When I posted a picture to my Facebook and Instagram, everyone went crazy for it. To be honest, I decided only after how epic this charcuterie board came out that I would share my secrets with hopes that you’d love on your people well by making them make one too. So with that being said, today on the blog I’m going to share my secrets on how-to make an epic charcuterie board!
Charcuterie Board 101
I think one of my favorite things about making charcuterie boards is that they are both like a puzzle and a work of art. They are like a puzzle in the way that you want to fit as much on the board as possible. Meanwhile, they are like a piece of art as you build the boards to combine flavors, colors, and textures.
Start with the Basics: Boards
The perfect charcuterie board actually starts with the board itself. I’m always about using what you already have to love on your guests well, so keep in mind that you could always do this on a glass serving platter if you don’t have a specific charcuterie board. However, on the other hand, I must say that a hostess kitchen isn’t complete without a beautiful cheese board. They come in all shapes, materials, sizes, and colors. But if you are picking out a wood board, you’ll want to make sure that it is food safe. I got mine from Target, and you can shop it [HERE].
In addition to your charcuterie board, you’ll need a few small dip bowls for spreads. You could put the spreads directly on the board itself, but I prefer to put them in mini dip bowls so that it doesn’t get on the food (in case someone didn’t want it!) Mine are the Lenox French Perle that match my everyday china. You can shop them [HERE].
You’ll also need some cheese spreaders. If it’s a smaller group I’m hosting (like my bible study girl friends), I like to give one to each person enjoying the board so that they have their own spreader to graze the board with however they please. If you’re hosting a cocktail party or a larger group, you can place the spreaders throughout the board next to the softer goat cheeses and spreads. Regarding my spreaders you’ll see in the photos: I’ve had mine for a while, so I don’t exactly remember where they are from. But, you can find some really cute and inexpensive ones from Target.
Filling Your Board
When it comes to making the perfect charcuterie board, it’s about catering to a variety of tastebuds. Whether you’ve got charcuterie loving friends or some that have never had it before, you want each of them to be able to enjoy it. It’s all about choosing a wide variety of meats, cheeses, and foods that can be mixed and matched to create the ultimate grazing experience.
When it comes to choosing meats for your charcuterie board, you’re going to want to choose a variety of cured meats to give your guests some options. I included some of my favorites in the board below – pepperoni, different types of salami, and prosciutto. They are really basic and definite crowd pleasers!
Who doesn’t like cheese? Pair a variety of soft and hard cheeses with the cured meats that you picked out to please a variety of different palettes. You can also appeal to a sweet or savory side like I did with the spicy pepper jelly covered goat cheese and then the crushed sweet blueberry covered goat cheese in the photo below. When I’m making a charcuterie board for a crowd, I like to stick with the basics. I tend to stay away from stinky cheeses for charcuterie boards unless I specifically know that my friends enjoy them. Some of my favorites that I included in the board below include Cheddar, Mozzarella, Goat Cheese, Gouda, and Brie.
Even with the crackers, I want to cater to my guests’ different tastebuds. Water crackers are a charcuterie board staple, so I like to fill the board with a regular water cracker as well as a multigrain water cracker. (Once again, it’s all about catering to everyone!) In addition to water crackers, I also love to include mini toasts for people to enjoy with softer cheeses like the goat cheese logs below. They are easier to spread on than the water crackers, so they don’t break as easily.
A charcuterie board wouldn’t be complete without something savory for your guests to enjoy between tastings. Black or green olives are a great starting point, and you can also add in petite pickles. I did this for my board below. Meanwhile, if you want to go a step further as a charcuterie board professional, you can add artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, or pickled okra and peppers.
When it comes to including dips and spreads on your charcuterie board, it’s about appealing to both the sweet and savory. It’s also about having options to mix and match as your guests explore new flavors. My charcuterie board spread essentials include both hot and sweet mustards, honey, and some kind of preserves or jam. This chili fig spread from Kroger was a GAME CHANGER. It has a sweet and subtle heat that is perfect for any spice lovers. I will never do a charcuterie board without it. Heck, I don’t want to do just cheese and crackers without it.
Like with olives and pickles, I like to include some fresh and dried fruits for people to cleanse their palette with in between tastings. Maybe it’s the stylist in me, but I like including fruits that are not only crowd pleasers but also rich in color to help break up the board for the eyes. As you can see in my board below, I did this with dried apricots and fresh blackberries and cherries. Grapes would also be a great addition if you had gaps that you needed to fill with a larger bunch.
Nuts are the perfect pairing to go with your fruits and pickled foods to encourage people to graze as they are between tastings. I especially love using almonds, walnuts, and pecans. Next time you put together a charcuterie board, try this: brie on a water cracker with honey, walnut pieces, and cracked pepper.
You’ll thank me later.
To be honest, I just like adding in fresh herbs as a final garnishing touch when the charcuterie board is complete. Not only does it fill in any last gaps, fresh rosemary also creates a finished look and adds a festive touch.
Charcuterie Board Styling Tips
So now that you know what to fill your charcuterie board with, here are some additional styling tips as you put this epic thing together:
Textures and Colors
When styling your epic charcuterie board, you’ll want to keep in mind colors and textures. Spread it out. Don’t put all the dips together, hard cheeses together, meats together, etc. It’s kind of hard to explain in a written blog post, but you want to arrange things in a way that creates little triangles in your mind. By doing this, you keep everything ‘balanced’ for the eye to keep it less overwhelming-feeling for your guests. It creates a naturally pleasing-to-the-eye spread that makes grazing easy and not overwhelming.
If you’re totally confused by my last paragraph, a great rule of thumb to go by is to keep grazing patterns in mind. In addition to styling the board to be visually appealing and balanced, I like to put things likely paired together close. For example, honey is really delicious drizzled over brie on water crackers. Not to mention, mustards with salamis and harder cheeses go great together. Hence why they were placed next to each other on my board.
Fill it up!
Charcuterie boards are only epic when they are massive and overflowing. Charcuterie boards are suppose to look full! Don’t be afraid of adding too much food. To cater to a variety of taste buds, you’re going to want a large variety of options and combinations to choose from. Not to mention, you’ll want enough for everyone to enjoy!
Extras / Re-fills
If I have extras as I am assembling the charcuterie board (ie. crackers, cheese, meats, etc), I will place them on the kitchen counter off to the side. If I notice my guests really fell in love with something and it runs out, I’ll re-fill that section of the board so the tastebud party won’t end!
Don’t overthink it too much!
Oh, friend. You’re a perfectionist like me. But please know that charcuterie boards are kinda fool proof. Don’t overthink it too much! When you get down to the root of it, it’s really about fostering conversation, making memories, and loving on your people well. Make your charcuterie board as unique as you are!
Well, there you have it, friends! I hope this post inspires you to get some of your favorite people together around your table and love on them well with an epic charcuterie board. Are you a meat and cheese board kind of person? What’s a must-have on your charcuterie board? Tell us in a comment below!