Last Updated on 29th July 2022 by Pauline Loughlin
Have you ever been absolutely blown away by the selection and design of a charcuterie board and thought about making your own? A beautiful array of finger foods can make for a great addition to your meal or a lovely snack on its own.
It could be an appetizer or even a dessert. I’ll run down the basics of making a charcuterie board so you can feel confident in putting together your own.
What Is a Charcuterie Board?
Generally speaking, a charcuterie board is a piece of hardwood that’s been covered with a variety of foods in a pleasing array. Most of these foods, if not all of them, will be finger foods, meant to be eaten without utensils or even in dishes. You can simply grab them and go.
The types of food that make up a charcuterie board will depend on what the occasion is and what the purpose of the board is. These could be dessert items, fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses, breads, and more. There are some traditional options that typically comprise a charcuterie board, but really the selection is up to you.
What to Put on a Charcuterie Board?
Let’s get a little more specific about what you might put on one of these boards. One of the classic charcuterie board selections is a meat and cheese array. These would be like cold cut meats, like turkey, ham, and salami. And they would often be accompanied by a selection of cheeses, perhaps mozzarella, Swiss, cheddar, and pepper Jack.
Complementing these maybe a variety of crackers, so guests can take meat and cheese and put them on the crackers, eating them all together as a snack they’ve mixed and matched to their liking.
You could also do an array of fruits for your charcuterie board.
You would get the best results with fruits that aren’t messy and that are bite size, whether they’re naturally that size or they’ve been cut that way.
So, slices of apples, strawberries, pineapple, and pears could be arranged on the charcuterie board alongside blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and grapes. You may also want to include some sort of dip for the fruits as well, like a chocolate sauce, cream cheese dip, or caramel dip.
You could also do a veggie charcuterie board, with slices of carrots, celery, broccoli, and cauliflower, along with dipping sauces like ranch or blue cheese.
We love Paul from Honeybee Hobbyist’s recommendation to add raw honeycomb to a charcuterie board for a mix of sweet and savory. You can also try fun ingredients like dates, chocolate, a variety of nuts, and even fresh herbs or flavored salts to sprinkle on your meat and cheese.
This gives you some idea of what is on a charcuterie board, but you don’t have to stick with these classic selections.
What Is Charcuterie?
Charcuterie is actually considered an artisanal craft. It takes skill to put together a board that’s not only aesthetically pleasing but that also entices the palate. Arranging the food is an art, as is preparing it in a way that makes each item look visually appealing.
There’s a craft to choosing what foods to include and what not to include. Thought has to go into whether foods need to be kept refrigerated or whether they can be served at room temperature.
Not just any food can be added to the charcuterie board. It needs to compliment the larger meal, if it is served as an appetizer or an entree.
The taste, preferences, and allergies of the guests need to be considered as well, there should be a large variety of food on a charcuterie board, enough to accommodate people who want an engrossing culinary experience and not just a light snack.
While anyone can put together a charcuterie board, designing one well and making it memorable takes skill, patience, and time. It’s the kind of thing that you’ll get better at as you attempt it.
There’s actually a lot of material you can research and recipe ideas you can use to make your charcuterie board really stand out. You could make a simple meat and cheese tray, but charcuterie tends to be more than that.
Once you look at some of the Instagram and Pinterest ideas for charcuterie boards, you’ll get a new appreciation for how complex these can be and what makes them a step or two above a simple meat and cheese platter.
How to Arrange a Charcuterie Board
Let’s talk about how you might actually put together your board and arrange it in such a way that it looks good and makes sense.
There are a lot of different arrangements you could go with, and one of the more common ones is to create a centerpiece for the charcuterie board and then work your other items around that. That would mean you have your main food in the middle, of which there is more than anything else on the board.
This could be something that most of your guests would like to eat. And around that piece you can add all your other items, arranging them in a way where they point to that middle item or spread out from that, depending on the shape and type of foods you’re using.
There’s another design you could go with that makes the primary food of the charcuterie board something that’s sprinkled throughout the board. So, let’s say that grapes are your main charcuterie food. You can place clusters of grapes all throughout the board, and then arrange other foods around those clusters.
Another visually pleasing way to create your board is to set up rows of foods along the board. Maybe you could have a meat row, a cheese row, a fruit row, and a cracker row.
You can mix things up and create multiple rows that all have some variety to them, creating a row with meat, cheese and crackers together, and then another row with a separate selection of meats, cheeses and crackers. This arrangement is visually stunning and yet orderly and sensible.
These are just a few ideas to get you started, and you may want to spend some time looking online at charcuterie boards for inspiration. You can get some really good ideas that can makes yours stand out.
I'm Pauline, a retired patisserie chef, mother of four and now a full time food blogger! When i'm not cooking i love long walks, reading thriller novels and spending time with my grandkids. Head to my about me page to learn more about the woman behind the food! You can find my Facebook here