What is a Charcuterie Board & What Do You Need to Make One

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that charcuterie boards are all the rage in many a culinary circle these days.

They provide guests with a plate to graze from all night long, have a variety of food in one spot, and can look downright stunning.

They’re also very easy to make and versatile. You can tailor a charcuterie board to any taste and occasion.

The classic definition is a tray of cured meats, but that has since expanded to include cheese, fruits, pickled items, nuts, and condiments and spreads like pepper jelly dip, among many other accouterments.

Here are some tips to construct a show-stopping board for your next get together.

Consider Three Overarching Elements

For a well-rounded charcuterie board think about what you can put on it that provides texture, variety, and taste.

You want to capture sweet, salty, crunchy, fatty, and pickled among your flavors.

Get Cheesy

Cheese comes in many varieties, and you should strive to have each of these types on your board.

A spreadable cheese like triple cream pairs with carb vehicles such as crackers and bread.

Soft cheeses like goat cheese and brie are the next step up. Then there are hard cheeses like cheddar and Manchego, which go well with fruit and meats.

Bring the Sweetness

Don’t be afraid to branch out into the sweet category with things like blueberries, dried apricots, marmalade, or chocolate.

Other Great Choices

Some ideal meats for a charcuterie board are prosciutto, mortadella, and calabrese.

Opt for crackers that have flavoring like rosemary crisps or thyme sea salt snacks.

Provide baguette slices to hold heavier cheeses and fruits.

Use spreads like stone ground mustard or hummus for variety. You can also add a variety of jellies and jams, or honey and balsamic for drizzling.

Pick the Right Board

Size matters in charcuterie. Choose a board that will hold enough food to accommodate your party size.

Presentation is also important. You can use a wooden board for a classic look or utilize ones with slate or marble touches for a fancier vibe.

Build in a Specific Order

Once you have the board picked out and your grazing choices made, begin to construct the board in a way that’s appealing and allows for ease of picking what you want from it.

Cheese is often seen as the anchor of a charcuterie board. Choose an odd number of cheeses to space out around the board; 3 for small plates, up to 7 for larger ones.

Next add your meats, but not just in piles. Fold them into shapes or fan them out to make them easy to grab.

Fill in gaps with your savory and sweet accompaniments. Group foods that pair well together in one spot, like sharp cheese, briny foods, and nuts. Sweet eats like jam and fruit can be put close to one another.

Pay attention as well to color. You may have a variety of it depending what you’ve chosen to include. Try to disperse the brighter foods throughout the board.

Finally, close the gap with crackers. Nuts are also a great space filler for tinier crevices.


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