Want to learn how to make and serve the BEST Charcuterie Board? Check out these homemade tips and the #1 mistake you must avoid.
This post is all about How To Make A Perfect Charcuterie Board They’ll Obsess Over.
What is charcuterie, you ask? The word originates in France and means the products of a pork butcher. In the beginning, charcuterie was just a collection of cold, cured meats. But since these boards have become wildly popular trays to serve at parties, other foods such as cheese, crackers, artisan bread, nuts, and fruit have been added to complement the meats taste.
Whether you’re learning how to make a charcuterie board as a beginner or you need some new charcuterie ideas, you’ve come to the right place! This step-by-step instructional recipe will guide you through making a unique charcuterie with homemade cheeses and chocolates as an option.
We’ll also discuss the best cheeses and meats to serve and why the board you buy matters a lot! While these boards aren’t hard to put together, according to the experts, there are some common mistakes novice charcuterie servers make, and we’ll discuss every detail on how to avoid them.
How To Make A Perfect Charcuterie Board They’ll Obsess Over
Unique Charcuterie Board Ideas
To make a unique charcuterie platter, you must fill it with complementary sides that will make the taste of your cured meats stand out deliciously. Fruits, vegetables, and crackers are known to cleanse the palate, which means you can taste a variety of meats and cheeses without your taste buds going into overdrive.
Surprisingly, dark chocolates are known to clean the palate as well. Be sure to check out these easy-to-make homemade chocolates that will add the WOW factor to your board. We’ll discuss more charcuterie board ideas below in a step-by-step breakdown.
The ONLY Charcuterie Board You’ll Need
First off, you must have a legit board when serving charcuterie. Whether you’re making a small charcuterie board for two or a whole group of people, Smirly makes a wooden board set (8,500 five-star reviews on Amazon) that comes with a large bamboo party plate and two pull-out drawers.
It also includes an additional round tray, four knives, two sauce bowls, four small forks, a wine opener, and more! These board sizes are perfect because you can choose which ones you want to fill depending on the size of your party.
Purchase the Smirly Charcuterie Board Set on AMAZON.
Best Charcuterie Board Meats
According to bon appetit, cured hard sausages like pepperoni or chorizo are great contrasting flavorful meats to include. Prosciutto is another charcuterie favorite. The experts suggest visiting a good butcher or specialty food shop if your budget allows it.
The meats I included on my board were prosciutto, salami, and pepperoni. Aldi’s has a great selection of meats and European cheeses, especially if you’re trying to keep costs low but still want high-quality. Trader Joe’s is another excellent option.
Best Meats Recap:
- Soppressata (a type of salami)
- Calabrese ( a spicy type of salami)
Best Charcuterie Board Cheeses
When choosing your cheeses, the charcuterie board experts at Food&Wine suggest keeping these three rules in mind:
- Consider a variety of textured cheeses like Brie (soft), Gruyere (semi-soft), aged Gouda, or Parmigiano-Reggiano (semi-firm to firm).
- Choose milky cheeses like Ricotta, Parmesan, and again Brie. Better yet cheeses made primarily with goat’s milk like Chabrin add a tangy contrast to your board.
- Keep flavors varietal by not skipping mild cheeses like Mozzarella. For a rich punch add Blue cheese.
The cheeses I included on my charcuterie platter were brie cheese baked in a puff pastry dough, a homemade jalapeno popper cheese ball, and a homemade spicy ricotta cheese spread. You can follow the cheese spread recipe included in the pinwheel recipe.
If you want to make ricotta cheese from scratch, you can follow the recipe here. Lastly, I purchased a Panino tray from Aldi’s that included a trio of mozzarella cheese slices wrapped in hard salami, prosciutto, and pepperoni.
Best Cheeses Recap:
- Spicy Ricotta Cheese Spread (This recipe can be found inside the pinwheel appetizer recipe. Just scroll down.)
Add Fruits And Vegetables
Adding apples, figs, or citrus fruits to a charcuterie board can complement the tastes of cheeses while also cleansing the palate so you and your guests can enjoy the subtle flavors from each meat and cheese.
I added grapes, strawberries, and peaches to my board, and each one was a hit! I used the round board that came with my Smirly set to display the fruits separately from the meats, cheeses, and crackers.
According to Williams Sonoma, pairing olives (green or black) with goat cheese is a favorite pairing for a charcuterie board. For my board, I paired green olives, grape tomatoes, and cut-up artichokes.
Nuts, Jams, And Chocolates
What Nuts Should I Add?
Adding something salty and crunchy to your charcuterie board is a must! Think pecans, almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios.
I added a blend of nuts from the brand Main & Geary, which I bought from BevMo! It was perfect for my board, and it included the nuts mentioned above.
While some charcuterie boards include honey, I opted to add an apricot marmalade and a hot and sweet pepper jelly. The marmalade was a delicious additive to the warm baked brie appetizer.
The Hot and Sweet Pepper Jelly is one of the best things I’ve EVER tasted, and it pairs well with everything on a cheese board or charcuterie platter! You can purchase both of these on Amazon, or the pepper jelly is also available at Trader Joe’s.
Purchase Five-Star Apricot Jam on AMAZON.
Purchase (to-die-for) Hot and Sweet Pepper Jelly on AMAZON.
As mentioned earlier, dark chocolate is a great palate cleanser, and it tastes excellent too when added to a charcuterie board. I made homemade chocolate-covered pecans that were dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white.
They’re easy to make and are slightly salty and sweet snacks. And, your guests will LOVE them.
What Crackers Should I Use?
Salted crackers, seeded crackers, and water crackers are great for a charcuterie board. Also, sliced baguettes and artisan slices of bread are perfect options too.
Here’s a list of the BEST crackers according to expert staffers at bon appetit:
Mistakes To Avoid
The #1 Mistake
Let’s talk SERVING SIZES. Do you know the number of people who will be enjoying the deliciousness of your charcuterie board?
The #1 mistake beginners make with their board is not having enough meat and cheese for everyone. Allow 3-4 slices of meat (in variety) per person and about 2 ounces of cheese (in variety) per person.
The #2 Mistake
Adding too much variety or too little to your board is the second worse mistake a beginner can make. Let’s face it, cheese is expensive, and you want to remember what you’re tasting.
Adding at least four or five different kinds of cheese (hard and soft) adds enough variety without over or underdoing it. Also, don’t be afraid to add robust and nutty varietal cheeses like gorgonzola and parmesan. Those pair well with honey and jams and allow the palate to expand.
The #3 Mistake
Cold cheese is a BIG No, No. Set out the cheese at least 30 minutes before guests arrive. Room temperature cheese allows your company to enjoy the scents and flavors of the different cheeses on your board.
How To Make A Perfect Charcuterie Board For Beginners, Step-By-Step
Step 1: First, pick the PERFECT board.
Step 2: Add the small dishes of chocolates, jams, nuts, and cheese spread to your board. Be sure to include plenty of cheese knives.
Step 3: Add your cheeses. Remember 4 to 5 different kinds of cheese are best. Avoid adding large blocks of cheese. Instead, cut them up into 1-2 inch slices.
Step 4: Add your meats. Lay them into piles next to the cheeses. You can fan them out flat or fold them into loose rolls.
Step 5: Add the crackers and bread close to the meats and cheeses around the outside of the board.
Step 6: Fill in the holes on your board with fruits and vegetables, or add them onto a separate smaller board near the main charcuterie board.
Step 7: Serve and Enjoy!
Charcuterie Facts & Questions
How Big Or Small Should A Charcuterie Board Be?
How big or small your board is will all depend on the size of your party. If you’re serving a small charcuterie for two or three people, stick with a board that’s approximately 10 x 10 this way, you will still have plenty of room for variety. If serving ten people or more, go with the 13 x 13 board. The Smirly board set includes both sizes.
How Early Can You Prepare A Charcuterie Board?
Cut up your cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and meats the night before, but store each in separate air-tight containers, so they all keep their organic tastes and smells. Build the board on the day of your party.
How Do You Put Prosciutto On A Charcuterie Board?
Because this meat is delicate and thin, it’s best to fold it into a roll loosely. Or you could fold it in half.
How Do You Make Homemade Charcuterie?
You can start by making homemade cheeses such as ricotta and my jalapeno popper cheese ball that complement cured meats. And once you’ve made the ricotta, you can make a spicy ricotta dip (you can find this dip recipe in the pinwheel recipe). Oh, and don’t forget the homemade chocolates!
What To Put On A Charcuterie Board?
Be kind to yourself here. There are no “real rules” when it comes to what you should include. Just think of textured variety when you pick out your meats and cheeses. And have fun when picking out the sides.
Cheap Charcuterie Board Ideas On A Budget
If visiting a fancy cheese or specialty meat shop is not in your budget, head to your nearest Aldi’s or Trader Joe’s.
Aldi’s is a grocery store that originated in Germany and has made its way out to the USA, and wow, they do have some delicious meats and European cheeses. And you can’t beat their prices!
Best Charcuterie Board Ideas
Do you need more charcuterie inspiration? Check out this best-selling book that gives unique board ideas for any charcuterie occasion!
Purchase Beautiful Boards: 50 Amazing Snack Boards For Any Occasion on AMAZON.
How To Make A Perfect Charcuterie Board They’ll Obsess Over
- Charcuterie Board
- Cheese Knives
- Small dishes
Charcuterie Board Ingredients
- Pick 3-4 types of meats. Include spice and variety.
- Pick 4-5 different cheeses. Include textures like soft and hard cheeses. Also, pick mild and robust flavors.
- Pick the fruits you want. I chose three different fruits, grapes, peaches, and strawberries.
- Pick vegetables like olives, artichokes, and grape tomatoes.
- Pick 2 or 3 different crackers or, slices of bread.
- Fill in your board with garnishes like nuts and chocolates.
- Pick honey, jams, or marmalades. I used Hot and Sweet Pepper jelly and Apricot marmalade.
Charcuterie Board Instructions
- First, pick the perfect board.
- Add the small dishes of chocolates, jams, nuts, and cheese spread to your board. Be sure to include plenty of cheese knives.
- Add your cheeses. Remember, 4 to 5 different kinds of cheese are best. Avoid adding large blocks of cheese. Instead, cut them up into 1-2 inch slices.
- Add your meats. Lay your meats in piles next to the cheeses. You can fan them out flat or fold them into loose rolls.
- Add the crackers and bread close to the meats and cheeses around the outside of the board.
- Fill in the holes on your board with fruits and vegetables, or add them onto a separate smaller board near the main charcuterie board.
- Serve and enjoy!
Final Thoughts On How To Make A Perfect Charcuterie Board They’ll Obsess Over
I hope you found this “How To” on making the perfect charcuterie board helpful. Whether you’re a beginner or just in need of a few new charcuterie board ideas, this article covers everything you need to know and more!
If you have any questions or tips, let me know below in the comments. You can also follow career girl meets… on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more home decor ideas, recipes, and gift guides.
Baked Goat Cheese Dip Appetizer
LOVED reading this!! So good!
Donna Coveny says
What a great timely article. The holidays are not far away!
Thank you for your wonderful explanation on how to put together the perfect charcuterie, and the combination of foods to select.
You have made it look easy!
I can’t wait to try your recipes.