Have you ever heard of a charcuterie board? If not, it’s simply a French word for a platter of cured meats and cheeses, and sometimes dried fruits, nuts, and pickles. I kept seeing them at events and on appetizer menus in nice restaurants and finally decided to try making my own.
It proved to be a lot of fun to put together and an easy way to make loads of veggies and healthy fats look beautiful and tempting!
How to Make a Charcuterie Board Appetizer
Charcuterie boards all contain a variety of cured meats and cheeses (although if you don’t eat meat, you could leave it off and still make a delicious one). Sometimes they also include a variety of pickled vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, crackers or bread, and a jam or two.
I like to add a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables too. Yes, they’re more frequently included on a crudité platter, but I’m all about offering a wide variety of fresh produce, especially if the charcuterie board is dinner.
I like to have about three or four different meat options on my board — usually one that’s a little spicy and some more kid-friendly options. That way there’s something for everyone!
Here are some meat suggestions:
- Cured chorizo
- Smoked turkey
I look for nitrate-free and pastured/grass-fed meats whenever possible. (A particular favorite I used on my board were the beef sticks from REP Provisions, paired with their pecan butter and some fresh fruit.)
There are so many amazing cheeses out there that it’s easy to go a little overboard. Keep in mind how many people you’ll be serving and try to stick with about five different cheese offerings. I try to pick a variety of textures and flavors and again, include a kid-friendly option.
- A smoky cheese like a smoked cheddar or gouda
- A creamy choice like brie or fresh marinated mozzarella
- Something hard like Parmesan
- An alternate milk cheese like goat cheese
- Something familiar like Colby jack
Pickled foods add a nice tanginess to the richness of the meats and cheeses on a charcuterie board. I love the health benefits of fermented and pickled foods so I usually have several options already on hand. Try some of these:
- Kalamata olives
- Blue cheese stuffed olives
- Pickled onions (only takes 5 minutes to make)
- Pickled beets
- Baby dill pickles
Dried fruits are a pretty straightforward category and also easy to find and select. Just choose whichever fruits appeal to you. Our favorites include dried apricots, mangoes, sun dried tomatoes, apple chips, and cherries.
Optional, but they add a nice texture contrast to the numerous soft foods. Try pistachios, almonds, cashews, or Baruka nuts. I try to buy pre-soaked or soak my own nuts for best digestion.
Crackers aren’t completely necessary, but they are handy for the softer cheeses like goat and brie. Since we don’t consume many grains I usually buy grain-free crackers like these. You can buy plain salted crackers or some flavored with herbs and spices.
Jams and Mustards
A grainy mustard is tasty with some of these meats, and fig or raspberry jam goes wonderfully with brie cheese.
Side note: fig jam is super easy to make. Just simmer dried figs in an equal amount of water, add a splash of lemon juice, and puree! Here are more detailed instructions.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
I like the fresh, clean taste that fruits and veggies add to this board. I try to choose small, bite-size produce. For fruits I mostly use raspberries, blueberries, and grapes. For vegetables I use snap peas, thinly sliced radishes, and mini peppers.
Building a Charcuterie Board
Assembling a charcuterie board is actually a lot simpler than it looks. The first thing to do is to decide on what to use for a board. Any large platter or cutting board will work but they also make cheese boards with all the accessories that work great. (Just keep in mind that once you put all the food on it, it might be quite heavy and awkward to carry. Sometimes it’s easiest to put the board where you want it and then put everything on it.)
After choosing a board, I usually line up all my ingredients on the back of my counter. I group them by category and slice any hard cheeses, meats, and vegetables that need slicing.
If I have anything that needs to be served in a jar or bowl, such as jams, mustards, pickles, and olives, I put them in whatever I’ll be using as serving jars. They’re going to be the tallest components of the display, so I place them on the board first.
Next, I place the meats in piles here and there around and in between the jars. Keep in mind that you don’t need to put out the full amount of everything you have at once. Just put some of it out and refill the board later if need be.
After the meats, I do the same thing with the cheeses, followed by the nuts, dried fruits, and fresh fruits and veggies.
Add any serving utensils such as cheese knives (or butter knives) for the soft cheeses, small spoons for mustard or jam, little sets of tongs, or toothpicks.
And that’s it! It is a little time consuming to get the board ready, but the perk is that there is no cooking involved at all and very little clean up. I consider it a fair trade! Once everything is ready, I can just relax and enjoy.
Charcuterie Board Recipe
- 12 oz cured meats (chorizo, salami, prosciutto, capicola, turkey)
- 12 oz cheese (Parmesan, goat, fresh mozzarella, smoked cheddar or gouda, Colby jack)
- ¼ cup each pickles (choose 2 or 3: baby dills, kalamata olives, green olives, pickled onions, pickled beets)
- ¼ cup each dried fruit (choose 2 or 3: cherries, apricots, apple chips, mango, sun dried tomatoes)
- ¼ cup each nuts (choose 2 or 3: almonds, cashews, pistachios)
- 1½ cup crackers
- ¼ cup mustards and/or jams
- 1½ fresh vegetables (choose 2 or 3: snap peas, cherry tomatoes, sliced radishes, mini peppers)
- 1½ fresh fruits (choose 2 or 3: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes)
- Assemble all the ingredients on the kitchen counter and group by category.
- Slice any hard cheeses and fresh fruits and vegetables that need slicing.
- Put the jams, mustards, pickles, olives, and nuts in small jars or bowls.
- Space the jars and bowls a few inches apart on the board.
- Place the meats and cheeses around and between the jars.
- Add the dried fruits, fresh fruits and vegetables, and crackers to the board.
- Add knives and spoons to soft cheeses, jams, and mustards.
- Serve and enjoy, replenishing as needed.
Have you ever made a charcuterie board? Is there anything I missed that you love?
Discussion (2 Comments)
This is great! Just found your site. Question- I stopped buying cured meats for my family because I learned they have carcinogens What are your thoughts on that?
I look for natural and uncured/naturally cured options. For instance, I love Paleo Valley beef sticks since they are naturally cured and have probiotics.