10 Tips for Making the Ultimate Charcuterie Board (2024)

Charcuterie Tray

10 Tips for Making the Ultimate Charcuterie Board (2)

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While I love to make opulent brunch dishes from time to time (a shiny babka, a quiche packed with neatly chopped vegeables, a tray of fat cinnamon rolls) I’ve recently found myself more interested in snack-style meals. And to me, that means a charcuterie board. I’m not talking about a piece of chorizo and a hunk of whatever Cheddar I have in the fridge, but a discerning selection of meats, cheeses, and accoutrements. Of course, I can talk a big game about my interest in putting together such a platter, but it can be a little intimidating when I actually get to the store. So I consulted Elias Cairo, salumist and founder of Olympia Provisions who provided me with his top ten tips for putting together a killer charcuterie board.

1. Factor an amount of meat per person

“As a general rule, serve two ounces of charcuterie per person,” Cairo told me in an email. Like how you might factor one bottle of wine per person at a dinner party, approximating how much meat to serve per person is a great way to avoid overspending and under buying. Not everyone will eat two ounces of meat, but someone is sure to eat less and someone is sure to eat more.

2. Vary textures on the board

Cairo recommends using a mixture of textures, because “variety is pleasing to the eye and the palate.” For example, instead of putting three hard salamis on the board, use some hard salamis like chorizo or sopressata, some thinly sliced meats like jamón or prosciutto, and softer paste like a pâté, mousse, or rillette. This also ties into…

3. Incorporate different flavors of meats

“We like to have a mix in flavors in our meats,” Cairo said. He suggests pairing dry cured salami with smokier sliced meats.

4. Cheese is necessary

Nothing goes better with cured meats than cheese. Cairo recommends two or three cheeses per board, in a variety of textures. “Make sure to get something hard alongside something creamy.”

5. So are carbs

Really, what are meat and cheese without bread? A sliced baguette is a great choice for salty meats and cheeses, as are crackers and and crostini.

6. Empty out the pantry

After all that meat and cheese, you’re going to need something to balance those rich flavors. Cairo suggests accenting the board with acidic pickles, crunchy nuts, whole grain mustard (Maille is his favorite brand), tinned fish, and something sweet like quince jam or a drizzle of honey.

7. Add something warm

Especially in the winter, Cairo likes to add something warm to the board, like a crisped up sausage or warm rillettes. “This way you're pleasing all of the senses,” he said.

8 Try something fresh

“As a general rule of thumb, we like to pair the decadence of charcuterie with something lively or refreshing, like pears or apples, depending on the season,” Cairo said. Figs, pomegranate seeds, and grapes also work well here.

9. Finishing touches make all the difference

Just before serving the board, drizzle the hard and soft meats with good olive oil, then sprinkle the pâté, rillettes, and mousse with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

10. Don't forget the wine

“Nothing pairs better with an epic charcuterie board than wine,” Cairo said. Since there are so many flavors happening on the board, anything goes when it comes to wine, and he recommends having several unique bottles of red, white, rose, and sparkling wine on hand.

10 Tips for Making the Ultimate Charcuterie Board (2024)


10 Tips for Making the Ultimate Charcuterie Board? ›

The 3333 rule applies to the number of foods to create the perfect board. To follow the 3,3,3,3 rule, stick to three cheeses, three meats, three starches, and three accoutrements.

What are 5 tips to making a charcuterie board easy? ›

Here's an easy, step-by-step guide.
  1. Choose your board, platter, or plate.
  2. Lay out your soft and moist ingredients first.
  3. Place your dips and spreads around the board.
  4. Lay out your dry ingredients, like meats, nuts, and hard cheeses.
  5. Top with your choice of garnishings.

What is the 3-3-3 rule for charcuterie board? ›

The 3333 rule applies to the number of foods to create the perfect board. To follow the 3,3,3,3 rule, stick to three cheeses, three meats, three starches, and three accoutrements.

How to build a perfect charcuterie board? ›

I've found the following ratio works great: 4 types of cheese, 4 types of meat, 3 types of bread/crackers, 1 type of chocolate, 2-3 different nuts, 1 jam, 1 honey, and 1-2 types of olives. Cornichons are a non-negotiable for me and I always have them on a charcuterie board!

What are 5 things to avoid on a charcuterie board? ›

CHARCUTERIE // Stop Adding These 10 Ingredients To Your Charcuterie Boards!
  • STINKY CHEESES. The cheese section at the grocery store can be overwhelming and intimidating. ...
  • SPICY FOODS. ...
  • Veggies. ...
  • Allergens and Sensitivities. ...
  • Dips, Sauces and Jams. ...
  • Boring and Bland Foods.
Jan 15, 2023

What is the secret to charcuterie? ›

In addition to balancing flavors (sweet, salty, sour), you also want to balance textures. For cheese, you'll want something hard, medium and soft. For meat, pair a thinly sliced meat (like prosciutto) with something a bit denser (like a salami) and something more spreadable (like a pate).

What are three tips for making your own charcuterie board? ›

  1. Tip #1: Start With How Many People You'll Be Serving. ...
  2. Tip #2: Visit Your Local Cheese Shop. ...
  3. Tip #3: Choose a Variety of Textures, Milk Types, and Cured Styles for your Charcuterie Board. ...
  4. Tip #4: Get Creative With Shapes & Colors. ...
  5. Tip #5: Choose Wines from the Same Region as Your Cheeses.

What should every charcuterie board have? ›

The most important elements of a charcuterie board are meats, cheeses, savory accompaniments, sweet accompaniments, and crackers. Cheeses: choose a variety of hard and soft cheese, and cheese made from different animals (cow, sheep, goat).

What are the best 3 cheeses for a charcuterie board? ›

Here's some of the best cheese for charcuterie boards: Hard cheese: chunks of parmesan, aged gouda, asiago. Firm cheese: gruyere, comte, manchego, colby, cheddar. Semi-soft cheese: havarti, butterkäse, muenster.

What goes first on a charcuterie board? ›

Wheels of cheese or small bowls that hold condiments should be placed first. Start with your largest piece near the center and place all other vessels evenly around the board. - Place cheeses and meats down next.

How do you make an aesthetically pleasing charcuterie board? ›

Use small side dishes to elevate some foods and keep the board neater. Then, use fruit, nuts, and chocolate to fill in the extra spaces. For garnish, use fresh herbs like thyme to add extra decorations. You can also add small sides of sauces and jams.

What is the best shape for a charcuterie board? ›

Round is the most popular shape for medium sized parties, and handle boards is the most popular for smaller parties of 2 or 4. Round contrasts nicely with the shapes of a lot of cheeses and crackers. It is also easy for your guests to enjoy without feeling like they're on the "back side" of the board.

What are the do's and don'ts of charcuterie? ›

However, some general tips for creating and enjoying a charcuterie plate might include choosing a variety of meats and cheeses, avoiding overpowering flavors, and allowing each person to build their own plate according to their preferences.

Are there rules for charcuterie boards? ›

Stick with cuts of meat shaved from a larger piece of meat, like prosciutto or cured, thin-sliced ham, as opposed to blended meat like salami.) The flavors can be paired with the cheeses or chosen for their unique qualities, but always aim to have something spicy, something smoky, and something unexpected.

How do you organize a charcuterie board for beginners? ›

Divide your board into quadrants, and place one type of meat in the middle of each quadrant. There are different ways to place the charcuterie: You can shape slices into a rose-like shape, by rolling them like a cinnamon roll. Little clumps and swirls of cured hams are easy and fun.

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