How To Make A Charcuterie Board (2024)

When we wanted to learn how to make an impressive cheese board for parties, we turned to specialty foods purveyor Sam Starr. Sam can always be counted on to present a balanced, thoughtful, and delicious array. She walked us through selecting and combining our components, breaking it down into simple rules of thumb that instantly gave us the confidence to volunteer for charcuterie duty. Read on for her guidelines to making a perfect charcuterie board every time.

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How to Make a Charcuterie Board

What Is A Charcuterie Board?

A charcuterie board is an assembly of meats, cheeses, fruits, nuts, and other snacks. It can be as simple or elaborate as you want. We often start with a simple wooden cutting board, but you can use any platter or large, flat serving dish. As far as tools go, small knives are always a good pick. They work well for both cutting and slicing and spreading jams and jellies. (For an excellent all-in-one knife that also opens your bottles of beer and wine, check out the Provisions Corkscrew Knife.)

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Charcuterie Board Ideas

Charcuteries Cheeses

There are so many options for cheeses that it can get overwhelming. To make it simple, focus on having variety in textures and milk types. Depending on the size of your board, you should have one each of cow, sheep, and goat options with soft rind, firm, and hard cheeses in the mix. Flavors should range between nutty and mild to funky and unique.

Rule of thumb: 1 cow, 1 sheep, 1 goat; 1 soft, 1 firm, 1 hard.

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Charcuterie Meat Ideas

When choosing meats for your boards, the colors, flavors, and sizes should all vary. Choose different sizes of meat, such as small and large salamis, then toss whole-muscle cuts into the mix. (Confused about whole-muscle cuts? 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.

Rule of thumb: 1 small salami, 1 large salami, 1 whole-muscle meat.

"When choosing meats and cheeses, variety is the spice of life," Sam advises. You could focus on the meats of one region (Italy, France, Spain, or domestic) or create a spread of your favorites. Try new things, take risks, and offer contrasts.

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Crackers and Breads

When choosing types of bread or crackers, remember to go for multiple colors and textures. Bread acts as a vehicle for layering dips, cheeses, and meat, creating customizable bites that play to each person’s preference. For instance, consider a thinner, flavor-neutral butter cracker and a more complex, heartier cracker like rye or sourdough. Add a flavored cracker that features herbs, like dill or rosemary, or fruit, like cranberry.

Rule of thumb: 1 type of cracker for each type of cheese you have featured. Ensure they’re contrasting flavors and textures.

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This category encompasses the little miscellaneous snacks that add some extra flavor. Dress up any board with a wide assortment of accompaniments, or keep it simple with just a few of your favorites. Rustic boards call for items spread all over the board with very little structure, whereas a more composed board will have things in individual containers, creating a polished and tidy board. Get creative when selecting accompaniments, but you can't go wrong with Spanish figs, Marcona almonds, honeycomb, caramelized pecans, olives, and cornichons.

Rule of thumb: Variety: salty, sweet, spicy, acidic, savory; pickled, dried, fresh, soft, crunchy.

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Charcuterie Sauces and Dips

Whether sweet or savory, include a few spreadable additions like honey, jams/jellies, or a hot dip such as the classic spinach and artichoke or this delicious smoked salmon dip. A hot dip is easily prepared in a small cast iron skillet in the oven or stovetop. And no need to transfer the dip to another container: cast iron adds a great rustic touch to your charcuterie board and leaves you with minimal cleanup.

For your spreadables, consider a smaller jar or cup, such as a small espresso cup (available in several colors to match your mood). Add small knives or spoons to make spreading a breeze and to keep the flavors separate.

Rule of thumb: incorporate 1-2 varieties of sweet jam (like cherry and fig) with a savory option, such as pepper jelly or an onion jam. Add in a hot dip if you’re looking to add a little extra coziness.

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Seasonal Beverages

Wine is the go-to choice for a charcuterie board. Choose a wine that complements your current season, like a chilled Sauvignon Blanc in summertime. In chillier months, consider a full-bodied red, like Merlot. If you’re a wine connoisseur, choose wines that directly complement the cheeses you’re serving.

Another good option for a charcuterie board is cider, particularly in fall: serve it hard or non-alcoholic, mulled or chilled. The crisp, bright flavor of authentic apple cider can mimic a fine wine and goes well with the varying flavors of your board.

Rule of thumb: Offer whatever your guests prefer best - but it’s always a good idea to have a few different beverages, including at least one non-alcoholic option.

A brief note: A lot of people get hung up on quantities. Sam suggests having one ounce of cheese per person and 3-4 slices of each variety of meat per person to ensure everyone gets a taste of each item. If people will be waiting for the main course for an extended period, err on the side of abundance.

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Vegetarian or Vegan Charcuterie Board

When creating a meat-free charcuterie board, you want substance and options.

If you’re abstaining from meat but still open to other animal products, keep the cheeses and honey and consider adding a can/tin or two of your favorite high-end fish: canned oysters in olive oil, for example, or mild sardines. These replacements can add in a little protein and allow you to customize even further - or add in a hot crab dip. Or, simply swap out imitation meats as you desire.

If you’re going fully vegan, simply swap with imitation meats and cheeses as desired - or simplify the board altogether. A wealth of dried fruits and pickled vegetables will help build the board and take the place of the cheese and meats. Include plenty of accompaniments such as Marcona almonds, caramelized pecans, Pajero figs, cornichons, olives, green peppercorn mustard, and membrillo. Stick with savory vegan spreads like baba ganoush, hummus, or tapenade, as well as your favorite sweet jams and jellies.

Make Your Simple Charcuterie Board


1 Meat, 1 Cheese.

Keep it simple and elegant.

Cheese: Choose a crowd pleaser like a semi-hard cow's milk cheese.

Meat: Opt for an uncontroversial whole-muscle cut. Serrano ham is a good choice.

Accompaniments: Marcona almonds, Castelvetrano olives, and sel gris crackers.


2 Meats, 2 Cheeses.

Add a little variation in texture and color.

Cheese: Think opposites. One soft goat cheese and one hard cheese made from cow's milk.

Meat: One whole muscle and one salami will please the eye and palate. Hit different tasting notes by pairing a cold smoked and spiced ham with a salami boasting bright flavors like lemon and pistachio.

Accompaniments: Caramelized pecans, French green olives, dried apricots and dates, baguette and whole wheat flatbread crackers.


4 Meats, 4 Cheeses...and all the goodies.

Go all out.

Cheese: With more room, you can hit every group of milk variety and texture. For example, you might choose a hard sheep's milk cheese, a semi-firm goat cheese, a soft cow's milk cheese, and a blue cheese.

Meats: All sizes and even variation in meats can come in to play. An example spread would include a whole-muscle spiced beef, a whole-muscle smoky pork, a large pork salami with fragrant fennel, and a small salami with the flavors of mole.

Accompaniments: Marcona almonds, caramelized pecans, dried Pajerero figs, cornichons, and olives in a few varieties like lucques, kalamata, and Cerginola olives. Add condiments of green peppercorn mustard and membrillo. Breads could include sel gris crackers, salted almond crackers, and a baguette.

How To Make A Charcuterie Board (2024)


How To Make A 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 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 make a well balanced charcuterie board? ›

Build your charcuterie board with these healthy ingredients.
  1. Meats/Protein. Keep your charcuterie board packed with healthy, lean proteins by including minimally processed, nitrate-free cold cuts and protein alternatives. ...
  2. Cheeses. ...
  3. Vegetables. ...
  4. Fruit. ...
  5. Dips and Spreads. ...
  6. Nuts. ...
  7. Crackers and Bread. ...
  8. Herbs.

What are the rules for making a charcuterie board? ›

When making a charcuterie board, try following the 3-3-3-3 rule:
  1. 3 meats.
  2. 3 cheeses.
  3. 3 starches.
  4. 3 accompaniments.
Dec 14, 2023

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.

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.

What is the key to a good charcuterie board? ›

Five Keys to a Great Charcuterie Board
  • Fruits Should Always Be Seasonal. Make sure whenever you're preparing the charcuterie board, you're using fresh, in-season fruits. ...
  • Keep Color in Mind. Fruits are a great way to bring color into the picture. ...
  • Pair Meats and Cheeses Creatively. ...
  • Presentation is Huge. ...
  • Keep Flow in Mind.
Sep 23, 2019

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).

How many cheeses should be on a cheese board? ›

A good rule of thumb is 1 ounce of each cheese for every guest and about five types of cheese. For a party in which cheese is the main event, plan on buying 3 pounds for eight people, 6 pounds for 16 people, or 9 pounds for 24 people. If cheese is one of many items being served, plan on buying 3 to 4 ounces per person.

How do you make a charcuterie board look professional? ›

Charcuterie Board Styling Tips & Tricks
  1. Consult the guest list. ...
  2. Work with uneven numbers. ...
  3. Keep organized. ...
  4. Start with your bowls or round shapes. ...
  5. Next, move on to your biggest pieces and arrange by category. ...
  6. Avoid same category items touching. ...
  7. Move and adjust as you go. ...
  8. Fill final empty spaces with nuts.
Nov 24, 2021

How do you make a prettiest charcuterie board? ›

Fruits and veggies add color and freshness to a charcuterie or meat and cheese board. They're also a tasty contrast to rich, salty meats and cheeses. When planning which items to include, consider foods that can be eaten whole or cut into slices.

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

Rules to follow for the perfect Charcuterie Board
  • Everything should be easily accessible. Hard cheeses should always be on the outside of the board. ...
  • Something Hard, Something Soft & Something BLUE. ...
  • Meats should stand out! ...
  • Something Sweet & Something Spicy. ...
  • Garnish!
Sep 22, 2019

What is the 3333 rule for charcuterie? ›

Follow the 3333 rule.

To make sure your board is complete, this rule of thumb helps you create a well-balanced and visually appealing board - 3 meats, 3 cheeses, 3 starches, and 3 sweets. The bigger the board, the more you can add!

What goes on a charcuterie board first? ›

How to Arrange a Charcuterie Board
  1. Start by arranging the cheeses on the board.
  2. If using bowls for jams, arrange bowls around the platter.
  3. Fold meats if desired and arrange in empty spots.
  4. Fill empty spots with olives, fruit, nuts, etc.
  5. Add serving utensils to cheeses and jams and honey.
Dec 9, 2021

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 are the basic components of a charcuterie board? ›

The most important elements of a charcuterie board are meats, cheeses, savory accompaniments, sweet accompaniments, and crackers.

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