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The Secrets To A Perfect Charcuterie Board

perfect charcuterie board

First, What Exactly Is Charcuterie?

Charcuterie is our go-to party appetizer for pleasing a crowd. Even if not everyone is a meat eater, there’s literally something for everyone on a well-curated charcuterie board. Whether your charcuterie skillz have never been tested or you’re a prosciutto pairing pro, here are a few tips for creating the perfect board.

Charcuterie, pronounced [shahr-koo-tuh-ree], is the art of curing and/or smoking meats.  These meats, which used to primarily be found at fancy restaurants, you can now buy at most grocery stores.  A charcuterie board may just have meat on it, often though, it also includes cheeses, nuts and fruit to balance flavors – and offer endless mix-and-match opportunities.

Buy the Right Amount Of Charcuterie

How much charcuterie do you need per person? When building your board, plan for between 3-4 slices of meat per person and 1-2 ounces of cheese. For folks who aren’t into meat, you may “budget” up to 4 ounces of cheese for them. This may not seem like a lot, and that’s the idea. Charcuterie is an amuse-bouche (we love any excuse to use that word). Its job is to pique your guests’ appetites for the meal to come. If your board is too robust, it becomes the meal – which is just fine, if that’s what you’re intending.

Think Texture When Preparing A Meat Plate

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). Add accoutrements that are crunchy (nuts and pickles) and chewy (dried fruit).

Why Presentation Matters With A Charcuterie Plate

With charcuterie, how it looks is half the fun. You don’t have to go creating cheese rosettes (though these are pretty cool) but you do want to think about what you’re serving on and plan for any additional items you’ll need. If you’re serving olives with pits, for example, make sure you have a bowl nearby for putting seeds. If you have a particularly soft cheese, you may serve it in a shallow bowl to keep it from running into the other snacks.

Remember Dietary Considerations When Building A Charcuterie Board

While serving everything on the same tray makes for an abundant presentation, it may not be a good idea depending on your guest list. If you have vegetarians in the house, they’ll likely appreciate having the meat served separately. The same is true for folks who may be lactose intolerant. Make sure to also have a selection of gluten-free and corn-free crackers for pairing, and to separate them out as needed.

Let Creativity Be Your Guide

This is the fun part. Once you know who you’re servings and how much to buy, it’s time to let your creativity run wild in putting your board together. In general, a good charcuterie board will have 2-3 types of meat, 2-3 cheeses, 1-2 fruits, 1-2 crackers, nuts, bread,  pickles, mustard and a dip or spread.

The deliciousness of your board depends on the quality of your ingredients. Buy USDA Organic when possible and look for meats that are free from nitrates.

Build The Perfect Charcuterie Plate With Options From These Categories

Meat: Prosciutto, Peppered Salami, Spicy Soppressata, Smoked Country Ham, Serrano Ham and Jamón Ibérico, Pate

Cheese: Swiss Cheese, Gouda, Camembert, Aged Cheddar, Brillat-Savarin, Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Stilton Blue Cheese

Nuts: Pecans, Walnuts, Marcona Almonds, Hazelnuts

Fruit: Go for a mix of dried and fresh fruit, which in addition to pairing well with cheese and meat, adds a pop of color.

Fresh Fruit: Strawberries, Blueberries, Apples, Pears

Dried Fruit: Goldenberries, Deglet Noor Dates, Apricots, Smyrna Figs, Mission Figs

Spreads & Dips: Hummus, Honey, Tapenade, Baba Ganoush, Fig spread

Other Fun Additions: Cornichon, Kale Chips, Figgy Pops, Veggie Pops, Coconut Chips

Check out these swoon-worthy boards to inspire your charcuterie creation.


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