This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
An essential guide to everything about charcuterie boards from what to put on charcuterie boards to the best cheeses for charcuterie to the best wood boards and where to buy ingredients for charcuterie boards. This is the ultimate guide to making the best charcuterie board!
I love making charcuterie boards! That may be the understatement of the year. I get giddy about shopping for ingredients and creating a unique display of meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and spreads. You can get so creative with making your own epic charcuterie board.
It is one of my favorite things to have out as my guests arrive and they now expect it. When my son recently came home from college, it was the first thing he asked if I would make — a large board filled with all of his favorite meats and cheeses.
Charcuterie boards have become a staple at gatherings and events, offering a delightful combination of flavors, textures, and aesthetics. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party, a wine night, or simply craving a sophisticated snack, learning how to create a stunning charcuterie board is a highly valuable skill.
I will share all of my tips for shopping for ingredients and how to assemble the charcuterie board. You will find everything you need to know about what to put on a delicious charcuterie platter.
What is a Charcuterie Board?
A charcuterie board, often pronounced “shahr-koo-tuh-ree,” is a delicious arrangement of cured meats, cheeses, condiments, and various accompaniments such as fruits, nuts, and bread or crackers. It’s a popular appetizer for parties, events, or small get-togethers.
The arrangement of these ingredients on the board is where the artistry comes into play. A well-designed charcuterie board is not only delicious but also beautiful. Meats and cheeses are often arranged on a wooden board, and the use of herbs and garnishes can even mak make it better.
The best charcuterie board is a combination of savory and sweet, soft and crunchy, and bold and mild flavors. There are so many flavor combinations that make it the perfect appetizer since your guests can customize each bite.
What to put on a Charcuterie Board?
There are so many ways to customize your own stunning charcuterie board that is both delicious and beautiful. Here is a list of cheeses, cured meats, fresh fruits, nuts, condiments, vegetables, and more to display.
What are the best cheeses to use:
When choosing the best cheeses for your charcuterie platter, I suggest using a combination of different textures and flavors — creamy, sharp, mild, spicy, tangy, and nutty. I like to include a variety of different cheddar cheeses because it is usually universally loved.
An array of cheeses adds depth to your board. Soft cheeses like Brie and Camembert, hard cheeses like cheddar and gouda, and more adventurous options like blue cheese and goat cheese offer a range of textures and flavors.
- CHEDDAR: Since cheddar is so popular, I like to have a variety of cheddar cheeses from white sharp cheddar to medium cheddar cheese and even a cheddar with scotch bonnet chilies from Trader Joe’s. Pairs nicely with green apples, walnuts, pecans, pears, nuts, honey, grapes, and dates.
- BRIE: A makes a beautiful statement as the centerpiece of a cheese board. You can cut a wedge out of it and top it with fresh blackberries, a drizzle of honey, and a rosemary stem. You can also warm the brie so it is nice and melted which brings out the flavor. Brie pairs well with apples, French bread, cherries, dates, figs, pistachios, and strawberries. When making a Christmas charcuterie board, I like to place a baked brie in the center of the board.
- GOUDA: This cheese is known for its rich, unique flavor and smooth texture. Gouda pairs nicely with apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, and pears.
- GOAT CHEESE: I like to buy cranberry or blueberry sweet goat cheese logs from Costco, Trader Joe’s, or any grocery store. It is perfectly sweet, tangy, and creamy and wonderful to spread on crackers.
- MANCHEGO: A firm, buttery cheese imported from Spain. Manchego cheese pairs well with figs, crusty French bread, fig spread, almonds, green olives, and prosciutto.
- BOURSIN CHEESE: Combines classic Gournay Cheese and mouthwatering herbs and spices and is perfect for spreading on crackers.
- PEPPER JACK CHEESE: If you want to add some spice to your board, pepper jack cheese is the answer. Pairs well with crackers, apples, honey, and pears.
- GORGONZOLA or BLUE CHEESE: People either love or despise bleu cheese so it may be the most polarizing cheese on the cheese board. Gorgonzola Blue Cheese pairs well with apples, honey, pears, almonds, figs, hazelnuts, and candied walnuts.
- BURRATA or MARINATED MOZZARELLA BALLS: Soft, creamy cheese that has a mild flavor is always a popular choice. Mozzarella Cheese pairs well with olive oil, fresh basil, balsamic glaze, prosciutto, tomatoes, Italian cured meats, and olives.
- PARMIGIANO REGGIANO or PARMESAN: The famous Italian cheese is known for its sharp, nutty flavor. Cut it into wedges or crumble it and pair it with figs, pears, dates, prosciutto, balsamic vinegar, walnuts, stone fruits, grapes, and honey.
Tip: Allow for at least 3 ounces of cheese per person, depending on how hungry your guests are. Serve an assortment of shapes, sizes, and types of cheese to give variety.
What cured meats to use:
These savory selections provide the foundation of your board. The salty and smoky flavors of prosciutto and salami contrast beautifully with the richness of the cheeses.
- PROSCIUTTO: A popular Italian cured meat that can be rolled or scrunched to make a ribbon-type design. Pairs well with pears, fig jam, and cheese.
- SALAMI: I suggest using both thinly sliced salami and thick salami to cut into thicker slices (such as Boar’s Head peppered salami stick). I like to fold the salami into fourths and make a long salami river on the board.
- SOPPRESATA, CAPICOLA, and COPPA: Italian dry salami has the perfect amount of saltiness to pair with fresh mozzarella.
What fruits to use:
- GRAPES: I suggest using a combination of both red seedless and green grapes. Grapes give the perfect natural sweetness and crunch to pair with the creaminess of the cheese.
- APPLES: I suggest using crisp, sweet, slightly tart apples such as Honeycrisp, Envy, Fuji, or Gala. Apples pair with cheese perfectly so use an assortment of apples. A sprinkle of Fruit Fresh or lemon juice helps to keep the apples from turning brown.
- NAVEL or BLOOD ORANGES: This adds a bright vibrant orange color to the fruit board and pairs well with the meat and cheeses. You can also use sweetened dried orange slices from Trader Joe’s.
- POMEGRANATES: These unique fruits seen around holiday time make a beautiful showpiece. I like to cut it in half and place it on the board. If you would like to serve it, you can remove the arils from the pomegranate and serve them in a bowl.
- FRESH FIGS: These not only taste amazing and pair so well with cheese, but they also make a stunning presentation.
- RED ANJOU or BOSC PEAR: Known to pair wonderfully with cheese. I like to use both red anjou and green pears to add color and variety to the board.
- DATES: Known as “nature’s candy” because they are perfectly sweet and soft. They pair nicely with both meats and cheeses.
- BERRIES: Berries always pair well with cheese. I suggest an assortment of raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries.
- DRIED FRUITS: I suggest dried apricots, dried oranges or tangerines, and dried cherries. Known for their sweetness. Buy them fresh to make sure they are soft as they can get hard quickly.
What Crackers to use:
Position sliced baguette, crackers, or breadsticks throughout the board. These serve as vehicles for enjoying the meats and cheeses. I like to use a variety of crackers and breads to give plenty of options.
- Butter Crackers
- Water Crackers
- Nut and Seed Crackers
- Whole Grain Crackers
- Entertainment Cracker Assortment
- Rustic Bakery Sourdough Flatbread Crisps
- French Baguette Slices
- Sourdough Baguette Slices
What accompaniments to add to charcuterie board:
Condiments add a burst of flavor to your board. Fig jam and honey complement the cheeses wonderfully, while mustard and olive tapenade provide a tangy contrast to the meats.
- NUTS: I love to use an assortment of nuts such as cashews, macarno almonds, pistachios, and candied pecans.
- OLIVES: I love to buy marinated castelvetrano and kalamata olives from the deli department. You can usually buy them by the pound which helps so you only buy what you need.
- DARK CHOCOLATE or CHOCOLATE COVERED NUTS — for those who want something a little sweet, add some squares of fine dark chocolate or chocolate covered almonds or Brookside chocolate covered fruits.
- HONEYCOMB or HONEY: A drizzle of honey adds that perfect sweetness to balance out the sharpness of the cheese. One of my favorite ingredients to use is fresh honeycomb. It pairs so well with white sharp cheddar and crisp apples.
- JAMS: One of the most popular jams to use is a fig jam. My favorite is the Divina Orange Fig Spread. You can also use all types of jams such as cherry jam, mango pepper jam, apricot jam, or berry jam.
- SPREADS or DIPS: I love to add some easy dips to spread on crackers. An olive tapenade is popular. You can add a cold spinach dip, pimento cheese dip, or even a cheeseball.
- PICKLES: For a tangy, crunchy bite, you can add cornichon pickles. Pickles provide a sweet, salty, and crunchy balance to the board’s richness.
- MUSTARD: I would suggest a whole grain French mustard or honey mustard.
For optimal cheese flavor, bring it to room temperature. The flavors are much more pronounced when cheese is a room temperature.
Where to buy ingredients for the Perfect Charcuterie Board?
Since charcuterie boards have soared in popularity at parties and gatherings, many stores have dedicated large spaces for ingredients for charcuterie boards. Here are my favorite stores to shop for ingredients —
- Costco or Sam’s Club — if you are looking for deals on cured meats and fine cheeses, look no further than Costco. They have large packs of Italian cured meats, big wheels of brie cheese, and imported cheeses from Italy at great prices. You get a lot of bang for your buck at Costco. My favorite items to buy at Costco are Italian cured meats and cheeses and Boursin cheese.
- Trader Joe’s — I have created many charcuterie boards with ingredients only found at Trader Joe’s. If you have one nearby, you can find a wonderful assortment of cheeses, crackers, spreads, and cured meats. They have popular nut and seed crackers, a fig butter, and popular cheeses.
- Aldi’s — If you walk into Aldi’s, you will find an entire aisle dedicated to just charcuterie ingredients at low prices. They have a large selection at decent prices. You may even find a wood board down the home aisle.
- Grocery Store (Fry’s) — I have noticed grocery stores are stepping up their game in the meat and cheese department, with so many offerings. I like to pick up some Murray’s cheese from my local Fry’s marketplace and fun spreads.
- Cheese Shop — If you have a specialty cheese shop nearby, they are perfect for finding unique and high-quality cheeses.
Charcuterie Board DIY:
How to assemble a gorgeous charcuterie spread. I will share all of the tips and tricks for creating a showstopping board perfect as an appetizer for a party or get together.
Remember that the key to designing a beautiful charcuterie board is to let your creativity shine. There are no strict rules, so feel free to experiment with different combinations and arrangements.
Creating an aesthetically pleasing charcuterie board is an art form. Here are some design tips:
1. Choose the Right Board: Choose a wooden or slate board as your canvas. It should be large enough to accommodate all your ingredients but not so large that it looks empty.
2. Grouping and Layering: Place meats and cheeses in small clusters rather than spreading them out uniformly. I suggest starting out with the cheeses and using different shapes. You can cut wedges, cut cheese into cubes, keep it round (like brie), or cut into triangles. Place pops of color throughout.
3. Create Variety: Incorporate a variety of colors and textures. Arrange vibrant fruits, nuts, olives, vegetables, and pickles to complement the charcuterie items. Don’t forget the spreads — fig jam is always a favorite.
5. Garnish: Add fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme or edible flowers.
Serve with small cheese knives and spoons. This makes it easy for your guests to spread creamy cheeses on their crackers or bread.
Where to find wood boards?
Since so many home stores are carrying wood boards, there are so many options. Here are some of my favorite places to find wood boards…
- Home Goods
- TJ Maxx or Marshall’s
- Etu Home
- Crate and Barrel
My favorite place to buy boards is at Home Goods and EtuHome. Here are some of my favorite Etu woods boards…
Creating a beautiful charcuterie board is a delightful blend of creativity and culinary expertise. By following this guide, you can assemble a visually stunning and delectable charcuterie board that will impress your guests and make any gathering memorable.
Whether you’re a seasoned host or a novice, this artful arrangement of flavors and textures is sure to be a hit at your next event. Enjoy the process and savor every bite!
Pin this now to find it laterPin It
How to make the Best Charcuterie Board
- GOAT CHEESE
- BOURSIN CHEESE
- PEPPER JACK CHEESE
- GORGONZOLA or BLUE CHEESE
- BURRATA or MARINATED MOZZARELLA
- PARMIGIANO REGGIANO
- APPLES (honeycrisp or fuji)
- NAVEL or BLOOD ORANGES
- FRESH FIGS
- RED ANJOU or BOSC PEAR
- BERRIES (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries)
- DRIED FRUITS (apricots, oranges, cherries)
ACCOMPANIMENTS and CONDIMENTS:
- DARK CHOCOLATE or CHOCOLATE COVERED NUTS
- HONEYCOMB or HONEY
- SPREADS or DIPS
CRACKERS and BREAD:
- BUTTER CRACKERS
- WATER CRACKERS
- NUT and SEED CRACKERS
- WHOLE GRAIN CRACKERS
- ENTERTAINMENT CRACKER ASSORTMENT
- RUSTIC BAKERY SOURDOUGH FLATBREAD
- FRENCH BAGUETTE SLICES
- SOURDOUGH BAGUETTE SLICES
- Choose the Right Board: Choose a wooden or slate board as your canvas. It should be large enough to accommodate all your ingredients but not so large that it looks empty.
- Grouping and Layering: Place meats and cheeses in small clusters rather than spreading them out uniformly. I suggest starting out with the cheeses and using different shapes. You can cut wedges, cut cheese into cubes, keep it round (like brie), or cut into triangles. Place pops of color throughout.
- Create Variety: Incorporate a variety of colors and textures. Arrange vibrant fruits, nuts, olives, vegetables, and pickles to complement the charcuterie items. Don't forget the spreads — fig jam is always a favorite.
- Garnish: Add fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme or edible flowers.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.