Putting together an amazing charcuterie board may seem overwhelming, but it’s not as intimidating as it sounds. We have written this guide to help you decide on a theme, what to put on a charcuterie board, pairing ideas to get you started, and some direction on how to arrange your ingredients. You’ve got this!
First, Select the Right Charcuterie Board
Next, Make Sure You Have the Right Tools
In addition to the board itself, you’ll want to make sure that you include serving utensils such as knives, cocktail forks, and mini skewers. Additionally, it’s important to have serving vessels like small bowls or ramekins for sauces, spreads, or ingredients like olives that might otherwise roll off the board.
What to Put on a Charcuterie Board
There are a few things to know about what to put on a charcuterie board, and we’ve covered everything from types of meats and cheeses to ingredient costs in our post How to Make a Charcuterie Board.
How to Assemble a Charcuterie Board
Depending on the type of meat, it can be laid or folded in different patterns. Keep in mind that it's nice to have some meats and cheeses that pair well placed near each other.
Lay different cheeses out around the board. You can leave soft cheeses unsliced (maybe start one or two slices to give guests a head start), and hard cheeses should be sliced ahead of time.
Sauces, spreads, and other condiments
It's a great idea to place sauces, spreads, and jams near cheeses that pair well with them, for example fig jam near brie. These items should go in small bowls or ramekins.
Pickled ingredients like olives, gherkins, or other pickled veggies will require dishes to contain them, so make sure to account for this space on your board.
Always wash and pre-slice any fresh fruit, and just like sauces and spreads, try to keep fruits near cheeses that pair well, for instance apples and sharp cheddar or Havarti. Some additional ideas about how to pair fruit with cheese:
- Apples pair well with almost any cheese
- Berries and grapes pair better with soft cheeses like goat cheese and brie
- Fresh citrus fruits like oranges and pineapples don’t typically pair well with cheese, but dried fruits like apricots and figs can often be complemented by soft cheeses
Nuts should go next to cheeses, since they are a crunchy bite and the contrasting texture of cheese makes for a nice combination.
Crackers and toasts
Crackers and toasts can fit in the remaining spaces on your board, but don't worry if you don't have a lot of space left - you can place these on a different serving platter near your charcuterie board.
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Preparing Your Charcuterie Board Ahead of Time
While it’s not necessarily wise to build a charcuterie board more than a day ahead of time, doing so 24 hours ahead of the party works really well and can save you precious time for other prep on the day of your gathering. You can cover your board or tray with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator as long as you’re able to make room. You’ll want to remove the board from the refrigerator about 30 - 45 minutes ahead of the party because it’s best to serve cheeses and cured meats at room temperature. No earlier than this, though, because the safety window for the foods that require refrigeration varies from around 2 - 4 hours.
Common Questions About Charcuterie Boards
A charcuterie board is a combination of appetizer foods, typically displayed on a board such as a cutting board or cheese board, that offers contrasts in tastes, textures, and colors. The appetizers are meant to be eaten primarily as finger food, although for some appetizers, serving utensils are used.
Charcuterie is pronounced “char-KOO-tuh-ree.” Feel free to roll your Rs like Inspector Clouseau, but it’s not required.
You can charcuterie boards, cheese boards and utensils locally in almost any store that has a kitchen goods section. HomeGoods is a great place to check, and there is a myriad of selections online, including Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Wayfair, Target, Wal-mart, and more. A Google search will provide you with many options!
It really depends on the ingredients you choose! On average, a charcuterie board will run you somewhere between $50 - $150, though it’s quite possible to assemble a decent one for under $30 or get very elaborate and spend over $200. The estimate of $50 - $150 is a common range for most boards.
This depends on what the board is made of - is it a wood charcuterie board? Is it a stone or marble board? The care will be different.
Wood charcuterie board care: Gently wash the board with mild dish soap and water. Dry it as well as possible with a towel, then let it air dry completely. Using a food-safe mineral oil, pour on a good portion of the oil and work it in with a clean cloth (don’t use a paper towel or you’ll leave paper fibers behind). You can also use coconut oil, but that is the only cooking oil that’s okay - never use vegetable oil, as it can go rancid. It’s okay if it seems like too much oil at first, as you’ll notice that it absorbs well after 10 minutes or so, especially the first time you oil the board. Let one side dry overnight and make sure it’s completely dry before working on the other side. The time to re-season is if you notice the oil layer becoming thin, if you see patches that look drier than others, or if the board begins to absorb liquid. You can pour a few drops of water on the board to see if it beads - if it doesn’t, it’s probably time to oil the board again.
Stone or marble charcuterie board care: Never put a stone or marble board in the dishwasher because the high heat is likely to cause it to crack. The board should always be hand-washed with a mild dish soap and water mixture, using a soft sponge or cloth. You can sanitize with vinegar diluted in water. Make sure not to use more than half vinegar, as too much acid can damage a stone or marble board.
A cheese board is typically made from a wide selection of cheeses, while a charcuterie board tends to first focus on a selection of meats. Charcuterie is a term generally used for the appetizer meats and accompanying ingredients served at cocktail parties. In the United States, a charcuterie plate may contain cured meats such as salami, bacon, sausage, prosciutto, and pepperoni.
It is possible for charcuterie boards to stain, especially if not seasoned properly. Please see the answer to “How do I clean and season my charcuterie board?” above.
Of course! We’ve included a charcuterie board recipe here, and you can also check out our popular charcuterie board ideas post.
Still Not Sure How to Get Started? Try This Charcuterie Board RecipePrint
Spoonabilities Guides to Charcuterie Boards
- Charcuterie Board Ideas - Party Appetizers
- How to Make a Charcuterie Board That Impresses
- The Best Boards for Charcuterie in 2023
- How to Make a Vegan Appetizer Board
- How to Build a Mediterranean Mezze Platter
- Charcuterie Board Shopping List - How to Shop for a Great Appetizer Experience
- Dips and Crackers for Charcuterie Boards - Jams, Sauces, Bread, and More
- Meats for Charcuterie Boards: Meat and Cheese Choices