The charcuterie board has been all the rage for a few years now, and for good reason. They are the perfect solution for parties, as an easy appetizer, or even a snack dinner. I absolutely love creating a charcuterie board when I’m entertaining, because it has a little bit of everything and always varies with whatever I’m in the mood for! There are several elements that will make your charcuterie board the best possible, and a few things you might be forgetting to add.
Duh! This one is obvious, but I think the cheese drives everything else on the charcuterie board. It’s one of the most important elements, because you will want to choose all the other items to compliment the cheese you pick out. I like to go with a variety of soft and hard cheese, including something spreadable like a Boursin. The easiest thing for your guests is to cut everything on the board, otherwise leave a small knife with the softer cheeses so guests can choose their own amount. If you have a specialty cheese shop near you, stop in and see what the cheese monger recommends! Choose the amount of cheese based on how many people will be indulging in your charcuterie board.
The classic charcuterie board meats include salami and prosciutto. If you’re vegetarian or your crowd is, don’t feel like you have to include meat on your board! But if you do like the savory aspect of meat, go for a few different kinds of salami, folded in half for a nice presentation. For the prosciutto, I like to roll it so that each piece is easy to grab. You can stack them or place them in a roll this way. If it’s available to you, try mortadella as well!
My best trick for displaying nuts on a charcuterie board, especially if you want it to look neater, is to place them in either small bowls or ramekins. If you don’t have anything like that, then mini muffin liners work really well too! That way the nuts stay together and don’t get hidden under the rest of the board. It’s nice to create different levels on the board, with some items placed directly on it and others in bowls. My absolute favorite kind of nut for charcuterie boards are marcona almonds, especially because they come covered in a great variety of different seasonings. Try the truffle flavored ones!
4. Crackers or Bread
Maybe the most important aspect of any charcuterie board, if you ask me! If your board is just the precursor to a big meal, I would go for lighter crackers instead of bread. But, if you’re making the charcuterie for more of a snack dinner situation (which is basically an excuse to have charcuterie for dinner), then I would warm up and cut a baguette to share. If you want to stray from the ordinary, try taralli. They are an Italian cracker and come in amazing flavors like fennel and pepperoncino (they have a little kick to them!). Think about what kind of cheese you’ll be pairing when you pick out the crackers.
Jam is the most underrated addition to any charcuterie! I love a good fig jam, or even a spicy jam, to go with the cheese and crackers. Cheeses like fontina and parmesan pair really well with jams, as does brie! Place the jam in a small bowl with a little spoon or knife for easy access, and let your guests get creative with all the possible flavor combinations. Or, if the jam has come in a nice jar, feel free to just set that straight on the board. I love buying the mini jars, for a few different flavor options!
Like jam, honey goes great with a lot of different cheeses and so it is a must on any well thought-out charcuterie board. Make sure it’s in a good spot on the board, seeing as honey can get sticky! Place it in a small bowl or ramekin, and allow guests to spread it over their bread or crackers with a small knife. Even better if you have one of those small wooden honeycomb sticks for spreading the honey.
Though not everyone is a keen on olives, they are an essential part of the charcuterie board for those that like them. Make sure that any olives you put out are already pitted, so your guests don’t have to deal with the hassle of the pits. For an elevated approach, try stuffed olives. Or if you’re really going for it, fried olives!
8. Fruits and Vegetables
Not everyone thinks to put vegetables on their charcuterie board, but they can be a great addition. Cut fresh carrots, celery, and fennel into bite-size strips for easy eating, and place a dill dip with them if you’d like. I always appreciate a few extra vegetables, and when they are sliced like this I find them more attractive! I would stay away from broccoli or cauliflower, and stick to the root vegetables in this setting. Fruit is always a popular choice, on the other hand! I love adding grapes, apples, or berries because they compliment cheese nicely.
If it’s the fall, add a decorative gourd or pumpkin to the corner of the board. In the summer or around the holidays, add a few sprigs of rosemary to your charcuterie boards for an elevated look and a lovely smell. Whatever season it is, don’t be afraid to add a little something extra to the board to tie into the theme of whatever you’re celebrating. You can also add small signs that notify your guests of the contents of the charcuterie board. Small chalk ones work great, otherwise make them with paper and toothpicks so they don’t obstruct guests reaching for their next slice of cheese.
No charcuterie board is complete without the tools needed to cut and eat everything. The last thing you want is to leave your guests stranded, unable to enjoy the delicious feast you’ve created! If you don’t cut all of the cheeses beforehand, make sure you leave a knife with each separate cheese. Don’t forget small spoons or knives with any honey or jams, to make things stress free and accessible for everyone.
Is there anything we missed that you have on your charcuterie boards? Send this article to your friends to inspire your next get together!
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Maggie is the blogger behind The Artful Everyday, a travel and lifestyle blog dedicated to living intentionally and finding beauty in the ordinary. She loves the idea that we get to escape our normal lives when we travel, and that it allows us to be more open to the world and its cultures. Maggie lived in Florence while studying abroad, then was an au pair in Rome last fall. She is very passionate about traveling in Europe, especially Italy, and living abroad. Maggie studied Interior Design at the University of Minnesota, but is currently pursuing a career in writing.