Introduction: How to Make a Charcuterie Board

Whether you call it a charcuterie board or a grazing board, these delicacies are designed for just about any occasion where you want to make an impression. Piled high with cured meats, cheese, crackers, fruit, and more, your guests will be wowed by this stress-free appetizer or meal. There is an art in making an Instagram photo-worthy platter. Varying colors, tastes, and textures is the key to success. With these easy to follow instructions, you will be ready with something to please everyone.

What is Charcuterie? Charcuterie (pronounced shar-koo-tuh-ree), is the art of preparing and assembling cured meat products. Often, when you see the charcuterie board on a menu, it is referring to the assortment of meats and cheeses paired with different accompaniments. There is no right or wrong way to curate your grazing platter. Switching out just a few ingredients yields something new and surprising every time.

Step 1: Choosing the Board

The first thing you will need to do is choose the type of board or tray you would like to use. Charcuterie boards can be as big or as small as you want them to be. I have made ones on a small cutting board for two people, all the way to an epic round board that would feed an entire party. You do not necessarily have to buy something new, although, you can find many variations with a simple online search. You can use a wooden cutting board, a serving tray, marble slab, or ceramic platter. Any flat surface makes a great choice.

Step 2: Meat

The meat is the most important part of the spread. You want to include a variety of quality cured and cooked meats. On my board, I have included peppered salami, prosciutto, Italian chicken sausage, and soppressata.

Other options include pepperoni, smoked ham or turkey, mortadella, or brats and sausages.

Plan approximately 3 ounces of meat per person.

Step 3: Cheese

You will want to include a variety of hard and soft cheeses. Some can be cubed, some sliced, or some even added as a wedge onto the board. On my board, I have used, Havarti, white cheddar, and smoked gouda.

Other popular options include Parmigiano-Reggiano, gruyere, chevre (goat cheese), brie, fresh mozzarella, or provolone.

Plan about 3 ounces of cheese per person.

Step 4: Crackers and Bread

Do not leave out the vital vessel to get the delicious meats and cheeses into your mouth. This is a critical part of your board for your guests to layer all of the flavors.

I have chosen two types of crackers, and a sliced baguette, however any cracker or sliced bread would be a great addition.

Step 5: Dips and Spreads

Your charcuterie board should include a variety of jams, mustards, or dips.

These are typically served in small bowls that will visually break up and physically support your accompaniments.

Pictured here are a bacon-fig jam and stone-ground mustard. Other great options are pesto, pepper jelly, pate, and hummus.

Step 6: Sweet, Savory, and Salty

For a truly balanced experience mix in a colorful variety of items for finishing touches. Things like fresh or dried fruit, nuts, chocolates, and fresh herbs.

Pictured here are grapes, strawberries, sweet gherkins, cornichons, almonds, and chocolate truffles.

The options are endless with the addition of olives, pickled vegetables, nuts, rosemary sprig, etc. Cooked options can also be added with small bites such as bruschetta, bacon-wrapped dates, and fried cheese.

Step 7: Putting It All Together

Begin by placing all small bowls first as your focal point. Don't worry about filling in space at this point.

Artfully fold or fan out your meats and place them and your cheeses around the bowls.

Once you have set all of your larger items, it is time to fill in space. Your crackers, bread, and fruit work perfectly for this.

Add your garnish and serve immediately or chill.

Step 8: Tips

  • Think about shape, taste, color, and texture as you are placing items.
  • Get Creative! Grazing boards can be assembled with any ingredients. It's all about the presentation.