- Don't feel like the most expensive meats and cheeses need to be purchased. Boards can be built with just a few inexpensive items.
- A big fancy board for charcuterie also isn't necessary. Use a cutting board, a collection of smaller platters placed together or set up the display on parchment paper directly on a counter top.
- Use a good selection of sweet and savory items along with more mild and strong flavors to provide a balanced selection of items.
- Approximately 3-4 ounces of combined meat and cheese is needed per person for an appetizer. If the board is serving more as a main dish, 6-8 ounces of combined meat and cheese should be used
- Get meats sliced thinly at the deli to make assembly easy.
- Place items with liquid such as olives or fruit spreads in separate containers so they don't leak onto the other items.
- Bread and crackers are good to place on a tray or in a bowl to prevent them from getting soggy from other selections on the board.
- Make sure to add cheese knives or servers to the board and pre-slice a couple of portions to get it started.
- Don't let the board sit out for longer than 2 hours to avoid spoilage. If it's a warm day, no more than 60-90 minutes.
Items for the Board
- Meats - Use 1-3 different types of meat, making sure that one is more mild and one is more strongly flavored or spicy.
- Cheeses - Use a mix of 2-4 different types of cheeses with a variety of both hard and soft, strong and mild and different types.
- Fruit - Use a mix of dried, preserved and fresh fruit. Jams or fruit chutneys can also be used to spread on crackers or bread.
- Crackers - Make homemade crackers, slice up a baguette of crusty bread, or buy assorted crackers at the store.
- Extras - Fill in the board with extra savory or sweet items that vary in texture such as olive tapenade, honey, salted nuts, roasted peppers, pomegranate seeds or small pickles.
Substitutions and Variations
- Vegetarian - A charcuterie board by definition includes sliced cured meats, however, they can be omitted to make a vegetarian cheese board. Select 3-5 varieties of cheese along with your favorite crackers or bread, fruit and extras such as nuts, olives or spreads.
- Themed - Boards can be themed towards the type of event, season or holiday you are celebrating. Choose seasonal items that are available during the time of year such as persimmons or pomegranates during fall or winter, spiced nuts during the holiday season or fresh berries during the summer. They can also be served in the shape of different seasonal items such as Christmas trees, Easter eggs or Thanksgiving turkeys.
- For Kids - If there are a fair amount of kids, consider cubing the cheeses and serving milder tasting meats to make the board kid friendly.
Make Ahead and Storage Suggestions
A charcuterie board is a great make ahead appetizer. With the exception of the sliced fresh fruit, everything can be prepared and set up on the board ahead of time. Wrap the board in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator up to 24 hours ahead of time. When it's time to serve it, remove the plastic wrap and add the sliced fresh fruit.
If the board hasn't been sitting out longer than 2 hours, leftover meats and cheeses can be wrapped up individually and stored in the refrigerator for eating later. If the board has been sitting out for 2 hours or longer, it's best to discard the items.