How to Plan the Ultimate Charcuterie Board
Planning the ultimate charcuterie board can seem intimidating the first time. There are so many cheeses, deli meats, fruits, nuts, and treats to choose from, so I’m breaking it down for you to make shopping easier. Let the feasting begin!
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Welcome to First Day of Home!
Today I’m joining 25 other bloggers sharing their best recipes, home decor, and more. Amber from Follow the Yellow Brick Home is the gracious hostess for this blog hop. Be sure to visit Amber and my other friends at the end of this post!
If you’ve come by way of Cecilia at My Thrift Store Addiction, I appreciate you clicking over! Cecilia always has the best repurposed and vintage finds to share.
What is a Charcuterie Board?
Here’s the official definition of “charcuterie”:
What I’ve put together for my holiday feast would be considered a charcuterie and cheese board in the most technical sense.
Call it whatever you like! Your guests will love grazing on this mix of sweet and savory treats!
Charcuterie Board Essentials
Charcuterie board ingredients are limited only by your imagination! It just depends on your guests and whether their tastes lean more toward the foodie or toddler side.
For my charcuterie tray, I’ve included a mix that would entertain any holiday crowd, including both grown-ups and kiddos. It’s perfect for a Thanksgiving table, Mother’s Day brunch, bridal shower, or other special occasion.
The best charcuterie board will have some representation from the following categories:
- Cured meats or sausage
- Olives or cornichon pickles (or both)
- Crackers or crostini
- Bread or toast
- Mustard, relish, or pepper
- Fruit jams or preserves
- Sweet or savory dips (yogurt, hummus, or caramel)
- Salt and pepper
To give readers a sense of the possibilities, I threw in a smorgasbord of snacks for my antipasto tray.
At the end of this post, I’ll include my charcuterie board recipe to print for your next gathering.
Charcuterie Board Tray Options
In my case, I already had a large round wooden tray I owned that worked to contain smaller dishes inside. It’s 28.5″ in diameter to give you a sense of the size, but sadly it’s no longer available.
You can find a similar one here.
I used one elevated cake stand and two other main platters to display my appetizers. For the sauces, preserves, and pickled items, I strategically placed ramekins and small bowls. I like the modular aspect of this tray arrangement, so I can move pieces around as needed.
You can also place items directly on the board using parchment paper or by seasoning the wood with mineral oil and beeswax in advance.
To accompany the tray, you’ll want to have plenty of spoons, cheese knives, and tongs.
How to Make a Charcuterie Board
Placing items on a charcuterie board is part art and part science. I’ve broken down my thought process below in the hopes it will help you arrange your own large charcuterie board.
Start with a Cheese Assortment
Three is always a magic number in design, right? The same goes for cheeses.
If you’re going to pick three kinds of cheese to feature, the conventional picks include some combination of the following:
- Soft cheese: Brie, Camembert
- Aged cheese: Cheddar, Gouda
- Hard cheese: Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Blue cheese
For my board, I also included marinated fresh mozzarella balls, since these are always a hit with kids and adults alike. Asiago cheese and provolone are also great options for a cheese board.
Arrange Charcuterie Meats
If you’re new to fancy deli meats, I suggest sticking with slices of salami, prosciutto, and coppa. Chorizo or pepperoni can also work depending on your theme. You can fold round slices of meat to form a cone shape and then create a “meat river” (or series of rivers) from one end of the tray to the center.
Food Republic has a great article on essential cured meats with more than you’d ever want to know.
Add Breads or Crackers
Next to the meats and cheeses, you can add a selection of crackers, baguettes or baguette slices, or melba toast. Follow the rows of meat to create an attractive pattern, or create pockets of bread on the tray to draw the eye and create symmetry.
Add Fruits (Fresh and Dried)
Adding seasonal fruits to a charcuterie tray really serves to bring out the flavors of meats and cheeses and add some acidity.
You can include fresh sweet berries, like raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and blackberries along with tart green apples to create flavor variety. I also love adding a little honey for dipping.
Adding dried fruits like apricots, cranberries or currants can also create interesting textures and richness to your charcuterie tray.
Tip: Help your guests grab smaller portions of grapes by cutting the bunch into smaller bundles of 3-5 berries.
Fill in with Nuts
Hands down, my favorite nuts for entertaining are Marcona almonds, but you can add walnuts, pecans, or regular almonds to the mix.
You might notice I filled in the empty space on my tray with mixed nuts (in shell) and gourds just for visual interest.
(Plus, I got nostalgic thinking about shelling nuts around the dinner table as a kid, and I wanted my kids to have that experience this holiday season.)
Add Dips, Relishes and Preserves
For a really powerful flavor, you can pair cured meats with whole grain or dijon mustard as well as olives and cornichons.
Any kind of chutney, tapenade, or olive oil dipping sauce also works well on a charcuterie plate.
On the sweeter side, you can add fruit jam or try my homemade strawberry fig preserves to accompany the cheeses.
Include Sweet Snacks
As you’ll notice, I created two “hemispheres” on my board: one sweet and one savory. Try adding chocolate-dipped nuts and yogurt pretzels to satisfy guests with a sweet tooth.
Garnish with Herbs or Flowers
To add a final natural element to your charcuterie platter, you can include garnishes of fresh herbs or edible flowers. I placed some rosemary strategically around the meats and cheeses.
Putting it All Together
Here are a few more charcuterie board images for your viewing pleasure. Don’t hate me if you get a little hangry.
Where to Find Charcuterie Board Ingredients
When creating my charcuterie plates, I always try to use ingredients found in a typical supermarket. There’s no need to go to a specialty store for these items.
The most difficult and important elements of a charcuterie board are the meats and cheeses (and to a lesser extent, bread), so focus most on those items.
If you need a beverage option to accompany your charcuterie board, try my latest holiday punch recipe!
Shop the Look
For your convenience, I’m including links to get you started with a wood charcuterie board and other entertaining essentials that might come in handy this holiday season.
Pin it for later!
Continue Your Tour
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The Ultimate Charcuterie Board for Holiday Entertaining
- 4 oz Prosciutto
- 4 oz Salami
- 4 oz Coppa or Chorizo
- 8 oz Brie
- 8 oz Manchego cheese
- 8 oz Aged cheddar cheese
- 8 oz Marinated mozzarella balls
- 8 oz Crackers/bread
- 1 cup Olives
- 1 cup Cornichons
- 2 oz Whole grain mustard (dijon or tapenade)
- 1 cup Marcona almonds
- 4 oz Raspberries
- 4 oz Blackberries
- 6 oz Grapes
- 1 Green apple or pear (sliced)
- ¼ cup Honey
- 4 oz Dried fruit
- 4 oz Yogurt covered pretzels
- 4 oz Chocolate covered nuts
- 1 oz Rosemary or parsley (for garnish)
- Begin by arranging cheeses on charcuterie board.
- Add deli meats in color block fashion.
- Fill in with a variety of crackers, bruschetta, bread or crostini.
- Add fruits (fresh and dried) and fruit jam or preserves to accompany cheeses.
- In separate ramekins or small dishes, add pickled items like cornichons or olives.
I’m a huge fan of charcuterie and your board is absolutely gorgeous. So many great ideas. Blessings to you.
Thanks, Renae! It’s hard to go wrong with a charcuterie board, isn’t it? Thanks for stopping by, and blessings to you as well! XO
This tutorial and recipe for creating the perfect charcuterie board makes it fun and easy. Love all the different types of meats, cheeses, desserts and fruit… something for everyone!
All so beautiful and delicious! I love your big round tray and the way your layered in the other pieces. It was fun to see how you built it piece by piece. It truly is the perfect thing for a party. Thanks for the inspiration! Fun to hop with you!
Hi Kristin! Thank you! This board was so fun to put together, so I hope others will try it this holiday season. I’m loving the photos from your beautiful home surrounded by snow! Happy Holidays!
Oh my goodness this is so amazing! You are such an ultimate party planner! Everything looks tasty and beautiful. I can only eat chicken and turkey (some fish), No cheese, and gluten free crackers or bread (but they can’t have eggs in them)…makes it challenging to make a charcuterie board but after seeing your’s and Christy’s I am on a misson to create a beautiful allergy-friendly one for our family!
Thank you so much for joining the hop and Happy Thanksgiving!
By the way I am featuring this post at TFT tomorrow!
Oh, thank you so much for the sweet compliment, Amber! I’ve been wondering how the new job is going for you! Your diet restrictions definitely do make it challenging, but I’m sure you could make a beautiful board with gluten-free items and lots of fruit! You do such a lovely job with decorating your home, I’m sure a charcuterie board would be no exception.
Thanks for the feature at TFT! I hope you’re having a great start to the holiday season! Thanks again for hosting! xoxo
Our family always love a good charcuterie board and yours looks amazing Crissy.
Thank you for sharing how to create this masterpiece on Create, Bake, Grow & Gather this week. I’m delighted to be featuring this post at tomorrow’s party and pinning too.
Thanks so much, Kerryanne! That means so much to me. I love these boards as well, and I hope others might be inspired to try making one if they haven’t yet. I’m catching up now since we had company in town for the Thanksgiving holiday. I’ll be sure to swing by the party. Thanks again!
Charcuterie boards are my favorite way to entertain! I’ve had my eye on this board for a while now. Ordering with the black Friday sale. I’ll be sure to use your link! Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanks so much, Christy! I absolutely love my board, even when it’s just sitting there looking pretty. I hope you enjoy yours. Thanks for considering using my link! I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!
We are in charge of the charcuterie on Thanksgiving. Thanks for giving me some new ideas for our creation.
Ooh, I hope you have fun creating yours, Carol. Although it does take a bit of planning, it’s always one of my favorite things to do when entertaining. Have a great Thanksgiving!
These look so beautiful and would be the highlight of any event!
Hi Lesa! Thanks so much for visiting and leaving such a nice comment. I hope you enjoy the holiday season!
Crissy, this is amazing. You’ve styled it all so beautifully. Food is art and the presentation is the beginning of the celebration that happens in your mouth! I like your version with the various white dishes; it adds to the festiveness; just on a board would be more casual I think. I’ve never done this, but it’s on my bucket list!
Thank you, Lora. You should totally check this off your bucket list! My mother instilled in me a passion for food, but I don’t often get to experiment these days. I loved having the excuse to style a tray like this, and I literally got to enjoy the fruits of my labor this time! Happy Thanksgiving!
Crissy, what a fantastic board! I love hosting with a charcuterie board, and have learned of late they are calling these “grazing boards” . You have given anyone a perfect tutorial and all kinds of ideas on how to style a board for the first time! Bravo, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanks, Chloe. Yes, I would definitely characterize my behavior as grazing when it comes to these boards. I hadn’t heard that the term was trending, though! I can’t wait to let the grazing begin this week! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving, too!
Crissy, this looks absolutely wonderful and delicious! What a beautiful display with great tips. Pinned! I love creating appetizer boards and spreads. One of my dear friends is Italian and was a neighbor for over a decade before moving back home. My youngest son would spend three weeks with them every summer. Anyway, I learned a lot from her on the importance of ingredients in Italian recipes. We also were introduced to and now love two other cured meats not on your list — sopressa and mortadella. It’s now a Christmas Eve tradition to have them in our home. Sopressa is especially good wrapped around roasted red peppers.
Thank you so much, Debbee! How fun to have an Italian neighbor and for your son to have the experience of visiting Italy. I’ve been to Italy a few times, and the food is just spectacular. My husband and I still dream about the prosciutto-wrapped melon we had there on our honeymoon.
Yes, there are so many meats to choose from, and soppressata and mortadella are definitely other great options. You should see the list of meats on that link I included from Food Republic. It’s really amazing to see how many varieties there are. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Chrissy, this is one of the best posts on creating a charcuterie board that is so pretty and looks delicious. Love tour detailed explanation of what the foods that are perfect for this type of entertaining and how to arrange them. Have a Happy Thanksgiving sweet girl.
Thanks for your sweet words, Carol. This was a fun (and yummy) post to put together. I hope you and Sweet Shark enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday, my friend!
Your charcuterie and cheese board looks delectable! And perfect for feeding a crowd during the holidays. I enjoyed reading about how you chose the ingredients for your board as well as how you arranged them.
Hi Judith! Thanks so much. I think this will be my go-to appetizer tray going forward. It’s so fun to put together, and now I have a plan written down so I won’t forget what to buy next time! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as well! -Crissy
Oh me, oh my, Crissy, this looks so beautiful! I could enjoy meal after meal, let alone small gatherings, grazing off of charcuterie trays. Fresh figs are so hard to find in my area other than neighbors’ trees in early September, and I just love them fresh off the vine. It all looks so inviting. The sweet and savory is perfection.
Aww, thanks Rita. I’m the same way. I loooove grazing on big charcuterie boards like this. Yes, it’s not so easy to find figs this time of year, so I was thrilled to see these at my local grocery store. My mother actually has a fig tree in her backyard, so that’s why I shared a recipe for fig preserves on the blog. We get creative with figs in the summer! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Your charcuterie board looks so good! It really is picture perfect!
Thank you, Angelina! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Crissy, this looks amazing. I love all your yummy suggestions and will making a charcuterie board this holiday. Love that gorgeous big serving tray too! Pinning!
Thank you, Michelle. I know your charcuterie board will dazzle your guests! I hope you have a great holiday with your family. Thanks for pinning!
Wow… your charcuterie board is amazing… I love all the different elements and suggestions you gave us to create the ultimate delicatessen type meal! I can just picture your family eating all your props after your photoshoot was done! Pinned, and always love ‘working’ with you!
Thank you so much, my friend! Yes, the digging in happened very quickly after the camera was turned off. I like to say I “will food for work.” I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving with your family, and I’ll see you back at “work” very soon!
Crissy, your charcuterie board looks both beautiful and delicious! You have given us some wonderful ideas and tips. I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!
Thank you, Shannon! I hope you find the tips useful someday. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!
What a pretty display and I love how you explained it so well. These boards have become so popular lately and I can see why. Yours looks wonderful and I am sure it’s perfect for entertaining! Such a nice idea!
Thank you, Shelley! Once you get started, it’s hard to stop adding things, at least for me. There are so many possibilities! I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving feast this year in that twin dining room of yours (wink). -Crissy
Thanks so much for the tips on how to arrange everything in a round tray. That always stumps me, but you make it look so easy.
Oh, thank you, Marty. I’ve never tried turning this tray into a charcuterie board before. Truth be told, this tray sits on my dining room table and holds a centerpiece most of the time. I’m now seeing it in a whole new light! Happy Thanksgiving!
Your charcuterie board looks almost too pretty to eat. I’m officially inviting myself over for wine and a charcuterie board to enjoy!
Thank you, Paula! Pull up a chair, and let’s dig in! I’ll get the wine ready…
Wowza, that looks amazing and sooooo yummy! The vibrant color is what caught my eye first. I’ve never made one before but am so eager to try it. I can hear the hubs now, how much did all of this cost? – Are our friends worth it?! LOL Kidding, not kidding.
Thanks bunches, Cindy! You crack me up! Who cares about whether the friends are worth it…you’re worth it, right?! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving, my friend!
Crissy, your board looks elegant and delicious, and it couldn’t be more timely. I loved seeing how it came together from start to finish. Blessings, Cecilia @My Thrift Store Addiction
Thanks, Cecilia! I really enjoy working with food and setting up appetizers for guests. I guess food is my love language! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Oh this looks so yummy! Thank you for providing an ingredient list as well as the step by step instructions.
Thank you, Laura! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family!
This is so pretty Crissy! You always know just what to put together to make your guests feel extra special. Your party and entertaining posts are definitely some of my favorites. I love this festive idea and I can’t wait to try it with my family this Thanksgiving too. Hugs and Happy Thanksgiving, CoCo
Thank you, CoCo! That is such a nice compliment! I do love entertaining and will get a chance to do that this Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy your new Thanksgiving tradition this year! Hugs back, my friend! -Crissy