With the holiday season ramping up and Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought I’d share my best ideas for the ultimate charcuterie board! Let the feasting begin!
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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 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
Thanks for visiting! Your next stop is on this holiday hop is Celebrate & Decorate. You’re in for a real treat, as Chloe’s decor never disappoints!
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.