Your Guide to Stunning & Creative Charcuterie Boards
Charcuterie, pronounced “shar-koo-tuh-ree,” is a versatile and beautiful-looking ensemble of prepared meats, cheeses, fruits, jams, crackers, and more. The word comes from the French words for flesh (chair) and cooked (cuit). Here’s a guide to help you create an Instagram-worthy charcuterie board, whether it’s for a starter course or a delicious centerpiece.
Select Your Main Ingredients
The meats featured in charcuterie boards typically include a combination of pre-sliced cured meats (like prosciutto, bresaola, or mortadella) and hard meats that you slice yourself (salami, sopressata, or capicola). Select a few that speak to you, and remember that you don’t need too much, considering their heaviness.
It’s best to feature 2-3 cheeses with varied textures and tastes. Some popular choices include brie (smooth and spreadable), sharp cheddar (a firm, fan favorite), smoked gouda (semi-hard and aromatic), and goat cheese (soft and tart).
Don’t forget your crackers or bread! It’s a good decision to have a few different types, such as crispy cracker rounds or baguette bread. Our favorite specialty seasoned crackers include Raincoast Crisps and Toasteds Savory Onion.
Now you’ll need a mix of sweet and sour accent ingredients to complement the rich and savory flavors of your meats and cheeses. This category is a prime opportunity to get even more creative. When selecting your accent foods, pay attention to the aroma and visual interest they add, such as colors, shapes, and textures. Popular choices for accents include grapes, berries, nuts, capers, olives, pickles, dried mangos, and raisins. Complete your accents by offering one or two spreadables, like jelly, jam, honey, or dijon mustard.
Charcuterie is typically placed on a flat surface, such as a wooden cutting board, butcher’s block, or slate board. Before positioning your ingredients, come up with a general plan for the layout. It’s often best to position the main ingredients first, and then wrap the accents around them, allowing the sections to organically flow into each other to create an integrated look. The accents are helpful at filling in the bare areas between the main sections.
Finally, don’t forget the final touches. Consider labeling the various ingredients with a decorative place card, or tucking decorative leaves, such as mint, dill, or fennel, into a few nooks.
Here are some picturesque charcuterie boards to give you inspiration, and a few products that can help elevate them even further.
This charcuterie makes use of every square inch of space on the board, providing a full and abundant look. It also has a diverse mix of colors and textures.
This board creatively features breadsticks wrapped in sliced meat, and incorporates twine to create an organic and natural aesthetic.
This “winter white” cheese board makes use of a green and white color palette to create a cohesive, minimalistic, and sophisticated look.
This agate cheese board from Anthropologie adds a splash of color and whimsy.
Chalkboard cheese markers, like these from Crate And Barrel, offer a cute way to label the various cheese types.
If you’re in the mood to create something completely unique, check out these “charcuterie” boards that feature completely different food groups.
Taco Bar Charcuterie Board