How to Make a Charcuterie Board
Making a memorable Charcuterie Board is easier than you think.
Charcuterie boards have become staple appetizers at parties, restaurants, and get-togethers. While “charcuterie” is a French word describing cured or prepared meats, the modern charcuterie board has become synonymous with an elegantly-assembled platter of meats, cheeses, crackers, fruits, nuts, and various spreads.
If you’re in charge of making a charcuterie board at your next event, read these tips to ensure your creation remains the talk of the party.
1. Choose ingredients with care.
The keystone of the best charcuterie boards remains in the elements of the board itself. Memorable charcuterie boards blend textures, surprise guests with new flavors, and are always aesthetically pleasing.
There are many options for building the perfect appetizer board, but here are some of the most common elements to include
Hard cheese, soft cheese, spreadable cheese — the cheese options are endless for charcuterie boards. A range of hard and soft cheeses gives guests a chance to mix and match each with the other elements of the board. Typically, charcuterie boards hold at least four to six varieties of cheese.
Meats like chorizo, prosciutto, salami, and soppressata lend themselves to the “grab-and-go” nature of a charcuterie board while offering dynamic flavors to pair with cheese, crackers, and dips.
Fruits and vegetables
Dried and fresh fruit, as well as vegetables, make excellent fillers around meats and cheeses; they also pair well with the other elements. Choose grapes, apple slices, and strawberries for fresh fruit, dried apricots and craisins for dried fruit, and vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and pickles to give your board a splash of color, varied texture, and explosive taste.
Crackers and nuts
The cheeses and meats — while delicious on their own — need a carb or starch for support. Crackers, crostinis, pita, and other breads enable easy eating and a base for flavor.
Nuts, like fruits and vegetables, act as a great filler. While not the star of the charcuterie board, flavored almonds, candied walnuts, and pistachios can fill in empty spaces and pair well with hard, aged cheeses like cheddar.
Sometimes forgotten, dips level up the flavor of each part of your charcuterie board. To make the best charcuterie board, opt for flavorful dips like pepper jelly, tzatziki, roasted garlic hummus, and balsamic over basic dips like mustard and ranch.
While choosing ingredients, provide options for guests with special dietary restrictions or allergies. For instance, consider using rice or quinoa crackers for those with a gluten sensitivity, or keep any nuts in a separate container away from the main board for the safety of guests with a nut allergy.
2. Balance your flavors
Starting with the cheese, balance your flavors throughout the board by pairing complementary tastes.
For cheddars: Medium cheddar tends to pair well with apples, pears, and light water crackers while aged, hard cheddar is best enjoyed with sausage and dried fruit. Furthermore, smoked meats and toasty nuts bring out smoky cheddars’ natural flavors.
For soft cheeses: Soft cheeses like brie pair well with very sweet fruit, like figs and peaches. Include the spicy ‘nduja for the creaminess of the cheese to offset.
For crumbly cheeses: Goat cheese and feta cheese pair well with mango and watermelon, respectively. Cashews also pair well with crumbly cheese.
3. Get creative with your charcuterie board design
Depending on the theme or holiday of your event, creativity can shine through the assembly and design of your charcuterie board.
For holiday parties, arrange the meats and cheeses in a Christmas tree shape and only use certain colored ingredients to continue the theme. For a baby shower, incorporate blue or pink elements. Towers, shallow dishes, and ramekins can give the charcuterie board depth and extra space for more elements.
Assembly isn’t the only place you can get creative. Start with the board itself — what will the meats, cheeses, dips, and more sit on? Marble baker slabs exude a sophisticated vibe while large baking sheets lend themselves to larger parties and more informal settings.
To add a unique “bite” to your next charcuterie board, consider Old Croc’s award-winning line of naturally-aged, bold cheddar cheeses. Made from the pure milk of Australian cows and meticulously aged, Old Croc Cheddar cheeses can help make your next charcuterie board the best one yet. Find Old Croc Cheddars in a grocery store near you.