Charcuterie boards have made quite the comeback in the last few years, thanks to the many Millennials who consider the appetizer the ultimate food to offer guests. What’s not to love? They’re colorful, customizable, and usually overflowing with several kinds of meats, cheeses, breads, crackers, and gooey jams. But, while at first glance, it can seem like a mishmosh of salty, cured goodness and complementary dairy products, there is an art to assembling the perfect charcuterie board.
With the holidays not just around the corner but practically playing ding-dong-ditch at our front doors as well, knowing ahead of time how to curate the right charcuterie board for any holiday-themed gathering will be the key ingredient for an impressive party spread.
When selecting the cheeses, meats, and other items such as grapes and cheese, be sure to ask yourself which pairs with what. For example, prosciutto pairs great with burrata or aged parmesan, and blue cheese pairs beautifully with honey, dried fruits such as dates, and walnuts. Always keep pairings in mind as you dream up your dream platter of cured meats and savory cheeses!
Figuring out how much to get onto that board or platter can be tricky, but a general rule is to serve two ounces of charcuterie per person. You should also avoid purchasing too much of one thing or one type of texture. The best charcuterie boards are comprised of a variety of textures, which both pleases the eye and palate.
If your guests can’t easily cut hard cheeses or meats, you need to slice those items in advance. Softer cheese or more delicate meats such as prosciutto can be served without much prep, just be sure to include a knife.
As you’re cutting up the cheese, try to create visual variety by cutting one cheese into cubes and another into triangles or squares. And for hard meats, make thin slices that will be easier for guests to take a bite of and chew.
Big wheels of cheese or small bowls that hold nuts and condiments should be placed first, acting as anchors for your board. The largest item should go near the center and the other items can be assembled evenly around it.
To keep things organized while remaining visually appealing, you should keep “like” items together while alternating colors and shapes. This makes it easier for guests to see what’s on the board and grab what they want.
A small bunch of grapes, berries, or sliced apples add a touch of freshness to what would otherwise be a pretty salty experience. Plus, the fruit adds a pop of color to the board while doubling as a refreshing palate cleanser or sweet garnish on a cracker topped with cheese and meat.
Serve a variety of crackers for your guests to choose from, and if you have the space, some thin slices from a baguette or loaf of French bread, too. Visually, it’ll look beautiful, and the different textures will give your guests some options. And, if your board is way too packed as it is, you can always serve the crackers and sliced breads in small bowls or baskets on either side of the board.
Depending on your setup, you may already have this step included on your list. But, if you don’t, be sure to have small plates, napkins, forks, and even knives nearby your board so guests can have the option of taking a few items to nibble on at once. Soft cheeses, crackers, honey, and other charcuterie board staples can easily mess up an outfit or seating area, so having plates and napkins nearby is a must!
Need some inspiration? Check out our various charcuterie board recipes!