Have you been wanting to make a charcuterie board but stopped out of fear it would be too complicated? I’m here to tell you it’s just the opposite! Below you’ll find everything you need to build a simple, but perfect charcuterie board that will wow your guests.
I can’t tell you how often I hear that people are too intimidated to build a charcuterie board so instead they shell out a handsome sum of money for someone else to make it for them.
I’m here to tell you that building a charcuterie board is one of the easiest things you can do!
It’s also a make-ahead, all-in-one appetizer that leaves you plenty of time to actually talk to your guests!
Below I outline the process of selecting complementary ingredients, and assembling them in a way that’s both beautiful and simple.
Table of Contents
All ingredients for this recipe are shown in the pic below and special notes are made in this bulleted list to assist you.
Note: these are suggested ingredients and you should feel free to tweak them however you see fit!
- Cured meat. Use a selection of 3-4 different cured meats for your charcuterie board. In the board pictured, I used a hard soppressata, bresaola, salami, and prosciutto. Use any variety you’d like and that works for you and your budget. If your budget permits you to splurge for Jamon Iberico or Prosciutto di Parma, go for it. If not, domestic cured meats are great too, trust me!
- Cheese. Select 4 or more cheeses of varying texture and flavor. I used a hard Parmigiano Reggiano, a Vermont sharp cheddar, a blue cheese, and a soft brie, but use any combination you’d like. Other favorites of mine include Merlot BellaVitano Merlot or Espresso BellaVitano, cave-aged gruyere, Beemster-aged gouda, and drunken goat cheese. If you know your guests’ tastes, you can even tailor the cheese selection to include their favorites.
- Bread and crackers. I love to include a baguette with a charcuterie board. It often serves as my centerpiece and is versatile. Breadsticks, crackers of different shapes and sizes, and taralli are all great options. Choose anywhere from 3-4 different types.
- Nuts and chocolate. I love the combo of sweet and salty, so I opted for pistachios (salty), and candied pecans (sweet). I also love to add dark chocolate squares to a charcuterie board. Use any chocolate you like!
- Condiments and jams. Honey and fig jam complement cheeses incredibly well. I especially love honey with blue cheese and fig jam with brie. Outstanding! Other great jam options include apricot jam or pear jam. I also always include cornichons and olives (any combination of olives works!).
- Fruit. If you can find grapes in varying colors and sizes, I recommend getting a few. I used green and black grapes here and love the pop of color they add. I also include slices of pear and assorted berries.
- Garnish. Herbs such as rosemary, thyme, tarragon, or culinary lavender would be excellent charcuterie board garnishes. I also like to add a few nuts in their shell or oranges with leaves (as seen in my antipasto platter recipe).
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
How to make it
You do not need to be a food stylist to create an incredible charcuterie board. Outlined below are the steps you can take to build a beautiful board that your guests will love to graze on.
- Select your board. The board you use can be simple and as large or small as you’d like it to be! For a smaller group, feel free to use a small cutting board, or for a very large group you may wish you use a large butcher block type of board. The one I used here is 16″ by 24″. I’ve found great deals on beautiful wood boards at Home Goods/Home Sense.
- Gather your ingredients. Use the above list (or the list in the recipe card) as a guide, but feel free to adjust it to fit your taste, your guests’ palates, and your budget. I’ve found the following ratio works great: 4 types of cheese, 4 types of meat, 3 types of bread/crackers, 1 type of chocolate, 2-3 different nuts, 1 jam, 1 honey, and 1-2 types of olives. Cornichons are a non-negotiable for me and I always have them on a charcuterie board! 1-3 different colors and types of grapes, 1 pear (or apple), and assorted berries.
- Pick a centerpiece. As mentioned above, if I’m using a baguette, I will let that serve as my centerpiece. Cut a few slices and place the remaining loaf on the board. You can also brush a few slices of the baguette and lightly toast, if desired.
- Place small bowls. Fill a few different small bowls with olives, honey, cornichons, and jam and stagger around the board. You can also place the nuts in small bowls and place those as well. These can all be off the board or on the board depending on the size of your board.
- Slice and place the cheese. If using hard cheeses, consider slicing at least half and placing the slices with the remaining block on the board. If using a soft cheese like a blue cheese, place the entire wedge on the board. If using a brie cheese, place it near complementary items such as the jam or honey.
- Place the meat. Fold or roll the salami and bresaola, and shape the prosciutto into nests or flowers. If using a hard salami or soppressata, cut a few slices and place all of it onto the board.
- Fill in the gaps with the remaining ingredients. If using grapes, consider cutting the vines into individual servings and scattering about. The crackers can be placed in various ways (ie. towers, on their sides, fanned out, etc).
- Add utensils. Place any necessary utensils, such as small spoons, forks, spreaders, cheese knives, nutcrackers, honey dippers, etc.
- Garnish. While this is optional, consider placing some fresh green herbs as a garnish along with nuts in their shells.
- Serve! I recommend having the charcuterie board assembled before your guests arrive. If you assemble the board much earlier, you can cover in plastic and place in the fridge. Remove from the fridge 30-45 minutes before your guests arrive. Serve alongside pre-dinner cocktails such as a Lillet Spritz, Aperol Spritz, or Lavender French 75.
While similar, antipasto platters are different from charcuterie boards in that they feature a variety of pickled and marinated Italian-style vegetables along with cheese and cured meat. Charcuterie boards will often offer more fruit, jams, honey, and chocolate in addition to meat and cheese.
More great appetizers
Here are a few of our favorite simple and delicious appetizers.
If you’ve enjoyed this Charcuterie Board Recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and tell us about it in the comments below.
The Perfect Charcuterie Board
- 4 ounces Genoa salami
- 3 ounces prosciutto
- 3 ounces bresaola
- 6 ounces hard soppressata
- 8 ounces brie cheese round
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cut into chunks
- 8 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano
- 8 ounces blue cheese
Bread and crackers
- 1 baguette sliced and toasted
- 8 ounces wafer crackers
- 8 ounces sesame bread sticks
Nuts and chocolate
- 6 ounces pistachio nuts
- 6 ounces candied pecans
- 6 ounces dark chocolate cut into pieces
Jams and condiments
- 6 ounces honey
- 6 ounces fig jam
- 8 ounces cornichon pickles
- 1 cup assorted olives
- 12 ounces green grapes
- 12 ounces red grapes
- 1 pear sliced
- 12 ounces assorted berries
- 4 sprigs rosemary optional
- 1 handful nuts in their shell optional
- Use the amounts as a general guideline since the size of your board will dictate how much you can fit. A large board (at least 12×18") is recommended.
- Slice 1/3 of the baguette and lightly brush with olive oil. Toast the pieces for a few minutes. Arrange the toasted pieces and whole baguette in the center of the board as the centerpiece.
- Place olives, jams, pickles, and honey into small bowls or dishes so that they don't leak onto the ingredients and board. Slice at least half of the hard cheeses to make it easier for your guests.
- Place the brie cheese next to the fig jam and pears. Form the prosciutto into flower shapes, fold or roll the salami and bresaola to give height, and arrange them in sections on all sides of the board. The remaining ingredients can be spread around the baguette centerpiece on both sides.
- Place cutters and spreading tools around the board so that it is easy for guests to serve themselves.
- To make the board more festive garnish with rosemary or other herbs. Enjoy!
- There is no right or wrong for your charcuterie board. Use the best quality ingredients you can find while focusing on a variety of meats, cheeses, breads, and condiments.
- Set up the board right before your guests arrive so that is at peak freshness and looks amazing.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.