This simple charcuterie board is a beautiful assortment of meats, cheese, crackers, fruit, spreads and nuts. It’s inexpensive, a cinch to pull together and a showstopping appetizer no matter the occasion!
If you find putting together a large charcuterie and cheese board intimidating, this post is for you! In just a few easy steps you can arrange a simple charcuterie board full of your favorites for effortless entertaining.
We’ll talk about having a theme or anchor in which to build your board around. Whether it’s for holidays, game day, weekend entertaining or other special occasions. I love making this heirloom tomato bruschetta board in summer and early fall when they’re in peak season!😉
What is a Charcuterie Board?
A charcuterie (shar-KOO-ta-REE) board is essentially an arrangement of cured or uncured meats that also includes a variety of cheeses, crackers, fruit, veggies, spreads and nuts. It truly can be an assortment of whatever you like!
Why You’ll Love Making your Own Charcuterie Board
- Inexpensive way to impress your guests
- Completely customizable to include your favorite things
- Made with basic fridge and pantry ingredients
- Fun way to entertain any number of people
- Perfect appetizer that can easily become the main event!
What goes on a Charcuterie Board?
We’ll start with the cheese because they tend to be what I put on the board first. I used burrata, fresh mozzarella and goat cheese but here’s a list of other great choices too. The best cheeses to use come down to personal preference.
You want to have at least 3-4 types of cheese with different textures depending on the size of your board and number of guests. Also, you can vary the flavor profiles from buttery, salty, pungent and earthy.
- Hard cheese – Parmesan, asiago, ricotta salata
- Semi-hard cheese – Cheddar, swiss, aged gouda, fontina, colby
- Semi-soft cheese – Muenster, mozzarella, provolone, brie cheese
- Soft cheese – Spreadable cheeses like burrata, mascarpone, goat cheese, and ricotta
- Crumbled cheese – Feta or blue cheese
I leaned toward Italian deli meat here with prosciutto and red wine hard salami but here are more ideas of what you can use.
- Sopressata (uncured salami)
- Capocollo (similar to prosciutto)
- Spanish chorizo
- Summer sausage
- Mortadella (similar to bologna)
- Jamon Iberico (lightly salted, air-dried ham)
Thinly sliced meats work best for a charcuterie board because they’re easy to fold. When using chorizo or sausage, brown the links on all sides first for some char then cut into thin slices.
Adding fruit to your board is essential to balance the richness of the cheese and meat. Plus, fruit adds beautiful pops of color!
I combined strawberries, red grapes and cantaloupe (perfect with prosciutto!). You can also mix fresh and dried fruits on your board. Here’s a list of other ideas!
- Orange segments
- Dried apricots
- Dried cranberries
Including nuts is a great way to add crunchy texture and fill in any empty spaces on your board. Pistachios made the cut here but here are some other options. Try pumpkin seeds if you want to go nut free!
- Macadamia nuts
Spreads and Dips
I love adding sweet and savory dips and spreads for another element of flavor when creating the ultimate bite. They also make a simple charcuterie board more visually pleasing. I used honey and homemade cilantro pesto here, but there are plenty of other ideas!
Crackers and Bread
The look and texture of naan wins me over regularly, but any type of toasted bread or baguette slices will be great. Plus, you can add an assortment of crackers or parmesan crisps.
Depending on the size of your board and preferences, here are some other great additions to an epic charcuterie board.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Marinated artichoke hearts
- Sliced sun-dried tomatoes
- Assorted olives
- Fresh herbs
- The Board – I tend to reach for a large, wooden board when putting these spreads together. However, feel free to use multiple boards of different shapes and sizes to comfortably fit everything you want to include.
- Small Bowls – You’ll need these for spreads and dips along with any items that will make crackers soggy or other ingredients wet.
- Cheese Knives – For cutting into hard cheeses and spreading soft ones.
How to Make a Simple Charcuterie Board
Now the fun part is putting it all together! Before you start arranging, place anything you want in bowls first then you’re ready to go.
- Start with the largest items first to act as anchors. Whether it’s a large wedge of cheese or bowl, arrange them on the board first since they’ll be hard to find a spot for later.
- Arrange the next most prominent components, usually the meats, cubed cheese and other bowls.
- Next add clustered items such as cantaloupe spears, small bunches of grapes and cherry tomatoes.
- The last step is to fill in spaces with smaller items, like areas that hold crackers vertically and spaces for nuts. Garnish as appropriate with fresh herbs. They're always a nice eye-pop of color.
- Have a theme! - It's easier to compose a board that has complementary elements when you have an idea in mind depending on the season, holiday or event. I leaned toward a savory Italian charcuterie board here.
- See what components are in your fridge and pantry before heading to the grocery store. This step will certainly save some money!
- Have extra of each component on hand to replenish the board as needed depending on the size of your crew and how long it's meant to last.
- Have a variety of flavors – Sweet, salty, briny, buttery, earthy, pungent, mild, etc.
- Include different textures – Creamy and firm cheese, crunchy nuts, crisp fruit and veggies.
- Make it colorful with fresh fruit, vegetables, dip and spreads.
- Roll up or curl the meats so they can be more vertical rather than just lying flat. It creates more visual interest and takes up less real estate.
- Figure about 3-4 ounces of combined meat and cheese per person for an appetizer and 6-8 ounces per person if the board is the main dish.
Charcuterie Board FAQs
If you don’t have a large cutting board or serving platter to accommodate what you have in mind, get creative with smaller boards and platters. You can also have additional plates and bowls on the side. Or, a rimmed baking sheet makes for a good charcuterie board!
You can to a point. Prep and refrigerate components separately if the board is too big to fit in the fridge. Smaller boards can be arranged a few hours ahead and covered in plastic wrap. Put crackers on just before serving so they don’t get stale or soggy.
You don’t want the meat and cheese to be at room temperature more than 2 hours. If the board is outside on a warm day, that time window will narrow to 60-90 minutes. You don’t want to run the risk of bacteria making people sick.
It’s best to store leftovers separately in airtight containers in the fridge and should last 3-4 days. Any meat, cheese or perishables that were sitting out much longer than 2 hours should be discarded.
More Party Recipe Ideas
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Simple Charcuterie Board
- 8 ounces fresh burrata
- 8 ounces marinated mozzarella balls
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
- 4 ounces thinly sliced salami
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 6 ounces each cantaloupe spears , strawberries, grapes
- 4 ounces each marinated artichoke hearts , sun-dried tomatoes and assorted olives
- 4 tablespoons pesto and honey , homemade or store-bought
- ¼ cup pistachios
- Assorted crackers, toasted naan or crostini
- Place the burrata in a small bowl and top with pesto and a few cherry tomato halves.
- Transfer marinated mozzarella to another small bowl. Also place artichoke hearts, olives, pesto and honey into separate bowls.
- Arrange the bowls on a large bread board or serving platter. Add goat cheese to the board and drizzle with honey.
- Wrap cantaloupe spears with a slice of prosciutto and place on the board. Arrange remaining prosciutto and salami around the board in a few areas.
- Next add on cherry tomatoes and grapes. Fill in the board with strawberries, nuts, crackers and toasted naan or bread. Garnish with fresh herbs. Enjoy!
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