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How to Make the BEST Charcuterie Board: Tips from a Meat & Cheese Expert

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A charcuterie board (pronounced “shahr-ku-tuh-ree”) is the perfect appetizer for any gathering. Easy to assemble, something for everyone, and super tasty, so what’s not to love?! Loaded up with delicious meats, cheeses, nuts, spreads, fruits, and more, a charcuterie board can be as small or big as your gathering requires. So let’s talk about not only about how to select product for the perfect charcuterie board, but also how to present it for the perfect WOW factor.

Large meat and cheese charcuterie board that includes dips vegetables and fruits

Joining me today is Tommy Manfre, owner of SF-Bay Area Provisions, an authorized local purveyor of the Boar’s Head brand, and all-around amazing chef. As a friend of mine, we’ve had many meals at Tommy’s home and sometimes, I swear I gain five pounds just looking at the amazing spread he puts together! And if anyone knows about meats and cheeses, it’s Tommy. For the record, this is NOT a sponsored post – just me sharing something I love and think you will, too.

Closeup of charcuterie board showing fig spread olives cheeses and basil garnish

What We’ll Cover

  • What types of meat to select?
  • How much meat per person?
  • What cheeses work best on charcuterie boards?
  • What other goodies to include?
  • What order to assemble everything?
  • Tips for a perfectly balanced board
  • and more!

What to Put on a Charcuterie Board

Closeup of charcuterie board showing salami with sliced fig in the center

Meats

When it comes to selecting meats for a great charcuterie board, time of year and beverages served play a role in meat selection. A great year-round staple, though, is Proscuitto di Parma. From there, use a mix of spicy versus sweet to create a great combination of flavors.

Assume about 4 slices of meat per person if serving it as an appetizer, more if it’s dinner.

All of the Boar's Head cheeses shown on a rustic round board

Cheeses

Every board should contain a mix of hard, semi-soft, and soft cheese. When selecting each, think about country of origin for each to make the board more interesting! {i.e. Swiss is from Switzerland, Brie and Chevre is from France, Gouda and Caramella are from Holland, Manchego is from Spain}.

Plan for 1-2 ounces of cheese per person.

Hard Cheese

  • Parmigiano Reggiano {aged over 24 months}
  • Caramella {Parm Gouda blend}
  • Canadian Cheddar {aged over 1,000 days}
  • Wisconsin Cheddar
  • Manchego

Semi-Soft

  • Gouda
  • Fontina
  • Gruyere

Soft

  • Brie double crème {France}
  • Goat cheese {France}
  • Blue Cheese
Closeup of meat and cheese charcuterie board showing grapes and marcona almonds

Crackers & Bread

Choose about 3-4 different bread/cracker options to provide great variety. Make sure each is sturdy enough to hold cheese and/or spread.

I like to use mix of shapes and flavors and typically choose from the following:

  • Garlic Triscuit
  • Breadsticks
  • Pita Chips
  • Rice Crackers
  • Fig & Olive Crisps
  • Rosemary & Olive Oil Flatbread
  • Pretzels
Closeup of large charcuterie board showing grapes and figs with goat cheese on top

Fruits

Fruit really goes with everything and is delicious on its own or paired with other items on the board! Try to stick with fruits that are in season for the best flavors. And avoid canned fruit at all cost {because the juices will run}.

Fresh Fruits options include:

  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Figs
  • Peach Slices
  • Orange Slices
  • Apple Slices {be careful here because they’ll start to brown if left out too long unless you spritz them with lemon juice}

You can also use dried or candied fruits like,

  • Cranberries
  • Cherries
  • Dates
  • Mango
  • Orange Slices
Delicious charcuterie board showing yellow pepper cut in half with hummus inside

Vegetables

Not all boards include both fruits and vegetables, but I like having both on a board. All of the vegetables should be washed, cut, and peeled for easy finger foods. Some great options for color and flavor are:

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber Slices
  • Radishes {great for color, too!}
  • Celery
  • Bell Pepper {red, yellow, orange, green}
  • Olives {yes, I know these are technically a fruit}
Best charcuterie board closeup of pecans next to bowl of olives and pepper cut in half holding hummus

Nuts

Nuts are a necessity on a great charcuterie board. Not only do they pair well with cheese, but they provide a great protein option for any vegetarian or vegan guests.

In general, keep your selection pretty simple but then add in one fun flavor! Keep in mind that all nuts should be SHELLED; otherwise, people need two hands to shell the nuts you’ll have a mess on your hands!

Some of my favorites to include are:

  • Pecans {these pair great with cheese!}
  • Walnuts
  • Pistachios {great for color, too!}
  • Macamademia
  • Marcona Almonds
  • Spied Walnuts

Spreads/Dips

Spreads and dips work not only with the crackers, but also the fruits and vegetables! Choose a few that you think pair well with your other items, such as:

  • Hummus {regular or chocolate}
  • Fig jam {this is a personal favorite of mine to eat with goat cheese!}
  • Fruit jam {strawberry, rasberry, blackberry}
  • Marmelade
  • Bean Dip
  • Ground Mustard
  • Tzatziki
  • Pesto
Delicious DIY charcuterie board closeup of brie drizzled with balsamic glaze and raspberry on top

Garnish

The garnish is really just the filler and last pop of color on the board. My favorite garnishes are:

  • Rosemary Stems
  • Sprigs of Basil
  • Butterleaf Lettuce {due to its pretty ruffled edge}

How to Assemble a Gorgeous Charcuterie Board

Antique Hungarian bread board on granite kitchen counter

Step 1: Pick Your Board

The size of your group will really determine how large or how many boards you will need. I like to use vintage Hungarian cutting boards, but that’s because I have a selection on hand to choose from.

Other great options include:

  • Wood cutting boards
  • Marble boards
  • Serving trays
  • Large platters
Antique Hungarian bread board on granite kitchen counter with three bowls of dips

Step 2: Place the Dips & Spreads

I always start with the bowls because they take up a set amount of space. Once in please you can also use them as props for leaning meats or cheeses.

If using a rectangular board, sprinkle your selection of dips and spreads across the board so that the bowls aren’t too close to one another. Personally, I like to use small, dipping bowls for my charcuterie boards because they don’t overpower the board.

If using a round board, group all of the bowls in the center.

DIY charcuterie board with dips meats and cheeses

Step 3: Add Meats & Cheese

Similar to the bowls, you want to spread these items around the board so that they aren’t too grouped together.

DIY charcuterie boards with dips meats cheeses and crackers

Step 4: Add Crackers & Bread

Fill in more of the gaps with your crackers and breads, making sure to spread them out as much as possible.

DIY delicious oversized charcuterie board with meats cheeses nuts fruits and vegetables

Step 5: Add Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts & Garnish

Use the remaining space for fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Group like vegetables together, but feel free to mix the fruits together or keep them separate. You can even add a few lone fruits on top of some of the other elements like cheese, just for a pop of color. Use these items to really ensure you have color spread across the board.

At the end, add a couple of bits of garnish just to finish it off!

Best DIY charcuterie board paired with perfect wines on kitchen granite counter

What Makes a Great Charcuterie Board

1. Variety of Textures

When you look at a great charcuterie board, it should have a great mix of textures. You want a mix of smooth textures, like grapes or dates, and rough textures like Triscuits or cumbling cheese. You also want moist items, such as dips and meats, and dry items like bread and nuts.

2. Variety of Color

When working with breads, cheese, and meats, it’s easy to make everything too brown! This is when you really need to make your fruits, vegetables, and garnish work. Use a mix of greens (grapes, cucumber, basil, apples), reds (strawberries, rasberries, tomatoes), yellows (pepper, cheeses), and blues (blueberries, blackberries, grapes)

3. Sweet, Savory, Spicy and Salty

Choose foods that give you a good mix of Sweet, Savory, Spicy and Salty. With this mix, even the pickiest palette will be satisfied!

4. Balanced Presentation

As you layer in each of the items, ensure like items are spread apart from one another to keep the board from looking too heavy in one place.

Make Your Own Charcuterie Board

Want to make the exact charcuterie board pictured in this post? Here’s the recipe!

Note that since Tommy is a Boar’s Head distributor, we used only Boar’s Head products where possible. All Boar’s Head products are all natural, with no byproducts, fillers, or artificial coloring. You can find them at your local grocery stores and delis nationwide.

See How to Assemble!

Click below to watch the assembly of the board.

Delicious Charcuterie Board

A charcuterie board is the perfect appetizer for any gathering. Easy to assemble, something for everyone, and super tasty, so what's not to love?! Here's how to make this perfect appetizer.
Course Appetizer
Prep Time 1 hour
Servings 30 people
Author Tidbits&Twine and SF-Bay Area Provisions

Ingredients

Dips and Sauces

  • 10 oz Fig Jam
  • 12 oz Tzatziki
  • 5 oz Traditional Hummus
  • 5 oz KIalamata Olive Tapenade Hummus

Meats

  • 30 oz Variety of Meats Proscuitto Di Parma, Spicy Calabrese Salami, Uncured Peppered Salami, Uncured Sopressata, Uncured Chorizo, Italian Dry Salami

Cheeses

  • 8 oz Round Brie
  • 57 oz Cheese Varieties Gouda, Aged Gouda, Parmigiano Reggiano, Caramella, Swiss, Manchego

Fruit

  • 9 oz Dried Apricots
  • 26 oz Grapes Red and Green Seedless
  • 8 whole Figs Some whole, some halved with cheese on top
  • 1 package Sweetened Dried Orange Slices

Vegetables

  • 7 oz Mini Cucumber Sliced in rounds
  • 5 oz Greek Olives
  • 6 oz Red Pepper Sliced lengthwise

Crackers & Breads

  • 6 oz Fig & Olive Crisps
  • 5 oz Sesame Crackers
  • 5 oz Rosemary Flatbread
  • 5 oz Brioche

Nuts

  • 7 oz Marcona Almonds & Pecans Combined Weight

Garnish

  • 7 Sprigs Fresh Basil
  • Sprinkle Blueberries
  • Sprinkle Rasberries
  • Sprinkle Blackberries

Instructions

  • Place dips and spreads in bowls and place them throughout the board.
  • Add any large cheeses first, followed by other meats and cheeses, spacing them apart from one another.
  • Add breads and crackers to the board. (Note: If you need to chill the board before serving, skip adding the breads and crackers and instead add them right before serving. Keep open space for them, though.)
  • Add fruits, vegetables, and nuts in remaining openings, making sure to spread the colors throughout the board.
  • Add garnish for a last-minute pop of color in any area that needs some.
  • Serve immediately OR cover securely and chill before serving

Notes

You can scale up or down depending on the number of people you need to serve. To scale up, you can add more of each item listed, or choose additional items to include.

Want to Add Some Holiday Food Options?

A charcuterie board is the perfect easy appetizer! Get tips from a meat and cheese expert for selecting the perfect combination PLUS instructions for how to assemble a beautiful board for a great WOW factor!

Fall

  • Check out Pumpkin Hummus! It pairs well with Graham Crackers and Nilla Wafers
  • Add pumpkin seeds to the mix
  • Include dried cranberries
A charcuterie board is the perfect easy appetizer! Get tips from a meat and cheese expert for selecting the perfect combination PLUS instructions for how to assemble a beautiful board for a great WOW factor!

Christmas

  • Chocolate Hummus with strawberries or raspberries
  • Add a sprig of mint to your board as garnish

Final Thoughts

For those that want to finish it off with a nice wine pairing, here are three of Tommy’s favorites:

  • Far Niente Napa Valley Chardonnay
  • Winston Hill Vineyard Reserve Sangiovese
  • Frank Family Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

You can follow Tommy on Instagram to see what he’s cooking up in his kitchen {HERE}.

Salud!

Don’t forget to PIN IT for later!

Large meat and cheese charcuterie board that includes dips vegetables and fruits

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