I used to see these beautiful boards of cheese, meats, fruit and nuts…. and thought, “I want to make that but don’t know how.”. Little did I know it’s something everyone can do. I’ve taken notes from charcuterie board enthusiasts, chefs and bloggers… and have boiled it down to a science. Below, I’ve shared some tips and tricks so that your charcuterie board turns out to be a masterpiece every single time.
Just remember, this is your board so be sure to use your favorites. If you follow these simple tips, I promise your charcuterie board will come out beautiful every time!
HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT CHARCUTERIE BOARD
1. How many cheeses should I use?
I’ve heard plenty of chef’s say, only do 3 cheeses. That’s the max. Although, I think it really depends on the size of the cheese and also how many people will be grazing off the board. Some blocks of cheese are extremely small and some are much larger. Use your best judgment (and also the amount of guests that will be eating) to figure out how many you should use. If you are using more than 3 cheeses, make sure your board is quite large.
2. What type of cheeses do I use?
Use your favorites. But the rule of thumb is a sharp cheese, a blue cheese and a creamy cheese. If you are at a total loss and don’t know the first thing about cheese, most grocery stores sell pre-made flights of cheeses. Each flight will typically come with three cheeses.
Some great combos could be:
- Vermont extra sharp white cheddar, Roquefort blue, Havarti
- Satori bellavitano merlot cheese, cambozola (blue brie), port salut
- Parmigiano reggiano, cypress hill truffle goat cheese, Gouda
2. How should I plate the cheese?
Find cheeses that that are different shapes. Some are wedges, some are round and others are rectangle or square. I like to slice some of the cheese. Slice half a block of cheese in long strips and leave the rest of the block alone. When it comes to a round brie, I like to cut out small wedges and place them on top of the larger chunk of brie (reference pictures). Cheddar is a great cheese to cut into small bite sized blocks. You can see how I placed the cheeses in different sections of the board and how each cheese is a different shape.
3. What meats should I use and how do I plate them?
I love to get the pre-made packs of 3-4 different meats. Some packs might include prosciutto, capacola and salami.
I love to bundle up my prosciutto to make little rose bud like shapes. When it comes to the round capicola and salami, I fold them in half to make a half circle. Then I fold them once more to make a triangle wedge. I then take the point of that wedge and tuck them beside a pile of cheese.
4. Olives, pickles, fresh fruit, dried fruit, honey, fruit spread?
These are what I like to call, “the fillers”. They fill up empty space and are a pallet cleanser in between cheese bites. So what should you use? Go with your favorites. I love to add a briny olive and pickle to the board and something sweet like grapes. You can also use other fresh or dried fruit. Orange slices, blackberries, raspberries or apples. I love dried apricots, mangoes, cherries, figs or prunes.
My rule is that there needs to be something sweet and something salty on the board. If there is a particular cheese on your board that pairs well with sweetness, add some honeycomb or fig spread as well. The honeycomb is also so pretty to look at and adds more beauty to the board.
5. Crackers? How many and what kind?
Crackers are another “filler” item that make the board more busy and full. Much like the cheese, find crackers that are different shapes and sizes. I like to make large piles of crackers and use a combination of different kinds. Wherever they fit, place them. Besides crackers, a nice crusty baguette crostini is also wonderful on the board.
Some of my favorite crackers include:
- Crunchmaster multi seed, original
- Raincoast crisp, cranberry or fig
- Cheese straws
- Parmesan crisps
- Firehook Mediterranean bakes crackers, sea salt
I love a good crunch on the board as a pallet cleanser. Use your favorites.
Some of my favorites are:
- Marcona almonds
- Spiced mixed nuts
- Candies pecans or walnuts
7. How do I plate everything?
Start to make piles. Start with your cheeses and place them in different corners or sections of the board. Once the cheese is down, you will build around it.
Next up is meats. Start to place your prosciutto roses and capicola wedges by the cheese. Tuck them underneath so they stay in place. Kind of create a meat garden with each different type you have.
Next is the fruit, nuts and salty stuff. Place your fruits in the center of the board and/or around the meat and cheese. Basically, just start placing things where there are empty spaces. If something doesn’t look right, don’t be afraid to move it or start over. I like to place pickles or olives in small bowls. Nuts can also go in bowls or run free on the board. Just remember, the board looks best when there are different textures and shapes throughout.
Finally, the last step is the crackers. Place those wherever there is an empty space. Pile each cracker separately in big piles and stacked up.
Tip: don’t be afraid to move stuff around. If there is an area that is too uniform in shape and color, switch it up. Move it around until everything flows nicely.
Reminder: Fill in all the empty spaces. A charcuterie board could never look too squished. The tighter and closer everything is, the better it looks. Refer to my board for inspiration.
Last thought: A charcuterie board is so personal to your liking. So use your favorites and create something that you would want to dive into.