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5 Best Charcuterie Board Ideas

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Olena Osipov

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The 5 best Charcuterie Board Ideas to impress, plus all the top tips, tricks, and ‘formulas’ to creating the perfect charcuterie board every single time! Holiday, brunch and vegan appetizer board ideas can be the starting point for your own unique platter or follow the directions as is for starter plates everyone will enjoy.

Need some more healthy appetizer ideas for entertaining guests no matter the season? Try buffalo chicken dip for game days, 15 minute taco dip for summer BBQs and parmesan mushrooms for any holiday festivity.

Best Charcuterie Board Ideas

Charcuterie boards are inspired by the French ‘charcuterie’ (from chair ‘flesh’ and cuit ‘cooked’), a cooking practice focused on prepared meats (usually preserved) like bacon, ham, and sausages along with pates and roulades, etc. Charcuterie boards combine a selection of these prepared meats with other ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheese, preserves, and bread, served on a large platter – perfect for serving at dinner parties, special occasions (like the holidays), gatherings, and potlucks.

To make the perfect charcuterie platter, it’s best to pair ingredients to contrast and balance taste, texture, and color. The ingredients used can based on the season and a theme. These days you can even make a vegan charcuterie board (option mentioned below!). Best of all, though, there are tons of charcuterie board ideas to choose from as they are so versatile (which makes them a great option to serve up to picky eaters).

Below is a list of my five top charcuterie board ideas, including a Thanksgiving charcuterie board, Christmas, brunch, and vegan charcuterie board– Plus my top tips on putting together the best charcuterie platter and the answer to several top FAQs!

Why These Ideas Make the Perfect Charcuterie Board?

The versatility of charcuterie boards is both a blessing and a curse. Especially for those who haven’t put one together before. Luckily, these curated charcuterie board ideas have ingredients that have been carefully selected, while still giving you the freedom to mix and match ingredients to your liking.

How to Make a Charcuterie Board

There are a few steps to preparing a charcuterie board, including selecting ingredients, slicing/preparing them, and arranging them.

Charcuterie Plate Components

  • Charcuterie meats/fish: It’s best to select meats ranging from pre-sliced cured meats for salty, savory flavor and harder/cooked meats for texture and chew. These include options like prosciutto, salami, nduja, ham (on and off the bone), cured ham, cured beef, chorizo, soppressata, mortadella, etc. You can also use cold smoked salmon, smoked fish, and shrimp or other smoked proteins.  
  • Spreadables: This is technically optional but a must-add in this list of charcuterie board ideas. By spreadables, this includes meat products such as Pâté, rillette, and terrine. If you’re making a vegan charcuterie board, there are vegetable variations of pate and terrines.
  • Cheese: Like the above, it’s best to choose a varied selection of cheeses; mild vs. mature and soft vs. hard. You can also vary your cheese options by the milk used, cow vs. goat vs. sheep, for example. Options include brie, camembert, burrata, mozzarella (soft), cheddar, gruyere, gouda, provolone (sharp), feta and goats’ cheese (crumbly), parmesan and Manchego (hard), stilton, Roquefort, or gorgonzola (blue). You can also include cheese spreads like cream cheese (plain and flavored like Boursin).
  • Bread/Crackers: Next, you’ll need a ‘carrier’ for the above three. That’s where crackers and bread come in. Avoid cheap crackers when making a charcuterie board and instead use artisan crackers, breads, baguette, and more.
  • Fruits/Vegetables: With those main elements out of the way, it’s time for the ‘accompaniments,’ starting with fruits and vegetables. The ones you use will depend on your other ingredients. However, there are lots to choose from. Cucumber, celery, bell pepper, olives, apple, grapes, berries, cherries, figs, melon, etc. Pickled vegetables are also often included.
  • Other accompaniments: Lastly comes all the other odds and ends used to fill in the board and add extra flavor; jams and preserves, tapenade, condiments (like mustard, honey, and other sauces), dips, nuts, and even chocolate.

You’ll also need lots of toothpicks, knifes to slice cheese/meats, spoons, little bowls, etc. That way everyone can easily serve and enjoy your charcuterie board ideas.

How to Arrange a Board for Charcuterie

People do this in various ways. However, this is the ‘formula’ I use to help in creating a visually appealing board.

Step 1: Place the large items

This will depend on whether you’re mainly using sliced cheese or not. However, at this point, I usually place my cheese, making sure they’re evenly spread around the board and alternating in terms of shape and size for better visual appeal.

Depending on the size of your board (for larger boards, I tend to add them now. For smaller ones, I add them in step two alongside the meats), you can also add any bowls (for smaller ingredients like olives and picked or dips, spreads, sauces, etc.) and jars (of preserves, jams, etc.). Once again, I like to place these around the board, so nothing is right next to one another, and the tallest items are towards the center of the board, creating visual appeal and depth.

Step 2: Add the meats

Using the already placed ingredients and jars to help ‘prop’ meats up. Now it’s time to add your mixed selection of ingredients. When it comes to creating an interesting charcuterie board, make sure not to lay the meats ‘flat’. Instead, create visual appeal by rolling, folding, scrunching, and shaping the meats in various ways based on their size and flexibility. This not only looks great but is easier for your guests to remove, too. Once again, make sure to spread the options across the board rather than place them all side by side.

Step 3: Add the crackers/bread

Make sure not to lay the bread too close to any ‘wet’ ingredients but still spread them evenly across the board. I like to make sure I have at least 2-3 options (i.e., baguette slices along with thin crackers or vegetable chips), even on a small charcuterie board.

Step 4: Place the fruits, veg, and accompaniments

Now it’s time to fill in all the little gaps on the board with fruits, veggies, and all the other accompaniments of your choice. I recommend making sure to place different colored and shaped ingredients beside one another to spread color across the board. Add lots of different components, too, for plenty of choices! These really help to boost color and texture!

Make sure not to place anything too ‘wet’ next to the bread and crackers and use larger fruits (like grapes and pomegranate) to add height and dimension. You can then finish off the charcuterie board with these last flourishes, including herbs to garnish and any cheese/ingredient markers, so your guests know exactly what the various ingredients are.

Tips for Best Results

  • Using a theme: You don’t HAVE to have a theme for a successful charcuterie board. However, if you don’t know where to begin, then a theme can help. You can create themes based on the season, holidays, color, region, dietary preference, flavor profiles, etc.
  • Plan the amount: To avoid waste, it’s a good idea to plan for how many guests you plan to feed. As a general rule, plan on around 3oz of charcuterie (cheese and meat) per person for an appetizer/snack and 6oz when serving as a main, along with 2-3 slices of bread, some crackers, and a handful-ish of the various accompaniments.
  • Balance and contrast flavors: Adding a combination of sweet, savory, salty, and spicy components is a sure way to appeal to all and create a balance of flavors. Plus, giving your guests a lot of options almost always leads to success!
  • Balance the board: Likewise, balance the boards with colors, textures, and shapes. Don’t place any components that are too similar side by side (color, shape, and size). However, it can be a good idea to place ingredients that pair well beside one another (i.e., cheese and grapes).
  • Create dimension: Adding bowls, jars, and folding/shaping the meat are all great ways to add dimension to your charcuterie board.
  • Fill the board: In most cases in life, less is more- that’s not the case with charcuterie boards. In my experience, a charcuterie board packed with ingredients and barely any (if any at all) board showing tend to look the best.
  • Experiment and have fun: Don’t get too bogged down by the ‘perfect’ pairings if that’s not what you’re into. Yes, certain meats and cheeses work best together, but you can also just use your general common sense to choose flavors YOU think works well together. Trial and error are all part of the fun.
  • Don’t forget the ‘utensils’: Include plenty of serving tools and utensils like toothpicks, cheese knives, spoons, etc. After spending time curating and perfecting your charcuterie board, the last thing you want is to end up with tons of leftovers because people couldn’t easily eat the components!

Charcuterie Board FAQs

What is the best charcuterie board?

If you plan on making a board as a gift, then finding a tray with a raised edge is great for transportability. Otherwise, there are tons of special charcuterie boards you can buy. However, feel free to use any wooden, marble, or slate boards you have – there’s no need to buy an expensive charcuterie board specifically.

How do you pronounce charcuterie board?

There are a couple of main ways that charcuterie is pronounced. Americans largely pronounce it ‘sharh-KOO-teh-ree’, with an emphasis on the ‘koo’ and spoken as if it has four syllables. However, as far as I’m aware, the correct French pronunciation is ‘sharh-koo-TRIH’ with three syllables and an emphasis on the ‘trih’.

How to cut cheese for a charcuterie board?

After choosing your cheeses (options listed in post) based on taste, texture, and flavor, it’s time to display them.

It’s up to you whether you decide to arrange the board with entire blocks of cheese (slicer provided), just slices, or a combination of the two. I’ll often do the first for smaller boards and the latter for larger ones–that way there are slices ready for guest to remove easily, but the rest is there if needed. Plus, you can easily wrap up leftovers without them drying out (which would be harder with all pre-sliced pieces).

How to fold meat for a charcuterie board?

Depending on the type of cured meat you’re using, there are various ways to shape and fold it to create visual intrigue on a charcuterie board. You can roll pieces, pinch it into a mound, fan it out, or even shape it into rosettes (for example with prosciutto, twist a long strand then roll it up and tuck under the edge and you have a cute rosette).

Is a charcuterie gift basket a good present?

For any foodies, a charcuterie board is the perfect gift (as long as it doesn’t have to travel far). You can mix and match ingredients based on the recipient’s preferences for a delicious treat to impress!

How do you assemble an amazing charcuterie board?

There are several steps to assembling the perfect charcuterie board including selecting the ingredients (based on a theme or not), preparing them (slicing/shaping), arranging, and then finishing off the board based on a good combination of textures, shapes, colors, and flavors. Read the blog post for my ‘formula’ and top tips!

How to make a charcuterie board for two?

The rules for creating a smaller charcuterie board are the same as larger ones – but on a smaller scale. The general rule is to provide 3oz cheese and meat for an appetizer/snack portion, or 6oz for a main along with a handful or so of accompaniments, several slices of bread or crackers, and some condiments.

How far in advance can you make a charcuterie board?

I recommend preparing your charcuterie board up to 24 hours in advance and storing it in a refrigerator tightly wrapped with plastic wrap to stop the ingredients from drying out. You don’t even have to prepare the entire board in advance. I like to pre-slice the meats and some of the cheese then store in airtight containers. Avoid adding any fruits that may brown until right before serving.

Once it’s served, it’s best to store any leftovers back in the fridge within 3-4 hours.

Everyday Simple Charcuterie Board

This everyday simple charcuterie board simply takes the ‘formula’ of ingredients above and chooses a selection of each for a simple and delicious treat for any occasion.

  • Charcuterie meats: Salami, prosciutto
  • Soft Cheese: Blue cheese, brie, Havarti, goats’ cheese
  • Semi-hard cheese: Gruyere, cheddar, parmesan
  • Bread/Crackers: Baguette, parmesan crisps, crackers (almond flour or whole wheat)
  • Fruits/Vegetables: Two varieties of grapes plus dried fruit, including apricots, dates, figs, and cherries. I also used olives and a selection of pickled vegetables, including cornichons/baby dill pickles or string beans.
  • Other accompaniments: Olive oil bread dip and a selection of condiments, including any jams, jellies, or honeycomb
everyday simple charcuterie board with meats and cheese fruits on board

Thanksgiving Charcuterie Board

This Thanksgiving charcuterie board takes advantage of holiday meats and seasonal produce paired with classic cheese and ingredients and is perfect for using up Thanksgiving leftovers, too!

  • Charcuterie meats: Honey maple roast turkey, prosciutto
  • Soft Cheese: Blue cheese, brie, Havarti, goats’ cheese
  • Semi-hard cheese: Gruyere, cheddar, parmesan
  • Bread/Crackers: Mini ciabatta buns, sweet potato and beet chips/crackers
  • Fruits/Vegetables: Two varieties of grapes plus seasonal ingredients including pomegranate, pears, apples, Brussels sprouts (leftover roasted or raw), and dried fruit including cranberries, raisins, and dates. I also added pickled veggies like cornichons, baby dill pickles, and string beans.
  • Other accompaniments: Olive oil bread dip, French onion dip, and a selection of condiments (like cranberry sauce) and mustard.  
Thanksgiving charcuterie board with meats cheeses breads dips

Christmas Charcuterie Board

While similar to the Thanksgiving charcuterie board, this Christmas charcuterie board contains breads and ingredients that are popular around Christmas time and can easily be adapted to what you have in your own kitchen. Mix and match the cheeses based on what you selected for a Christmas cheese board and feel free to use leftover cooked meats and ham.

  • Charcuterie meats: Garlic roast beef, prosciutto, and other leftovers like turkey or ham
  • Soft Cheese: Blue cheese, brie, Havarti, goats’ cheese
  • Semi-hard cheese: Gruyere, cheddar, parmesan
  • Bread/Crackers: Stollen, panettone, fruit and nut bread, and sweet potato and beet chips/crackers, or other veggie crackers/chips
  • Fruits/Vegetables: Two varieties of grapes plus seasonal ingredients including pomegranate, pears, apples, Brussels sprouts, and dried fruit including cranberries, raisins, and dates. I also added pickled veggies like cornichons, baby dill pickles, and string beans.
  • Other accompaniments: Veggie dip, French onion dip, mustard (cranberry sauce would also work well), and dried fruits/nuts, including hazelnuts, pistachios, and cranberries. You could also add walnuts or Brazil nuts.
christmas charcuterie board with meats cheese fruit pickled veggies and nuts

Vegan Charcuterie Board

This vegan charcuterie board follows a similar formula but with dairy-free, meat-free ingredients. I’ve included more fresh veggies in this board, too, for lots of eat the rainbow ingredients.

  • Charcuterie proteins: You can use smoked or marinated tofu or tempeh. There are also tons of options for meat alternatives these days, including various hams and other ‘ready-to-eat’ options. Even snack options like mini scotch eggs would work well for a vegan charcuterie board.
  • Soft cheese: I used dairy-free ricotta. You could also use cream cheese.
  • Semi-hard cheese: I used cheddar though you can use the cheese of your liking. These days there are brands that make vegan blue cheese, gouda, and softer options like Camembert and brie–the sky is the limit.
  • Bread/Crackers: Fruit and nut bread, baguette, crackers, and sweet potato and beet chips.
  • Fruits/Vegetables: Two varieties of grapes plus dried apricots were added as fruit. In terms of veggies, I used a selection of fresh (zucchini, cucumber, snap peas, cauliflower, and cabbage) plus marinated/pickled (marinated roasted bell peppers, olives, and pickled cornichons or string beans).  
  • Other accompaniments: Veggie dip (using a dairy-free yogurt), garlic hummus, a handful of nuts (I used pistachios), and condiments including jellies, preserves, and mustard. Swap out for dips and condiments of choice.
vegan charcuterie board with rainbow of vegetables dairy free cheese and breads

Brunch Charcuterie Board

This brunch charcuterie board is any brunch-lovers dream with a combination of sweet and savory elements, including bagels, fruits, veggies, smoked salmon, and eggs.  

  • Charcuterie proteins: Smoked salmon–feel free to use flavored varieties too for different options. I also added hard-boiled eggs (sliced)
  • Soft Cheese: Cream cheese and goat cheese are soft and spreadable for the bagels.
  • Bread: An assortment of sliced bagels that are sweet and savory. I used blueberry bagels and sesame bagels.
  • Vegetables: Cucumber, zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, and avocado slices (dip in lemon juice to keep them green for longer). I also included pickled cornichons and capers (which pair wonderfully with the smoked salmon).   
  • Fruits: I paired grapes with a selection of fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and sliced strawberries.)
  • Other accompaniments: I also included some dark chocolate and fresh herbs, including dill, parsley, mint, etc. You could optionally make a simple honey butter spread for the sweet bagels or serve with various preserves and jams/jellies making a great addition to this brunch charcuterie board.
brunch charcuterie board with bagels grapes cream cheese smoked salmon

More How To Recipe Ideas

If you enjoyed these charcuterie board ideas, you may also like some of the follow how-to’s!

Need more appetizer board or snack inspiration? Browse 65 healthy snack recipes to come up with your own board combination.

5 Best Charcuterie Board Ideas

5 Best Charcuterie Board Ideas {Simple and Easy!}

The 5 best Charcuterie Board Ideas to impress, plus all the top tips, tricks, and 'formulas' to creating the perfect charcuterie board every single time! Holiday, brunch and vegan appetizer board ideas can be the starting point for your own unique spread or follow the directions as is for starter plates everyone will enjoy.
Print Save Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American, French
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

Everyday Simple Charcuterie Board

  • 16 oz grapes 2 varieties
  • 8 oz cured or smoked meats salami, prosciutto etc.
  • 10 oz soft cheese blue cheese, brie, havarti, goat cheese
  • 10 oz semi-hard cheese gruyere, cheddar, parmesan
  • 12 oz baguette and crackers Parmesan crisps, almond flour/whole wheat etc. crackers, Parmesan chips
  • 5 oz condiments jam, jelly or honeycomb
  • 10 oz dried fruit apricots, dates, figs, cherries
  • 5 oz pickled veggies olives, pickled cornichons/baby dill pickles or string beans
  • 1 serving olive oil bread dip

Thanksgiving Charcuterie Board

  • 16 oz grapes 2 varieties
  • 8 oz cured or smoked meats honey maple roast turkey, prosciutto
  • 10 oz soft cheese blue cheese, brie, havarti, goat cheese
  • 10 oz semi-hard cheese gruyere, cheddar, parmesan
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 10 oz fresh seasonal fruits figs, pears, apples
  • 5 oz fresh seasonal veggies brussels sprouts
  • 5 oz dried fruit cranberries, raisins, dates
  • 5 oz pickled veggies olives, pickled cornichons or string beans
  • 12 oz breads and crackers/chips mini ciabatta buns, sweet potato and beet chips/crackers
  • 5 oz condiments mustard
  • 1 serving french onion dip
  • 1 serving olive oil dip

Christmas Charcuterie Board

  • 16 oz grapes 2 varieties
  • 8 oz cured or smoked meats garlic roast beef
  • 10 oz soft cheese blue cheese, brie, havarti, goat cheese
  • 10 oz semi-hard cheese gruyere, cheddar, parmesan
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 5 oz seasonal fresh vegetable brussels sprouts
  • 5 oz pickled veggies olives, pickled cornichons or string beans
  • 5-8 oz dried fruits/nuts hazelnuts, pistachios, cranberries
  • 12 oz breads and crackers/chips stollen, panettone, fruit & nut bread, sweet potato and beet crackers/chips
  • 5 oz condiments mustard
  • 1 serving veggie dip
  • 1 serving french onion dip

Vegan Charcuterie Board

  • 16 oz grapes 2 varieties
  • 8 oz smoked vegan protein tofu, tempeh etc.
  • 10 oz vegan soft cheese ricotta
  • 10 oz vegan hard cheese cheddar
  • 5-8 oz pickled / marinated veggies marinated bell peppers, olives, pickled cornichons or string beans
  • 10 oz fresh veggies zucchini, cucumber, snap peas, cauliflower, cabbage
  • 5-8 oz dried fruits/nuts apricots, pistachios
  • 12 oz bread and crackers/chips fruit and nut bread, baguette, crackers, sweet and beet crackers/chips
  • 5 oz condiments preserves, jellies, mustard
  • 1 serving garlic hummus
  • 1 serving veggie dip

Brunch Charcuterie Board

  • 16 oz grapes 2 varieties
  • 8 oz smoked meats salmon
  • 5 hard boiled eggs sliced
  • 10 oz semi-soft cheese cream cheese, goat cheese
  • 5-8 oz fresh veggies cucumber, zucchini tomato, lettuce, avocado slices
  • 6 oz fresh berries raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, sliced strawberries
  • 5 oz pickled veggies capers, pickled cornichons etc
  • 6-8 bagels assorted and sliced
  • 4 oz dark chocolate for garnish
  • fresh herbs dill, parsley, mint etc.

Instructions

  • Gather board base essentials: board, cheese knife, dip bowls, condiment utensils, toothpicks.
    5 Best Charcuterie Board Ideas
  • Placing larger items like blocks or slices of cheese on the board first.
    5 Best Charcuterie Board Ideas
  • Add dips, pickled veg bowls, sliced meats next.
    5 Best Charcuterie Board Ideas
  • Add crackers and breads spacing them out on board.
    5 Best Charcuterie Board Ideas
  • Fill in gaps with fresh fruit, veggies and/or dried fruits and nuts.
    5 Best Charcuterie Board Ideas
  • Add garnish and serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

Make Ahead: Can be prepared 24 hours in advance and stored tightly wrapped in the refrigerator until ready to use. Add any fruits that might 'brown' right before serving.

    Store: Store any leftovers back in the fridge within 3-4 hours.

      Notes

      • All measurements are approximate. You will need to scale up or down depending on the size of your board and then number of people you are serving. 
      See recipe post for more charcuterie ideas and FAQs.
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      olena osipov in the studio

      Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

      My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

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      1. One of the settings also enables you to cook the meat through without turning it. The Crockpot meat slicer has a variety of different attachments, which gives you a lot of versatility when preparing your meats.

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