charcuterie board and tapas on wooden table

How to Create the Best Charcuterie Board

A party just isn’t a party without an illustrious collection of small items to snack on throughout the event. Whether you’re hosting an intimate get-together or a large gathering to celebrate your latest milestone, a charcuterie board is the best snack choice to serve your guests. We’ve outlined some essential items for your charcuterie board so you can show off your snack skills to the fullest.

The Essential Items

You must always have a wide but cohesive array of items on your charcuterie board consisting of meats, cheeses, grains, spread, and other supplementary foods.

Meats

Here are a few common meats for your charcuterie boards.

  • Prosciutto: The prosciutto that is commonly plated on charcuterie boards is prosciutto crudo, which is a salt-cured, thinly-sliced raw ham, specifically stemming from pork legs. This is one of the best meats to include in your charcuterie boards because it will work with almost any other component you have available. It’s full of flavor and paper-thin, so your guests won’t feel too full even if they over-indulge.
  • Salami: Salami is a type of cured sausage made from a combination of pork and beef, or pork and beef individually. The sausage casing tends to be made of either animal fat or a manufactured substance consisting of cellulose and collagen materials. This works perfectly with cheddar or other harder, sharp cheeses.

Other meat options include:

    • Pepperoni: Salty, slightly-smoky
    • Mortadella: Fatty, spiced, nutty
    • Meat pâté: Can be ground liver, pork parts, etc.

Choose at least three meat options for your board to satisfy all tastes.

Cheeses

Some say cheese is the true hero of the board. Below are some popular options you can choose from.

    • Brie: Made from either cow or goat milk, this creamy cheese is wrapped in a white rind and can be served either at room temperature or baked. Brie has origins in France, offering a smooth, earthy flavor that can be paired with honey, nuts, garlic, or other ingredients to enhance its buttery profile. We always recommend baking brie and topping it with your favorite jam and a smattering of pistachios for a delectable crunch. Dig in to your creation with a crostini and voila – you have the perfect snack.
    • Fontina: This semi-hard cheese is nutty and creamy, typically brined and aged for a total of 5 months. It melts incredibly well, making it perfect for sandwiches should you have leftovers from your charcuterie board. The pale orange color adds variety to your plate, and the semi-soft texture makes it great on crackers.
    • Mimolette: This mild cheese works well for those who are averse to sharp flavors. The fruity profile is similar to cheddar. This cheese tends to be aged between 6-18 months, creating different textures that range from semi-hard to hard. Mimolette was banned in the US in 2013, but the restriction has recently been lifted, allowing US residents to enjoy a full range of mimolette cheeses.

Other cheese options include:

    • Havarti: Acidic, sweet, and buttery
    • Goat cheese: Soft and creamy
    • Gruyère: Toasty, nutty, and creamy
    • Cheddar: Traditional, can be sharp or mild

Offer a range of cheese that are soft, semi-hard, and hard, with flavor profiles that are between sweet and salty

Breads and Grains

Having bread and crackers available to supplement the meat and cheese is a crucial part of the charcuterie board. Though you can make homemade bread for the occasion, the point of a charcuterie board is to have a quick, yet elegant snack plate available for you and your guests to mill over before dinner or during a cocktail hour. A toasted baguette is ideal, but you can also offer focaccia, crackers, or untoasted bread as well. Be sure to offer gluten-free options for those who are sensitive.

Additional Items

Meat, cheese, and bread aren’t the only items you should serve. Check out these additional options below to round out your plate.

  • Pickled items: Dill cucumbers, red peppers, and onions are great charcuterie options because they blend salty and sweet flavors that complement the cheese well.
  • Fruits: Assorted grapes, figs, and berries are perfect for a charcuterie board. You’ll want to offer items that your guests do not have to slice or can be consumed in a single bite.
  • Nuts: Pecans, pistachios, and almonds are some of the most ideal nuts to serve. Many cheese and meat options already have these flavor profiles, so it is a good idea to use these ones in particular for your board
  • Spreads: Have dips and spreads are an absolute must. Your guests are looking to bind their dairy, protein, and grains with something smooth that has a burst of flavor. Spicy mustard, fig jam, pepper jelly, and olive tapenade can all be implemented into your charcuterie board. You can add them thoughtfully to the board itself, or serve them in small bowls on the side so your guests can take their serving.

Now that you have all the tools you need to create an immaculate charcuterie board, its time to put your skills to the test. Offer pairings of your choosing at your next birthday party, book club meet, or date night. When you’re simply not in the mood to shop and prepare your own meal, visit Nico Boston, where we have fresh, thoughtful ingredients that appeal to all tastes and palates. Make a reservation with us today!

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