Whenever I have guests over, putting together an easy charcuterie board has become my go-to. Everyone loves a good cheese board! And those beautiful ones you see on Pinterest and Instagram? They’re surprisingly easy to put together, with the right ingredients.
I love a simple charcuterie board because it’s hearty for hungry guests (meat + cheese + carbs, mmm, what’s not to love?) and the presentation always impresses guests (even though it really is so, so easy to put together!). It’s just so satisfying.
And you’ll feel like a boss when your guests ooh and ahh over your charcuterie board and take pictures of it, because it’s just that pretty.
For the board, I recommend investing in Personalized Cutting Boards. These boards add a fun touch to your charcuterie spread. Plus they make great gifts!
I used to feel intimidated by all of the gorgeous charcuterie boards and spreads I saw on Pinterest and thought that if I tried to make one it would just look sad. Nobody wants a sad charcuterie board. But after trying my hand at it I realized that literally, anyone can do it.
We’ll get into all the details, but my best presentation tip is to fill up the entire board so that it is covered and there are no empty spaces. Keep that in mind and you really can’t go wrong!
Shop cheese boards below:
You can get all of the ingredients you need at any grocery store—sometimes I’ll do an all Trader Joe’s charcuterie board, but Whole Foods also has a great cheese selection. And if you’re having a really big group over (you know, not during pandemic times), Costco has everything you need! If you want to be extra fancy, you can go with specialty items from local delis or cheese shops (hello, Cowgirl Creamery).
You could even go with a theme like Italian or French for your cheeseboard when selecting your ingrediens. Earlier this year, right before the pandemic hit, we did a really fun Italian wine tasting night with friends and family. To go with the Italian wines, we got three different Italian cheeses (Pecorino, Asiago, Provolone) from an Italian deli. We also got bread and balsamic vinegar and olive oil to pair with it. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
If your friends end up staying for dinner and you’re looking for other easy recipes, then I’d recommend making this five cheese marinara to go with some rigatoni, this Mediterranean Diet Lasagna Recipe, or these pulled pork nachos.
There are so many ways to have fun with this and even though it’s an easy charcuterie board, I promise it’s still going to look epic!
Shop pretty cheese knives for your charcuterie board below:
Here are my tips for how to put together an easy charcuterie board in no time, as well as all the ingredients you’ll need. Enjoy!
- Sliced meats
- Fruit or Dried Fruit
- Sliced Veggies
- Spreads (mustard, honey, chutney)
- Rosemary Sprigs
Cheese: Let's start with your cheese selection since these are really the pillars of your charcuterie board (lol that sounded a little dramatic, but it's true).
I like to pick out three different types of cheese for variety. I'll usually do one soft cheese, one hard cheese, and one medium-firm or crumbly cheese. I also like to do a mix of mild cheeses and ones that are sharper or more flavorful. So for example, I might do a brie, a goat cheese, and a gouda. Or a truffle tremor goat cheese, a blue cheese, and manchego. There's no wrong way to pick out cheeses—as long as you have some variety, there's something for everyone. Mild, creamy cheeses are always a crowd-pleaser, so you can usually find a triple-creme brie on my cheeseboards.
If you're having trouble deciding, the cheesemongers at Whole Foods are super knowledgeable and will definitely be able to help you out.
Here are a few of my fav cheeses to include in a cheese board:
Soft cheeses: Brie, camembert, Goat, and Boursin.
Firm cheeses: Aged or sharp cheddar, Gruyere, Gouda, Manchego, and Parmigiano-Reggiano,
Stinky cheeses: Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Fontina.
Cured Meats: Next, I always like to include some sliced meats on my cheese boards. Salami and prosciutto are my go-to's. If I have a lot of company coming I'll get the large variety pack of cured meats from Costco, but if I have a smaller group coming and I'm feeling fancy I'll get salami from an Italian deli near us.
Crackers: My favorites are Raincoast Crips, which you can find at Whole Foods, but of course any crackers will do. Just make sure the cracker flavors won't clash with the ingredients on your charcuterie board. Sometimes they can get a little over the top (I'm looking at you, pumpkin-cranberry Trader Joe's crackers).
Assembly: So now that we've selected our two main ingredients for our charcuterie board, let's get into the assembly. I have a few different charcuterie boards at home in different shapes and sizes. One of them is a long silver tray, another is a small rectangular wood cutting board, and the third is a large wood cutting board. The large board is obviously perfect for bigger groups, but you'd be surprised how much stuff I can fit on the thinner, long silver tray (great for groups of 6-10), and the small cutting board is great for wine nights with me and a girlfriend or a date night in with Omied.
I'm thinking that next, I need to get a live-edge charcuterie board (linking a really pretty one here) to level up my charcuterie board game...
I've never tried the butcher paper charcuterie board, where you just do a massive spread on top of butcher paper, but I do think that would be fun for a really big party. Thinking I'll try it someday when we can get together in big groups again!
Ok so once you've selected your board, I like to place one or two small bowls in the board for things like olives, dips, and/or spreads like mustard, honey, or chutney. Then I'll spread my cheeses around the board. For hard cheeses, you can start cutting it into cubes to make it look a bit more inviting for your guests to dive in.
You'll also want to add some charcuterie knives so guests can cut the cheese (lolllll I can't say that with a straight face. I'm five years old.). Linking some really pretty cheese knife sets here!
Now it's time for a salami river! This looks very fancy but is super easy to do. Just fold the salami in half, and then in half again. You can start placing each folded salami on your charcuterie board and have it snake through the middle of your board. If you have another meat like prosciutto, you can place it alongside your salami river and just kinda fold and fluff it up so it looks pretty.
At this point, it's time to add some crackers. I like to sprinkle them around to fill out any remaining large gaps on my charcuterie board. Don't feel like you have to place all your crackers on your board at once. You can always replenish crackers on your board as people eat them, too.
If you're doing sliced veggies and dip, time to add your dip to your small bowls and veggies onto your board as well.
Lastly, you want to fill in any gaps so that your charcuterie board is totally covered. I like to take a handful of nuts and sprinkle them over any empty spaces. Fruit or dried fruit is great for this as well.
For your nuts, really any will do. The mixed ones from Costco work great. Trader joe's also has candied pecans that are sooo good on a charcuterie board.
For fruits, I really like to do blackberries and grapes. Apple slices also pair really well with cheese. If you're opting for dried fruits, dried apricot and cherries go really well with cheese. Fresh or dried figs are a great option too!
I add a few rosemary sprigs for garnish (I don't even buy these at the store—there's a huge rosemary bush down the street from us and I just clip off a few sprigs and rinse them off!) and voila! Your perfect, easy charcuterie board.
Shop charcuterie boards and cheese knives below:
This is such an easy appetizer and such a crowd-pleaser. I just put one together this past weekend for a group of six of us in about five minutes. And it was v Pinterest/photo-worthy!
Next time I might go with a French theme for the wine and cheeses, and maybe get Omied to make pâté. He made some earlier this year when we were doing our Wanderlust Cooking series for French night, and it was legit out of this world. Adding some of that to a charcuterie board would be some next-level amazingness. Maybe some fondue, too?? This slow cooker fondue recipe looks drool-worthy. I also love that you can switch it up each season, like Luci did for this fall charcuterie board!
Let me know if you try out these tips and make your own charcuterie board at home, and if there are any other ingredients you experiment with!
Looking for more recipes? You’ll find them over here!
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.