A thoughtfully put together charcuterie board is the ultimate party appetizer that will impress your guests. It’s also surprisingly easy to put together—you just need to know a few tips and tricks. In this article, we’ll go over exactly how to build a charcuterie board that deserves its own spot on your Instagram feed. You’ll learn which ingredients work best, how to arrange them, and even how to fold meat for a charcuterie board.
By the end, you’ll be ready to create your own masterpiece!
How to Build a Charcuterie Board Step by Step
Step 1: Gather Materials
Start by choosing a board. This can be any flat surface—like a cutting board, serving tray, or lazy Susan—and square, rectangular, or round. Take a look around your house, and you’ll likely find something you can put to use as a charcuterie board. If you’re hosting a large number of guests and don’t have a large enough board, feel free to create two or three mini charcuterie boards.
Next, search your cupboards for a few small bowls. These will hold things like dips, sauces, jams, or loose ingredients like nuts and berries. They will also give structure to your charcuterie board and help hold other ingredients in place. Your bowls don’t have to match—feel free to use a combination of small dishes, shallow jars, and ramekins.
Finally, you’ll need to find a few small spoons to go into each bowl, as well as knives for cutting and spreading cheese.
Step 2: Gather Ingredients
Listed below are the main categories of foods typically found on a charcuterie board, as well as some tasty examples. The key to a great charcuterie board is to include a wide variety of flavors and textures. You definitely don’t need to buy everything on this list, but two or three ingredients from each category would make a delicious assortment.
Dips & Spreads
- Olive oil & balsamic vinegar
- Grainy mustard
- Preserves, jams, or jellies
The general rule of thumb is to include a combination of hard, soft, and blue cheeses.
- Danish blue
- Blue marble jack
Breads and Crackers
- Different types of crackers
- Baguette slices
- Pita slices
Nuts, Fruits, & Vegetables
- Salted nuts
- Fresh berries
- Dry fruit (apricots, raisins, dates)
- Apple or pear slices
- Cherry tomatoes
Step 3: Arrange Bowls
Once you’re ready to assemble your charcuterie board, start by filling your bowls and spacing them evenly across the board. It’s a lot easier to do this as the first step, rather than trying to squeeze them in among piles of prosciutto and slices of cheddar later on. Not to mention, when you start with the bowls, you can then lean cheeses, meats, and crackers against them and maximize the space on the board.
The bowls can hold things like dips and sauces, as well as other loose ingredients that you wouldn’t want to place directly on the board, such as pickles and olives. Lastly, don’t forget to include a small spoon or fork with each bowl.
Step 4: Cut and Arrange Cheeses
How you arrange the cheeses will depend on their texture. Hard cheeses can be thinly sliced, cubed, or cut into little triangles. You can fan them out slightly or place them in neat piles in various places on the board. Soft and blue cheeses can be left in a single block or wedge. Be sure to leave a few cheese knives next to the blocks so your guests can help themselves.
Step 5: Fold and Arrange Meats
Pepperoni and other sausages can be cut into bite-sized slices and fanned out in the spaces between the cheeses. Thinly sliced meats, however, should be separated into individual slices and folded neatly. This will allow your guests to quickly and easily grab one piece without having to painstakingly peel it off other pieces, touching them in the process. Not to mention, folded meats will add a lot of depth and definition to your charcuterie board, making it look like a true work of art.
Here’s how to fold meat for charcuterie boards in five different ways:
- Salami Rose
Lay down 6-8 slices of salami in a row, but let them overlap a little bit. Fold the entire row in half. Starting at one end, roll the folded row into a rose. To make the rose bigger, you can fold more slices of salami in half and fix them like additional petals around the rose.
- Salami Chain
Grab a slice of salami, fold it in half, then fold it in half again to make a quadrant. Once you’ve made a few quadrants, you can link them together by pinching one flap of the quadrant in between the flaps of another quadrant that’s facing in the opposite direction.
- Capocollo Bouquets
Grab a slice of capocollo or any other round charcuterie slice. Fold it in half to create a semicircle. Bring one edge of the semicircle into the middle and roll it into a cone shape. Arrange the cones tightly next to each other so they resemble a bouquet of roses.
- Prosciutto Rolls
Simply roll up slices of prosciutto into little tubes and arrange them in a small pile.
- Prosciutto Ribbons
Lay a slice of prosciutto flat. Bring the long edges together to fold it in half. Starting on the left side, fold the prosciutto like an accordion, pinching down the bottom and letting the top fan out. Arrange the prosciutto ribbons close to each other to help them stay up.
Step 6: Add Crackers and/or Bread Slices
Use a variety of crackers and arrange them in different ways to add variety to your charcuterie board. Some can be lined up on their side, fanned out, or left in short piles. Do the same with slices of bread or pita slices.
Step 7: Fill the Spaces and Garnish
At this point, your charcuterie board should be pretty full, but you’ll find that it has lots of gaps that are much too small to fit more meat, cheese, or crackers. Fill these gaps with nuts, dried fruit, and produce.
As a final touch, garnish your charcuterie board with fresh herbs like sprigs of thyme or rosemary.
Share Your Masterpiece
In a few simple steps, you can create your own gorgeous charcuterie board. Make it for your next party or special family dinner, and you’ll be guaranteed to wow your guests.
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