The charcuterie board is having a real moment—both on social media and out in the world. They photograph beautifully for Instagram, but more than that, they’re a delicious dish to share with loved ones.
And you don’t need to go to a restaurant to order a charcuterie board! You can assemble a beautiful one at home. Gone are the days of basic cheese and crackers. With this guide to DIY charcuterie boards, you’ll have all the information you need to create a gorgeous spread of various charcuterie board ingredients that will surely be a crowd pleaser.
Ready to learn how to make a charcuterie board of your very own? Read on!
What Is a Charcuterie Board?
Before we can even get into the details of what a charcuterie board is, let’s answer an even more basic question—how to pronounce “charcuterie board.” Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt silly trying to say it in front of a group of friends or if you’ve stumbled over the pronunciation and been corrected. You’re definitely not the only one!
Here is how to pronounce “charcuterie:” shaar – koo – tr – ee
Practice it a few times and it will start rolling off your tongue. Have it down? Great. Let’s continue.
A charcuterie board is essentially any spread of meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, dips and crackers. How big should a charcuterie board be? Charcuterie displays can range from large to small and can include any combination of items. They’re usually styled thoughtfully, which is why charcuterie has become such a common subject of food photography.
Let’s investigate the history of the charcuterie board next.
Charcuterie Board Origins
Charcuterie boards are steeped in French tradition, as well as in the French language. The word “charcuterie” translates in French to “pork-butcher shop.” The earliest charcuterie boards were composed primarily of pork and pork products, but over the years, chefs and others have started incorporating other meats and non-meat ingredients.
The first charcuterie boards were composed in France in the 15th century, but it’s only thanks to the traditional process of salt-curing meats that was developed in the Roman empire that this was possible. Cured meats like salami and prosciutto were the basis of many of the earliest charcuterie boards—and they continue to play a major role in them today.
One of the coolest things about charcuterie boards is that they can develop and evolve in a variety of ways! As charcuterie has migrated to various countries, different cultures have put their own touches on them, letting their favorite snacks take center stage. Anywhere you go, the charcuterie will look a little different. No two charcuterie boards are exactly the same!
How to Eat a Charcuterie Board
There’s no one right way to eat a charcuterie board. Every person will look at a charcuterie display and dig in differently. Next time you make or order a charcuterie board to share with friends or loved ones, pay attention to how everyone approaches the eating experience. There will be lots of variety.
If you’re sharing a charcuterie board with a group, the polite thing to do is to pick out a selection of your favorite ingredients and move them from the larger display onto a smaller plate with a fork and knife. This way, you’ll be able to experiment with different flavor combinations without constantly having your hands on the collective dish.
From there, you might want to try tasting each one of the items on its own to see how they taste. Then, mix and match them! The standard combination of charcuterie ingredients is usually a piece of meat, a piece of cheese, a fruit or vegetable, and a dip or spread. Some charcuterie boards will come with crackers or bread, which you can use as a base for the rest of the items if you’d like.
If all of that sounds like too much flavor, stick to taking bites of smaller combinations of ingredients instead. The possibilities really are endless. Every bite—even of a single charcuterie board—can be a little different.
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How to Make a Charcuterie Board
Charcuterie boards are standard on most restaurant menus these days, but there’s nothing stopping you from making your own at home, too! If you want to make a charcuterie board, it’s as simple as collecting charcuterie board ingredients and arranging them to serve.
What to Use for a Charcuterie Board
A charcuterie board can feature any combination of cured meats, cheeses, fruit, vegetables, dips, breads, crackers, and spreads. You should be able to find these items at any supermarket, though specialty stores will likely have more options.
Serve your charcuterie board on any large cutting board or serving plate. If you have small bowls or ramekins, you may want to use those for dips and spreads. Small cheese knives can also be very useful.
Ingredients for a Charcuterie Board
If you’re new to making charcuterie boards, start by choosing a handful of your favorite meats, cheese, fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients. It never hurts to start with what you actually enjoy!
And while there are no real rules of charcuterie, there are a few specific items that might work better than others when putting together this kind of dish. Keep reading to learn more about the best charcuterie board meats and cheeses, as well as the other ingredients to look for when shopping for charcuterie.
Charcuterie Board Cheeses
When it comes to charcuterie board cheeses, most people go for a mix of hard and soft cheese. Common choices include:
- Blue Cheese
Charcuterie Board Meats
Again, pork is the most common of the charcuterie board meats. Here are a few of the most popular varieties:
Best Crackers for Charcuterie Boards
The crackers you choose for your charcuterie board will really be a matter of personal preference. Do you like a whole-wheat cracker? A rice cracker? Something with a little spice? You might also choose your cracker based on its size. A larger cracker will allow you and your guests to take bigger bites.
Thin slices of a baguette, pita triangles, or skinny breadsticks are also common alternatives to crackers for charcuterie boards.
Charcuterie Board Fruits
Including fruit in your charcuterie board will add refreshing texture and bright flavor to every bite. Plus, the color will bring the aesthetic of the board to the next level. Consider adding any of these fruits—either fresh or dried—to your DIY charcuterie board:
Charcuterie Board Vegetables
Just like fruit, vegetables add a fun twist to any charcuterie board. They also make the dish friendlier for vegetarians and vegans. Here are a few great veggie options that the pros often use when making their boards:
- Sweet mini peppers
- Snap peas
- Green beans
Generally speaking, any vegetable that would work in crudité will be right at home with charcuterie.
Spreads and Dips for Charcuterie Boards
For the condiment lovers in the group, add some extra special touches to your charcuterie board in the form of spreads and dips. These are what really can make every bite taste different! A few common spreads and dips served with charcuterie are:
- Fruit spread/jam
- Spicy mustard
- Olive tapenade
- Extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Provide small spoons and knives for easy spreading!
It’s Time to Eat!
Now that you know the ins and outs of how to make a charcuterie board and all of the ingredients you might choose to make one, it’s your turn! Start experimenting with different items, and practice arranging them in aesthetically pleasing ways. When you’re happy with the spread, eat up! A charcuterie board never gets old.
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