Is there anything better than a delicious charcuterie board? They such a great crowd pleaser and have become so so popular over the past few years. Honestly, I credit the spike in popularity to our parents. They started us out on Lunchables in elementary school, so we know what a delectable treat cheese, meat and crackers can be. Now that millennials are adults, we’ve really perfected the craft and have a board at every party, book club, and neighborhood dinner.
There is a strategy to creating the perfect charcuterie board. You can’t just plop cheese and meat down and call it a day. To create the perfect charcuterie board you need a plan when tackling the grocery store.
Today, I’m going to share my strategies for creating the perfect charcuterie board.
Picking the perfect cheese
Unless you are a cheese connoisseur, I recommend getting help at your local market. If you head to a Fresh Market, Whole Foods, or even an upgraded Kroger someone will definitely be able to help you pick the perfect cheeses for your board. They can also help you cut your cheese into artful wedges or cubes. If you truly don’t know where to start, ask!
The most important thing when it comes to cheese is balance. You don’t want all hard or all soft cheeses. You’ll want a balance. I recommend getting at least one firm, one soft and one fresh cheese. If you are making a larger charcuterie board, you can pick several of each. Some of my favorites are Gouda, pepper jack, fresh mozzarella, brie, blue cheese, Parmesan, or goat cheese.
Don’t feel like you have to be super super fancy on your cheeses and neglect your basics. Cheddar, Parmesan, and mozzarella are excellent choices for a charcuterie board.
Finding the right meat
Again, never feel ashamed asking for help! However, here are some tips for finding the perfect meats to pair with your cheeses. Pork typically plays a large part in a charcuterie board. Some excellent choices are salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, and speck.
Make sure that your meats are easy for guests to pick up. If you have thinly cut slices, fold them up so they are easy to handle. Also select meat that is already pre-cut into small circles like pepperoni.
One of my favorite things to include are the prosciutto and mozzarella roll-ups. They are so tasty and neatly packaged in a little roll. You can find them really anywhere. I bought mine last time at Kroger.
Additional items to include
A charcuterie board is really elevated when it has additional snacks included. I live in the south, so cheese straws are always a good option. Other tasty options include olives, nuts, grapes, crackers, craft pickles and specialty dips.
Some of my favorite dips include: spinach artichoke, buffalo chicken, cheesy bacon, french onion, or a zesty ranch. I’ve also used a cheddar bacon cheese ball. (I turned it into a pumpkin for Halloween.)
My favorite nuts are almonds, but peanuts, pistachios, cashews and pecans are great options too.
There are a ton of options to include as extra treats on your charcuterie board other than cheese and meat. Visit your local store for great individual options. You can also go to a farmer’s market for local options like pickles.
How to arrange your charcuterie board
You don’t want to include all your cheese on one side and your meat on another, so create a fun balance. Also, be sure to sprinkle your extra treats throughout the board too. I love to utilize ramekins to give more levels to my board. Side note: my ramekin set was one of my favorite wedding presents. You can never have too many and seriously I use them every single day for one thing or another.
If you have cubes of cheese, you can add several piles in different locations on the board to give more access points to the cheese. Same with grapes and meats. Include a small shot glass of toothpicks nearby so people don’t have to use their fingers to pick up the food.
If you run out of room on your board, you can do a separate platter of crackers. I typically have to do this. You can make an entire table into a charcuterie board by using butcher paper and then you can include everything on one surface, but if you run out of room feel free to make separate plates of crackers.
There we have it! I really love making these boards for parties and dinners. What are your favorite things to add to a charcuterie board?