Everything you need to know to make the perfect Charcuterie Board including food ideas, recipes, and pro tips for assembling and displaying your charcuterie board for any season or occasion. This is the easiest way to serve snacks or appetizers in a fun and festive way!

A large round charcuterie board with meats, cheese, fruits, nuts and crackers.

Charcuterie (shahr-koo-tuh–ree)

I find any excuse to make big or small Charcuterie boards, whether for casual Sunday afternoon snacking, Book Club get togethers, or holiday entertaining. I love that they’re quick and easy to throw together with little to no cooking required, and they are so fun! The term “charcuterie” refers to the preparing of cured meats, like prosciutto, bacon, salami, etc., but these days when people say charcuterie, they are usually referring to a fun, meat and cheese board that typically includes cured meats, a variety of cheeses, crackers, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and dipping sauces or spreads.

I’m so excited to share my tips and tricks with you, along with my favorite products to use!

What you’ll need:

The most important elements of a charcuterie board are meats, cheeses, savory accompaniments, sweet accompaniments, and crackers.

  1. Cheeses: choose a variety of hard and soft cheese, and cheese made from different animals (cow, sheep, goat). Expert tip: always choose at least one cheese that is familiar to your guests so they feel comfortable diving right in.
    • Hard cheeses: manchego, cheddar (white or orange), swiss, gouda, gruyere, parmesan etc.
    • Soft cheeses: brie, triple cream, goat cheese, havarti, burrata, cream cheese with pepper jelly on top (our favorite!). Could also you blue cheese or gorgonzola.
  2. Meats: prosciutto, salami, ham, cured chorizo, capricola, soppressata, summer sausage, etc.
  3. Savory accompaniments:
    • Nuts: almonds (marcona almonds from Trader Joes are my favorite!), candied pecans, pistachio nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, etc.
    • Briny, pickled or marinated: olives, cocktail onions, cornichons, dill pickles, pepperoncini. We love green olives stuffed with garlic or feta, and I also like including olive tapenade and bruschetta.
    • Savory Dips and spreads: Whole ground mustard, hummus, ranch, balsamic dip.
    • Veggies – cold cut, if desired
  4. Sweet accompaniments:
    • Fresh fruit and berries: grapes, apples, pears, oranges, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries.
    • Dried fruit: apricots, cherries, figs, pineapple, mango
    • Sweet spreads: Fig butter (Trader Joes brand is on every board I make!), orange marmalade, blackberry jam or other sweet spreads.
    • Chocolate: a few pieces of quality dark chocolate or chocolate covered nuts.
  5. Crackers: choose a variety of crackers, (or even sliced baguette or mini toasts) of different shapes, sizes and flavors. Some of my personal favorites include thin croccantini crackers, pita crackers, and Trader Joes raisin rosemary crisps.

How to arrange a Charcuterie Board:

1. Choose your board.  The size of your board or plate largely depends on the number of people you are serving and it can be as large or small as you like!  If you have a lot of people to serve or simply want a larger variety of food  (dips, sandwiches,  desserts, etc), you could always use multiple boards.  Any board will work; cutting board, serving tray, or even your countertop! Target has a lot of great inexpensive cheese boards. I own a few fancier, extra-large charcuterie boards from Etu Home.

Different platters or boards to use for a charcuterie.

Another of my favorite ways to serve a large crowd is to ditch the board or plate and lay a large piece of butcher paper all the way down my counter/island. Then put piles of food and arranged meats and cheeses right on the butcher paper!

2. Start with the cheese: I start with the cheese because it anchors the board. Work in odd numbers, so, depending on the size of your party, choose 3, 5, or 7 types of cheeses to place around the board.

Five types of cheese arranged on a charcuterie board.

3. Fold and add the meats: check out my video below for a visual on fun ways to fold cured meats before placing them on the board, like folding them in half and fanning them out like a dec of cards, or folding them in half twice, so they are easy to grab. For thin meat (like prosciutto) fold them in a light and airy ribbon.

Cured meats arranged next to cheeses on a charcuterie board.

4. Add savory and sweet accompaniments. Fill in some of the gaps with savory and sweet. Separate colors in a way that allows the brightest colors to stand out and place foods together that pair well together. For example, mustard, briny foods and nuts near salami and sopresseta, and sharp cheeses like parmesan. Pair sweet accompaniments like fresh fruit, jams, and candied nuts, near the brie cheese or goat cheese. Cheddar cheese pairs well with savory and sweet.

Sweet and savory charcuterie accompaniments in piles on a board, then added to a charcuterie.

5. Fill in all the extra space with crackers: look for gaps in the board and spread crackers all throughout. Fill in any remaining space with extra small nuts or fruit.

A complete meat and cheese board with gaps filled in with nuts, fruit, and chocolate.

Pro tips:

  • Keep it simple! This may seem obvious, but design your board based on the people who will be eating from it and fill it with simple foods that people actually LIKE! When in doubt, avoid fancy and expensive cheeses, nuts, crackers or condiments that the people you’re serving may not care for.
  • Make it COLORFUL! I love to add color through fruit, like bright red apples, green and red grapes, strawberries, raspberries or blueberries.
  • Where to Shop: I find most of my favorite charcuterie items at Trader Joes, Kroger, and Costco (if it’s for a large group). Kroger and Trader Joes have great, fairly priced, cheese options and they are cut into smaller chunks, which is a fun way to try a few different flavors. I like the briny foods (like green olives with feta) from Kroger as well. Trader Joes has great crackers, peppered salami and fig butter. Costco is great for salamis and cured meats in bulk, as well as large portions of favorite charcuterie cheese.
Charcuterie board with meats, sliced cheese, dips, crackers and fruit, served on a wood board.

More Charcuterie board ideas:

Fall Charcuterie: Include small pumpkins to decorate your board, use seasonal vegetables like pears, and fall themed dips like whipped caramel apple dip or fall desserts like thinly sliced pumpkin bread or mini healthy pumpkin muffins!

Christmas Charcuterie: shape your meats, cheese, and crackers into the shape of a Christmas tree or include a few small Christmas treats like Chocolate Truffles or Christmas Cornflake Wreaths!  Scattered cranberries around your board add a nice a seasonal touch.

Dessert Charcuterie: Make chocolate dipping sauce and surround it by strawberries, bananas, apples, pretzels, marshmallows, graham cracker sticks, mini cookies, etc.

Valentine’s Charcuterie: Shape your meats, cheese, and crackers into a giant heart and include chocolate covered strawberries, conversation hearts, and cinnamon gummy bears.

For a Kids party: Lay a large piece of butcher paper on your counter and fill it with piles of kid friendly food including fruit, veggies, dips, chips, donuts, mini sandwiches, popcorn, cheese, crackers, juice boxes, etc.

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Recipe

A large round charcuterie board with meats, cheese, fruits, nuts and crackers.
Prep 20 mins
Total 20 mins
Save Recipe

Ingredients
  

Cheeses (Chose 3, 5, or 7, depending on party size):

  • Hard cheeses: manchego, cheddar, swiss, gouda, gruyere, parmesan etc.
  • Soft cheese: brie, triple cream, goat cheese, havarti, burrata, cream cheese with pepper jelly on top. Could also you blue cheese or gorgonzola, or anything you like!

Meats:

  • Cured Meats like prosciutto, salami, ham, chorizo, capricola, soppressata , summer sausage is a good inexpensive option

Savory accompaniments:

  • Nuts: almonds, candied pecans, pistachio nuts, cashews, walnuts, macadamia nuts.
  • Briny, pickled or marinated: olives, cocktail onions, cornichons, dill pickles, pepperoncini, olive tapenade or bruschetta.
  • Savory Dips and spreads: Whole ground mustard, hummus, ranch, balsamic dip.
  • Cold cut veggies, if desired

Sweet accompaniments:

  • Fresh fruit and berries: grapes, apples, pears, oranges, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries.
  • Dried fruit: apricots, cherries, figs, pineapple, mango
  • Sweet spreads: Fig butter, orange marmalade, blackberry jam or other sweet spreads.
  • Chocolate: a few pieces of quality dark chocolate or chocolate covered nuts.

Crackers:

  • Pita crackers, whole grain crackers, croccantini, or your favorite kind of crackers
  • Toasted baguettes or mini toasts crackers

Instructions
 

  • Choose your board, depending on your party size. You could always use multiple boards if needed. See my notes in the post for more board ideas and links. 
  • Start with the cheese: I start with the cheese because it anchors the board. Work in odd numbers, so, depending on the size of your party, choose 3, 5, or 7 types of cheeses to place around the board. 
  • Fold and add the meats: check out my video below for a visual on fun ways to fold cured meats before placing them on the board, like folding them in half and fanning them out like a dec of cards, or folding them in half twice, so they are easy to grab. For thin meat (like prosciutto) fold them in a light and airy ribbon. 
  • Add savory and sweet accompaniments. Fill in some of the gaps with savory and sweet. Separate colors in a way that allows the brightest colors to stand out and place foods together that pair well together. For example, mustard, briny foods and nuts near salami and sopresseta, and sharp cheeses like parmesan. Pair sweet accompaniments like fresh fruit, jams, and candied nuts, near the brie cheese or goat cheese. Cheddar cheese pairs well with savory and sweet. 
  • Fill in extra space with crackers, and then any extra gaps with nuts or fruit.

Notes

  • Keep it simple! This may seem obvious, but design your board based on the people who will be eating from it and fill it with simple foods that people actually LIKE! When in doubt, avoid fancy and expensive cheeses, nuts, crackers or condiments that the people you’re serving may not care for.
  • Make it COLORFUL! I love to add color through fruit, like bright red apples, green and red grapes, strawberries, raspberries or blueberries.
  • Where to Shop: I find most of my favorite charcuterie items at Trader Joes, Kroger, and Costco (if it’s for a large group). Kroger and Trader Joes have great, fairly priced, cheese options and they are cut into smaller chunks, which is a fun way to try a few different flavors. I like the briny foods (like green olives with feta) from Kroger as well. Trader Joes has great crackers, peppered salami and fig butter. Costco is great for salamis and cured meats in bulk, as well as large portions of favorite charcuterie cheese.

Nutrition

Calories: 240kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 10gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 607mgPotassium: 120mgFiber: 1gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 353IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 85mgIron: 1mg

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I originally shared this recipe December 2019. Updated December 2021.

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

    1. Depending on how long they’ll be sitting out you can definitely toss them in some lemon juice before placing them on the board! Good luck–hope everyone loves it!

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for the fantastic ideas! I am headed to the store right now. You took all the guess work out of the equation and I cannot wait to put together the masterpiece. You have given me the confidence to try something wonderful and new to me. What a blessing to have found this page!

  2. 5 stars
    Thanks Lauren for your wonder recipes. They are all delicious, healthy and simple to follow. Thank you Lauren.

  3. I’m so inspired! This is gorgeous and thank you for all the tips. I’m curious where you purchased your white condiment dishes. They’re a great fit for this board!

  4. Hi,

    I bought this same serving tray from Target – thanks for the recommendation! I see for the cleaning instructions it recommends only wiping with damp cloth. Is there any concern with putting food directly on the board if it hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned?
    Thanks!

      1. Hi Lauren, thank you so very much for all your delicious recipes. I truly admire you. With four and you have time to cook and bake. Thank you again and I hope you continue this outstanding site. Have a BlessedNew Year.