Believe it or not, you don’t need to be artistically inclined to make a memorable charcuterie board (although it definitely doesn’t hurt). It’s a pretty formulaic process that’s as simple as breaking the board up into categories, then choosing complementary ingredients for each one.
The Formula for a Great Charcuterie Board
- First, let's get our proportions in order. Mentally split the board into fours, reserving equal quarters for meat, cheese, some kind of crackers or bread and whatever other accoutrements you're craving.
- Choose soft, pre-sliced meats (like prosciutto or jamón Ibérico) and a couple harder meats that require cutting (like a log of salami or soppressata).
- Place harder cheeses, like a block of sharp cheddar or Manchego, alongside harder meats.
- Add at least one spreadable cheese (like chèvre) or a dip (like tzatziki or hummus) with a small knife or spoon.
- Weave in some complementary snacks. We're talking crackers, jam, bread, pickles, fruit, honeycomb and whatever else you fancy.
- Organize it well. There's no best order or layout when it comes to making a charcuterie board. All you need to keep in mind is that the meat, cheese and accoutrements should be accessible from all or most angles of the board. It helps to layer meat, cheese and crackers or bread across the entirety of the spread, then nestle small bowls of jam, olives, pickles and more between them or at the corners of the board.
- Dress it up. Beyond serving it on a pretty wooden butcher block or a marble cutting board, consider working in other decorative elements. Tiny label tags are cute and helpful, while little bowls and plates to hold preserves or fruit add color and dimension to the spread. Fresh herbs are always a solid finishing touch as well.
The Best Types of Cheese to Use for a Charcuterie Board
Manchego, cheddar, Brie, havarti, Swiss, comté—there's no limit to what cheeses you can use. We'd only advise that you include a variety of textures on your board, meaning some cheese for slicing, some for spreading and perhaps even some warmed or baked. (Brie is prime for that.)
The Best Types of Meat to Use for a Charcuterie Board
Salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, capicola, chorizo, mortadella, jamón Ibérico and sopressata are all fair game. If you make a themed board, there are of course other options (for instance, bacon on a breakfast spread or steak on a fondue board).
The Best Types of Bread and Crackers to Use for a Charcuterie Board
Go with what you like, but try to have some variety. For instance, a soft bread, seeded cracker and crispy breadsticks make for a visually intriguing board and give your guests a range of textures to choose from.