5 Easy DIY Charcuterie Board Ideas
These easy charcuterie board ideas are perfect for beginners—no experience needed! Including tips to keep it cheap & ideas for what to use if you don’t have a charcuterie board. Plus 5 beautiful DIY charcuterie board recipes that are super simple to arrange!
Check out my Ultimate Charcuterie Board Guide to learn more about the best ingredients to use, how to design your board, & easy additions to elevate your board!
What should be on a charcuterie board?
A charcuterie board (pronounced shar-koo-tuh-ree) should have a few different meats, cheeses, crackers, & dips on it, as well as fruits, veggies, & other snacks like olives, pickles, & nuts. Get 2-3 items from each of those categories, and you can assemble a gorgeous beginner charcuterie board that looks totally professional—in just 30 minutes! You don’t need to copy an elaborate design, & you don’t need expensive ingredients.
Budget Charcuterie Board Ingredients
- Charcuterie Meats. Sliced deli meats, summer sausage, and cured meats like pepperoni & salami are some of the most affordable charcuterie meats. The best budget strategy is to buy whatever’s on sale—especially fancier meats like prosciutto or uncured salami!
- Hard Cheeses. Popular hard cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, & Colby Jack usually cost less. As a cheaper alternative to cracker cuts, cut deli cheese slices into smaller squares!
- Soft Cheeses. A block of cream cheese or Neufchatel will cost much less than most soft cheeses, like Brie or goat cheese. For a more affordable option that feels fancy, serve Mozzarella pearls with toothpicks for noshing!
- Crackers & Breads. Pretzels, pita bread, crunchy breadsticks, or a baguette (toasted into homemade crostini) are all easy low-cost options. Sometimes I’ll buy a box of entertainment crackers to get a cheap assortment—other times I like to serve fancier crackers like Raincoast Crisps!
- Dips & Spreads. Include something savory—like hummus or whole grain mustard—and something sweet—like fruit jam or honey. Save money by making use of any items you already have in the pantry or fridge, like jams, mustards, dips, dressings, etc.
- Fruits & Veggies. Dried fruits like prunes or apricots are easy to serve, or use cheap fresh fruits like grapes or apple slices. Veggies are also good budget buys—just 1 cucumber or bell pepper is plenty to add color & crunch to your board!
- Snacks. Make use of any briny foods you already have in the fridge, like olives or pickles. Look for lower-cost nuts & seeds like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, or pumpkin seeds. Or use mixed nuts or even trail mix if you want more variety for less.
- Garnishes. You can elevate a simple charcuterie board with affordable accents like cracked black pepper, or a few sprigs of thyme!
Cheap Charcuterie Board Tip:
Since charcuterie meats can be expensive, save money by buying less meat for your DIY charcuterie board. Look for ‘charcuterie sampler’ variety packs—which can have 3+ different types of meat in one package, and they’re often more affordable per ounce. Or replace some meat with lower-cost proteins like hard boiled eggs!
How to Set Up a Simple Charcuterie Board for Beginners
- Choose your board. You can use a 12×18-inch wooden charcuterie board (or larger) if you have one, or any standard 9×13-inch cutting board. (Or set up your own DIY charcuterie spread on multiple serving dishes!)
- Fill small bowls. Add items like dips, spreads, olives, or pickles into small pinch bowls. (I also filled a bowl with toothpicks for noshing, and I served crunchy breadsticks in a small jar.)
- Place bowls & large items to create structure. Arrange dip bowls on the board first, as well as any large items like soft cheeses or meat roses. Use these items as focal points that you’ll build around.
- Add meats, cheeses, & crackers. You can layer items like sliced meats, cheese squares, or crackers in a line so they look nice. Or arrange items like rolled meats & mozzarella pearls in small piles. Build around the larger elements & fill the board up to the edges!
- Fill in the board with snacks. Arrange fruits, veggies, & snacks on your board next to meats or cheeses you think they’ll pair well with. (To make this beginner board even prettier, I thinly sliced my cucumber with a mandoline & made cute cucumber rolls!)
- Garnish with black pepper & fresh herbs to give your basic charcuterie board some pizzazz!
What can you use if you don’t have a charcuterie board?
If you don’t have a big wooden board, just use any platter, cutting board, or plates that you do have! You could line a sheet pan with parchment for an alternative charcuterie board, or arrange a small charcuterie platter with side items on separate plates. I’ve even set up a cheese board on round wooden fruit bowls! Check out the DIY charcuterie board recipes below for some inspiration.
Basic Charcuterie Board for Beginners
Spreads & Brined Items (served in pinch bowls)
- ¼ cup prune jam
- ¼ cup grainy mustard
- ⅓ cup green & kalamata olives
- 20 + toothpicks, to skewer mozzarella balls
Charcuterie Meats & Proteins
- 3 oz salami
- 3 oz prosciutto
- 3 hard boiled eggs, halved
- 4 oz sharp cheddar squares
- 4 oz Swiss cheese squares
- 4 oz mozzarella balls
Crackers & Breads
- 20-30 Raincoast Crisps, or crackers of choice
- 15-20 crunchy breadsticks, arranged in a jar
Fruits & Vegetables
- 20 prunes
- ½ red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 cucumber, sliced into ribbons & rolled
Snacks & Garnishes
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup walnuts
- 8-10 fresh thyme sprigs, (and/or rosemary)
- sprinkle of black pepper
- large wooden board (from 9×13 to 12×18-inches, or larger)
- 3-4 small pinch bowls for dips, spreads, olives, toothpicks, etc.
- 1 small jar (optional) for crunchy breadsticks
How to Arrange a Basic Charcuterie Board
- Fill small pinch bowls with dips & spreads, brined items like olives, and toothpicks for skewers (if needed). On this board, I also served crunchy breadsticks in a small mason jar.
- Place bowls on the board first (as well as any other large items like blocks of soft cheese or meat roses). Use these items as focal points & build around them.
- Next add meats, cheeses, & crackers. Arrange items like rolled meats & mozzarella pearls in small piles. Layer items like sliced meats, cheese squares, or crackers in a line so they look nice. (Move items around & adjust your design as you go!)
- Fill in the board with produce & snacks. Continue arranging items in rows or small piles, next to meats or cheeses you think they’ll pair well with. (And try to spread some color across your board!)
- Finish with garnishes. Add a crack of black pepper on the mozzarella pearls, then garnish the board with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.
*How to Make Cucumber Ribbons* (optional)
- Cut the ends off of a cucumber and slice it in half lengthwise. Using a mandoline (and a safety glove), thinly slice the cucumber into ribbons ~¼” thick.
- Roll up each cucumber ribbon, then add the cucumber rolls to your charcuterie board.
- (For a simpler presentation, slice the cucumber into rounds or crinkle-cut it to give it some texture.)