How to Make the Ultimate Charcuterie Board
The ultimate guide to making an amazing charcuterie board at home—including the best ingredients to use, a handy shopping list, how to arrange your board, & simple ideas to elevate it! I’ll walk you through how to make the perfect charcuterie board for a party step-by-step.
A homemade charcuterie board is my favorite party appetizer to serve when I’m hosting people or even just for a nice dinner. Even the word “charcuterie” (shar-koo-tuh-ree) sounds fancy & the board always looks impressive, but it’s actually so simple. I’ve got some easy tips & loads of creative ideas to help you make your own epic, elegant charcuterie board at home!
Quick Tips for an Incredible Charcuterie Board
- Use any board or platter(s) you have. A standard charcuterie board can be anywhere from 9×13-inches (the size of a cutting board) to 12×18-inches, or larger. But I’ve also set up a small charcuterie platter & used additional plates to hold side items like dips or breads. There are no rules here!
- Think about shapes & colors. We eat with our eyes first! So choose crackers & breads with different shapes, add colors with fruits & vegetables, and use snacks & garnishes to decorate your board.
- Don’t try to copy a design. In my experience, copying a specific charcuterie board design is much more stressful than just building the board in the moment, with my ingredients right in front of me. Don’t worry—I have a simple method that makes it easy to arrange your own beautiful charcuterie board at home & on-the-fly!
How much food do you need for a charcuterie board?
Plan for ~2-3 oz meat + cheese per person if you’re serving a charcuterie board as an appetizer, or ~4-5 oz when served as a meal. This is a loose guideline, but you really don’t need specific ingredient amounts here. It’s actually better to be flexible & expect to have some leftovers! I usually just buy a few items from each ingredient category and I end up with enough food for 3+ boards. (Which always gets eaten!)
Downloadable Shopping List
Make planning & shopping easier with this free charcuterie board shopping list PDF! A handy tool to help you plan what & how much food to buy, with a checklist of ingredient ideas for what to put on your charcuterie board.
Best Meats for a Charcuterie Board
Choose a variety of meats to put on your charcuterie board—in terms of taste & texture, as well as how they’ll look on the board. Buy pre-sliced meats to make the prep work easier, and look for on-sale options first!
- Prosciutto, a salty, classic charcuterie board meat that comes in delicate thin slices that look lovely rolled up. Tastes amazing with most cheeses.
- Salami, Genoa or Italian Dry, a cured meat with a hearty, garlicky flavor. (Or try Calabrese for a spicier, peppery flavor!) Available in thin round slices that you can fan out on a charcuterie board, or fold into a pretty salami rose.
- Pepperoni, an all-time favorite & a more affordable option that’s as perfect on a charcuterie board as it is on a pizza!
- Deli Turkey or Ham, Maple or Honey Smoked, or any flavors you like. Cold cuts are a crowd favorite & one of the best cheap charcuterie meat options! Easy to roll up & arrange on a board.
- Summer Sausage, a sweet & smoky addition that tastes so comforting! Sold as a full sausage that you can thinly slice.
Best Cheeses for a Charcuterie Board
The right cheeses are key to an amazing charcuterie board. (I even love to make a vegetarian charcuterie board with all cheese & no meat!) I generally try to include at least 1 hard cheese + 1 soft cheese on a charcuterie board, but you can serve any combination you like.
- Hard Cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, Colby Jack, Pepper Jack, Gouda, & Gruyere are crowd favorites and perfect with meat & crackers. And cheese slices look beautiful fanned out alongside the meats!
- Herbed Goat Cheese, a soft cheese that’s earthy, buttery, & tart, prepared as a creamy log coated in herbs. A colorful & elegant addition to any charcuterie board!
- Blue Cheese, a sharp, pungent soft cheese that can add fun flavor to your board, if you’re into it. (Warning: Some folks really love blue cheese, while others really hate it!)
- Brie, a mild, buttery soft cheese that’s a favorite at parties, easy to serve, & made for sharing.
- Mozzarella Pearls, small round balls of semi-soft mozzarella cheese, best served with toothpicks for guests to skewer & nosh.
Simplicity Hack: Use Cheese Cracker Cuts (or Slices)
For hard cheeses, I like to buy a variety pack of cheese cracker cuts to make things easy! It comes with 4 different cheeses, pre-cut to the perfect size for crackers—which saves time and it’s often cheaper than buying 4 separate blocks of cheese. Or if you can’t find cracker cuts, buy deli cheese slices & cut them into smaller squares!
Crackers & Breads
The crackers & breads are vessels for the other ingredients on your charcuterie board, so serve whatever you enjoy eating with meats & cheeses. Include a few different shapes of them to make your board look more appealing!
- Assorted Entertainment Crackers, 4 different snacking crackers (water crackers, wheat crackers, etc.) in one convenient box. A great option for a big party charcuterie board, so you have extra crackers on-hand to restock as needed!
- Raincoast Crisps, crunchy, comforting dried fruit & nut crackers with a subtle sweetness. Perfect for pairing with charcuterie meats & cheeses.
- Pretzels or Pretzel Chips, an all-time favorite crunchy, salty snack that can also add fun shapes to your board—whether you use pretzel twists, sticks, or chips.
- Pita Bread, a tasty, versatile, made for noshing, & requires almost no prep (just cut into wedges & serve). Or serve pita chips for a crunchier element!
- Baguette or Crostini, fresh chewy baguette slices are comforting & filling, or toast them to make crispy crostini.
Spreads & Dips
The spreads & dips tie all of the ingredients together on your homemade charcuterie board. You can enjoy them with the meats, cheeses, crackers—everything! For the best flavor balance, include at least 1 savory + 1 sweet spread on your board.
- Fruit Jam or Preserves, like fig, apricot, raspberry, blackberry, or prune jam. Sweet spreads that all pair amazingly with salty meats & cheeses—a must-have on any charcuterie board for me!
- Honey, fragrant & sweet, to complement the salty charcuterie meats & cheeses. Or use raw honeycomb for a fancier option!
- Whole Grain Mustard, a savory, salty spread with a sharp flavor that pairs nicely with charcuterie meats & cheeses.
- Hummus, a creamy, savory, chickpea dip that’s as tasty eaten with pita as it is with prosciutto!
- Pesto, an earthy, herbaceous dip made of basil, parmesan, & pine nuts, with a gorgeous green color that’s beautiful on a charcuterie platter.
- Tapenade, a salty dip made of olives with a briny flavor that’s perfect on a meat and cheese board.
Just a few different fruits & vegetables can transform the most basic into the most beautiful charcuterie board! They add color, flavor, and texture to your board, and they’re a refreshing element that helps balance out the heavier meats & cheeses.
- Fresh Fruits like fresh berries, grapes, cherries, figs, apple slices, or clementine wedges are all great finger-food fruits. Sweet, colorful, & perfect for noshing!
- Dried Fruits like prunes, dates, apricots, or raisins are also perfect for an at-home charcuterie board. They add sweetness & chewiness, and they’re so easy to work with.
- Vegetables like carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, or bell pepper slices can all work well. Try crinkle-cutting veggies to add texture & shape!
- Fresh Garnishes like edible flowers, fresh mint, thyme, or rosemary can make a simple board feel so much fancier!
To set up a truly amazing charcuterie board for a party, load it up with fun snacks & garnishes! Think about flavors & textures: briny, pickled, crunchy, chewy salty, sweet. I’ve found that the more loaded up my board is, the more impressive it looks and tastes.
- Olives, Pickles, or Mini Gherkins, salty & briny snacks that pair excellently with meats & cheeses. Easy to serve in small bowls, with toothpicks for skewering.
- Nuts & Seeds, like cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds. I use roasted & salted nuts for the best flavor & crunch!
- Chocolate & Candies, like dark chocolate squares, chocolate-covered raisins or nuts, yogurt-covered pretzels—anything you like!
Simplicity Hack: Check the Pantry First!
Before you go shopping for your charcuterie board, check out the snacks, candies, crackers, condiments, & even produce you have at home. You can save money and make planning easier by starting with items you already have. (Check out my Charcuterie Beginners Guide for more budget tips!)
How to Arrange a Gorgeous Charcuterie Board
Instead of copying a specific design, the simplest way to set up a pretty charcuterie board is to place larger individual elements on the board first, then build around them.
- Start with items in bowls. Add dips, spreads, pickled items, or any other snacks you’d like into small bowls. Arrange these on the board first to create structure you can build around.
- Fold charcuterie meats if desired. You can (1) roll sliced meats into a log, or (2) fold sliced meats in half, then into quarters. Or for a more elevated presentation, you can make impressive meat roses out of salami or pepperoni (in just 5 minutes)!
- Add meats & cheeses. Place larger elements on the board first—like meat roses or blocks of cheese. Then start arranging folded meats, sliced meats, & sliced cheeses around those larger elements. (Layer the slices or fan them out so they look nice!)
- Add crackers & breads next. You can layer & fan out your crackers, stack them, or even serve them on a separate plate if needed.
- Add fruits & vegetables. Fan out sliced veggies like carrot & cucumber. Arrange items like berries, apple slices, or snap peas in small piles. Spread color across your board!
- Finish with snacks & garnishes. Fill up the space on your homemade charcuterie board with handfuls of olives, nuts, & sweets. Then finish your masterpiece with garnishes like fresh herbs or edible flowers!
- Add utensils. Place serving spoons or spreaders in any dips that need them. You can also fill a dish with toothpicks or skewers to help party guests serve themselves.
How to Build a Charcuterie Board Step-by-Step:
Can you prep a charcuterie board ahead of time?
Although it’s best to assemble right before you plan to serve it, you can prep a charcuterie board up to 1 day in advance. Just be sure to wrap it in plastic & keep it stored in the fridge. Wait to add ingredients like crackers, breads, crunchy snacks, & garnishes until shortly before serving so they don’t get soggy!
What to use for a charcuterie board
A 12×18-inch wooden board is a good size with lots of room for arranging a charcuterie platter. But if you don’t have a big board, there are plenty of alternative DIY Charcuterie Board Ideas you can try. Use a regular cutting board, a combination of plates, a sheet pan lined with parchment, or even a fruit bowl or two!
How to Make a Charcuterie Board (Step-by-Step)
Charcuterie Meats (~12-16 oz)
- 9 oz salami and/or pepperoni slices, folded into meat roses
- 4 oz sliced deli turkey or ham, rolled
- 3 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, rolled
- 2 oz summer sausage, sliced
Cheeses (~12-16 oz)
- 12 oz cheese cracker cuts, (I used sharp cheddar, Colby & pepper Jack)
Crackers & Breads (~3-5+ per person)
- 30-40 assorted crackers, (entertainment crackers, Raincoast Crisps, etc.)
Dips & Spreads
- 3-4 Tbsp fig jam, (or any fruit jam)
- 3-4 Tbsp whole grain mustard, (or Dijon )
- 2-3 Tbsp honey, (or honeycomb)
- 1 carrot, crinkle-cut or sliced
- ½ English cucumber, crinkle-cut or sliced
- 15-20 cherry tomatoes
- 10-15 strawberries
- 2 small bunches green grapes
- 1 pack edible flowers
- 8-10 olives, green & kalamata
- 10 mini gherkins
- ¼ cup pistachios in shell
- ¼ cup chocolate covered raisins
How to Build a Charcuterie Board
- Add dips & spreads into small bowls (as well as any small snacks you want to serve in bowls). Place these onto the charcuterie board first to create some structure.
- Fold charcuterie meats as desired. –For prosciutto & sliced deli meats: Lay each meat slice flat & roll it up into a log. (I cut deli meat rolls in half to make them easier to arrange on my board.) –For salami & pepperoni: Make meat roses for an extra elegant presentation, or fold each meat slice in half & then into quarters for a simpler option.
- Add meats, cheeses & crackers. Place larger elements on the board next, like meat roses or blocks of soft cheese, so you can build around them. Then arrange sliced meats, hard cheeses, and crackers on the board, fanning them out so they look nice. (You can also pile or stack items to help save space, or even serve crackers & breads on a separate plate.)
- Add fruits & vegetables. Layer sliced veggies like carrot & cucumber in a line to spread some color across the board. Arrange items like berries, grapes, & cherry tomatoes in small piles.
- Fill up the board with snacks & garnishes. Add briny snacks like olives or gherkins, crunchy snacks like pistachios or cashews, & sweet goodies like chocolate-covered raisins to fill in the spaces. Garnish with edible flowers or herb sprigs at the very end!
- Add utensils. Place spreaders & spoons into dip bowls at the time of serving.
- This ultimate charcuterie board recipe can feed anywhere from 8-16 people, depending on how hungry they are & what else you serve with it.
- My specific board had around 30 oz of charcuterie meat + cheese on it—which is enough for 10-16 people to share as an appetizer or 6-8 people as a meal.