Today I’m sharing tips on how to make a charcuterie board. This is my new favorite thing to create for any type of get-together. If there’s one thing Covid has taught me, it’s to make even the smallest gatherings festive.
Making a charcuterie board isn’t rocket science, but there is an art to creating a beautiful arrangement. Charcuterie boards have become so popular, catering businesses create entire grazing tables for parties and events, charging $60 per square foot (as though buying real estate). So yes, knowing how to make one can come in handy no matter the size of your gathering—from a few couples to a wedding.
The definition of charcuterie according to Merriam-Webster is a delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes. Also, the products sold in such a shop.
Over time, we’ve taken the French word charcuterie and made it fit our personal tastes, made it generic. What I’m trying to say is I sometimes make charcuterie boards without meat. But in the true sense of the word, it would include dry salami and Italian prosciutto.
How to Make a Charcuterie Board (with or without meat)
Before you begin, think about the reason for your gathering. A birthday celebration? Thanksgiving holiday?
Whatever the reason, add a prop to your platter to symbolize the reason. For Easter, I added a small bunny bowl to my platter, arranging nibbles around it. For Independence Day, a small flag in a cheese round will add patriotic spirit.
Of course, you don’t need a reason to gather with friends. In this case, add a seasonal decoration to your board. A pumpkin for fall. An edible flower during summer. Candy canes at Christmas. You see where I’m going?
An attractive charcuterie board is all about building layers. The first step is to select the right platter for your charcuterie board.
Consider how many people you plan to feed. Of course, a large group calls for a larger platter, board, or marble slab. Also, the style of the bowl or container can be used to create the tone of the charcuterie board theme. For instance, I used a heavy wooden cutting board for my fall arrangement. I used a white porcelain platter for spring.
Small glass bowls and plates hold dips, jams, and condiments on the platter/board.
Much like theme, consider the colors of your charcuterie board when arranging veggies, fruit, and meats.
For my spring/Easter platter, I included bright veggies and fruit. Blueberries. Carrots. Snap Peas. Lettuces. Sprigs of green.
For a fall / harvest / Thanksgiving charcuterie board, arrange darker foods like purple grapes, figs, blue cheese, sausage, etc.
As a general guideline, if you buy what’s in season, your arrangement will likely fit theme and color.
Start in the center and work out.
In the case of my Easter charcuterie board, I filled the bunny bowl with chocolate bunny graham cookies first, then placed carrot sticks and a small glass container of dip beside it.
A cookie cutter holds the carrot sticks upright. A stem from the carrot tops adds a little green.
The dip container was originally a yogurt container. (Make sure the containers you use are food safe.)
A butter lettuce leaf keeps gummy fruit from spilling. Lettuce would also held keep nuts in place.
Arrange thin slices of cheese in several places on the platter. Repetition is pleasing to the eyes. Also, cutting veggies to similar size makes arranging easier.
I placed a cloth handkerchief under sugar snap peas to provide stability and absorb any liquid.
Once I placed the primary food, I filled in empty spaces on the platter with nuts and blueberries and added a pansy bloom for spring color. (Pansies are edible.)
I recently made a charcuterie board for a book club I hosted. Since it was just before Halloween, I went with a fall theme and tried to keep the fruits and veggies in the richer darker colors we see during autumn months (with lots of pumpkin orange included, of course).
A comparison of the spring and fall charcuterie boards makes it easy to see the seasonal differences.
Last November when Covid was at its worse and no one was yet vaccinated, we hosted a small (6 people) Friendsgiving. I provided individual charcuterie bowls for each couple. This is a great idea when you are trying to gather with friends yet still socially distance.
Dessert charcuterie boards are fun too. I created this one for my niece’s college graduation celebration.
Small cupcake wrappers are useful for holding candies and nuts, separating servings, and adding a little sparkle/whimsey.
The countdown to Thanksgiving is real—only one week away, y’all. What better time to provide a charcuterie board for grazing than during Thanksgiving?
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.