A beautiful charcuterie board is the perfect complement to a home dinner party – or even the star of the show!
Hands up who loves the visual appeal – not to mention exquisite flavours – of a charcuterie board?!
In this guide, we’re going to take you through our simple 8 step process for creating the perfect charcuterie board at home for your next dinner party.
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What exactly is Charcuterie?
Not exactly new, but fair to say has come “on trend” in the past decade. The word charcuterie is derived from the French words for flesh (chair) and cooked (cuit). Taken literally, a charcutier is a butcher shop. In modern terminology, a charcuterie board – or simply charcuterie – is a plate of meats.
Far more than just meats, however, a charcuterie board has evolved over the years to refer to a shared plate containing not just meats but cheeses, bite-sized fruits, vegetables and nuts along with crackers, condiments and pretty much any savoury nibble you can think of!
Purest might say once there is anything other than meat it is antipasto, or if you’re skipping the meat surely it’s just a cheese platter? Naysayers, we’re not here to judge!
Call it as you will, charcuterie (pronounced shaar·koo·tr·ee) is a brilliant and fun way to present starters. With a huge variety and balance, you can even serve it up as the main meal with a cocktail party.
Read on to see exactly how you can put together the components of a simple charcuterie board at home.
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Remember the fun of charcuterie is not just in the presentation, but choosing items that you love. This guide is for a very simple meat & cheese charcuterie that serves well at any time of year. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong!
We’ll have more charcuterie board ideas published soon that share seasonal favorites and cater to specific dietary needs so save this page for future reference!
Quantities of food on a charcuterie board
Before we dive into the detail, you need to decide: Will the charcuterie board be the hero of your dinner party, or a starter before a main course is served?
We have provided suggested quantities per guest on a well-balanced board for both appetizer and main meal charcuteries.
Step 1 – The Board
The foundation for your amazing charcuterie is a beautiful board. Choose something that matches with your decor or theme, and most importantly will fit the size of your group.
Do spread onto two boards if you need rather than cramming too much piled high into one (this can give you the flexibility to set aside a separate board for vegetarians too).
Step 2 – Utensils
What will your guests eat with? You will need serving utensils such as knives, cheese slicers, spoons as well as mini bowls, ramekins or matching side plates for guests to use (and don’t forget serviettes!)
You may also consider cute flags or markers if you think your guests would appreciate a little guidance as to what’s actually on the board!
Step 3 – Cheeses
Add a selection of hard, semi-hard and soft cheeses. We always try to aim for at least one firm cheese (eg manchego or Parmigiano-Reggiano), a soft cheese (think a brie or camembert) and something aged with a little more bite such as gruyere or gouda.
How much? 2 oz/60 g per guest (appetizer), 3 oz/90 g per guest (main meal)
Step 4 – Meats
Aim for at least three different types of meat. For visual appeal, mix it up serving slices, rolled or shaved meats and cured sausages. Just make sure everything is bite-size – we avoid anything that needs bones or gnawing on!
We like for example prosciutto, chorizo and bresaola. Don’t be afraid to throw in some paté or terrine too for some textural variety.
How much? 2 oz/60 g per guest (appetizer), 4 oz/120 g per guest (main meal)
Step 5 – Crackers and Breads
Next, you need to add some carbohydrates for eating with your cheeses and meats. Not only do they add some texture and crunch to your charcuterie but they help for eating the other items, therefore no forks needed!
Pick out a selection of delicious breads and crackers. Water crackers are great as they’re fairly flavourless so won’t drown out the stars of the show. Sourdough, asiago ciabatta and mini breadsticks are also good choices.
How much? 4 oz/120 g per guest (appetizer), 7 oz/210 g per guest (main meal)
Step 6 – Fruits, Vegetables & Nuts
Add some colour and crunch with a variety of dried fruits, fresh vegetables, pickles, olives and nuts.
These help cleanse the palate and balance out the richness of the cheese and meat.
Aim for something sweet and something salty for good balance, along
How much? 2 oz/60 g per guest (appetizer), 4oz/120g per guest (main meal)
Step 7 – Colourful Condiments
Remember all those lovely farm fresh condiments you bought on your last road trip? This is your opportunity to let all those wonderful preserves and dips shine!
Add a variety of oils, mustards, jams/jellies, dips and spreads. Your spreads can also have a lovely sprinkle of coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper added for some additional flavor.
How much? 2 oz/60 g per guest (appetizer), 3oz/90g per guest (main meal)
Step 8 – A Touch of Greens
Just a small finishing touch often forgotten. Don’t go overboard here but this is an important step and really adds that last pop of colour and freshness to your charcuterie. Fill in any spaces and the edges of your board with just a sprinkle of arugula or watercress.
Step 9 – Enjoy!
Step back and admire your incredible creation! Take some photos, of course! Open your favourite drop of wine or check out our favourite mocktails for some non-alcoholic suggestions.
Bon Appetit Mamas