As its fancy (read: French) name suggests, preparing a charcuterie board is an art. Although it calls for a little thought, it doesn’t require advanced skills. Thanks to our easy tips for curating the perfect board, these edible labours of love are merely a grocery trip away from being mastered. From shopping the appropriate tools and tasty ingredients, to assembling the finished product, we’ve got you covered. And best of all, there’s no cooking necessary. Can you say, “Bon appétit”?

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  1. Charcuterie board tools
  2. Charcuterie board ingredients
  3. Charcuterie board assembly
  4. Recipes for charcuterie board leftovers
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1What tools do you need for a charcuterie board?

The board: From natural materials like wood, marble and slate to porcelain and plastic plates—anything works. The focus should really be on the quality of ingredients on the board.

For a classic charcuterie surface, go with a wooden board. Make sure to clean it with warm soapy water and a bristle brush to clear the crevices after use. The better care you take of your board from the start, the longer it’ll last.

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Did You Know
For an intimate gathering, Lisa Dawn Bolton, author of On Boards, recommends using an 11- x 16-inch board. For larger groups, try something bigger, like a 20- x 13-inch tray. (Bonus if it has handles for easy transporting!)

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Ramekins: These are great for containing loose ingredients like olives, jam and other spreads. Ramekins also create dimension and divide the board into sections, which is pleasing to the eye.

Opt for small, basic white ceramic or glass ramekins that won’t distract from the ingredients inside and around them. Bonus: when you’re not using them for charcuterie, ramekins are perfect vessels for mid-afternoon snacks like nuts, trail mix and yogurt.

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Cheese knives: There are many cheese knives on the market meant for cutting into specific cheese densities (soft, semi-firm and hard). While it’s perfectly fine to use whatever you have on hand (such as steak and butter knives), cheese knives make it easier for guests to serve themselves—plus they look pretty and are durable for years of entertaining. Here are the ideal knives for different types of cheese:

Type of Cheese Type of Cheese Knife
Soft (brie, goat, cream cheese, gorgonzola) Soft-cheese knife
Cheese spreader
Semi-firm (gouda, cheddar, fontina, provolone) Cheese planer
Pronged cheese knife
Hard (aged gouda, Parmesan, pecorino) Cheese cleaver
Parmesan knife

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Spoons: Jams and spreads require scooping, which is when these utensils come in handy. For foods that cannot be scooped, like slices of meat, toothpicks and mini tongs are great alternatives.

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2What ingredients do you need for a charcuterie board?

One thing that makes charcuterie so fun is that it’s super customizable. Quantities of each ingredient will depend on how many guests you’re entertaining and the size of your board. Feel free to play around with different flavour combinations while keeping these common charcuterie ingredients in mind:

3How do you assemble a charcuterie board?

Assembling a charcuterie board doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process. All it really takes is four simple steps that can be completed in under 15 minutes. Make time go by even faster by involving your family. Kids will grin ear to ear if you let them snack on ingredients as they pile them onto the board.

The board below serves four to five adults.

Step One

Start by filling the board with the biggest items. This usually includes blocks or wheels of cheese, slabs of meat and ramekins containing loose ingredients, jams and spreads. Set one large item in the centre, like a ramekin of olives, and the four other largest ingredients (in this case, a wheel of brie, a triangle of Parmesan, hummus dip and raspberry jam) on all corners of the board.

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Quick Tip
It will be easier to slice the cheeses (vegan and dairy-free versions included) when they’re placed along the edge of the board.

Step Two

Next, add grapes, breads and crackers. For a pop of colour in the middle of the board, place two vines of grapes on either side of the centre ramekin. Not only are grapes perfect for adding vibrancy to the board, they’re also easy to find at the grocery story year-round, making them a charcuterie essential.

Breads and crackers are perfect vessels for yummy jams, spreads and cheeses, so include a complementary variety and arrange them on the perimeter of the board for easy access. In this case, the naan bread pairs with the hummus, but also works with the buttery taste of the brie. The sesame crackers also work well with the hummus and taste wonderful with a slice of Parmesan on top.

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Hosting a celiac or gluten-intolerant guest? Opt for gluten-free breads and crackers without compromising on taste.

Step Three

Time for the savoury component: Layer on the meats. Roll thin slices of prosciutto, coppa di Parma and Genoa salami, or your favourite cured meats, and fold them in half. Then, use the folded or rolled meats to fill empty spots on your board from left to right. If your board is full, stop here, or continue to step four.

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Dehydrated vegetables (like beets and carrots), pickled beans and smoked tofu are fantastic vegan substitutes for charcuterie meats because they pick up on similar textures and savoury and smoky flavours.[1}

Step Four

Add dimension and flavour with quick finishing touches. Use sliced pears, berries, walnuts, and other flavour enhancers like dried cranberries and figs to fill any remaining gaps on your board. Drizzle olive oil over hummus to give it more flavour and honey over brie for a dash of sweetness.

And voilà! You have officially mastered the art of charcuterie board making. (Remember, it’s ‘shar-koo-ter-ee’.)

Watch as your family and guests cut into the brie and smooth it over a cracker with a dollop of raspberry jam; see how they nibble olives and explore interesting flavour combinations like pear with Parmesan and prosciutto, until nearly every ingredient on the board is devoured. That’s the beauty of charcuterie!

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4How can you use charcuterie board leftovers?

What’s better than snacking on a charcuterie board? Having leftovers, of course. Luckily, charcuterie ingredients are versatile enough to include in a variety of meals and next-day snacks. Here are some of our favourites:

This nourishing breakfast recipe calls for fresh berries and honey. To offset the sweetness, add some walnuts (or any other nuts or seeds left over from your board) to the mix.

It’s all about the Parmesan cheese in this creamy risotto dish, so be sure to use up every bit of what’s left over. And, if you’re craving the extra carbs, scoop your risotto with leftover crackers or bread instead of a spoon.

The main ingredient in this delightful snack just happens to be a charcuterie staple: brie. Pop them in your kids’ lunchbox for a sweet and savoury treat.

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Article Sources

  1. Lisa Dawn Bolton. On Boards.