The charcuterie board is a classic appetizer. But it requires more than just slapping some meats and cheeses on a cutting board. Making a charcuterie board that is appealing to sight, smell, and taste is truly an art.
Part of the appeal of the charcuterie board is how seemingly simple it is to make. It does not require any complicated recipes or the mixing of countless ingredients. Yet, while it may be easy to make an okay charcuterie board, Carnivore Club is dedicated to helping you create great boards that express a variety of flavors and textures and help your guests express their creativity.
Six Essentials to Elevate Your Board:
- Include an assortment of flavors to add variety and ensure that every guest finds something they enjoy. Make sure to include salty, spicy, savory, and sweet elements.
- Keep things interesting by embracing diverse textures. Think crunchy, smooth, crisp, and creamy.
- Do not overlook the appearance of the board. Look for ingredients that will add pops of color like reds, greens, or purples. The last thing you want is a dull board of all brown items.
- Put a label next to everything so people know what they are eating. Including names can also spur conversations between guests about which cheeses or meats they liked the most.
- Every item needs its own serving utensil so that flavors do not mix haphazardly. Do not make guests use the same serving spoon for multiple spreads!
- Décor. Add a small decorative touch. Sprigs of herbs can bring a more natural element, or twinkle lights can brighten the table and draw attention to your board.
Presentation is everything with a charcuterie board. The last thing you want to do is cram everything on a tiny board and have all of your flavors mix, while food falls off onto the table. Use as many boards as you need to comfortably fit everything. Mix and match boards of different sizes and shapes. It adds personality. If you want to be really unique you can even combine boards of different materials or colors.
With a few simple tips, you can make your presentation clean and polished rather than scattered and sloppy. First, serve spreads in small dishes rather than their plastic containers. Make your guests wonder if you made it yourself. Nothing ruins a beautiful board like the cheap packaging and eye-catching labels of store-bought spreads.
Incorporate accents. This is the step most often overlooked when making charcuterie boards. Your board should not only be meats, cheeses, spreads, and crackers. Add accent foods to add more depth to your flavors. Pickled vegetables like olives add a wonderful pickled flavor. Raw nuts like almonds, pistachios, and peanuts add a much needed crunch. Dried or fresh fruit such as grapes can add sweetness.
With these simple tips and some attention to detail, you can turn an okay charcuterie board into a great one. Remember to play around with flavor and texture combinations, incorporate pops of color, and add accent foods. These guidelines are designed to help you get creative when designing your next charcuterie board.
Learn more about how charcuterie around the world varies from the types of meats and types of spreads.
For help selecting specific meat and cheese combinations, see our article on charcuterie meats, cheeses, and crackers here.