The Anatomy Of A Charcuterie Board

See how to put together a simple charcuterie board for your next party or family gathering. Includes ideas for presentation and food items.

charcuterie board with fruits meats

Have you ever seen or heard the phrase “charcuterie board” and wondered what the heck? If your answer is yes, this post is for you. I’m breaking down exactly what it is, and how to make one.

What is the definition of charcuterie?

Charcuterie is actually the French word for delicatessen, or sometimes it’s translated as butcher shop, specifically pork butcher shop. Originally, the word charcuterie referred to the “art of preparing and assembling cured meats.” It’s definitely bigger and better than your basic cheese board. Recently, the term has also been used for an assortment of meat, cheese, fruit, and/or vegetables neatly displayed on a large board or tray. A charcuterie board can be served as an appetizer, a main course, or as part of a buffet table.

charcuterie board with plates and forks

Pronunciation

Pronouncing this word can be tricky, but after you say it a few times, it will roll right off your tongue!

Here you go: shahr-koo-ta-ree

Source: The Webstaurant Blog

charcuterie board with plates and forks 2023

The Board Itself

The board, platter, or tray on which you will build your charcuterie display can be literally anything. Definitely use what you have, if possible. I used my basic Boos cutting board which I have had for years. It measures 15 x 20 inches. Cutting boards are perfect, but so is any kind of serving tray, or a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Any shape can be used. Round or oval wood boards work great. Large vintage platters are wonderful too.

items on charcuterie board 2023

Size of Your Board

Your charcuterie board can be as big or as small as you want it to be. The size is determined by your budget, and how many people you want to serve. The charcuterie board featured in this post easily fed four people, with a good amount of leftovers. I’m sure it would have easily fed six people.

Building Your Board

Now for the fun part! In the image below, I have numbered all the elements. Just below the image, is the itemized list. It’s important to vary the colors, textures, and food types.

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charcuterie board pin

Ingredients

  1. Petits Toasts
  2. Dried apricots
  3. Mini beef sticks
  4. Salted oven roasted pecans (click for the recipe)
  5. Colby jack cheese
  6. Green grapes
  7. Sliced kosher dill pickles
  8. Dalmatia Fig Orange Spread
  9. White Cheddar Cheese Its
  10. Sliced English cucumber
  11. Effie’s Oatcakes
  12. Marzetti’s ranch vegetable dip
  13. Grape tomatoes
  14. Havarti cheese with dill
  15. Sliced carrots
  16. Sliced beef salami
  17. Fresh raspberries
closeup of charcuterie board

More Charcuterie Board Ideas

  • Olives: plain or stuffed
  • Sliced fresh fruit: apples, pears, oranges, melon
  • Dried fruit
  • Whole berries: strawberries and blueberries
  • Cured meats: ham, pepperoni, prosciutto, summer sausage
  • Round crackers: Ritz, Breton Cabaret, Breton Sesame
  • Celery
  • Radishes
  • Brie cheese wheel
  • Fresh mozzarella balls
  • Burrata
  • Goat cheese
  • Blue cheese
  • Gouda
  • Gorgonzola
  • Small gherkin pickles
  • Baguette slices
  • Nuts of any kind
  • Jams and jellies
  • Honey
  • Mustard
  • Olive oil
  • Pieces of chocolate
  • Adding fresh herbs as a garnish is very pretty, and so easy. Basil, thyme, and parsley would be perfect.

TIPS

  • I bought everything for my charcuterie board at my local Kroger store. Your element choices can be as basic or as exotic as you want. Choose items that you know your guests will like, and that will display nicely.
  • Take the time to make your board pretty and balanced. It was very fun to see how I could arrange everything to make it fit on the board. I lined some things up, and others were stacked or in bowls.
  • You can make your board ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. Loosely cover it with plastic wrap. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours. I made this one in the morning and served it that evening. Everything was perfect.
  • I was slightly intimidated by the cheeses. My Kroger store has a huge oval cooler of a million different kinds. In the end, I just chose two basic varieties that I knew I liked. My favorite colby jack, and a creamy havarti with dill. For the havarti, I went with Boar’s Head (pre-packaged) and it was very good.
  • Serve your charcuterie board with wine, or with a sparkling non-alcoholic beverage. (Or both!)
  • It’s nice to give your guests plenty of choices and different flavors, but remember that the meat and cheese are rich and filling. Limit those items to two or three ounces per person.
  • Update: I had a couple of questions in regards to serving utensils. If you have a bowl of dip, make sure to add a spoon. Small cheese knives are a good idea, as well as forks. You can also add a little container filled with toothpicks.

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Something like this is easy to make and really fun to serve. If you are wondering if we ate this whole thing, the answer is almost. I invited my girlfriends over after our yoga class and they loved it. We didn’t finish it, but we sure tried!

Non Alcoholic Drinks


orange thyme spritzer recipe square

Sparkling Orange + Thyme Spritzer

white sangria recipe fi

Non Alcoholic White Sangria

glasses of mint lemonade spritzer fi

Mint Lemonade Spritzer

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27 Comments

  1. Can you offer any guidelines to determine the amount of food to buy?

  2. I have found preparing a charcuterie a little intimidating, but with all the choices you listed, I can pick and choo
    se the items easily. Thank you for always giving us excellent and practical ideas.

  3. Melissa Bonser says:

    looks lovely!! do you use any serving utensils? What type do you recomend?
    Thanks for all the elegant ideas, Ann!!

    1. Hi Melissa…good point! I usually use a small set of tongs, and a few forks. If there is a dip, make sure to place a spoon in the bowl. Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    Great information Anne, thanks for sharing !

  5. Lanita Anderson says:

    Great tutorial and beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing…..

  6. Karen Skinner says:

    Ann, what a great introduction to charcuterie boards. I see them everywhere and admire them. However, you made it simple and doable. I think I will follow your design exactly. Thank you for sharing your ideas, recipes, tips and tricks! On a side note, what type of yoga do you enjoy?

  7. Cecilia from Georgia says:

    Your Charcuterie board looks divine! How do you serve the food! Toothpicks or small forks? I don’t think it would be good to use fingers in today’s lifestyle.

  8. Christine Reid says:

    My husband has taken up woodworking skills as a retirement hobby. As one of his first gifted projects he made each of our kids a cutting board and a charcuterie board for Christmas. Now that he’s done all the hard work, we are hoping they will be filled with delicious treats like yours when we come to visit!

  9. Thank you, Ann. What a wonderful and timely tutorial. Looking forward to putting one together for a future event.

  10. Thank you for clearing that up for me! I’ve read that word in a couple of places lately but really wasn’t sure what it meant. And you did a great job on a beautiful arrangement.

  11. The spread brought back memories of family ski trips to northern Michigan. Lots of stuff was cut up into bite size pieces and put in containers. Once we got to our destination, we had a mini-buffet of meats, cheeses, crackers, and fruit. Dad then had his evening drink, with whatever icicles we could snap off for him. Note – this was pre-fast food places and a lot of the small restaurants were closed by 10pm.

    The nice thing about this concept is that you can have a meat board and a vegan board. Brunch time – include bagel chips with salmon, onions, capers, mini frittatas, Dessert time – heavy on the fruits, sweet dips, and cookies.

    If you keep the basic crackers, meats, cheeses, fruit available, you will be able to serve a nice platter at a moment’s notice. Key – always keep a bottle of sparkling wine in the cooler.

  12. Funny, I needed this two days ago when I made one for the first time for my son-in-laws birthday. It didn’t come out nearly as nice! Thanks for sharing. I am a little more confident now that Ive seen this. There aren’t many tutorials out there. Blessings, Suzanne

  13. Thank you for this great information! And it was fun to see my favorite china pattern displayed – Liberty Blue. :D

  14. Perfect poolside evening for friends and neighbor get together.. great tutorial.. thanks!

  15. What a great tutorial on such a beautiful Charcuterie Board! Thanks!

  16. Terri Herman says:

    ❤️ this! We host our midweek Bible study on a pretty regular basis & this would ideal. Thanks for breaking it down & inspiring!

  17. Your Directions are great thank you for posting ! A friend recently opened a business in our town called Grazing Affair/ she she prepares all different sizes of boards. https://www.grazingaffair.com/
    Check out her photos!

  18. I will have to make one when I have my first grown up party. Will be fun. Now I need to look at the no churn strawberry ice cream you are enticing me with.

  19. I have always wanted to do this but it seemed as intimidating as how to pronounce it. Thank you for breaking down both and making it seem super easy! Looks wonderful!

  20. Susan Cecere says:

    Thank you for including the correct pronunciation. I was mangling the word. In the deli near me, they helped me with ideas when I had to serve a small gathering. It was very easy to assemble and my adult children loved it, my grandson too. I think I will make one when they come again as it was a hit. The presentation of things mean a lot to me and I was proud to serve this.

    1. Well said Susan. It is a very lovely thing to serve and I’m so happy you felt that pride. Isn’t it great?

  21. Love this and all your posts. I look forward to reading each week and have for many years. Happen to run across your posts many years ago and glad I did. Do you make your own dip?

    1. Hi Michelle…no I did not. I used Marzetti’s ranch dip from the refrigerated area of the produce section!

  22. On my way home from Paris today. Had a charcuterie Board -lovely and included short dill pickles!
    Bon appetit, Mary

  23. This is absolutely a great idea
    Can’t wait to try this for my next card party