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How to Make a Charcuterie Board

At this point in the culinary zeitgeist, there's no right or wrong answer on how to make a charcuterie board, but following certain basic steps will make it easier for you. Here are 10 steps to assemble an Instagram-worthy charcuterie board.

All About Charcuterie

Charcuterie boards have taken over Instagram feeds and restaurant menus everywhere. While these boards may look complicated with their delicate flowers of sliced meats and artfully arranged stacks of cheese, they're actually quite easy to put together once you know the basic principles.
The word "charcuterie" is French and literally means "pork butcher's shop." Over time, it came to refer to sliced meats more generally, and the original charcuterie boards featured all or mostly consist of meats. However, charcuterie boards now may not include meat at all or use meat more as a garnish rather than a focal point (cheese is often the main element instead).
charcuterie board

How to Make a Charcuterie Board

Now that you know the basics, follow these steps to create a picturesque charcuterie board.

Step 1

To start off, choose your charcuterie board theme. Perhaps you want your charcuterie board to be vegetarian or gluten-free, or maybe you want to theme it around a cuisine such as Mediterranean. This theme will dictate all your selections for the rest of the board, so choose wisely.

Step 2

Select the board for your charcuterie. You'll want to choose one that's proportional in size to the spread you want to lay out: large boards for lots of ingredients, small ones for less. You can use an official charcuterie board or other flat items like pizza stones, baking sheets and skillets. You can even lay the charcuterie right on the counter, though you might want to lay down some parchment paper to protect the counter first.

Step 3

If you want your charcuterie board to be meat-forward, start out by selecting two to three types. There are two main types of charcuterie meats: Crudo (raw cured meat) and Cotto (cooked meat). Charcuterie meat may be served pre-sliced, or you may place a larger chunk on the board and let guests slice it themselves. You'll want to aim for a mix of all kinds of meat so that you have plenty of variety in terms of both visual appeal and taste (salty, smoky, sweet, etc.). You can also use kitchen appliances such as food slicers to cut the meat if it didn't come pre-sliced.
cheese board with fruit

Step 4

Now it's time to select the cheeses. Three to four types is a good number. You can also start with the cheese instead of meat if you'd prefer for the cheese to be the focal point of the selection, or if you want your charcuterie board to be vegetarian. As with the meat, you'll want a variety of cheeses with different tastes and textures (hard, soft, spreadable). Cheese can be presented as thin slices, small cubes or a wedge that guests can cut themselves.

Step 5

Consider the flavor profile of your board and select your condiments. Some good options include whole-grain mustard, honey, jam, preserves, paté, infused oils and hummus. For extra credit, you can use a food processor to make homemade hummus or other condiments.

Step 6

You'll want some crackers or pieces of bread to eat with the cheese and meat, so scatter those around the plate. Water crackers, breadsticks, seeded crackers and pita chips are all common charcuterie cracker choices. You can also stack them up to add some height to your board. If you're running out of room, you can place these on a separate plate or board.
couple eating cheeseboard

Step 7

Add your fruits and vegetables to add some color and crunch to your board. On the vegetable front, olives, artichoke hearts and anything pickled are great choices. Fruit is a little bit less common, but it can add a much-needed touch of sweetness to more savory and salty charcuterie boards. Both fresh and dried fruits are worth considering. Include both for maximum flavor and texture.

Step 8

Nuts also make a great garnish as well as a particularly good complement to cheese. Scatter some pecans, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews or other nuts on the board. You can also place the nuts in small bowls to keep them contained and make cleanup easier.

Step 9

Once you're happy with your arrangement, garnish the charcuterie board with a few fun elements for a beautiful presentation. Think flowers, sprigs of herbs and other special touches that will elevate it beyond the ordinary.

Step 10

Serve to your guests and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
That's how to build a charcuterie board in 10 easy steps. Whether you're making a charcuterie board for a party of two or 20, this guide will ensure you build a satisfying spread every time.

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