Move over hors d’oeuvres, there’s a better appetizer in town! Often called grazing boards, charcuterie boards are here to stay. With a lovely selection of foods at your fingertips, these meat and cheese boards are gorgeous displays. They’re perfect for a rehearsal dinner, shower, or bachelorette. Our guide will help you create a stunning sampling from start to finish.
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Charcuterie Board Definition
So, what are charcuterie boards? Great question! If you look up the charcuterie meaning, it originally meant a store that sold meat. It could also have a general definition of cold, cooked meats.
There’s also a debate on whether the charcuterie board definition has its roots in France or Italy. The answer is – both! In French, the charcuterie meaning is a word to describe processed meat products. However, in Italian the term means salami.
No matter the terminology, this word nowadays is used to describe gorgeous spreads. They can contain a plethora of things, which we’ll talk about. But first, let’s learn how to say it correctly.
How to Pronounce Charcuterie Boards
Well, if you want to hear it in French and English, there’s a YouTube video for that. However, it’s pronounced like this.
- Shar (as in the beginning sound of Char-lotte)
- Coo (as in a bird coo)
- Ter (as the ending sound of compu-ter)
- E (as in how you say the letter E)
Of course, you already know how to say board correctly, so there you have it! Now you know how to pronounce charcuterie like a pro.
How to pronounce charcuterie board and the charcuterie board definition are no longer mysteries!
Perfect Places for Charcuterie Boards
- Of course—since this is a Virginia wedding blog—making a grazing platter is perfect for a bridal shower.
- These beauties can also be prepared for the cocktail hour in between the wedding and reception.
- Having cheese boards available on the wedding day while everyone is getting ready.
- Set charcuteries on tables at the rehearsal dinner so that folks can sit and chat.
- As newlyweds, entertaining at home can be simple if you keep meat and cheese on hand to quickly create a tray.
Charcuterie Board Ingredients
There’s a lot of debate when it comes to ingredients for charcuterie boards, and that’s ok! The debate is basically settled as you put together a board that suits your needs. So, if you’re a vegetarian or don’t like any of the categories below, feel free to omit sections.
Charcuterie Board Shopping List
- Variety of meats
- Selection of cheeses
- Spread (such as jam or jelly)
- Drizzle (the most common is honey)
4 Tips on How to Build a Charcuterie Board
There is so much creative freedom when you are making charcuterie boards. From a simple date night cheeseboard to an Italian charcuterie board, you can construct whatever you’d like.
They are really fun to make, and here are some simple steps on how to build a charcuterie board.
1. Choose a good base.
First, you need to start with a good base. It needs to be food-safe and flat, but beyond that, the options are limitless. The best charcuterie board materials are wood, marble, and slate.
Here is one of the best charcuterie boards around —it’s made of marble and wood. Knowing if a charcuterie board for sale is right for you can be tricky. However, just go with what appeals to you as long as it’s food safe.
With the mix of textures, the one below is quite possibly the best charcuterie board to buy!
See a charcuterie board for sale and love it? It could be the best charcuterie board for you.
2. Scan charcuterie recipes.
What you’d like to put on your board is up to you! Scour various charcuterie recipes, or head to the grocery store and pick up the best charcuterie board cheeses, meats, and extras that you can find. It’s not as difficult as you may think.
Charcuterie board meats are generally served cold, and the cheeses are best served at room temperature. Keep this in mind as you make your selections.
3. Layer your ingredients.
Use small ramekins, tiny trays, and other accessories to add interest to your meat and cheese tray. Tiny vessels can be used to hold nuts or jams. Cut your cheeses and meats in a pleasing shape. Be careful to cut them cleanly and neatly.
Place all of one type of flavor together. It’s ok to spread things around the board. However, if you have gouda, slice and keep that in one location on the board. Although, that’s merely a suggestion. How you assemble is up to you!
Style larger items, such as meats and cheeses, first. Then add your crackers. Use nuts and dried berries to fill up the empty spaces. Lastly, drizzle jam, jelly, apple butter, or honey on the board—over cheeses, nuts, and meats is fine.
Layering charcuterie board meats and cheeses makes a lovely presentation.
4. Serve with charcuterie etiquette.
One thing to note is to set your cheese board up for success. Have toothpicks, napkins, and small serving utensils on hand. Small plates would also work. No matter what, you want to ensure that everyone is using charcuterie etiquette.
Only take small amounts at a time, and use a utensil to gather your items. Never, ever use your hands or fingers unless you’ve made a charcuterie board for one. In that case, dive in!
16 of the Best Charcuterie Recipes
Whether you only want a cheese board or want a carefully crafted grazing station, we’ve got ideas for the best charcuterie boards around. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired by the beautiful spreads and have the confidence to create your own easy charcuterie board.
Traditional Charcuterie Boards
1. Fully Packed Grazing Board
If you can’t decide what to put on your board, choose it all! This ingenious setup from Chef Not Required uses a practical baking tray and ramekins to hold everything.
“Everything” style charcuterie recipes include meats, cheeses, crackers, fruits…the list is endless, but the results are stunning.
Some charcuterie recipes allow you to pack your tray with deliciousness.
2. French Charcuterie Platter
Since charcuterie boards are partly contributed to the French, why not pay them homage? This would be the perfect charcuterie board for dinner.
Recipes From a Pantry demonstrates how to make an authentic design straight from France. Packed with charcuterie board meats, it’s a stunning representation.
Carefully select your charcuterie board meats to create a French feast.
3. Vintage Display of Charcuterie Board Ingredients
Be still my vintage-loving heart! Not only is this meat and cheese tray from The Urban Soapbox gorgeous, but I adore the vintage elements.
The tray, bowls, and serving utensil display these charcuterie board ingredients perfectly. Also, take notice of the layering technique as everything is perfectly tucked into this stunning platter.
Display your charcuterie board ingredients using vintage elements. Stunning!
4. Cracker Filled Grazing Station
Adding unique breadsticks and crackers to your platter creates such a stunning effect. Notice the variety of textures that will add crunch to otherwise soft ingredients put together by Living Lou.
Eaten on their own or layered with meat and cheese with a layer of spread, crackers always make a fabulous base for stacking other charcuterie board ingredients.
Charcuterie recipes include a variety of crunchy, textured crackers.
5. Hearty Italian Charcuterie Board
We gave a nod to France, now it’s time to give Italy a few kudos with an Italian Charcuterie Board. Caprese salad, meatballs, and Italian meats all come together beautifully in this creation by 365 Days of Baking & More.
It even includes pre-made mozzarella cheese rolls. So unique! This grazing platter is a beautiful representation of the colors of the Italian flag.
This Italian charcuterie board includes unique Italy-inspired ingredients.
6. Deli Style Meat and Cheese Platter
If thinly sliced deli meat is more your style, that works for a meat and cheese platter, too! Simply roll the meat and add slices of cheese, crackers, and pickles.
Use other tasting ingredients to complete your meat and cheese platter. This grazing station by All Things Mamma combines light and dark hues beautifully.
Yes, it’s ok to use selections from the deli in your meat and cheese platter.
7. Light Lunch Snack Tray
If you just want a light bite or to create a charcuterie board for two, then a lighter version is perfect. Even Cutefetti used rolled deli meat!
The addition of hard-boiled eggs, nuts, and fruit make this lunch snack tray a mid-day essential. This platter would also work well for a late breakfast or brunch.
Lighter foods can be placed on a lunch snack tray, which is an ideal mid-day treat.
8. Nourishing Round Grazing Platter
Quite often, rectangular shapes are used for charcuterie boards. However, round bases can be simply stunning! Arranging your ingredients may be a bit more challenging.
However, Flavor the Moments designed hers with gorgeous results The spread is placed on the very top, which creates a gorgeous stack of flavors.
Layering items on a round base can create a stunning grazing platter.
9. Curated Charcuterie Board Meats
In the Kitch‘s guide suggests that you choose your meats based on flavor. Having strong, medium, and soft flavors allows for a variety of tastes on one platter.
Also, the best charcuterie board cheeses also come in combinations of flavors and hardnesses. Variety is key, which also makes for a beautiful tray.
Combine a variety of flavor profiles with your meat and cheese selections.
10. Quick and Easy Charcuterie Board
Nourish & Fete promises that you can produce a beautiful grazing tray in ten minutes. It’s true! This small charcuterie board recipe calls for a variety of items in lesser quantities.
It is perfect for date night or for a single person. Sweet and savory flavors combine to create a gorgeous, textured tray. Notice how everything—the base, bowl, and serving utensil—are all made of wood. So pretty!
A small charcuterie board recipe can be made in under ten minutes. Promise!
Meatless Charcuterie Boards
11. Winter Cheese Board with Honeycomb
Not only is this easy charcuterie board fabulous for vegetarians, but the wooden base is a smart choice. A board with a handle makes it easy to carry and serve.
The selection of cheeses is beautifully accompanied by a variety of fruit and nuts. Of course, the honeycomb is both a gorgeous and tasty addition in this idea from Zestful Kitchen.
This arrangement would be the perfect date night cheese board.
12. Autumn Vegetarian Cheese Board
Just because a date night cheese board recipe doesn’t require meat, doesn’t mean it can’t be filling and hearty. This stunner by The Forked Spoon features a loaf of bread, beautifully wrapped cheeses, and seasonal decor.
The variety is amazing, and it would such a joy to dive right in. What a delicious looking spread that would be a perfect prelude to a meal.
A vegetarian grazing platter can be just as nourishing as meaty options.
13. Fruit & Veggie Appetizer Board
For those who don’t really want a meat and cheese board, it’s ok to skip both. Add interesting veggies, such as squash, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms.
The variety of colors and textures can make for such a gorgeous board like this one from Green Scheme. Delish!
It’s ok to skip the meat and cheese and only have fruit and veggies on your board.
14. Date Night Cheese Board for Two
Grazing platters can be simple! This easy charcuterie board features the perfect mix of sweet and salty with its sugar-coated nuts and smooth cheeses.
A homemade drizzle—it’s spiked!—and shapely crackers complement the vintage, raised board perfectly. Pick a night and make this date night cheese board.
A mini date night cheese board doubles as a lovely charcuterie board for one.
15. Board Featuring the Best Charcuterie Board Cheeses
Just because you have cheese doesn’t mean you need to slice it. Provide knives on your board, and voila! You can showcase your cheeses in full—they are beautiful when kept in a wedge.
Food Folks and Fun has a fabulous guide to grazing boards, which includes how to pick artisan cheeses. There are so many out there that it can be difficult to choose.
Leave your cheese in a wedge and provide a knife for cutting. It saves time and looks lovely.
16. Christmas Tree Cheese Board
Creativity can really come through in food presentation, and this is such a fun one! It’s fairly easy to do, too. Stack your grazing platter ingredients in such a way that it resembles a Christmas tree.
This snack board by The Cozy Cook has layers of cheese, crackers, olives, fruit, and nuts. What a beautiful, holiday-centric board. Making a shape could also fit for Easter (egg), Valentine’s Day (heart), and the 4th of July (flag). You could have so much fun!
Creative shapes, such as this Christmas Tree, are fun for the holidays.
Bonus: Cranberry Horseradish Brie Bites for Your Board
These aren’t technically a platter, but these will pep up the cheese on your board. Cook at Home Mom (who happens to live in the same town I do in Virginia!) has a delicious recipe.
Horseradish gives cranberry sauce a kick. Even if you’re not a fan of horseradish, the tart-sweetness of the sauce sets the spiciness off perfectly. Plus, they’re cute, too!
With a bit of extra effort, you can pep up your brie with horseradish and cranberry.
Our Favorite Charcuterie Boards
Looking for the perfect cheese board? Check out these selections below. Many can double as cutting boards, and they are all stunning bases for your platters.
Just click the image to view more about the boards below.
Final Thoughts on Making Grazing Platters
In short, there are many ways to create the perfect charcuterie. They can be small or large, served as a snack or dinner, sparse or piled high. No matter your style, take the time to try your hand at these beautiful options for hors d’oeuvres.