Everything you need to know to easily build an awesome charcuterie and cheese board including our favorites meats, cheeses and extras!
One of the most frequent questions I get is what all I put on our charcuterie and cheese boards. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I build a charcuterie and cheese board every chance I get…like at least once a week! Date nights in, dinner parties, weekend lunch, if I’m craving charcuterie, I’ll make it happen. I could eat a charcuterie and cheese board every night and never get sick of it. Just add wine!
Since we eat charcuterie and cheese boards so often, building one is one of the easiest meals we could make. No oven or stovetop needed unless you want some toasted bread with it which we usually don’t even bother with because we enjoy a variety of crackers with ours. We keep most of the extras on hand at all times, so we usually just have to go to the store to get the meats, cheeses and some fresh fruits.
I’ll break it all down for you below, but here’s a Charcuterie & Cheese Board Checklist that you can easily print and take with you to the store after checking your pantry and refrigerator for some of the extras.
I also get asked where we get all of our wooden boards. My dad made a few of our favorites during his woodworking days and the others I’ve just collected over the years. Target has some great affordable ones and I recently found a dreamy board that goes all the way down the middle of our dining table at Crate and Barrel. I’m always on the lookout for new charcuterie boards! 😉
We’ve found that ordering the meats sliced fresh from the deli meat counter is the way to go. The meat just tastes so much better when it’s sliced fresh to order and served the same day.
We usually do 4-5 different cuts of meat for a small board or even more for a larger crowd. If we’re eating the board as a meal, we plan for about 3-4 slices of each meat per person. Thinly sliced. For your reference, each package of sliced meat for a board for two people (8-10 slices each) ends up weighing anywhere from .05 to .25 of a pound.
We’ve gotten to know the staff at our local grocery store deli meat counters and rely on them for recommendations if we’re looking for something new. We’re always really nice to them because requesting just 8-10 thin slices of 4-5 different meats is probably not their favorite order to take, but it’s all we need sometimes if we’re building a board just for the two of us. No need to buy a full pound of meat when you just need 2-3 thin slices per meat per person.
Here are our favorite meats:
• Prosciutto 18-30 month (the older the stronger the flavor)
• Italian Salamis – Soppressata, Coppa, Schiacciata Piccante, Finocchiona, Calabrese
• German-style Salamis – Hungarian-style, Mustard Seed, Cliente Picante
• Mortadella with or without pistachio
We usually do 3-4 cheeses for our small boards and about 5 or more for a larger crowd board. You’ll want a variety of cheese textures from firm to super creamy. The cheeses are usually prepackaged and will sometimes come in varying sizes so if you’re wanting a larger chunk of one cheese and a smaller portion of another, just look through the stack of cheeses to find the size that looks best for your board. You could even ask if they cut cheeses to size. For your reference, our cheeses usually weigh anywhere from .25 to .50 of a pound each.
Whole Foods has a great little basket of “cheese orphans” that are small little portions of cheeses they have extra pieces of or are promoting. These are so great for building a small board. We’ll look through there first to see if any of our cheeses are in there or if there are any new cheeses we’d want to try.
The great thing about the cheeses is that they last a while so if you have leftovers, just wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and place down in an airtight baggie to store in the refrigerator until you want to eat it again.
Usually, we serve the cheese as it comes and put a cheese knife next to each one, but sometimes I’ll thinly slice the harder cheeses so people can just grab and eat. The creamier/softer cheeses need to stay in their original shape though with a little knife so it can be scooped and spread on crackers, fruit slices, etc.
Here are our favorite cheeses:
• Triple Creme
• White Cheddar – Ivy’s Vintage Reserve English Cheddar (my absolute favorite cheese!)
• Aged Gouda
• A “stinky” cheese like blue cheese or gorgonzola
• Something unique – truffle, spicy, fruit-infused or wine-soaked
To bring out the best of all the different tastes and textures from the meats and cheeses, it’s nice to have a variety of sweet and savory extras to pair with them. We keep our pantry and refrigerator stocked with most of the extras so all we have to get most of the time are the fresh fruits and bread if we’re using it.
Here are our favorite extras:
• crackers – sea salted, multi-grain, seeded, fruit & nut filled
• nuts – marcona almonds, glazed pecans, pistachios, cashews
• dried fruits – figs, apricots, cherries, cranberries
• fresh fruits – grapes, apples, pears
• mini cornichon pickles
• pickled veggies such as red peppers or brussels sprouts
• fig spread
• preserves or jams – any flavors (we love wild blueberry)
• stone ground mustard
• honey – truffle or regular
• baguette – sliced and toasted in the oven
We tend to pair our charcuterie and cheese boards with sauvignon blanc because it goes so great with cheese. Our go-to is this Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.
You want to look for wines that have lower tannins, lower alcohol content and higher acidity. Champagne, sparkling wines and rieslings go great with charcuterie and cheese boards as well.
We’ll also serve our charcuterie and cheese boards with cocktails made with vodka or gin.
And there you have it! I’m so sorry it took me this long to finally put this all into a blog post. I’ve been getting 3-4 emails or messages each week for the past several years asking how I build our charcuterie and cheese boards so it was about time I share all of our favorites in one place.
I hope you find it approachable and helpful as you build your own charcuterie and cheese boards for a casual date night in or dinner party with lots of friends. I would love love to see your boards, so please tag me if you post a pic or message me with a pic. It makes me so happy to see other people enjoy making and eating charcuterie and cheese boards as much as we do! 🙂
- Prosciutto 18-30 month (the older the stronger the flavor)
- Italian Salamis - Soppressata, Coppa, Schiacciata Piccante, Finocchiona, Calabrese
- German-style Salamis - Hungarian-style, Mustard Seed, Cliente Picante
- Mortadella with or without pistachio
- Triple Creme
- White Cheddar - Ivy's Vintage Reserve English Cheddar (my absolute favorite cheese!)
- Aged Gouda
- A "stinky" cheese like blue cheese or gorgonzola
- Something unique - truffle, spicy, fruit-infused or wine-soaked
- crackers - we will get a variety of crackers: sea salted, multi-grain, fruit
- nuts - marcona almonds, glazed pecans, pistachios, cashews, etc.
- dried fruits - figs, apricots
- fresh fruits - grapes, apples, pears
- mini cornichon pickles
- pickled veggies such as peppers or brussels sprouts
- fig spread
- preserves or jams - any flavors
- stone ground mustard
- baguette - sliced and toasted in the oven
- Gather all of your meats, cheeses and extras.
- I recommend 4-5 different cuts of meat or even more for a larger crowd. If eating the board as a meal, plan for about 3-4 slices of each meat per person. Thinly sliced. For your reference, each package of sliced meat for two people (8-10 slices) ends up weighing anywhere from .05 to .25 of a pound.
- I recommend 3-4 cheeses for a small (party of 2) board and about 5 or more for a larger crowd board.
- Prep the fruit and any other extras. Wash the fruit. Let the grapes dry. Slice the apples and/or pears.
- Toast slices of baguette if you're putting bread on the board.
- Set out a large wooden board or platter to fit everything on. Set out a few small bowls to put jams, honey, mustard, etc. in.
- Arrange the meats and cheese on the board first.
- Usually, we serve the cheese as it comes and put a cheese knife next to each one, but sometimes I'll thinly slice the harder cheeses so people can just grab and eat. The creamier/softer cheeses need to stay in their original shape though with a little knife so it can be scooped and spread on crackers, fruit slices, etc.
- Next, arrange all of the extras in and around the meats and cheeses, squeezing it all in. It's okay for items to touch each other and overlap. Place little bowls of the fig jam, fruit spreads, honey, mustard, etc. across the board.
- Pour some wine and enjoy!