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How to Craft the Perfect Charcuterie Board (+ a couple easy condiment recipes)

September 15, 2019  —  Written by Chris 

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The word “charcuterie” has expanded a bit beyond its classic French roots, and is sometimes used to describe a collection of meats, cheeses, fruits and other finger foods arranged together. I understand that purists scoff at this change, but I care less about what I call it and more about whether or not the people I make it for are enjoying it. And no joke, they enjoy the crap outta this.

How to Craft the Perfect Charcuterie Board

I know this is a bit odd since I’m not really cooking anything, but Jules and I love entertaining – having people over and spending time with them while sharing great food – it’s the best. I’ve had a lot of practice at putting together charcuterie boards, and I think they’re perfect for so many occasions (or no occasion at all). So here are my favorite things to include, along with a couple condiment recipes and a video below walking you through it all.

How to Craft the Perfect Charcuterie Board

The best things to include in a charcuterie board

Something pickled and/or brined
Olives, pickles, artichokes, peppadew peppers (a personal fave) – lots of things to choose from, but the tang is important for cutting through the richness of some of the other items. I love these gherkins from Gaea – tangy, but not sweet like most gherkins are.

Something crunchy
Crackers, toasted bread, nuts, or even pork rinds (for my keto folks out there). The crunchy texture makes the board more enjoyable, because it’s not just mushy thing after mushy thing. You gotta have that texture in there – something mild flavored is great. And don’t forget some gluten free options if making for larger groups. There’s usually someone and having something for them really goes a long way in making them feel welcomed.

Something meaty
Sopressatta, prosciutto, pepperoni, salami. This is where a lot of people have problems with the term “charcuterie” because most meats represented on “charcuterie” boards are actually Italian salumi. But again, let’s not worry about it, because these things are delicious. And if you’re worried about all the nitrates in the cured meat, opt for uncured options like this turkey salami. It’s pretty dynamite.

How to craft the perfect charcuterie board

Something fruity
Berries, grapes, and whatever is seasonal. Right now that means peaches and plums, but soon we’ll be looking at pears, citrus and pomegranates. Fresh fruit is another great thing for cutting the fat in the meat, but you can also use dried, unsweetened fruit (cherries are my go-to).

Something cheesy
Creamy cheeses, hard cheeses, sharp cheddars and specialty cheeses. Get a good mix of cheese like whole milk mozzarella (mild, fresh), aged cheddar, blue stilton (sharp), and manchego (a hard cheese with a great flavor that goes with just about anything). Super hard cheeses like parmesan I think are better used in other ways, but that’s for my taste.

How to craft the perfect charcuterie board

Condiments
Fruit spreads (can’t go wrong with a fig preserve) and mustards. Harsh mustards may not be the best choice, but below I have a recipe for a honey mustard made with stone ground whole grain mustard. It’s super delicious, as is the sour cherry chèvre (which can also act as one of your cheese options).

Something chocolate
Always. I always have some form of chocolate. I use Lily’s when I’m on keto, but anything dark will do. And chocolate covered almonds pull double duty – love them on a board.

How to craft the perfect charcuterie board

Fresh herbs
This is optional, because people won’t eat them. But at the risk of sounding pretentious, I find that the smell of fresh rosemary or basil makes eating everything else more enjoyable. You still get the flavor through smell, and it’s really great.

Of course, with all of this, you also want to make sure you have some great serving pieces to arrange it in and on. Here are all my favorite pieces that were used in the video above:

Small olive wood cheese board
Medium olive wood cheese board (the one in the pictures is no longer available, but I also have this one and it’s about the same size and I love it as well)
Large round bread board
Olive wood fruit bowl

There are so many things you could use – make some boards of your own and put them on Instagram, tagging @chrislovesjulia. Would love to see what you come up with! Until next time, friends.

How to craft the perfect charcuterie board

Print Recipe
5 from 8 votes

Sour Cherry Chèvre

A quick goat cheese spread that is amazing on crackers, pizza, or paired with meats, fruits or other cheeses.
Prep Time5 mins
Course: Snack
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup goat milk chevre
  • 1-2 tbsp sour cherry spread

Instructions

  • Mix the ingredients together - that's it!
Print Recipe
5 from 8 votes

Stone Ground Honey Mustard

This mustard is perfect with cured meats, cheeses, fruits and crackers. Great condiment for a charcuterie board.
Prep Time5 mins
Course: Snack
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup stone ground mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • Mix the ingredients together until smooth. Put it on whatever - it's amazing.

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What do you think?

  1. Laurie says:

    Looks delicious! Can you substitute the stone ground mustard for Dijon or creole brown mustard?

  2. Terry says:

    Kind of late to the game, but looove the charcuterie ideas!!! Could you tell me if your beautiful round board is the 15” or the 22”size board? Whichever it is I neeeeeed it in my life!????????

  3. Char Cunha says:

    Oh My how delicious and now I have to run out and get all those tasties and make one! Thank-you Chris!

  4. Emily S says:

    5 stars
    This post was just what I needed! I’ve never put together a charcuterie board before, and they can look intimidating if you’re trying to really do it up right and not just have a plate with ham slices and cheese squares. My husband and I had been working through Sopranos and I had just suggested I put together a “real” charcuterie board for the finale. This post came up right at the perfect moment, I saved it for the finale prep. Last night we had our charcuterie board and watched the finale. it was perfect!

  5. Lydia Scott says:

    5 stars
    So beautiful! I have saved these for future entertaining. Would love to know any tips for cleaning the boards after use? Some of the things I serve on my boards always leave spots. Thank you!

    • Chris says:

      That happens to me as well sometimes. Usually what I’ll do now is, for anything that I think may leave a stain, I put it in a separate bowl. But there are some discolorations that I think give a board more character and make it look utilitarian, and not just “pretty.”

  6. Lori says:

    Oooh, that sour cherry goat cheese spread idea is awesome! Thanks for the recipes!

  7. Finally a Chris Cooks for me! (Since I loathe cooking ????). Thankyou!! xx

  8. Polly says:

    They are all so gorgeous!!! ???? Do you have any tips on spending wisely when doing a big gorgeous board such as this? I find that when I do one I wind up spending way more than planned.

    • Chris says:

      For sure! A couple things – first, opt for the deli counter as opposed to grabbing the pre-sliced packages. At the deli counter you can have them slice the meats a tad thinner, making it stretch a bit more. It’s also usually a lot cheaper that way.

      Instead of fancy crackers you can buy a baguette and slice it thin, at an angle, and lightly toast them with a little olive oil drizzled on top. Stick with fruit that is in season as it’s usually less cost, and spread out the expensive items on the board so it looks like there’s more of it than there may actually be.

  9. Liz says:

    For her 99th birthday, I sent a good family friend a gift basket from a local store. They were able to include splits of champagne, some flowers, and loads of small goodies like crackers, pate, meats, cheeses, fruit, etc so she could make up an appetizer board just like what we used to share when we got together for an afternoon visit.

    How about salmon, smoked trout, and other seafood? Of course, the possibilities are endless. Just think of having a party highlighting foods from other nations or foods of a seasonal nature. What fun!

    Do you have salad size plates to use for your get togethers?

  10. Dee says:

    I would think you would want to serve the GF crackers separate from their gluten counterparts esp next to the crusty bread for those that have to eat GF for Celiac reasons and need to avoid that cross contamination.

    • julie says:

      i’m glad they let a comment on the GF through. If someone has Celiac, they would need a separate board, so that cracker crumbs and bread crumbs wouldn’t be a worry for them.

  11. Nawana says:

    I’m gonna have to go ahead and respectfully disagree on not using strong mustard. Bring it baby! Also, since this is a post about charcuterie after all, do you serve wine even though you don’t drink it yourselves? I know you have cabinet fulls of wine glasses which is a little odd if you never use them.

  12. Katy DeBardelaben says:

    These are gorgeous! Have you figured out a way to prep these in advance of a party or at least organize everything in a way that makes setup easier? I’m always running around like crazy right before a party and making a charcuterie board right before guests arrive gives me anxiety because of all the packaging I have to dispose of or put away. Just curious if you have any tips for this! Thank you!

  13. Jen says:

    CHEV IT IN MY MOUTH!!!!!! YES! Thanks for the inspiration and the LAUGHS!

  14. Brittani says:

    5 stars
    Today is my birthday and I needed this and wanted it but never knew how to ask, thank you for this times a million and what a great gift! I’ll be saving the link for this! Xo

  15. Renee says:

    Chris had me cracking up in his intro… the little repositioning of his eyeglasses had me rolling on the floor!!!! Yessssss!!!! I’ll take a board with dried fruits, cheese, grapes, cheese, figs, cheese, chocolate and cheese any day of the week regardless of what you call it!!!!

  16. Julie Etheredge says:

    Do you make a separate board for people with Celiac (not just a gluten intolerance or avoidance)? Having the flax crackers on the same tray with the rest of the crunchies prior to making the board or not washing your hands between putting the regular bread and crackers contaminates them and someone with Ceilac wouldn’t be able to eat them. Or anything else on your board with the cross contamination from any of the bread or cracker crumbs that might get spread around.

    • Chris says:

      If someone with celiac is coming over I just don’t use gluten-containing items at all. In any part of the meal. There are plenty of things to make/add that everyone can enjoy so I just leave it out entirely.

  17. Avery LeMaire says:

    5 stars
    All of your boards look so delicious!!! Thank you for sharing! I like to add some Cajun sausage or Boudin to my charcuterie boards ???? it’s a Louisiana thing!!! And also something that’s keto friendly, you should try cauliflower boudin!!

  18. MT Newton says:

    5 stars
    Sounds glorious. We love a nice onion or red onion chutney and artichoke (think you have that in one of the photos). It looks so good ????????????

    • Kimberly says:

      I’ve been loving all the videos you post lately, and this one is no exception! The content, music, production style, Chris (!) – it was all so great. I’m not on Instagram anymore so I appreciate having a way to watch you both here on the blog.

  19. Patricia says:

    5 stars
    Pinning this post for my easy appetizers board. I’ve made a variation of Chris’s sour cherry chevre; I combine fig jam with goat cheese and toasted walnuts. Wonderful spread on a cracker or bread.

    YUM!

  20. Sara says:

    This was so informative and drool worthy!! Saving this for when we host next! Any ideas for where to get the cute small white bowls?

    • Julia says:

      Those are from Crate and Barrel!

      • Lynne says:

        Thank you! Hubby and I will throw one together after a weekend of working when we don’t want to cook. I’m looking forward to trying the condiment recipes you shared. Great additions. I could live on prosciutto, brie and kalamata olives ????

  21. Karen says:

    Thanks, thinking about a small wine party and I don’t entertain or cook much so this is going to be my food map!

  22. Johanna says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely beautiful.

  23. Andy says:

    Great post! Thank you! Also, for those of you looking for charcuterie boards, consider getting one from a maker. I’ve found so many great makers on Instagram: check out minspiredliving and crowcreekdesigns. I think they have links to their shops.

  24. Edith says:

    Where do you find sour cherry spread?

  25. Mara Smith says:

    I’ve been eating charcuterie plates for years, such a classic!

    On a side note, Chris’s voice was really loud, but muffled. I had to turn the volume off to watch.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks for the note! Working with a new microphone but we’ll get it worked out for ya.

    • Amanda says:

      Love the video (and charcuterie!) Love the rearrangement touches and the ideas for different boards. But agree, it was hard to hear Chris. I wondered if it was because the background music was playing at the same volume? I persevered though for the love of all things meat and cheese and fruit and chocolate and olives and pickles and all of that good stuff.

    • Susan Atkinson says:

      5 stars
      I was watching on my IPad, and the sound was fine as long as I didn’t expand the view.

      This was the best video on Charcuterie boards I’ve seen – so many great ideas for including variety!! I sent an IG message to Julia this week requesting a source for the big round board used on your recent stories to welcome her family to dinner. Thank you for including the sources at the bottom.

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