Before we jump into how to make a charcuterie board, what the heck is it? Well, it’s a fancy pants name for a meat and cheese tray… on steroids. Basically, it’s a large plate or board with little groups of olives, cheese, cured meats, crackers, dried fruits, nuts, veggies, jam, and more!
What’s so great about a Charcuterie Board?
This is one of Jerry and my favorite dinners, doubly so now that we’re empty nesters! We love it because:
- It’s all of your favorite nibbles
- There’s no cooking
- It’s fast
- It uses up leftovers (optional)
- Add a bottle of wine and it’s a totally romantic date night! (optional but highly recommended)
Not only is this a fun anytime/date night ensemble but it’s also a great party platter. Whip one of these up for game night, a Super Bowl party, or as a host/hostess gift with an engraved butcher block!
There’s no hard and fast rules with a Charcuterie Board. However, you do want to keep these 4 ‘S’ elements in mind. Pull at least 1 or 2 things from each group:
- Savory: black olives, mustard, crackers, bread, cheeses, sausages, veggies, roasted garlic, cured/smoked/roasted meats
- Salty: green olives, capers, salted nuts, pickles
- Sweet: dried fruit, fresh fruit, chocolate
- Sauces & Spreads: pesto, olive tapenade, aioli, mustard, jam/marmalade
You’re basically building little bites with all your favorite noshes! Gather them altogether and you’re ready to make your board.
How to make a charcuterie board
- Find a large tray, plate or cutting board. I’m using one of my favorites from Boos. It’s super heavy, but it makes a great presentation!
- If you’re using any dipping sauces, condiments (like jam, mustard or pesto), or wet items like olives/pickles, put each of them them in their own small bowl. They don’t have to match. Get creative with what you have! Group them together too: olives with olives; pickles, caper berries & cornichons; and mixed berries.
- Once you have everything out, place the items in bowls on the board first. Separate the colors.
- Next fill in all the spaces with the meats, fruits, crackers, cheeses… and most importantly have FUN with it. Think of this as an exercise in beautifully arranged artistic chaos!
- Pop open a bottle of wine (optional) and enjoy!
How to Make a Charcuterie Board ahead of time
Once you have your board set up and you want to save it for later, you’re traveling with it, or you’ve noshed all you want and there’s plenty for round 2 tomorrow: Now What?!
This was a trick I learned when I used to do catering. Break out the plastic wrap. Cover the little dishes with plastic,
put the crackers in baggies (they’ll get soft if you don’t), and make sure you bag or cover anything with a strong smell.
Next, slip the plastic wrap under your board and wrap it all the way around again and again in one continuous loop.
Now it’s ready for the refrigerator!
Charcuterie boards are fun to make with kids too. They’re meant to be eaten with your fingers or at the very least little spoons, forks and knives. Many times you can find inexpensive baby spoons, cheese spreaders, and small knives at thrift stores and antique shops. You can also find some fun little dishes there too like this miniature bunny terrine!
If you’ve got picky eaters, they love it because they can pick and choose how much and what to nibble on. Sometimes making a creative arrangement can entice finicky eaters to try something new!
Charcuterie Boards are so much fun because they’re colorful, full of your favorite treats, plus they’re meant to travel. Have picnic in your living room, take it to bed and watch movie, or take it to the park and enjoy it as the sun goes down. The possibilities are endless!
One of my favorite elements on a charcuterie board is a homemade aioli. This is savory herb infused garlic mayonnaise that is so good under a bit of ham on a cracker or used as a vegetable dip. It’s easy to whip up too!
Homemade Aioli Recipe (Mayonnaise)
- 2 egg yolks*
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt , plus more to taste
- 5 cloves fresh garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup extra light olive oil
- measuring cups and spoons
- bowl & whisk OR immersion blender, or mini food processor
Place the first 6 ingredients into your bowl, blender, or mini cuisine art. If using a bowl and whisk, vigorously whisk the ingredients together for approximately 45 seconds. The mixture should be well blended and bright yellow.
Slowly add the oil in drop by drop while constantly whisking. Do this for a 1/4 cup. This takes about 4 minutes if doing it by hand. In a blender or cuisine art, about 1 minute, but you won’t get near the forearm and biceps workout.
Gradually add in the rest of the oil in a slow stream. Again, if doing this with a bowl and whisk, it will take close to 8 minutes until it is thick and creamy. If using either of the other two devises, 3 or 4 minutes. It will be lighter in color. Cover and chill. You can make this up to 2 days ahead. Keep it chilled.
*Raw eggs are not recommended for infants, elderly, pregnant women, or people with weakened immune systems. To avoid risk of salmonella use pasteurized egg yolk instead.
Herb mayonnaise – chop up fresh herbs and stir them in last. Try thyme, rosemary, and oregano either individually or all together. Basil is very good especially on a ripe tomato sandwich.
Roasted garlic aioli – mash roasted garlic and blend it into the mayonnaise.
Garlic aioli – finely mince 1 or 2 cloves of garlic and give it a good final blitz in the blender or food processor. Or for a more authentic provincial French take on it, mash the garlic with a mortar and pestle, add that to your egg yolks and lemon then whisk in your olive oil.
Excellent with home fries!
This recipe makes 1 cup