How to Assemble a Fall Charcuterie Board
September 26, 2022
7 min. read
Ah, the trendy charcuterie board. They’ve made a massive splash on social media in the last two years and do not show any signs of slowing down. Now a go-to dish for holiday gatherings and watch parties, charcuterie boards are not only delicious but also beautiful to admire. Who doesn’t love an over-the-top meat and cheese plate?
With that being said, if you are someone who just recently learned how to pronounce “charcuterie” (shar-koo-ter-ee) and can’t quite bring yourself to attempt assembling one—that’s what this week’s blog is all about. We’re going to walk you through the general method (strategy, if you will) for assembling the iconic appetizer board and hopefully show you that it is easier than you think.
Intro to Charcuterie
The word “charcuterie” has been used in French vocabulary as far back as the 15th century. The word literally refers to the products of a pork butcher. Over time, of course, the word has expanded and now refers to full-blown appetizer platters made of a collection of carbs (bread, crackers), protein (nuts, meats), cheese, fruit, and more.
Although charcuterie can most often be found in platter or board form, creative foodies have also invented new concepts like charcuterie cups and charcuterie tables.
> > Check out our holiday grazing table blog here!
How to Assemble a Charcuterie Board
Step 1: Select Your Platter
There are a few things you should keep in mind when selecting the “canvas” for your charcuterie board. Are you transporting the board to another location after assembly? If so, you may want to choose a platter with sides. How many people are you serving? Is charcuterie the main dish or just an appetizer? The answers to these two questions will help you determine the proper size for your board. See below for our tips on how much of each ingredient you should include per person.
Step 2: Choose Your Theme
Choosing a theme or seasonal flair for your charcuterie board helps to narrow down the ingredient choices and add a thoughtful touch to the overall product, even if you just choose a classic theme! Here are a few of our suggestions:
- Classic: Stick to meat, cheese, bread, and a fruit or two.
- Fall: Include one or two seasonal garnishes like wheat stems, clementine “pumpkins,” pumpkin seeds, or leaf-shaped bread crackers.
- Halloween: Try some spooky elements, like mozzarella “eyeballs” (see below), monster rolls, tombstone sandwiches, and other orange and black elements to establish the scheme. More Halloween recipe inspiration can also be found here.
- Christmas: Incorporate seasonal colors and elements, like a snap pea and cherry tomato wreath (see below), pomegranate seeds, a rosemary or thyme sprig, or Cranberry-Almond Baked Brie.
Whatever the occasion or theme you pick (or if you’re opting for something classic), make sure you plan that ahead of time so you can pick up a few seasonal/themed garnishes when grocery shopping.
Step 3: Go Shopping!
As you’re picking out ingredients to include, refer to our categorized shopping guide below!
For the sake of variety (both in appearance and flavor), try to choose an assortment of hard, soft, aged, and other cheeses. Refer to our Ultimate Guide to Cheese for a full list of cheeses broken down into categories.
Portion: You’ll want to have approximately 3 ounces of cheese per person.
As with the cheese, try to keep in mind variety when choosing the meat and proteins for your board. We recommend including a few tried and true options (like pepperoni, salami, prosciutto, and nuts for a non-meat option) and adding one or two more interesting options (like spicy sausage or pâté).
Portion: Try to have approximately 3 ounces of meat/protein per person.
Traditionally, the main elements of a charcuterie board are the hearty meats and cheeses. However, including a carb, like bread or crackers (or bread crackers!), rounds out the board and even makes it easier to eat.
Portion: We recommend matching the approximate quantity of your meat slices/pieces with the total number of crackers or slices of bread.
If Martin’s is your bread or cracker of choice, you have several options for preparation. First, you can flatten slices of Martin’s Potato Bread, Butter Bread, or Whole Wheat bread and cut out shapes using cookie cutters. Then, toast them in the oven for about 5 minutes until crispy.
You can also try slicing our Hoagie Rolls and toasting them to use as French-bread-esque dippers, as shown below.
Looking for more of a breadstick? We have two options for that. You can thinly slice our Hoagie or Long Rolls vertically and toast them in the oven. Or, try flattening and rolling up a slice of one of our breads, fasten with a toothpick, and toast!
There are also lots of great options for arranging and serving the bread and rolls whole, if that’s what you prefer!
Fruit and Veggies
If mostly for visual appeal, fresh fruit and veggies, like oranges, berries, and apples, are an important part of a well-rounded charcuterie board. This is a great way to tie in the seasonal elements mentioned above (apples and oranges in the winter, stone fruits in the summer, berries in the spring, etc.)
Portion: We recommend adding 2-3 types of fruit or veggies for a small charcuterie board, 3-4 for a medium size board, and 4-5 for a large board.
If you’re looking to add a little more flavor to your platter, try adding sweet and savory spreads! Our favorites include pesto, spicy mustard, Whipped Cinnamon Pumpkin Honey Butter, or homemade jam.
Portion: Small charcuterie boards may not leave enough space for a dip or spread. However, if you’re planning on assembling a medium or large platter, we recommend 1-3 dips/spreads served in small jars/bowls.
Have a little extra space on your board? Try adding a few of these snacks for more variety:
- Olives (green or black)
- Candy corn (great for fall!)
- Sesame sticks
- Chocolate covered pretzels
- Rolled wafers
- Dried fruit
When choosing the finishing touches for your charcuterie board, there are plenty of herbs and decorative elements to choose from. Browse our suggested list below and choose your favorites!
- Fresh thyme or rosemary
- Fresh basil leaves
- Wheat sprigs
- Leafy greens
- Fresh pine sprigs
- Pomegranate seeds
- Miniature pumpkins (for fall)
- Dried flowers
Step 4: Assemble
You may be thinking… oh no, here comes the hard part. But we’re going to do our best to show you that it can be easier than you think! It’s all about finding an arrangement that you like.
Do you prefer space between the different elements or do you prefer the board to be practically overflowing? Do you prefer piles of veggies or rows? Try a few ways and find out! Start with our guide below and keep tweaking until you like the final product.
- Start by placing the largest and most rigid items on the board. Have a whole wheel of brie cheese or a bowl of homemade jam? Place those on the board first and space them out.
- Add remaining meats and cheeses in rows or half-circles. See examples below.
- Add fruit and other medium-sized items. This is where you can carefully place your olives, pickles, fruit, veggies, and any other smaller (but not tiny!) elements around the existing items.
- Add piles of your smallest items. Want to include candy corn and nuts? Find the empty spaces remaining on your board and fill them!
- Carefully place garnishes for the finishing touch. Tuck rosemary sprigs between your orange slices or around the edge of your board or on top of the cheese wheel. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds between your rows of cheese and meat. You get the idea. Have fun with it!
Still feeling lost?
Check out these starter maps and then browse our photo gallery below! But, remember, the key is not to overthink the process, do what you think looks nice, and have fun!
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