Angela Mavridis  |  Nov 12, 2020

How to Build a Holiday Charcuterie Board!

The most wonderful time of the year is here and if you are entertaining guests this holiday season, consider serving up some classic dishes including a holiday charcuterie board. Both an art and a science, a charcuterie board is more than just cheese and crackers. Here are six tips to building an epic holiday charcuterie board sure to please all party goer palettes.

#1 Ask Important Questions

Charcuterie boards are incredibly versatile, which means you can mix and match colors, flavors, and textures, but before you begin building your charcuterie board, consider a few questions:

  • Do you want to feature food from a specific region of the world or do you want to mix and match flavors from around the globe?
  • Do you have any guests with dietary restrictions to consider? Think of lifestyles like Keto, Paleo or Whole30.
  • Do you have access to all of the items you want to feature on your holiday charcuterie board? Will you have to shop at a specialty grocer or even potentially place an order online?

#2 Choose a Serving Board

After you’ve asked yourself those important planning questions, you’ll need to select a serving board. Consider it a blank canvas for your culinary masterpiece. Choose a flat, large, wooden surface such as a butcher block or large cutting board. Consider additional surfaces like small ceramic bowls or plates if you plan on separating cured meats for any Vegetarian or Vegan guests.

#2 Fill Your Charcuterie Board

Once you have selected a sturdy serving board, it’s time to fill your charcuterie board with the following items:

  • Something Pre-Sliced. These elements bring salty, savory flavor to the charcuterie board. Think of things like cured meats.

  • Something You Slice. Cheeses and hard meats all add a chewy texture to your charcuterie board, so make sure you have items that can be sliced.

  • Something Spreadable. Meat-based pates, or a vegetarian equivalent, all provide a richness and smoothness to guest’s palates.

  • Accents. After the main foods have been featured, add some accent pieces like breads, crackers, dips, fresh fruit, homemade spreads, hummus, jams, pickles, preserves, seasonal items and soft cheeses. You can even get creative and include elements like bite sized mini mushroom sliders or a stack of sliders like Chicken and Apple or Pork and Sage. These all add a pop of color and various types of nutritional value to your charcuterie board.

Tip: If you have specific elements you want to showcase on your holiday charcuterie board, set them on the board or butcher block first and then build around them. For instance, if you want to feature cheese blocks, dips, homemade hummus, olives, and spreads, place them on separate plates or small bowls so they stand out above the other accent pieces. 

#3 Pick Perfect Pairings

If you are looking to add a specific flavor or texture to your holiday charcuterie board, try these charcuterie board pairings:

  • To add an element of creaminess, try adding bean dips, cheese or hummus.
  • To add a hint of saltiness, include cheeses, olives and tapenades.
  • To add a kick of spiciness, showcase a mustard for dipping.
  • To add some sweetness, feature chutneys, jams, preserves and seasonal fruits.
  • To add a touch of tanginess, pile on some pickles.
  • To pair with cheese or meats, include a handful of crackers or some slices of bread.

#4 Thoughtful Selections

Depending on your holiday guest list, you may want to consider more mindful options for your holiday charcuterie board to please all dietary preferences. Today, more dairy-free and meat-free meat options are available than ever before.

  • Mindful Meats. When selecting meats for your holiday charcuterie board, look for meat options that practice high quality farming practices and stick to admirable standards. Animals living with higher standards of welfare are known to be healthier, so select options that are free of antibiotics and other artificial fillers or preservatives.

    • Natural Sweeteners. Sweeten your charcuterie board smartly with natural sweeteners like 100% pure organic maple syrup, dates and raw honey. If entertaining Vegan guests, be sure to select a bee-free honey. You can even include a sweet treat like these homemade French Vanilla Fat Bombs perfect for guests practicing a Keto lifestyle.

    • Well-Sourced Dairy. Just like it’s important to select mindful meats, it’s just as important to select well-sourced dairy options. Read labels carefully and look for cheeses that are pasture-raised and organic.  

    #5 Write Custom Labels

    This last step is completely optional, but if you want to avoid questions all evening from guests asking “What’s this and what’s that?” make handwritten labels instead. Simply add small labels or tags with descriptions of each food item featured on your holiday charcuterie board, its country of origin and any important dietary information, so you can enjoy a stress free evening.

    The next time you host a holiday event with family, friends and loved ones, include a homemade holiday charcuterie board that everyone will enjoy. Happy holidays everyone!

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