The 3 Secrets To Make Beautiful And Delicious Charcuterie Boards


For this week's post, I joined forces with charcuterie extraordinaire and Pullman, WA local Audrey, from A La Board NW. She specializes in charcuterie and cheese boards for catering local events. I was so excited to sit down with her, learn her top tips for creating charcuterie boards at home, and nibble on some of these delicious goodies.

Charcuterie boards offer many options, satisfy a number of cravings, and also cater to dietary restrictions. Since every guest gets to choose what they eat, charcuterie boards are great for anyone with gluten-free, vegetarian, and low carb diets! They're perfect for casual girls nights or elegant Thanksgiving dinners, and the smallest of celebrations to the greatest of gatherings. While they're packed with complex flavors and look beautiful, they are very simple to assemble - especially when you know these 3 secrets!




As much content as this guide has, it really is as simple as pulling cheeses, meats, crackers, and produce out of your fridge and cupboards, throwing it on a cutting board, and arranging it to please the mind's eye. The best boards are made from curiosity and creativity - plus a little wine to help you get there!


Secret #1: What To Buy


The good news is, cheese and cured meats go with almost everything! But below are some general guidelines for cheese, meats, sides and starches. 

Cheese: When it comes to cheese, some things to consider are what type of animals' milk is used, where the cheese is made, the smell, the texture, and even the color. Some people love goat cheese, while others prefer sharper/drier cows milk cheeses. An overall good rule of thumb is to grab a few wedges of everything - that way everyone has something they like! For example, my favorite cheeses to grab for charcuterie boards are: cheddar, brie and goats cheese. Even though I don't personally love goat cheese, a lot of people do, and I'm happy with the cheddar and brie. 

Meat: Most cured meats are made from pork: salame, prosciuto, coppa, soprassata, Serrano ham, etc. They are all packed with flavor and texture, and are enjoyed by many meat eaters. Things to consider when purchasing are spice level, cost, and how easy they are to prepare. Coppa and prosciutto can be a little more expensive, but are a delicious treat. If you prefer salame and soprassatta, grab a few different types for variety. 

Fruits and Vegetables: When choosing sides such as fruits and vegetables, consider what might pair well with your cheeses, meats and drinks you're serving. Most charcuterie boards will have fruits like grapes, berries, cherrise, apples, pears, figs, peaches, cantaloupe, apricots, plums, etc. These fruits provide a lot of color and flavor, and can be prepared in bite-sized pieces. The best vegetables to accompany charcuterie boards are usually picked - they taste amazing paired with meats and cheese! Picked asparagus, green beans, olives, artichokes and cornichons (baby pickles), are all great options. 

Bread and Crackers: Neutral crackers and slices of baguette are perfect to accompany all the flavor in your meats and cheeses. Triscuits or Carrs Water Crackers are great options, and my personal favorite is toasted baguette! Neutral crackers pair with pretty much everything, and you can add flavor with the spreads below! If you really like flavored crackers, aim for rosemary or garlic! For toasted baguettte (my favorite), slice the baguette in 1/3 inch sections, lightly dust with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, and voila!

Spreads: One of my favorite ways to add extra interest and excitement in charcuterie boards is to serve it with spreads! Spreads that I often use are mustards, jams, and honey. Mustards add spice, zest, mild sweetness, and a light bitterness that kicks your bite up a notch. Jams pair really well with softer cheeses and fatty meats.


Secret #2: How Much To Buy


This can be a tricky one, when you're standing in the grocery store staring at the cheese selection. Do I need 3 or 4 wedges? Is that too little? What if I have a ton leftover?

Well, here's a little trick-of-the-trade formula so you never have to second guess again! First, figure out how many people you're serving. Typically serving sizes for meats, cheeses and starches are around 1 ounce, and the normal serving size for fruits and vegetables is 2-3 ounces.

What does this mean? Let's say you're expecting 10 guests. You will need total:

  • 10 ounces of each cheese
  • 10 ounces of each meat
  • 20-30 ounces of fruit
  • 20-30 ounces of vegetables 
  • 10 ounces of crackers or bread 
Some people will enjoy more, and some will enjoy less, and this formula accounts for that. Pretty easy, right? 





Secret #3: How To Assemble Charcuterie Boards 


You've chosen all your items, you have the perfect amount of each, and now it's time to assemble your board!

You'll notice that the prettiest charcuterie boards focus on variation in textures and colors. For example, bright red cherries alongside a wedge of creamy brie make both foods stand out and instantly look more appetizing.

Start by laying out your starches, taking up about 1/3 of the board. Add your cheeses in separate spots of the board, and place your meats in between. Then fill in any empty spots with fruit, nuts, extra crackers - whatever looks good to you! Nestle small containers of mustards and jams in between. (For these boards, we used shot glasses for the condiments. They're the perfect size, and inexpensive!)




Remember to have fun with your charcuterie boards! Mix up your flavors each time and experiment with what you like best! 

If you're local and are interested in more information on charcuterie board catering options, you can email Audrey here, and be sure to follow her on Instagram to stay up to date on where she's serving next!


Kirsten Bell
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