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How To Make A Perfect Charcuterie Board Spread For Any Occasion

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How to make a perfect charcuterie board spread for any occasion - a nice example laid out on a beautiful wood board.

I love making charcuterie boards for my family and for gatherings. They are fun, festive, and a great way to satisfy and feed as many people as you want. To me, the best charcuterie board is simple, rustic, and filled with foods that everyone loves. This article will show you how to make a perfect charcuterie board spread for any occasion for beginners and pros naturally and realistically.

There are many tutorials out there to show you how to perfectly stack your cheese triangles, however, I am more of a rustic designer. My approach is organic and flowing, finding a balance of color, texture, and size. 

Charcuterie is a French word consisting of two parts – chair and cuite translating to “cooked flesh”. Kinda weird, huh? Well, it refers to delicatessens in and around France that specialize in cured meats. A plateau de charcuterie means a plate of cured meats served with garnishes. This has been popular in Europe for some time now, only recently becoming a craze in the United States. 

What Is The 3 3 3 3 Rule Of Thumb For How To Make A Perfect Charcuterie Board Spread For Any Occasion

how to make a perfect charcuterie board spread for any occasion - a round tray with meats, cheeses, and fruits.

The 3-3-3-3 rule of charcuterie is a simple guideline for creating a balanced and visually appealing charcuterie board. It suggests that you include three types of meat, three types of cheese, three types of bread or crackers, and three types of fruit or vegetables. This combination provides a variety of flavors and textures, ensuring that there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Depending on what occasion you are making a charcuterie board, the components can change. You could make it vegetarian, dessert, or holiday-themed. The point is to include a variety of ingredients that work well together as far as taste, texture, color, and size for an impressive spread.

Here’s a breakdown of each element for a traditional charcuterie board:

  • 3 Types of Meat: Choose an assortment of meats, such as cured meats (e.g., prosciutto, salami, soppressata), smoked meats (e.g., pastrami, smoked salmon), and cooked meats (e.g., meatballs, roasted chicken).
  • 3 Types of Cheese: Select a mix of different cheeses with different textures and flavors. For example, include a soft cheese (e.g., brie, camembert), a semi-hard cheese (e.g., cheddar, gouda), and a hard cheese (e.g., Parmesan, manchego).
  • 3 Types of Bread or Crackers: Offer a range of bread and crackers to complement the meats and cheeses. Consider including a baguette, pita bread, and water crackers.
  • 3 Types of Fruit or Vegetables: Add fresh fruit and vegetables to balance the salty and fatty flavors of the meats and cheeses. Grapes, olives, and nuts are popular choices.

By following the 3-3-3-3 rule, you can easily create a charcuterie board that is both delicious and visually appealing. It’s a great way to entertain guests or enjoy a special meal at home.

What Should Be On A Charcuterie Platter or Board

Chocolates and cookies and strawberries on a wooden board to learn how to make a perfect charcuterie board spread for any occasion.

There are a whole host of amazing charcuterie board ideas – from meats to desserts, to candy or butters. Charcuterie platters are a great way to entertain guests or enjoy a delicious snack.

Here is a basic guideline for what to include in making a beautiful charcuterie board:

  • Meat- The meat is the star of the show on a charcuterie platter. You can choose from a variety of cured meats, such as salami, prosciutto, and soppressata. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try some less common meats, such as duck prosciutto or venison jerky.
  • Cheese- Cheese is another essential component of a charcuterie platter. Choose a variety of cheeses that offer different flavors (bold and mild cheese) and textures. Some good options include cheddar, brie, gouda, and manchego.
  • Bread- Bread is a great way to round out a charcuterie platter. You can choose from a variety of soft and crusty bread, such as baguettes, crackers, or pita chips.
  • Fruit- Fruit adds a touch of sweetness to a charcuterie platter. Some good options include grapes, apples, and pears.
  • Nuts- Nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats. Some good options include almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, and pistachios.
  • Olives-Olives are a classic addition to a charcuterie platter. They add a salty, briny flavor that pairs well with the other components of the platter. Kalamata olives are a great choice.
  • Other Garnishes- You can also add other garnishes to your charcuterie platter, such as honey, mustard, or jam. These garnishes can help to bring out the flavors of the other components of the platter.

How To Make A Perfect Charcuterie Board Spread For Any Occasion For Beginners

An overview of how to make a perfect charcuterie board spread for any occasion with meats, cheeses, and fruits using the rule of 3.

First of all, do not be intimidated. It is fun and easy to create a charcuterie board. You can add some of your favorite things, bold flavors, and a variety of textures. It is also a great time to play with some exciting new flavors. Maybe a new jam or dipping sauce. The possibilities are endless, here is some advice. 

  • Choose the occasion and get a head count.
  • Select the right platter, board, tray, etc. for your occasion. 
  • I like to start with a center focal point. A soup, dip, bread bowl, whatever it is you are focused on.
  • Start small and build as you go from the center outward.
  • Your rows don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
  • Most of all have fun!

5 Tips For How To Make A Perfect Charcuterie Board Spread For Any Occasion

There are a lot of tips out there but here are some that I think are important as you go into a world of charcuterie…

  1. Keep your cold ingredients cold. Flat ice packs are perfect for this- place them under the platter where there are meats, cheeses, or other items that need to be chilled. 
  2. Line your base with plastic wrap. I have this beautiful wooden board that I love to use but don’t want it to get stained or greasy. Plastic wrap saves your surface and makes for an easy clean-up. 
  3. Get inspired. Look at a bunch of photos and make a shopping list of everything you’d like to include for your classic charcuterie board.
  4. Arrange items with different colors and textures next to each other and don’t get hung up on perfection. 
  5. Fill in the remaining space at the end with more ingredients, fresh herbs, cut flowers, or any other garnishes. 

How To Keep A Charcuterie Board Cold

3 ice packs on plastic wrap to place a charcuterie board on.

Whether your best charcuterie is a large board or a smaller board, it needs to stay cool with meats and cheeses. Most charcuterie boards are made up of a flat surface and that makes it easy to keep ice packs underneath. Crushed ice in doubled-up Ziploc bags is a great alternative to ice packs. Ice is a great way to keep your favorite meats cool as well as cheeses and dips. 

What Are The Best Cheeses For A Charcuterie

Up close of sliced cheeses as part of how to make a perfect charcuterie board spread for any occasion.

Cheeses are the life of charcuterie boards. Hard cheeses, soft cheeses, and anything in between can be added to your board. There are so many different cheeses with various flavors to please even the pickiest of eaters. Cheese makes the perfect appetizer for all your special occasions. Choose hard cheese, semi-hard cheese, soft cheese, and spreadable cheese. 

Here are some popular choice suggestions for your serving platter:

Best Cheeses for Charcuterie

When it comes to choosing cheeses for a charcuterie board, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you want a variety of textures (slices of cheese, wedges, triangles) and flavors. Some good options include:

The cheese aisle at Trader Joes.
  • Soft and creamy cheese: Brie, Camembert, goat cheese and other soft cheeses are creamy and mild, and they pair well with crackers, bread, and fruit.
  • Semi-soft cheeses: Cheeses like Gouda, Havarti, and Swiss are a little firmer than soft cheeses, but they’re still easy to spread. They have a variety of flavors, from mild to sharp. Fresh mozzarella cheese is a great addition.
  • Hard cheeses: Hard cheeses like cheddar, Parmesan, and manchego are great for adding a salty, nutty flavor to your charcuterie board. They can be sliced or cubed, and they’re perfect for pairing with cured meats and fruit.
  • Blue cheeses: Blue cheese like Stilton, Gorgonzola, and Roquefort have a sharp, tangy flavor that can add a lot of interest to your charcuterie board. They’re best paired with sweet or salty foods, like fruit, nuts, or honey. Be careful with these cheeses because they can have a strong aroma.

In addition to the type of cheese, you’ll also want to consider the flavor profile of your charcuterie board. If you’re serving a lot of salty meats, you’ll want to choose cheeses that are a little milder in flavor. If you’re serving a lot of sweet fruits, you’ll want to choose sharp cheeses that are a little tangier.

With so many great cheeses to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect ones for your charcuterie board. You could stop here and have the perfect cheese board. So experiment and enjoy!

What Cured Meats Work For Charcuterie Boards 

Cured meats on the rack at Trader Joes for how to make a perfect charcuterie board spread for any occasion.

There are a variety of meats that work well on a charcuterie board. Cured meats are meats that have been preserved through salting, smoking, or drying. Perfect for charcuterie, cured meats are popular all over the world and are used in a variety of dishes.

Some of the most popular cured meats for charcuterie include:

  • Ham: Ham is a cured meat made from the hind leg of a pig. It is typically salted and smoked and has a mild, salty flavor. 
  • Capicola: it can be sweet or spicy and comes from a pig shoulder.
  • Salami: Salami is a cured meat made from pork, beef, or venison. It is typically dry-cured and has a spicy, garlicky flavor. Salami is a popular snack food and is also used in many other dishes, such as pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. Choose both hard salami and summer sausage and thinly sliced. 
  • Pepperoni: Pepperoni is a cured meat made from pork or beef. It is typically dry-cured and has a spicy, smoky flavor. Pepperoni is a popular pizza topping and is also used in many other dishes, such as sandwiches, salads, and pasta.
  • Jerky: Jerky is a cured meat made from lean muscle meat. It is typically dried and has a chewy texture. Jerky is a popular snack food and is also used in many other dishes, such as trail mixes, salads, and sandwiches.

How To Fold Deli Meat Into Rosettes

A perfect salami rosette for how to make a perfect charcuterie board spread for any occasion.
  1. Take a glass with a small round opening.
  2. Fold thinly sliced deli meats one at a time in half into the opening and the other half around the outside. 
  3. Overlap the slices as you work in circles. Add as much as you want the rose to be thick. Experiment to find the right amount. 
  4. Set the glass open side down onto the charcuterie board and very carefully lift it off the meat slices. 
A collage of 3 photos showing how to make a salami rosette.

What Vegetable And Fruits Work Best For A Charcuterie

Pita bread with cut vegetables.

Charcuterie boards are best with finger foods that are easy to handle. Keep in mind the ease of serving yourself and eating the selection you provide. Do you need plates, forks, etc. Leave the wetter ones like watermelon and pineapple off the boards unless they are in bowls with a serving utensil. Dried fruit is perfect for these boards. 

Charcuterie boards are a great way to enjoy a variety of delicious foods. When it comes to choosing fruits and vegetables for your charcuterie board, there are endless possibilities. Here are a few suggestions of fruits and vegetables that work well with charcuterie:


  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • ​Dried cranberries
  • ​Raisins
  • Dried apricots
  • Dried figs
  • Dates
  • Cherry tomatoes


  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Bell Peppers
  • Green Beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Snap peas
  • Radishes
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower

When choosing fruits and vegetables for your charcuterie board, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Choose fruits and vegetables that are fresh and in season.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before serving.
  • Cut fruits and vegetables into bite-size pieces.
  • Arrange fruits and vegetables on your charcuterie board in an appealing way

Dippers And Bread To Make The Perfect Charcuterie Board Spread For Any Occasion

Wooden board with crackers and pita bread.

There are great textures and flavors with dippers. Here are some suggestions:

  • ​French bread
  • Crackers
  • Pita Chips
  • Breadsticks
  • Tortilla chips
  • Tortillas
  • Fritos
  • Wafers
  • Water cracker
  • Cookies
  • Flatbread
  • Brioche Bread
  • Melba toast
  • Naan

What Condiments Are Best For How To Make A Perfect Charcuterie Board Spread For Any Occasion

4 small bowls with condiments and a yellow flower in the middle.

Small bowls with perfect dips and delicious condiments add variety and different shapes to the best charcuterie. It’s a good idea to set out your cheese knives and small spoons next charcuterie board. 

  • Fig jam or fig spread
  • Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar
  • Apricot jam
  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Whole Grain mustard
  • Dijon mustard
  • Cream cheese
  • Vegetable dip
  • Sour Cream
  • Fruit Jams
  • Lemons/lemon juice
  • Whipped topping
  • Cannoli Filling
  • Hot sauce
  • Salsa
  • Favorite cheese dip
  • Pepper jam
  • Marmalade
  • Onion jam

What Are The Different Kinds Of Charcuterie Boards

Small charcuterie board with meat rosettes and crackers with cheeses for how to make a perfect charcuterie board spread for any occasion.

Many types of charcuterie boards are a fun way to celebrate any occasion or holiday. They can have sweet and/or savory flavors. Here are some ideas:

  • Hummus Board
  • Small snack charcuterie
  • Meat & Cheese platter
  • Butter Board
  • Bread Board
  • Easter Biard
  • Dessert Board
  • Christmas charcuterie board
  • Chili charcuterie board (this is one of my top posts)
  • Theme boards: baby shower, birthday party, graduation, romantic, family fun, etc.

Wrapping Up How To Make A Perfect Charcuterie Board Spread For Any Occasion

A festive charcuterie board showing and teaching how to how to make a perfect charcuterie board spread for any occasion

Setting up a charcuterie board for a gathering or dinner party is one of my favorite ways to serve a lot of people. It is fun and colorful with all the different types of foods. If you are lucky enough to live near Trader Joe’s grocery store – this is one of my favorite places to get so many various cheeses. They have a wonderful collection of French and Swiss cheeses and aged cheddar.

This is a fun guide on how to make a perfect charcuterie board for any occasion. They are a perfect addition to any party or gathering. These set-ups work great for the main course as well as an appetizer. 

Finally, check out my other boards… Chili board and Hummus board. Go ahead and make a large or small charcuterie board for your next party!



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