By Ashley Martens
The most wonderful time of the year is here, which means navigating the holiday season. Cue holiday leftovers, menu planning, and sustainable gift-giving ideas. If you are entertaining guests this holiday season, you may serve 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 simple tips for building an epic holiday charcuterie board sure to please all of your party-goers and their palettes.
#1 Ask Dietary Questions
Charcuterie boards are incredibly versatile, which means you can mix and match colors, flavors, and textures, but before you begin building your holiday 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 holiday guests with dietary restrictions to consider? Think of lifestyles like Keto or Whole30.
- Do you have access to all of the items you want to feature on your holiday charcuterie board, or will you have to shop at a specialty grocer or potentially place an order online?
#2 Choose a Serving Board
After asking these important dietary questions, you must select a serving board. Consider it a blank canvas for your culinary masterpiece. Choose a flat, large wooden surface like a butcher block or a large cutting board like these Fab Slabs. Consider additional surfaces like small ceramic bowls or plates if you plan on separating cured meats for any Vegan or Vegetarian guests.
#3 Fill Your Charcuterie Board
Once you have selected a sturdy serving board, it is 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 like pemmican, mousse, or a vegetarian equivalent provide richness and smoothness to guests’ palates.
- After the main foods featured on your holiday charcuterie board, add some accent pieces like artisan chocolate, chutney, crusty baguette slices, crackers, dips, fresh fruit, homemade spreads, hummus, jams, pickles, preserves, nuts, seasonal items, and soft cheeses. These all add a pop of color and various types of nutritional value to your charcuterie board.
If you have a specific element you want to showcase on your holiday charcuterie board, set it on the board or butcher block first, and then build the rest of your board around it. For instance, if you want to feature cheese blocks, dips, homemade hummus, olives, and spreads, place them on separate plates or small bowls to 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 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 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 welfare standards are known to be healthier, so select options 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 bee-free honey.
- Well-Sourced Dairy. Just like selecting mindful meats, it is just as important to choose well-sourced dairy options. Read labels carefully and look for cheeses that are organic and pasture-raised.
#5 Write Custom Labels
This last step is completely optional, but if you want to avoid questions all evening from guests asking, “What is this and what is 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 that you can enjoy a stress-free evening from questions.
The next time you host a holiday event with family, friends, and loved ones, include a homemade holiday charcuterie board that everyone will enjoy. Check out our other Charcuterie Favorites! Happy holidays everyone!
Meet The Author
Ashley Martens is a Health and Wellness Writer based in Chicago, IL. With a background in digital marketing coupled with her knowledge of general nutrition and a lifelong passion for all things health, wellness, fitness and nutrition, Ashley offers a healthy alternative to traditional writing. You can learn more about Ashley and her writing on her portfolio.