I’m a big cheese lover. Growing up, my dad would always snack on slices of cheese with crackers and I’d often join him for this after school treat (he still would rather have cheese & crackers than a real dinner!). I even gave up cheese one year for lent, because that’s how much I love it. Ha!These days I don’t really eat very much cheese in my everyday diet, but I do indulge in it when we’re hosting friends & family (and pizza…duh!). So it shouldn’t be a surprise that my go-to party dish is a simple charcuterie board. Whenever we have people over, I always have a charcuterie board filled with various cheese, meats, nuts, and crackers. I love this appetizer because there is zero real cooking involved (you guys know my limits in the kitchen), and if you do it the right way your charcuterie board can act as decor during your little shindig! I mean how gorgeous & vibrant is this setup?!
Everything I got for today’s simple charcuterie board, I picked up on a quick trip to Trader Joe’s (check out this post for my favorite TJ grocery products!). I love shopping there for cheeseboards because they have such a great variety of cheeses & crackers. Plus, their nut & dried fruit selection is bonkers too.
If you’ve never thrown together a simple charcuterie board, I’m here to help! It may look intimidating, but with the right ingredients, the perfect wooden board, and some creativity you’ll have a gorgeous addition to your appetizer spread.
Simple Charcuterie Board – Ingredients
- Soft Cheese: I usually go with a brie, just be sure to keep a cheese knife out for your guests.
- Mild Cheese: Gouda every.single.time.
- Firm: Unexpected Cheddar (this is from Trader Joe’s and it’s delicious. Crumbly, hard, and tangy!)
- Prosciutto/various meats
- Dried Fruit
Finding the Perfect Wood Board
You first need a large wood board to hold all your goodies. I have this round wooden board (super old from Crate & Barrel) that I use for all of my charcuterie plates, but I’d love to invest in a few more. I always go with a round shape, but rectangles work well too. Here are some of my favorites…
Charcuterie Board Tips
The first thing I do is cut up the cheese. I just use a regular knife, but I’ve heard cheese slicers make this task especially easy. I try to keep bites pretty small, so guests can try the cheese with all of the various offerings on the platter.
I always cut the cheese up ahead of time and put them in small tupperware containers. Then when it’s time to throw together the charcuterie board (about 15 minutes before guests arrive), I can take the cheese from the fridge and start building my board.
For the brie (or other soft cheeses), just put the wedge on the board and include a cheese knife (love this set) so guests can slice off their own. If I’m having a lot of guests over and may not have time to cut up more cheese, I’ll sometimes put the big chunks of harder cheese next to their little slices so guests can cut more if the cubes run out!
I put my 3 cheese on the board in 3 different areas, and then I add the meat. I don’t eat red meat or pork, so this category is foreign to me. But you gotta please the people, so I always try to include meat on my boards. Trader Joe’s has a good selection of prosciutto and salami that I’ll often buy.
With the hearty dishes on the board, I add a little cup of olives. I put these in a ramekin (love these from Crate & Barrel) so they don’t leak all over the rest of the snacks. If I also have veggies for dipping, I’ll put hummus in a ramekin on the board too.
The Finishing Touches
With the cheeses, meats, and olives on my simple charcuterie board, it’s time for the fun stuff….the snacks! I love using fresh fruit & dried fruit to add some color to the board. My go-to is always grapes and I keep them on the vine and plop them right in the center of the board.Then I’ll add berries if I have them, and some sort of dried fruit. This time it was dried apricots.
I love the selection of crackers at Trader Joe’s. On here I have my favorite Raisin Rosemary Crisps, as well as these Multigrain Pita Bit Crackers. I like to offer a couple kinds of crackers because some pair better with particular cheeses.
Fill in the Gaps
I think a charcuterie board looks best when the plate is full and items are touching. So I usually finish things off by putting nuts in the open areas. On this board, I did both sweet & savory nuts. I have candied pecans, pistachios, and my absolute favorite almonds (these Marcona Almonds with Rosemary from Trader Joe’s).
If I have any extra herbs (like rosemary), I’ll also scatter those throughout the board for extra color and fragrance.
And that’s pretty much it! Anyone else feeling hungry?! Of course, my charcuterie boards are always changing depending on what we have in the fridge and pantry. But this is my go-to way to bring it all together for a delicious and aesthetically pleasing look!
This is such an easy no-cook appetizer or snack for the holidays. I hope you’ll try to build your own simple charcuterie board for Thanksgiving or a holiday party this year!Casey