Charcuterie Board 101: Top Picks for the Smorgasbord

charcuterie board 101 assortment

A charcuterie board is the perfect interactive appetizer for entertaining! It gives you and your guests a chance to customize and be creative. With an assortment of different toppings, meats, and cheeses to choose from, everyone’s palate will be pleased.

When you are selecting the accouterments for your charcuterie board, remember that variety is key. The best spreads involve an array of tastes, texture and flavor profiles, so picking foods that will complement each other nicely should be the ultimate goal. You can mix things up by going beyond your average cheese and crackers like adding in seasonal fruits, roasted veggies, and candied nuts to your smorgasbord. Lay everything out in a do-it-yourself tapas inspired style so that your guests can assemble their own personal small bites!

Follow along as we offer some more tips to help you make your next show-stopping charcuterie board…

charcuterie board 101 cheese knife

Charcuterie Board Essentials



  • Goat Cheese
  • English Aged Sharp Cheddar
  • Blue Cheese


  • 3-4 Sliced, Cured Meats (Prosciutto, Capicola, Pancetta)
  • Sausage (Cacciatore, Soppressata, Salami)


  • Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes
  • Lemon Artichoke Olive Tapenade (Recipe below)


  • French Baguette, grilled or toasted
  • Crackers


  • Baby Pickles
  • Candied Cashews
  • Tomcord Seedless Grapes


  • Red Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon


charcuterie board 101 wine pick


A good charcuterie board has a combination of flavor profiles and textures: sweet, salty, crunchy and soft. The mixing and matching flavors and textures are the fun part!

  • Have some leftover pesto, jams, or sweet pickles in the fridge? Add it to the platter. Remember to present them in a pretty bowl or vessel for a more polished look.
  • Set out a knife for each cheese so you aren’t mixing flavors. Since no one cheese is the same, select the right knife depending on the cheese’s shape, size, and consistency. The pear shape is best for hard cheeses, the spreading knife for soft spreadable cheeses, and the spatula or wide spade shaped knife is good for crumbly cheeses.
  • If you have vegetarian guests, (or aren’t sure ahead of time) serve your meat on a separate platter to avoid leaving anyone out!
  • Read up on wine and cheese pairings before you head out to the store. There is plenty to consider when choosing the best wine (or wines) to complement your cheese plate. To fully enjoy the wine of your choice, use the appropriate wine glass so you can savor the wine’s body and notes. If you are enjoying the charcuterie board during an outdoor picnic or at beach party, be sure to equip yourself with a handy corkscrew; nothing ruins wine more than being unable to open and enjoy it!
  • When assembling the board, get creative, messy, and most of all have fun! There are no rules here, so pick ingredients you love and your guests are sure to be impressed!

charcuterie board 101 fruits and toppings

Tapenades are so delicious and an essential part of any charcuterie board. This recipe uses artichoke hearts and lemon to mellow out the saltiness and bring out those lovely Mediterranean flavors. It will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, making it easy to prepare ahead. Serve with grilled bread or crackers and garnish with a lemon wedge, fresh basil, or a whole olive for that special touch.

Lemon Artichoke Olive Tapenade

Time: 10 min, Makes: Approximately 2 Cups


  • 4 oz. of mixed olives, pitted (the pictured recipe uses kalamata & green olives)
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1 jar of marinated artichoke hearts (drained, liquid discarded)
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon
  • 3 large basil leaves
  • The zest of ½ a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Materials needed:


  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Pulse a few times until the mixture starts to come together, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula when necessary.
  3. Once the mixture is finely chopped and well blended, scoop it into a small bowl and serve. Refrigerate in a covered container if not serving immediately.




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