Meat and cheese boards are a family favorite in our home. We eat them on special occasions or to celebrate achievements. It is a perfect meal for kids and adults alike, and I’ve had lots of practice making them over the years. Plus, it is the perfect party food and so simple for entertaining. These 7 essential elements are the key to an amazing Italian Charcuterie board!
This post may contain affiliate links where I earn a small commission on your purchases.
What is an Italian Charcuterie Board?
Meat and cheese board, charcuterie platters, Italian charcuterie…whatever name you call it, they all mean similar things. A large board full of processed meats (hence the french term, charcuterie) and other finger foods.
AKA: the best food idea for everything from large parties to intimate date nights. I love how versatile charcuterie is because there is no exact recipe. It is a combination of complementary finger foods! It is up to the individual to try out different combinations to create new tastes and flavor outcomes.
What Kind of Platter To Use?
There are a large number of options for you to display your Italian charcuterie on. The most obvious and commonly used is a large bread board. I like to layer my boards.
I start with a large bread board, add parchment paper so the meat and cheese oils don’t soak into the wood, and then top it with a slate cheese board.
You can also use any type of platter or plate if you don’t have something quite this big.
Here are some of my favorite options!
Another option that works great for large crowds is simply putting down butcher paper directly on a table or kitchen island. This gives you a large surface to lay out all of the food and it is also a fun way to label each type of meat and cheese. Simply write directly on the butcher paper!
7 Key Elements for a Delicious Charcuterie Board
There is a lot of variety available when selecting what to choose for your board. Individual tastes, as well as the other items you might be serving, play into what you choose. However, in general, there are 7 key elements to a delicious Italian charcuterie board.
- Italian Processed Meats
- Dried and/or Fresh Fruit
- Grains: Crackers and/or Bread
- Jams, Jellies and Honey
1. Place Your Cheese
In reality, you can put together your meat and cheese board any way you want! There are no rules and that is what makes it so wonderful. However, I’ve found that going in this order helps the board presentation look the best.
Start with the cheese.
I like to use a combination of hard and soft cheeses. Again, this is totally a preference as to which cheese to combine. For a large board, use 5 varieties of cheese. Place them in the middle of the board.
I like to keep them all on my slate platter, which is chilled beforehand to keep them cool.
Some of my favorite cheeses to use are: varieties of cheddar, gruyere, varieties of goat cheese, mozzarella, and parmesans.
2. Add The Meat
Next, add a variety of meat to the board. I like to stick to four to five types of meat. The key to a pretty display is to pull apart the meat from the packaging and place it in piles around the cheese. This gives the illusion of more meat than you actually have since you are placing the same types of meat in different areas.
My favorite meats are: prosciutto, genoa salami, various salamis, and candied bacon.
3. Add Groupings of Nuts
Next, add piles of nuts around the board. This can be omitted completely if you have a nut allergy in the family. However, it is a traditional part of a charcuterie board. I like to use mixed nuts, but almonds, pecans, walnuts and cashews are a popular choice.
4. Pile on the fruit
After you have the base of your board complete, it’s time to add fruit. This is my favorite part of a meat and cheese board because the fruit adds lots of flavor and provides the most versatility for flavor combinations.
I always include both dried and fresh fruit. For dried fruit, I love dried cherries, cranberries and dates. For fresh fruit, I always include grapes and berries. Many people also like to include dried clementines or peaches and fresh melon balls.
5. Surround the Board with Grains
The final step for the larger pieces of the board is to add grains. I prefer to use a variety of crackers, but you can also include crusty breads.
Triscuits are my favorite cracker to use, and then I add in some whole grain options as well!
6. Olives are a must for Italian charcuterie
A large component of an Italian charcuterie board is the olives. There are so many olive varieties that you can include! I usually go light on the options, serving a traditional green olive and kalamata olives. You can choose to add as many types as you like!
Simply pop them in a small dish and place them right on the board.
7. Jams, Jellies & Honey
The final essential element is the spreads. Choose your favorite jams and jellies and put them into small dishes. And, honey is always a favorite addition as well! Some people also like to include varying types of mustard.
And there you have it! Your meal is ready without actually cooking anything. This is so versatile and simple, which is my favorite kind of meal or appetizer.
If you’re looking for more simple meal options, you can see some of my favorite quick weeknight meals below!
- Turkey Burgers
- Pork Tenderloin
- Chicken Tortellini in a Pumpkin Sauce
- Classic Chili (stovetop & crockpot)
And if you’re looking for desserts, I’ve got you covered there too! See all my recipes here.
Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today! I hope you enjoy your charcuterie with friends and family soon. And if you’re looking for a super easy nonalcoholic punch recipe, stay tuned for a new recipe coming to the blog next week!