Holiday Charcuterie Board

An irregularly shaped wooden charcuterie board filled with meat, cheese, olives, nuts and fruit, surrounded by crackers and bread.

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This holiday season may look a little different. Our gatherings may be smaller. But we can still make our celebrations special and this Holiday Charcuterie Board is a perfect way to do that. When our family gets together, charcuterie is always involved. 

A wooden Holiday Charcuterie Board with various meats, cheeses, olives, nuts, chocolates and fruit.

 

What Exactly is Charcuterie?

Originally the word charcuterie (pronounced “shahr-ku-tuh-ree”) referred to cured meats. But it has evolved to mean an array of cured meats along with cheese and other finger foods that people can gather around to help themselves.

Charcuterie is a fun, casual (not to mention, delicious) way to entertain, or just to come together as a family. 

A wooden board full of sliced meats, cheeses, fruits and nuts, olives and chocolate.

 

Themed Boards

My theme for this board is a winter Holiday one. I’m using winter fruits like pears, clementines, figs, and cranberries to give my board that festive, seasonal vibe. You can play around with endless themes for seasonal or special occasion boards. Think Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentines, Easter, and so on. 

Besides a seasonal board, you ou can even do boards around specific meals or foods. A breakfast board, sandwich board, or dessert board are just a few possibilities.

The Board Itself

Material

Although you typically think of wood when you think of a board for charcuterie, any material will work, just as long as it’s food safe. Other natural materials like marble, slate, enamelled terra-cotta, bamboo or stone are beautiful and durable options. You can also use metal, plastic or ceramic trays. Even a baking sheet pan will work.

If you do decide to go with a wood board, there are endless options. I love the olive wood boards that I used here for this holiday board. They’re beautiful and interesting. You can spend as much or as little as you like on a wood board. However, keep in mind that softwoods like cedar, pine, or birch can impart their flavours to food, especially cheese and fruits. It’s best to look for hardwoods, such as olive, maple, cherry, or walnut. 

Size

What size board to use depends on a couple of factors: First, how many people are you serving? Obviously, a smaller crowd requires a smaller board than a larger one. Secondly, Is the board intended as an appetizer? If so, it should be smaller than one that’s meant to be the main meal. 

The board I’m using here is meant to be the main meal for 4-6 people. It’s about 18″ x 8″. I also have a small 10″ x 5″ board for when it’s just for two (date night board, anyone?), and a large 20″ x 15″ for a larger group. Having a variety of sizes means that you can cater to any size group.

And you don’t have to stop at just one board. In fact, if you’re serving any hot elements, like the baked brie I have here, it’s a good idea to have a separate board for that. You may also want one board for meat and cheese, and another for fruit and vegetables. Even another for dessert!

A variety of wooden boards in different shapes and sizes.

Shape

Boards can be round, rectangular, square, triangular, or irregular (like the one I’m using here).

An empty irregularly shaped olive wood charcuterie board

Other Tools

A few other essential items for a successful charcuterie:

  • Small serving dishes or ramekins for spreads, dips, olives, pickles or nuts
  • Cocktail spoons and forks for the above
  • Spreaders for soft cheeses
  • Cheese forks and knives for hard cheeses
  • Cocktail napkins for everyone

 

The Elements of a Charcuterie Board

Lots of variety in textures and flavours are keys to a perfect board. Look for some salty, smoky, creamy, sharp, crunchy, sweet and sour elements for interest and balance. Keep colours in mind, too. At least a few pops of colour make the spread more appealing. 

Meat

Choose 2-3 different varieties of meat for a smaller board and 4-5 for a larger one. 

For my traditional holiday charcuterie board, I always choose Mastro & San Daniele specialty deli meats. They are my go-to because I can always count on their quality and authentic flavour. For this board, I am featuring Mastro® Genoa Salami, Mastro® Salami w/ Prosciutto, and San Daniele® Prosciutto. All of them are delicious and perfect for a holiday charcuterie board. Check out sharemastro.com for more info on these and other great products, plus all kinds of recipe inspiration.

A package of Mastro Genoa Salami

A package of Mastro Salami with Prosciutto

A package of San Daniele Prosciutto

A variety of sliced deli meats on a wooden board

 

Cheese

As with Meats, 2-3 varieties of cheese work best for a small board, and 4-5 for a larger one. Try to use both hard and soft cheeses and both orange and white kinds of cheese for variety and visual appeal. 

A wooden cutting board with various types of cheese on it

Spreads

Spreads and dips are an essential element to any charcuterie board. It’s nice to have at least a couple of them to compliment the other ingredients. I always include my homemade Pepper Jelly whenever I serve soft cheeses, like goat cheese or brie. Grainy mustard or creamy horseradish are perfect complements for cured meats. Finally, hummus or ranch dressing works well if there are vegetables included.

Other options are honey, chutneys, relishes, tapenade, or fruit preserves.

Small dishes of condiments on a wooden cutting board

Fruit

For beauty and freshness, always add some fruit to the board. I like to use both dried and fresh fruit. The choices are endless, but it’s great to keep it seasonal, and based on your board’s theme. For example, this holiday charcuterie board has winter fruit: red Anjou pears, sugared cranberries, dried figs, and clementines.

 

Serveral different pieces of fruitf on a wooden cutting board

Crackers & Bread

Something that you can dip or top with meat, cheese or spreads is essential for your board. Use a variety of crackers and/or a sliced baguette, which can be toasted or not. Pretzels or breadsticks are other great options.

Bread and Crackers on a wooden cutting board

Nuts, Olives, Pickles

One or two types of nuts, especially interestingly spiced ones, are a great way to round out a board. And olives and/or pickles are a perfect salty-sour contrast to the meat, cheese and fruit. Pistachios were a natural choice for me here, and I used spiced olives and some pretty pickled beets for this board.

Small dishes of nuts, olives and pickles on a wooden cutting board

Extras

I love to add a tiny bit of dark chocolate or in this case those festive chocolates in gold foil. It’s a nice touch to have a little sweet offering for everyone to finish up with. You can also add mints, or any festive candy to your board.

How Much Meat and Cheese Per Person?

The meat and cheese are the “weighty” foods on the charcuterie board, so it’s best to plan on quantities per person for those items. As a rule of thumb, plan on three ounces of meat and cheese total per person for an appetizer board, and six ounces per person if the board is the main meal. However, this is simply a guideline. A lot depends on everyone’s appetites!

A half empty meat and cheese board

How to Arrange Your Board

First, put anything in serving bowls on the board. Then start with meats and cheeses. It’s a good idea to balance these on the board with one type of cheese next to one variety of meat. Finally, tuck berries and slices of fruit into any empty spots. Fill in all the nooks and crannies for a feeling of abundance. Be sure to keep crackers, bread, pretzels or any dry items separate from things like olives and pickles that contain a lot of moisture. 

A holiday charcuterie board with meat, cheese, and fruit

Wine Pairings

It’s a good idea to have both white and red wine on hand, and I also like to include a rosé, as well as cranberry or grape juice for children and non-imbibers. Alternatively, try a big jug of sangria. This one: Winter White Sangria is a perfect choice to accompany a holiday charcuterie board.

Tips For a Perfect Charcuterie

  • Prep your ingredients ahead of time. Slice or cube cheese, vegetables and fruit and store them in airtight containers until it’s time to assemble the board. Even apples and pears can be sliced ahead of time. Just toss them in some lemon juice so they don’t brown.
  • Take your cheeses out of the fridge for 20-30 minutes before serving for the best flavour.
  • When prepping prepare extra so that you can refill as needed.
  • Perishable foods shouldn’t sit out of the fridge for more than a couple of hours, so if your gathering will last longer, use those extras that are prepped and stored in the fridge.
  • Keep in mind any food allergies, and try to include something for everyone. Nuts, wheat, and dairy are common allergens. It’s easy to find gluten-free bread and crackers, and check the label on your cured meats as many of them contain wheat. The Mastro & San Daniele products that I’m using here are all gluten-free. If there are nut or dairy allergies, keep those items separate, or choose alternatives.

Disclosure: I have participated in a paid partnership with Mastro/San Daniele. Opinions in this post are my own

A half eaten holiday charcuterie board

 

An irregularly shaped wooden charcuterie board filled with meat, cheese, olives, nuts and fruit, surrounded by crackers and bread.

Holiday Charcuterie Board

Colleen
Make your celebrations special with a beautiful and delicious holiday-themed charcuterie board.
5 from 26 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 6 people
Calories 777 kcal

Ingredients
  

Meat

  • 3 oz Mastro Genoa Salami hot or mild
  • 3 oz Mastro Salami with Prosciutto
  • 3 oz San Daniele Prosciutto

Cheese

  • 3 oz aged cheddar cubed or sliced
  • 4 oz log of flavoured or plain goat cheese I used black pepper
  • 4 oz wheel of brie cheese oven warmed

Spreads and Condiments

  • honey
  • pepper jelly
  • mustard

Fruit

  • 2 Anjou pears cored and sliced
  • 1/4 cup dried figs
  • 4 clementines
  • 1 bunch of red grapes
  • 1/2 cup sugared cranberries see how to in recipe notes

Bread and Crackers

  • 1 baguette sliced
  • 12 rice crackers
  • 12 seedy crackers

Pickles & Olives

  • 1/2 cup spiced olives
  • 1/2 cup pickled beets

Other

  • Pistachios
  • Chocolates

Instructions
 

  • Fill serving dishes and put them on the board first
  • Arrange one of the meats and one of the cheese together in three groups, spaced around the board
  • Tuck fruit in the empty gaps
  • Arrange crackers and bread around the outside
  • Serve with spreaders and cheese forks

Notes

To make sugared cranberries, combine 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool, then stir in cranberries. Once the cranberries are coated, roll them in more sugar until they are coated. Allow them to dry on a rack.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 777kcalCarbohydrates: 92gProtein: 30gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 1323mgPotassium: 511mgFiber: 7gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 464IUVitamin C: 28mgCalcium: 241mgIron: 5mg
Keyword charcuterie, holiday entertaining, meat and cheese board
Tried this recipe? What changes did you make?Let us know how it was!

 

57 thoughts on “Holiday Charcuterie Board

  1. I love these boards! They’re like the party food my parents used to serve in the 70’s all on one yummy board. I’m going to make this one – yum!

  2. I have to say – I LOVE your irregular board! It’s so beautiful! This is such a great post – you have covered absolutely everything about preparing a charcuterie board – super useful! I also like it that you have designed the board for groups of people with different tastes and likes. Thanks for sharing, Colleen!

  3. Oh I could make a meal of this board! How beautiful!! I love all your tips here…the possibilities with charcuterie boards are endless. Love this!

  4. Very beautiful! I love your charcuterie board, and your tips are really helpful. Thank you so much for showing it. I am going a mini version for two for Christmas.

  5. I love preparing charcuterie boards during holidays – they always add so much to any table. And this board is truly one-of-a-kind!

  6. I feel that all my meals should be in charcuterie board format during the month of December. Lol. You’ve got wonderful tips here, and I love that you even went so far as to discuss the types of boards to use. This year is a bit of a wash for Christmas parties (sigh), but I can’t wait to renew the festivities – and serve some charcuterie – in the future. Cheers.

  7. What a beautiful board, the perfect way to snack in my opinion. Love the pops of color and mix of ingredients and flavours.

  8. How timely…I was thinking of doing up a charcuterie board for Christmas! Love the great ideas of what to include on the board…thanks for sharing!

  9. I’m also a huge fan of charcuterie boards! They are so social with everyone gathered around digging in. 🙂 This holiday-themed board you’ve designed is stunning and I especially like the added touch of the chocolates – very festive!

  10. This charcuterie board has such a fun mix of dry and wet components – like the beets and olives – because you haven’t tried to get everything onto one board. So often the boards are just meat and cheese – this is inspiring!

  11. What a great explanatory guide on how to assemble and serve the perfect holiday charcuterie board! This will sure help a first-timer, arranging the foods is an art!

  12. The images on your post make me want to run to the store and make one! This is something we do just because. We are going to add a few of beets and chocolates the next time. Those sound like great additions. Thanks fro sharing.

  13. This Holiday Charcuterie board is incredible! Not only is this festive, it was so gorgeous I want to make this year round. Loved all of the different ingredients on this board too!

  14. Such a fantastic charcuterie board! We made this over the weekend and it was just the treat we needed. And with the way this year has gone, we’ve decided we are going to celebrate the holidays the rest of the year by making this every weekend… Thanks, Colleen!

  15. Wonderful and perfect board for the holidays..Great tips on how to arrange this too. Will be following this for this festive season…Thanks Colleen.

  16. What an amazing Charcuterie Board! So many amazing ideas. I love the way you set it up and all the great tips. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Colleen, this look absolutely scrumptious — I’ve love to dive right in! Thank you for all the practical tips and tricks, very helpful. Happy holidays!

  18. What a detailed post and it really helps a beginner like me understand the concept of charcuterie board. I love those sizes of board suggestions that you have given.

  19. I love a good charcuterie board especially at this time of year! I’ll definitely be putting yours together these next few weeks!

  20. This looks yummy and festive! I love making holiday charcuterie boards, and all of the ingredients you are using looks delicious.

  21. A fabulous instruction on how to make a charcuterie board. I love making them for my family. You’ve made the set up so easy to follow.

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