Over the years, I've come to learn that charcuterie boards are a holiday staple for winter gatherings with friends and family. I've hosted countless holiday parties with them, and my guests always rave about how delicious they are.
A good winter charcuterie board is a mix of savory meats and cheeses paired with fruits, nuts, jams, and other sweet treats. And it's easy to make one at home!
Follow along as we create our simple holiday charcuterie board.
Pick a charcuterie board
Pick a charcuterie board that is the right size for your event. If you are hosting a party and have guests coming over, you will want the space to prepare enough food for everyone.
Use savory meats
The very first thing you'll want to do is pick out a selection of savory meats. This will make your board feel more like a meal than a grazing board, so it's important that they be flavorful and interesting enough to stand on their own.
You could use any number of cured meats here, but we recommend sticking with some traditional favorites like prosciutto or salami. This dry salami from Columbus Craft Meats that we chose offers a hint of garlic and wine without overpowering the other flavors of the board.
Download your holiday charcuterie shopping list
Choose a variety of cheeses
The best way to make sure every bite is delicious and interesting is to use a variety of cheeses. Consider texture as well as flavor. As much as I love cheese— which is A LOT — it's important not to overwhelm yourself or the palate with too many strong-tasting varieties at once. Instead, mix up textures by including soft and hard varieties on your board in addition to creamy ones like brie or camembert.
And be sure to take advantage of the cooler weather by indulging in soft cheeses that won't spoil quickly this time of year.
Add nuts and dried fruits
When it comes to adding some sweetness, dried fruits are a solid choice during the winter.
Make sure they’re not too sweet and that they complement the rest of the board.
Some examples include apricots, figs, raisins, and cranberries.
For another option for something salty/sweet combo that pairs well with charcuterie meats and cheeses and adds a nice crunch, consider including candied nuts!
Add jam and fresh fruit
Although dried fruits and candied nuts are a solid winter staple for charcuterie, you can add some fresh fruit as well. We used grapes because they take up space, add color, and remind us of winter abundance.
You can add jams to your board as well, which, depending on your choices, add tartness or sweetness to the mix. Honey also works well on a charcuterie board as it adds a sticky-sweet contrast to nutty, soft cheeses.
Pick hearty breads and crackers
A winter board is all about hearty, filling food that will warm you up from the inside out. Choose a great artisanal loaf of bread to place at the center of your board, or serve with slices of baguette or ciabatta on the side.
Crackers should be hearty as well—think whole grain, thick-cut varieties like these filling fig and olive Rainforest Crisps we chose.
Arrange your board
Really - just have fun with it!
We placed a soft brie on the center of our board, surrounded by thick-sliced salami. We added bread and crackers along the edges of the board. The grapes added a main focal point to the board. We finished the board off by sprinkling nuts, chocolates, and dried apricot to fill in the empty spaces. The finished board truly speaks to abundance.
Then, our family gathered around to connect with each other as we commented on our individual pairing choices.
These extra tips will help you create a stunning and delicious holiday charcuterie board.
Buy enough food to serve your guests comfortably. If there are 20 people attending your party, then you would need about 3 lbs of meat and 2 lbs of cheese (1 lb = 2 cups). Alternatively, if there will be 8-12 people at your housewarming party or holiday gathering, then 1 ½ lbs of meat and one pound of cheese should do just fine! Err on the side of too much - You can always store the leftovers or make a new board later on.
We emphasized using savory meats like salami, prosciutto, or mortadella on your board. You can also include ham if you're going down the European route; in America it's common to find both ham and bacon on the same board.
Keep your choices small and bite sized: When it comes to meats, cheeses, fruits and sides on your winter charcuterie board, consider making most (or all) of these items small enough to eat in one bite—even if they're cut into cubes. This keeps everything fresh looking without having too much extra food at once on display—and you'll never run out during any course either!
- For a decorative touch, try your hand at creating a salami rose! It's easier than you think: Salami Rose Tutorial
Now that you’ve got all the information you need to make an amazing holiday charcuterie board, you can get started on planning your own!
The best way to create this board is by using your own creativity and letting your personal taste guide you. You don’t have to follow any strict rules—just remember that this is supposed to be fun and relaxing as well as delicious.
So go ahead, try new things out and see what comes up!