Charcuterie boards are a great way to spice up anything from a party with friends to a dinner at home. Now that it is becoming safe to gather again, it is time to dust off your favorite wooden board and learn how to make a design that will woo all your guests.
I have eaten my fair share of charcuterie boards but never made my own, so this was a bit of a learning experience for me. I asked my friend Madisyn Miller, a WSU alum and charcuterie board extraordinaire, to coach me through the process.
“I really like the art of food, and I think it makes it more fun to eat because it’s more appealing,” Madisyn said. “I feel very put together if my food looks nice.”
The best place to start is choosing a board you like. Madisyn said she prefers wooden boards because they create a rustic look, but stone and metal boards are also good options.
Choose a board that fits the theme or vibe you want. I chose a small, rectangular wooden cutting board because it had a nice mid-range color. I would love to find a nice slate or basalt board for my next one.
Next, you should choose some bigger foods to arrange on the board. These serve as starting points for everything else. You can arrange the smaller items outward from the bigger staples, Madisyn said.
“I start off with those bigger chunks of things — oftentimes cheese or grapes — and then go off of that,” she said. “Then I slowly make my way outside those bigger things until all of it blends together. Then I fill in those little spots.”
I raided my parents’ fridge for any items that looked tasty and like they belonged on a charcuterie board. I also found a few small bowls and plates to put items in. These ended up being my starting points.
If you are at a loss for what foods to include, Madisyn said bright fruits are a great place to start. Raspberries, strawberries and grapes are all fun summer options. Colorful foods will stand out against the muted colors of different cheeses and crackers.
I did not have any grapes, so I substituted for some fresh Rainier cherries. They gave a nice summer-y pop to my board.
Nuts can fill in the empty spaces between foods, especially fruits, Madisyn said.
“In general, I definitely like things that are really close together,” she said. “I think it looks a lot better, and it gives it a fuller look.”
Different sauces can add extra pizzazz, Madisyn said. Place honey, jam or another spread in a small jar to add more textures. You can also drizzle syrup over the board for a glazed look, which works especially well with breakfast foods.
The best charcuterie boards have a variety of foods — different colors, textures and flavors. Do not stick to a single type of food, Madisyn said.
After you have created your culinary masterpiece, you may want to take some photos. Madisyn said photos from above work well to showcase the different components of a charcuterie board. Close-up shots of foods also can be aesthetically pleasing.
When in doubt, Madisyn said you can turn to the internet for ideas. Pinterest and #charcuterieboards on Instagram and TikTok have tons of different designs. Be sure to experiment with your design until it looks appealing to you.
Good luck, and happy charcuterie-ing!