Jennifer from our Kitchen Council is sharing her tips for making a charcuterie board to both feed and impress guests this holiday season.

Easy entertaining is often all about creating party food platters and small bites that can be prepared with minimal effort. Who wants to stress out before hosting guests? If these small bites don’t have to be cooked or baked, that’s even better! Charcuterie boards are an especially wonderful, crowd-pleasing option for get togethers, and they can be arranged in as little as 10 minutes. They’re beautiful to look at and fun to build. There are endless options for creativity and customization. And Stemilt fruits are a perfect addition to any charcuterie board. Apples and pears can serve as a tasty stand in for baguette slices, as they pair well with numerous cured meats, cheeses and nuts.

If you’re new to creating a charcuterie board, here are some of the basics you will want to consider including. (Note: you do not need to include everything listed below. Pick and choose!)

  • Cured meats and sausages: Great options include prosciutto, salami, chorizo, pepperoni, sopressata, and jamón Serrano.
  • Cheeses: Good quality blue, brie, cheddar and goat cheese are all good options, and they will pair especially well with the Stemilt fruit.
  • Fruits: Grapes are a traditional addition to charcuterie boards. Stemilt apple and pear slices should also be included because they create a perfect base for cheeses and meats, and they’re less heavy and filling than bread. Keep in mind that these fruits will eventually turn brown after being sliced. Here are some tips on how to slow down the oxidation process.
  • Baguette slices and/or crackers: While apples and pears make a great base, it’s still a good idea to have toasted baguette slices and maybe some rye crackers for serving. Some of the cured meats might taste better against a neutral flavor base.
  • Olives & olive bar accoutrements: Good quality olives are always an excellent addition to a charcuterie board. Visit your grocery store’s olive bar for the best-quality options as well as other add ons. You might find options like cornichons (tiny French pickles), sweet piquante peppers, roasted garlic, and marinated artichokes.
  • Nuts: Roasted, plain or candied nuts are an excellent option for your charcuterie board. Consider marcona almonds, pecans and walnuts.
  • Spreads: Honey, patés, mustard, jams, jellies.
  • Serving Tools: Don’t forget to have things like toothpicks, spreaders and cheese knives as needed.

While everything suggested above will work, don’t go overboard with too many items on one board. Think about how many guests you will be serving, the size of the platter, and aim for a visually appealing mix of colors and textures. Arrange them artistically on a large cutting board or serving platter in a manner that is easily accessible. Keep in mind that many cheeses and meats are best served at room temperature. Wait until the last second to slice the apples and pears. Lastly, have a few bottles of red and white wine handy. Everything on a charcuterie board pairs beautifully with wine. Serve this at your next party, and your guests will be impressed. Best of all, you didn’t have to cook a thing!

What do you like to have on your charcuterie board? Share in the comments below!