This Simple Charcuterie Board is the perfect appetizer to serve at a party or holiday gathering! Arranged with an assortment of cured meats, cheese, fruits, gluten-free crackers and bread, nuts, and a handful of other tasty ingredients. Learn how to put this simple charcuterie board together in just 15 minutes!
I love a tasty charcuterie board. They make people happy. Especially when the main meal isn’t quite ready to be served and party guests arrive starving and ready to eat. A simple charcuterie board is a saving grace at that moment. Piled high with all the tasty nibbles for grazing, it becomes a natural centerpiece for gathering.
🌟 Why you’ll love this recipe
There is A LOT to love about this simple charcuterie board.
- No cooking required! This alone is reason enough to put one together, right?!
- Cheese, meat, crackers, bread, nuts, fruit, and veggies. Other than dessert, I think we’ve pretty much hit all the bases with this easy appetizer. And if you need a dessert too, give this Gluten-Free Blackberry Bourbon Pie a whirl. It’s pretty amazing.
- Appetizer or dinner? I mean let’s be honest, it would be tasty for either.
- A visual stunner. There’s just something about a charcuterie board that draws everyone in and causes people to gush with ooohs and aaahs. Is it just because they look pretty and next-level tasty or is it the unapologetic reason it provides for grazing and nibbling to our heart’s content? Perhaps both.
- Perfect for EVERY occasion. Holiday gatherings, birthday parties, potlucks and picnics, ladies night in, book club, community group, you name it. If people are gathering for something, they will definitely be excited to see this spread.
- And possibly the deal cincher of this whole smorgasboard is that it was mostly a one-stop shopping trip at Trader Joe’s to purchase everything needed. Where are all my Trader Joe’s fans?! 🙋♀️ The gluten-free rustic baguette and one of the gluten-free cracker selections didn’t come from TJ’s, but don’t fret. This is still crazy easy and I’ll point you where to go if you need that baguette and those particular crackers. Just keep reading.
🛒 Ingredients & suggestions
Grab a serving board; this could be a large cutting board or a platter (I used this pizza paddle), something that you can load up with all of your ingredients.
Then aim for ingredients that provide a variety of salty, sweet, and savory flavors, a mix of textures, and a combo of colors for some visual pop. But have fun with it, mix and match, and know that there is no right or wrong way to create a simple and tasty charcuterie board. If it’s something that you personally would enjoy eating, most likely your guests will enjoy it too.
- Cheese! I usually aim for 3 different types; soft, semi-hard, and hard cheese. Brie (soft), Gruyere (semi-hard), and Manchego (hard) are always safe bets but feel free to throw something a little different or unusual in there too! There doesn’t need to be any strict rules with what you serve on your board. And don’t be afraid to ask the cheesemonger at your grocery store for their opinion too. They will be happy to help out! Since specialty cheese can sometimes run a little on the spendy side I love going to Trader Joe’s for cheaper prices, plus they have A LOT of great options. Costco is another great place for cheese at a lower price point.
- Charcuterie: Just like the cheese I like to showcase 3 different types of cured meat. My typical go-tos are thinly sliced Prosciutto, sliced Italian Dry Salame, and a salami log of some sort. For this board I went with a Truffle Salami Log that I partially sliced and then left the reminder whole on the board for people to slice themselves. All of these I purchased at Trader Joe’s.
- Crackers and/or Bread: A must-have for a charcuterie board in my opinion, but the tricky part is where to find gluten-free crackers and bread that actually taste good. Here are the winners.
- Trader Joe’s Everything But The Gluten Crackers for a crispy, crunchy, seedy, hearty cracker option.
- Trader Joe’s 3 Seed Sweet Potato Crackers have a slightly sweeter flavor and are a less bulky cracker option compared to the Everything But The Gluten Cracker.
- Milton’s Gluten-Free Crispy Sea Salt Baked Crackers are light and airy with a hint of sea salt (which I love). I purchase these at Costco but they can be found pretty much anywhere.
- New Cascadia Traditional Rustic Baguette is my absolute go-to for a tasty gluten-free baguette. New Cascadia Traditional has figured out the science of gluten-free bread making! A number of grocery stores in the Portland Metro region sell their breads but if you happen to live somewhere else my next best recommendation would be to purchase their Gluten-Free Rustic Italian Bread through their mail order option. Unfortunately, they don’t currently ship their baguettes.
- Something briney! For this I grabbed a jar of Trader Joe’s Italian Green Bella di Cerignola Olives and a jar of Trader Joe’s Cornichons.
- Nuts: I apparently was craving almonds the day I went shopping so I went with two types, Trader Joe’s Lightly Salted Almonds and Trader Joe’s Truffled Marcona Almonds. Cashews, pecans, pistachios, and even walnuts would be equally awesome though.
- Dried or Fresh Fruit: Fruit is a beautiful and colorful way to decorate your serving platter. It’s also a subtly sweet and fresh way to offset the other salty, savory flavors on the board. Pears, persimmons, red grapes, tomatoes (does it seem weird to anyone else that a tomato is a fruit?), and dried figs are what I served. Serve fruits like pears or apples by thinly slicing and gently fanning them out on the board but also feel free to serve others, like persimmons, whole for visual (but still edible!) aesthetic.
- Something spreadable! Trader Joe’s Fig Butter is divine with a bit of cheese and bread or cracker. But jam or even a bit of honeycomb would be a perfect accompaniment too.
- Fresh herbs: Fresh sage, rosemary sprigs, or even fresh bay leaves are a great way to easily fill in any blank nooks and crannies on your charcuterie board with a fresh pop of color, but they are totally optional.
For a full list of ingredients and quantities see the recipe card at the end of this post.
🔪 How to arrange a beautiful charcuterie board
Step 1: Arrange the cheese on your serving board with enough space between each to insert other foods. I partially cut the hard cheese wedge into cubes, then thinly sliced some of the semi-hard cheese, and left the soft cheese whole. I like to partially slice some of the cheese for visual interest and also to serve as a visual cue for people to know that it’s okay to dig in and slice off as much as they want. It’s really up to you though how you would like it to be served!
Step 2: Once the cheese is arranged, add in a few small bowls for foods that people will enjoy but perhaps won’t be eating large quantities of (and if they do, the bowls can easily be refilled). Foods that are briny or have a strong flavor are great for this and will help to avoid passing their flavor onto the other foods, which is especially helpful if guests aren’t quite as excited about olives as you are. I chose to place green olives, cornichons, truffled Marcona almonds, and fig butter in their own separate dishes. If you need to set some of these bowls off to the side of the main charcuterie board that is totally okay too!
Step 3: Begin filling in some of those empty spaces with the cured meats. I like to keep each type in its own area of the board to give some visual separation. For a salami log, partially slice half of it while leaving the other half whole. For meat that is already sliced, fold in half, or into quarters, and prop each folded slice next to each other. For sliced meat that is very thin just gently drape each slice on top of itself and arrange.
Step 4: Continue to fill in the remaining empty spaces with fresh fruit. Pre-slice the fruit or serve it whole. To provide some pops of color throughout the board place small stacks or handfuls of fruit of the same kind in separate areas versus piling all together in the same place. One little stack of sliced pears here and one little stack of sliced pears there. You get the gist? Arrange red grapes, grape tomatoes, dried figs, persimmons, or any other fruit you prefer in the same manner.
Step 5: Finally, let’s tuck the crackers and nuts into the last remaining empty spaces. If serving a gluten-free baguette, slice and serve it on the side on a separate dish. If you still see a few small empty spaces peaking out on your serving board, dress them up with several sprigs of fresh herbs, such as rosemary, sage, or any herb that gives a fresh pop of green.
Step 6: Lastly, don’t forget to set out some cheese knives, serving dishes, and open up a good bottle of wine. Dig in babe!
👩🍳 Recipe tips
- Since almost everything for this charcuterie board was purchased at Trader Joe’s, quantities of each ingredient are pretty set since a number of the items are prepackaged. You will most likely have leftovers of everything unless you are making a massively huge board for a ton of people. Any remaining leftovers can be used for easily refilling items as they begin to disappear. The extra leftover also makes for some pretty awesome snacking throughout the rest of the week too.
- The more people, the bigger the board, and the more variety of meats and cheese you could offer. Instead of three types of cheese and meat, consider using five.
- Serve what you like to eat! Not a fan of truffle? I can’t relate but hey, no problem! Skip the truffled almonds and truffle salami log and choose something you do like. Don’t like green olives but you love black olives? Make the swap!
💭 Frequently asked questions
If serving as an appetizer, estimate roughly 2-3 ounces of both cheese and meat per person. If serving as the main food centerpiece estimate roughly 5 ounces of both cheese and meat per person.
According to my husband with strong German roots, beer is a must with salami. His recommendation is a gluten-free Pilsner (Lakefront New Grist makes one). As for myself, wines such as a Pinot Noir or a dry Reisling would be my choice. For a non-alcoholic option, something with bubbles like sparkling water or mineral water with a slice of citrus would be tasty.
The final bill was roughly $65. If you want to drop the price a bit, and depending on how many people you are hoping to feed, you could definitely purchase smaller portions of each cheese. Manchego runs the most expensive out of the three kinds of cheese so you could swap it out for another hard cheese that is less expensive. The truffled Marcona and roasted almonds were also higher-priced items that could be easily swapped out for another nut or just stick with one type of almond. A couple of dollars can also be saved by leaving off the fresh herbs.
It’s like a glorious adult version of a Lunchable. Simple, fun, and something tasty for everyone.
I hope you love it! ♡
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