As we begin to dive into the holiday season, it made me want to share my favorite small charcuterie board ideas that will wow and appease anyone. They are simple, elegant, and quick to assemble. All you really need is a mix of cheese, meat, veggies, fruit, crackers, and more.
How to Make Small Charcuterie Boards
I promise, you don’t have to be an artist to put together a smashing display of charcuterie for your guests. Here is a really easy step-by-step process to making your own nutritious, artsy and flavorful charcuterie boards. These are all suggestions, feel free to cater them to your and your guest’s preferences and make it totally your own.
Step 1: Pick Cheese
Take a visit to a cheese shop (where I live we have The Cheese Lady) or even a local grocery store and pick out a variety of cheeses such as:
- A soft cheese which has a high moisture content, it’s young and fresh and often spreadable. This could be brie, camembert, chevre, or a cheese that is in a tub ready for dipping.
- A hard cheese is one that you can slice before you put it on your charcuterie board. My personal favorites would be parmesan, cheddar (any variety), gruyere, asiago and manchego.
- A bold new flavor or cheese that might be a bit funky (or stinky!) such as a bleu cheese, goat cheese or one with added flavor. Aldi has some of my favorite bold and flavored cheeses at affordable prices to boot!
- Deli cheese is another way to add variety to your small charcuterie board without breaking the bank (cheese can be quite expensive!). Grab a favorite sliced cheese and cut it into fun shapes using a cookie cutter or a knife.
Step 2: Choose or Make a Sauce, Spread, and add Acid
Mixing flavors and tastes together is the best part about charcuterie. Pairing a cracker and meat with a funky cheese for one bite and chocolate with brie the next can be such a fun experience. Consider adding (or making) a sauce, spread, or adding an acid to the board. Try a mixture of savory, spicy, umami, or sweet additions such as:
- Jam/Jelly/Chutney (personally I love fig or cherry preserves)
- Nuts (plain, flavored, roasted, salted, or unsalted)
- Pickles/pickled vegetables
- Fruit (slices, berries, or dried)
Step 3: Add a Meat
This is optional if you or your guests don’t eat animal protein. However, it can add some fantastic layers of depth to the charcuterie board spread if you do add it. Thin slices work well for pairing and layering on cheese, fruit, pickles, etc. The most common meats to add to a board include salami, prosciutto, cured sausage, or your favorite deli meats. You can watch a variety of tutorials on how to fold or shape them fairly easily as well.
If animal protein isn’t up your alley, try a mix of plant proteins! Roasted chick peas, edamame, nuts, or a lentil spread/sauce can all add depth and texture to the board.
Step 4: Select Cracker Varieties
Serve a whole variety of crackers and try out some new ones. The best crackers for a charcuterie board are flavored triangle shaped Triscuits, pita chips, fig and rosemary crackers, artisan crackers, multigrain, or flatbread crackers. Choose salted, sweet, flavored and unflavored to give the taste buds plenty of options for stacking on the flavor.
Step 5: Sweet Finish
I recommend serving a full dessert board alongside or mixed in with the other simple small charcuterie boards. Chocolate can pair really well with jams, unflavored crackers, and cheeses too. For a Christmas charcuterie board idea, set out sliced fruit cake, cookies, or spiced jam/preserves.
How to Make them Nutritiously Balanced
Whether its a small simple charcuterie board, Christmas charcuterie board, or even a fall or breakfast charcuterie board it’s easy to make them nutritiously balanced. An individual plate made from one of these boards can easily include carbohydrate/fiber, protein, and fat. Instead of focusing solely on them being nutritiously balanced, focus on experiencing new flavor pairings and enjoying being the host with the awesome appetizer spread.
As stated above, if animal protein isn’t your thing it is easy to create a personalized charcuterie board for the vegetarian and vegans in your life. Whether vegan cheese is added or there’s agave nectar to spread on a cracker instead of honey, anyone can make a board for all occasions and food preferences. The best part of this appetizer is that it doesn’t have to be tailored only to one person’s preferences. Everyone can make their own plate and enjoy the experience together without fuss.
Make Ahead Ideas
Can you make a charcuterie board ahead of time? Parts of it, yes! The salty, sauces, spreads, and cheeses can be laid out on your board 24 hours in advance and covered with plastic wrap. Set them out 30 minutes prior to serving so that everything reaches room temperature together. During that 30 minutes, prepare the remainder of the foods that will go on your boards.
What Boards Do You Use
Of course you can find all kinds of fancy boards online and in stores. Charcuterie has become quite popular over the last five years or so! However, I also enjoy making a quick charcuterie board on a baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Charcuterie can be fancy but it can also be a random assortment of sliced cheese, deli meat, crackers, produce and extra components you probably have in your pantry.
More Appetizers to Try
- Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus
- Simple & Smooth Butter Bean Hummus
- 4 Ingredient Guacamole
- Tzatziki Sauce (for a Mediterranean charcuterie board)
Small Charcuterie Board Idea
- 2-3 Cheese varieties
- 2 Meat options
- ⅓ cup Sauce, spread, mustard, hummus or jam
- ½ cup Fruit or vegetable* (or both)
- ¼ cup Nuts, olives, dried fruit**
- ¼ cup Chocolate
- 2-3 handfuls Crackers
- Start by gathering all of the ingredients and the board that will be used***
- Assess space and start with the staples; cheese, crackers, meat
- Assemble and add sauces, spreads, acids, and sweet additions
- Fill in the space with fruit and vegetables****
- Add chocolate in a small dish on the board or on the side