Charcuterie boards are one of my favorite things, and this small charcuterie board is perfect for truly any occasion, or even when you just don't feel like cooking. It's easy to scale up or down depending on how many people you are serving!
Components of a charcuterie board
When building a simple charcuterie board, the main thing you want to keep in mind is variety – in shape, texture, color, and size. Meaning, you want circles/triangles/squares, crunchy and soft, pops of color, and both bigger and smaller items. Not only does this make the board look visually appealing, but it's also delicious to try many different things together in one bite!
One of the best things about charcuterie boards is that you really can make it your own with all your favorite things. Below are some suggestions, but it really is a "world is your oyster" kind of situation.
My charcuterie boards are usually full of Trader Joe's products because they're delicious and affordable, so I highly recommend shopping there if you have one near you!
Some might say this is the most important element of a charcuterie board, and those people would be correct. For a small charcuterie board, you want 2-3 cheeses. I always go with cheeses of varying hardness - so you want one soft, one semi-hard, and one hard cheese.
- Soft cheeses: brie, chèvre, camebert, or something more tangy like goat.
- Semi-hard cheeses: cheddar (extra sharp is my favorite!), manchego, pepper jack, gruyere, or gouda.
- Hard cheeses: parmesan, pecorino romano, grana padano.
A very close second in importance are the meats. Similar to cheeses, for this small charcuterie board I like to do 2-3 meats – one more classic and one a bit more fun; for example prosciutto and peppered or spicy salami. The best charcuterie meats:
- Prosciutto di Parma
- Peppered salami
- Spicy salami
With all the delicious meats and cheeses, a good vehicle for eating them is necessary. Similar to my recommendation for cheese and meats: 2-3 is best, and variety is even better! I like doing one more plain and simple, and one with a flavor or nuts/fruit baked in. Some good options:
- Water crackers
- Pita crackers (not pita chips, pita crackers! Pita chips are a little too thick for this)
- Sourdough crackers
- Fruit & nut crackers - pick your favorite combo!
- Basil (or other herb) crackers
- Red pepper crackers
- Everything bagel seasoned crackers
These are the items that really fill out the board and make it looks super full! I like to use little dishes and fill them with my favorite jams, nuts, honeys fruits, dried fruits, etc. This is your opportunity to take a look in your pantry and grab whatever you have. You can use as few or many of these as you'd like. Some items work particularly well on a charcuterie board:
- Blueberry jam
- Strawberry jam
- Fig jam
- Marcona almonds
- Herbed nuts
- Dried apricots
How to assemble a charcuterie board
Similar to what you put on your board, how you make it is really up to you and whatever is easiest for you. But below is how I like to assemble! Try to keep in mind that you want people to be able to reach everything from no matter where they're sitting. And you'll likely need to shift things around as you go, which is no problem at all!!
Step 1: Cheese! No matter which cheeses you have, try to cut them in different ways - triangles, cubes, slices, etc. Then lay them on your board in imperfect diagonals.
Step 2: Meats! Close by to the cheeses, lay your meats. Depending on the meat, I try to lay them in a way that fluffs them up a bit - rolling, twisting, layering, etc.
Step 3: Accompaniments! This is when I like to add in little bowls of jams/nuts/etc. where the larger spaces are.
Step 4: Crackers! The finishing touch is layering crackers basically anywhere there's an open spot!
If there are any holes, an option is to fill them with additional fresh fruit, more crackers, or just leave it! It doesn't have to be perfect.
Tips and tricks
- Make it yours: As I said earlier, you can REALLY make this your own - don't feel like it has to be perfect or fit any kind of expectation. Use what you love.
- Use what you have: Check your pantry! There's no need to buy anything new, and because most of the items are noshes, you can finish up anything that is almost empty.
- Keep it affordable: You don't have to break the bank to make something impressive. Aside from using what you have, try to shop in places where you know prices are reasonable (but still with good quality!). Basically, you don't need to get the cheese straight from the farm itself. Also, keeping the number of items you include can help keep the price down. You don't need to have 2-3 types of each item.
- Make it smaller or bigger: If you're serving more or less people, you can either add additional types of each item (eg 4-5 cheeses) OR you can simply buy multiple of the same item.
- Serving size: Plan for each person to eat about 3-5oz of cheeses and meats.
- Remove the chill: Don't serve a charcuterie board right out of the fridge. If you let the items sit room temp for about 20 minutes before serving, they lose their chill and taste even better.
- Charcuterie board origin: The word charcuterie originated in France, and the traditional process of using salt to cure meats dates back to the Roman empire nearly 2,000 years ago. Because of this, I like to try to get products from these countries / Europe for my boards.
- Serving: Keep it nosh-able! Serve with little plates and forks/toothpicks to grab each item.
Yes! You can cut all the cheeses, prep the meats, etc. and put them in individual storage containers in the fridge. If you're prepping same-day, you can even build the board and place it in the fridge until you're ready to serve (take it out of the fridge 20 mins before hand).
Some of the best left overs! I honestly eat the leftovers as mini grazing boards for myself. But you could make a delicious chopped salad, a sandwich, or a wrap.
WINE! Light-bodied whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio), or medium-bodied reds (Pinot Noir, Merlot) are best to balance flavors but not overwhelm your palette.
The classic answer here is a wood board. But you could really use so many other things - marble board (I like to line it so that the oils from the cheese don't stain it), a serving platter, a baking sheet,
More appetizer recipes
- Prosciutto and melon crostini
- Air fryer lemon pepper chicken wings
- Roasted garlic baked ricotta dip
- Loaded vegetarian nachos
Small Charcuterie Board
- 6 oz Brie cheese
- 8 oz Extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 6 oz Parmigiano reggiano cheese
- 3 oz Prosciutto di Parma
- 4 oz Peppered salami
- 1 box Plain crackers
- 1 box Fruit and nut crackers
- ¼ cup strawberry jam
- ¼ cup marcona almonds
- Slice your cheeses in varying ways - cubes, triangles, slices, and lay them in rough diagonals sporadically across your board.
- Close by to the cheeses, lay your meats. Depending on the meat, I try to lay them in a way that fluffs them up a bit - rolling, twisting, layering, etc.
- Fill larger gaps with little bowls of jams/nuts/etc.
- Layer In crackers anywhere there's an open spot!