Love wine and cheese? We’ll show you how to make the perfect charcuterie board so you can indulge your loved ones (or yourself) with a simple, elegant spread for date nights, holiday parties, and everything in between.Jump to Recipe
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Love to eat cheese and drink wine? Us too.
So when Alex and I returned from our recent trip to Paso Robles with three bottles of wine and a variety of spices, oils, and spreads from all the incredible shops we visited, we immediately planned a Valentine’s Day weekend charcuterie date night.
Charcuterie boards are the perfect way to serve a delicious medley of high-quality cheeses, meats, fruits, nuts, and anything else snackish. They’re great for date nights, girls’ nights, holidays, potlucks, and even Saturday afternoons! Whatever the occasion, you can easily customize a charcuterie board for any number of people and tailor it to specific tastes. We’ll take you through how we built our perfect charcuterie board, customized for our tastes, and provide some suggestions for how you can make the perfect charcuterie board too!
Date nights are a great excuse to make a charcuterie board for two – here’s what Alex and I used for our latest spread:
- Burrata toast: For extra special charcuterie boards, we like to make one pre-assembled combination of bread and cheese. To make our burrata toast, we broiled slices of sperlonga bread until lightly crisped, then topped them with fresh burrata and a drizzle of vanilla bean balsamic. (These were inspired by an appetizer we had at La Cosecha on our trip!)
- Sperlonga bread & dipping oil: We had to have our favorite fluffy bakery bread from Whole Foods with a delicious pairing of mandarin orange olive oil and vanilla bean balsamic, also inspired by our trip. (Thank you to our sommelier at Olivas de Oro who recommended this creamsicle-like combo!)
- Cheeses: I’m personally not a huge fan of cold cheese – unless it’s mozzarella, burrata, or Alouette – but I’m slowly acquiring a taste for some mild cheeses, especially if they’re served in a particularly flavorful way. (My new favorite way to eat cheese is dusted in spices; more on that below!). On the other hand, Alex loves cheese. So with his guidance, we grabbed a manchego and an aged cheddar from the Whole Foods cheese counter for our board.
- Meats: We chose prosciutto – a charcuterie staple in our book – and hot soppressata to complement our mild cheeses with some spicy flavor. We wrapped some cheddar cubes in the soppressata for a delicious charcuterie snack!
- Fruit: Fresh, in-season fruit is the best for charcuterie boards, so we chose green grapes. They were juicy and sweet, which added a brightness to the flavors on our charcuterie board.
- Jam: A flavorful jam adds another interesting texture to a charcuterie board. Alex’s aunt makes delicious homemade jams, so we often have a variety of flavors in our fridge to choose from! We picked a Balsamic Fig jam for this board.
- Spices: This was the first time we included spice blends on our charcuterie board. While in Paso Robles, we did a unique wine tasting at LXV Winery where they paired our wines with cheese cubes dusted in custom spice blends. It was the most amazing experience. We ended up buying a blend called Savory Memoir and couldn’t resist including it with this charcuterie board. Alex also created a paprika-based blend to complement the manchego. Mild cheese is the perfect vehicle for flavorful spices, so from now on we’ll be mixing up our own blends to serve with charcuterie!
- PicaQuicos: We picked up these spicy giant corn kernels from Whole Foods for a fun alternative to nuts! They’re super crunchy which added a new texture to our charcuterie board.
Since every good charcuterie board is enjoyed with a glass of wine, we sipped on the Côtes-Du-Rôbles Rouge we brought home from Eberle Winery. It’s a refreshing red blend that paired perfectly with our date night spread. (If there’s anything we learned from our wine tasting weekend, it’s that a good wine can make your food taste even better!)
Here are some suggestions for building your own perfect charcuterie board:
Keep things exciting with a variety of textures and flavors. You can use anything from aged gouda or parmesan (hard cheeses), to manchego or cheddar (firm cheeses), to burrata or brie (soft cheeses), to feta or goat cheese (crumbly cheeses). We even like to mix in something melty every once in a while, like baked brie. And for people like me who are picky about cheese, you can even include a more approachable spreadable cheese.
The term “charcuterie” actually refers to cold cooked meats, so don’t be afraid to let the meat be the star of the show on your board! There are so many options to choose from, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Some of our favorites are prosciutto, soppressata, pepperoni, and Spanish chorizo. We love to browse the Whole Foods deli section and pick out whatever catches our eye – we recommend this strategy, especially if you have a well-stocked local deli to check out!
Every good charcuterie board has some kind of carbs to pair with the cheeses and meats. Here are some different options:
- Bread – We usually opt for fluffy breads like sperlonga or ciabatta, especially if we’re including burrata or other soft cheeses on our board.
- Crostini or toasts – We make our own with baguette slices, but you can easily find these at the store.
- Crackers – There are endless varieties to choose from, but our favorites for pairing with cheese are sea salt, garlic & herb, and sesame.
Fruit provides a nice pop of color and freshness to a charcuterie board. Select high-quality, in-season produce such as grapes, strawberries, raspberries, dates, or figs, depending on the time of year.
Nuts introduce a crunchy texture to your charcuterie board, in contrast to the fresh fruit and softer cheeses and meats. You can really choose any type of nut – almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios – or try something unique like these giant corn kernels!
In our opinion, jams aren’t a necessary component of a charcuterie board, but they can definitely elevate the charcuterie experience! Flavors such as apricot, peach, fig, raspberry, and date go well with cheese and crackers.
Similar to jams, spreads aren’t always necessary but they provide an additional flavor and texture that can amp up a charcuterie board. Bruschetta, tapenade, pesto, or even hummus can be a great addition to your cheese and meat selection.
Charcuterie boards are a blank canvas for you to create your dream spread on, and they’re only limited by your imagination! Think about what will complement your selection of cheeses, meats, and carbs when deciding what extras to include (if any). If you’ve got soft bread, you can include dipping oils. If you’ve got mild cheese, you can include spice blends. If you want to theme your board for a particular holiday or season, you can include garnishes of fresh rosemary sprigs or edible flowers. Really anything goes, so get creative!
Building a delicious charcuterie board doesn’t have to be intimidating. We hope this post inspires you to make the perfect charcuterie board for your next gathering!
Share your charcuterie board creations with us! Tag @candidcooksblog or #thecandidcooks to be featured in our stories.
How To Make The Perfect Charcuterie Board
- Cheese board or serving platter
- ¼ loaf sperlonga bread or ciabatta
- 8 oz burrata cheese
- Drizzle vanilla bean balsamic vinegar
- 2 oz manchego cheese
- 2 oz aged cheddar cheese
- 1 oz prosciutto
- 1 oz hot soppressata
- ¼ loaf sperlonga bread, cubed or ciabatta
- 3 oz sea salt crackers
Fruit, Jams, and Nuts
- 2 bunches green grapes
- 2 oz balsamic fig jam
- 1 oz PicaQuicos or other nuts
- 2 tsp olive oil for dipping
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar for dipping
- 1 tsp spice blend of your choice
- Slice the sperlonga bread in half lengthwise, then crosswise, into 4 equal-sized pieces.* Place them on a baking sheet and broil on HIGH for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly toasted.
- Drain the burrata and carefully slice in half. Scoop the cheese out with a spoon and spread it evenly over the toasted bread.
- Drizzle each burrata toast with vanilla bean balsamic and transfer to serving platter.
Charcuterie Board Assembly
- First, prepare your ingredients. Cube the cheeses; wash and dry the grapes; pull apart the prosciutto to break strips into smaller pieces; and transfer PicaQuicos (or nuts), jam, and spices to small bowls. If serving dipping oils with bread, pour olive oil into a shallow dish, then add the balsamic vinegar.
- Next, lay out your charcuterie board. Mix in the cheeses with the meats, grapes, crackers, and bread to create visual interest. Position the bowls of nuts, jam, dipping oils, and spices in places that will be easy for everyone to reach. You can also mix in the Burrata Toast, or serve it separately on its own platter. Place toothpicks in a toothpick holder and include somewhere on or near the board.
- Serve with a glass of wine and good company!