How to Build the Perfect Simple Charcuterie Board

But first, a charcuterie board story

Traditionally, a charcuterie board is a Willis family Christmas Eve Tradition. In fact, it’s such a firm tradition that I refused to stop dipping little clementine orange slices in chocolate for our 2013 board as I was in active labor for our second child. In my defense, I wasn’t due for two and a half more weeks, my doctor had said he was out of town but “would be back by the due date,” but I was in some serious denial. It was Christmas Eve, and as much as I wanted to meet our little bundle, who wants to spend Christmas in the hospital!?

Long story short, baby Oliver was born on Christmas Eve! What a surprise! Things went very smoothly, so naturally, my husband went home and grabbed the whole charcuterie board to bring back to the hospital. Needless to say, I don’t think the nurses had ever witnessed someone bringing a full-on cheese board and shrimp cocktail into a labor and delivery room, but they seemed impressed (or possibly weirded out). Either way, I wasn’t about to let that cheeseboard go to waste!

Now that you’ve all experienced a fun fact about Liz’s life, or if you’ve decided to skip the story and cut to the chase, let’s talk about all of the major perks of a cheeseboard!

  1. They are perfect for any occasion. You name it, and I can make a cheeseboard work for it. Birthdays, anniversaries, wedding showers, baby showers, girls night, boys night, literally any holiday or any day you don’t feel like cooking!
  2. There are lots of choices, so everyone can pick something they enjoy and maybe try one or two new things
  3. NO. COOKING. INVOLVED. I obviously love to cook, but this is a nice way to break things up.
  4. It’s edible art. I absolutely love getting creative with these boards and making them look pretty. Try it, you might be surprised how fun (therapeutic?) it can be.
  5. No worries about keeping things hot or cold. Cheeses are best at room temp so make it an hour ahead and cover. Place any leftovers in a baggie to refrigerate overnight.

Guidelines for a perfect charcuterie board:

One Hard cheese: Possible choices include parmesan, pecorino romano, gruyere, emmental, comte, and asiago.

One Soft cheese: Possible choices include brie, ricotta, blue, camembert, feta, and goat cheese.

One Semi-soft/semi-hard cheese: Possible choices include cheddar, havarti, gouda, manchego, and gruyere.

*Keep in mind that opinions on this differ, and some may categorize cheeses such as gruyere, comte, manchego, and cheddar, for instance, in a different grouping than I have above.

Something sweet: A sweet element is nice to have as it breaks things up on your board and keeps things interesting (sweet + salty, ya dig?). My favorite thing to do here are chocolate dipped clementine slices with a tiny sprinkle of flaked sea salt (fluer de sel or jacobson sea salt). I also love chocolate covered strawberries. If you’re not into chocolate dipping fruit, use several squares of your favorite quality chocolate here! It’s nice to have something sweet to break up your board. >>>Intense Dark Chocolate Squares 72% >>> SaltWorks Fleur de Sel French Sea Salt, 4 Oz

Nuts: Pick one! This will be personal to you and your family. We love pistachos and almonds (the kids love peeling pistachos!). I use nuts to add another salty/crunchy element to the board, and the flavors of nuts go so well with cheese! >>> Wonderful Pistachios, Roasted and Salted, 32 Ounce

A vehicle: You’re going to want at least one cracker or crusty bread for getting that perfect bite! These are my favorite gluten free crackers and they compliment any cheese >>> Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers, 2 bags of 10.5 oz

A spread: This Divina fig spread >>>Divina Fig Spread Jam, 9 Ounce comes in a few different delicious flavors and is absolutely divine (see what I did there) with virtually any cheese

2-3 Meats: Just pick your favorites! My husband loves prosciutto and the kids and I love Genoa salami. I find myself buying Applegate Farms meats year after year because they are delicious and don’t contain any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and no nitrates or nitrites.


Arrange your board in triangles. Take a look at the picture below. Pay particular attention to the cheeses and the bowls. If you connected these points, they would form a triangle. I always start my boards by putting the cheeses and bowls on first in this shape and fill in the rest from there with whatever you have left. Odd numbers always look best when it comes to arranging your board, so keep that in mind if you’re going for aesthetics.

You don’t have to get expensive. You can find a blocks of cheeses for $5 or less and if you don’t want to spend much on your meats, go for pepperoni or check the deli section for a variety of salami that is better for your wallet.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I’m all about trying something new, but a charcuterie board should be enjoyable, not stuffy. Don’t put blue cheese on your board if you hate it just because you need a soft cheese. If you don’t have one of each category of cheese, that’s ok! Keep your guests in mind. I would much rather choose two different types of cheddar we like than put something on the board I know my husband or kids are going to avoid and that ultimately wastes money. Remember, there is nothing wrong with breaking the rules to better serve your family and guests.

Got a question?

Elizabeth Ann Willis owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for it’s original recipes, pictures, and content to be reproduced anywhere except this site without strict permission. If you loved this recipe and would like to publish it on your own website, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link back to my site as well as this specific recipe. Copying and/or pasting or taking a screen capture of full recipes or photos and posting it to personal websites or social media is strictly prohibited. This post may contain affiliate links.

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