Do you love to entertain, but have a tight budget? With some simple ingredients, in-season fruits and vegetables, and a bit of creativity, I’ll show you how to make a beautiful charcuterie board on a budget.
What is a Charcuterie Board
A charcuterie (shar-kew-tuh-ree) board is traditionally made with cheese, cured meats, olives, nuts, bread and pickled foods. Foods were preserved by drying, salting or pickling so that they would last longer and this was a way to highlight them.
The concept of a charcuterie board has evolved, though, and we’re going to put our own spin on it to make it budget friendly.
While large platters are pretty, they can be very expensive. I like to use what I have and repurpose a wooden cutting board as a serving platter. You can also serve your charcuterie board on several plates if you don’t have a larger cutting board.
One way to add dimension to your charcuterie board is to serve things in varying heights. For example, cheese crumbles, olives, nuts or anything that would need to be in a bowl can be served in a martini glass. This raises them up to add height to your board and you can fill in around the glass with meats and cheeses for a seamless look. If you don’t have martini glasses, small bowls work perfectly.
When it comes to utensils, you’ll want a dedicated knife for any cheese that will need to be cut such as Brie or Bleu cheese. For items in bowls, you will want to use small spoons. And for your meats, cheeses and crackers, you’ll want tongs or forks. This cheese knife set is my favorite because it includes a bit of everything and it is very affordable!
Cheese Options for Charcuterie Board
You’ll want to pick two or three cheeses for your board. I like to use one sliced, one soft cheese and one crumbled cheese to have a variety of textures and flavors. However, the sky is the limit and you can mix and match your favorite cheeses or even do three sliced cheeses. Keep in mind that buying blocks of cheese will be cheaper than buying already cubed. If you have an Aldi close, they have a wonderful selection of cheeses and really great prices.
- Cream Cheese (better yet, try this amazing Smoked Cream Cheese!)
- Sharp Cheddar
- Feta or Bleu cheese crumbles
Fruit and Vegetable Options
This is where I veer from a traditional charcuterie board. By using fruits and vegetables that are in season, we can showcase their best flavor and save money. I’ve got some recommendations for things to use in the summer and you can swap out for other fruits and vegetables based on what is in season. Pick three or four options for your board.
- Bell Peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Snow Peas
- Blackberries or Raspberries
- Peaches or Nectarins
You’ll want to stay aware from fruits or vegetables that may brown when sitting at room temperature, like sliced apples.
For spreads, I like to have one sweet and one savory options. Pick one or two from below for your board:
- Pepper Jelly
- Olive Tapenade
Bread and Cracker Options
Two to three cracker options is perfect to have variety without our budget getting too crazy. You can also slice up a baguette and toast the bread for little crostini bites.
- Water crackers
- Sesame crackers
- Triscuits or Wheat Thins
- Toasted or Grilled bread
How to Assemble your Charcuterie Board
Assembling a board is my favorite part. It can be as simple or creative as you like.
- Choose a board or serving dishes for the charcuterie board.
- Place loose ingredients (nuts, loose berries, etc.) into bowls or individual dishes. Place those bowls on the board or buffet first.
- Arrange other items around the bowls.
- Add assorted tongs, green herbs, or holiday decorations if desired.
Your bowls can be filled in advance and you can slice your cheese and fruits the day before to make assembly even easier.
Because we’re using cured meats, your charcuterie board can safely be at room temperature for a few hours.
How Much Food Per Person
A good rule of thumb when making a charcuterie board is to plan 1-2 ounces of cheese and meat, 1 ounce of crackers, 1/8 cup nuts and olives, and 1/2 cup fruits and vegetables per person per hour of your party. For spreads, you can estimate a Tablespoon per person. If you are serving other food, you don’t have to worry about “per hour” and can stick with the measurements above.
So for 8 people, you would want 8 ounces of cheese, 8 ounces of meat, 8 ounces of crackers, 1 cup total combination of nuts and olives, 1/2 cup spread of your choice and 4 cups total of fruits and vegetables.
More Appetizer Recipes
- Crockpot Little Smokies
- Everything Bagel and Lox Spread
- Instant Pot Hummus (without Tahini)
- Everything Bagel Cheese Ball
- Smoky Eggplant Dip
Fruits and Vegetable Options
- Watermelon, sliced into small wedges
- Pineapple, sliced into small wedges
- Peaches, sliced
- Nectarines, sliced
- Bell peppers, sliced
- Snow peas
- Cherry tomatoes
- Pepperoni, sliced
- Salami, sliced
- Prosciutto, sliced
- Olives, drained
- Cream cheese
- Gouda cheese, sliced
- Feta cheese, crumbled
- Pepper jack cheese, sliced
- Brie cheese, wedge
Jam and Spread Options
- Jam, Raspberry or Apricot
- Jepper jelly
Dried Fruit, Nut and Seed Options
- Dried apricots
- Sunflower seeds, shelled
Bread and Cracker Options
- Toasted or grilled bread
- Water crackers
- Triscuits or Wheat thins
- Sesame crackers
- Choose a board or platter for your charcuterie board. My favorite is a large cutting board.
- Place loose ingredients in bowls or martini glasses and jams or spreads in bowls. Place the bowls on the board first.
- Arrange your other ingredients (meats, cheese slices or wedges, and crackers or bread) around the bowls.
- Add spoons, tongs, green herbs or holiday decorations if desired.
A good rule of thumb when making a charcuterie board is to plan 1-2 ounces of cheese, 1 ounce of crackers, 1/8 cup nuts and olives, and 1/2 cup fruits and vegetables per person per hour. For spreads, you can estimate a Tablespoon per person. If you are serving other food, you don't have to worry about "per hour" of your event.
Prep: Fruits, vegetables and sliced cheese can be prepped the day before. You can also prepare bowls of nuts and spreads ahead. As for assembly, you can arrange everything in advance except for crackers or bread. Add those right before serving so that they don't get soggy.
Tips: For Brie cheese, I recommend a butter knife or cheese knife for cutting pieces from the round/wedge. For Feta crumbles and your pesto or spreads, serve with a small spoon. Sliced cheeses, meats, fruits and vegetables can be served with forks or tongs.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 288Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 1283mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 4gSugar: 12gProtein: 11g