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How To Plan For Your First Charcuterie Board

In the midst of an uncertain time, there is one constant: good food! A typical day in my house is trying to scrounge together any leftovers from the days before or calling in a delivery pizza so I never have to change out of my pajama pants or exert any energy. However, what my housemates and I have found to be a meal that is not only satisfying but that feeds the masses is… drum roll please… a charcuterie board! Now, I know they look intricate and even intimidating upon first glance on Pinterest, Instagram or even TikTok, but they are something that anyone can master. Here are my tips on how to plan for your first!

Start easy, start cheesy

The core of all charcuterie boards is the cheese. I usually have three of varying hardness and flavor. My go-to is a slice of brie in the center and either slinging up some cheddar, parmesan, colby jack, gouda or goat cheese. You can’t go wrong no matter what you choose, but make sure to slice enough for your desired number of guests! Usually, two blocks of my choice will feed between two and four people.

Selecting a base

Although not the most important, the base is definitely the one thing that needs to dominate the board. I’ve found that most people end up eating more of the bases than they do the rest of the items. Your base can vary between a sliced baguette, pita chips, whole-grain crackers and so much more. My recommendation would be to have one kind of bread, whether that be sliced pita or a baguette, and at least two other kinds of crackers to be dipped in the hummus and eaten with your meats and cheeses.

Fruits, Veggies, & Meats

I put these two together because they can be used together or interchangeably! If you’re feeding a vegetarian crowd, I would recommend slicing up bell peppers, having some fresh grapes, cutting some strawberries and placing some sliced cucumbers. If you’re looking to add meat to your board, try some Italian prosciutto, smoked turkey or honey baked ham. (They always seem to be crowd favorites.) Moreso, include all of these options for a well-balanced board that’s sure to delight anyone who takes takes a bite!

Fill up the random empty space

The problem I’ve run into with some of my boards is empty space. It seems like I have a list of 20 ingredients that still doesn’t seem to make up the entirety of the board. For the spaces you can’t fill, I recommend finding a flavor that isn’t already represented on the board. My favorites are dark chocolate and sea salted caramel covered pretzels, extra salted pumpkin seeds and ranch-flavored sunflower seeds. My strategy is to buy in bulk to save money and to be able to use them in future boards as well! But seriously, you can’t go wrong no matter what you decided to fill it with (trust me, I once put candy corn on a board and somehow people loved it), so experiment and have fun with the flavors you incorporate!

Charcuterie boards have no doubt become a fan favorite in my house! Now, it might take some arranging and rearranging to get the Insta/VSCO/snap-worthy board, but it will all be worth it. Happy planning!

Grace Garner

Chapel Hill '23

English and Journalism double-major at UNC Chapel Hill just waiting to live out her dark academia aesthetic. https://www.linkedin.com/in/grace-garner-4244011a6/
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