Interested in making a holiday-themed Charcuterie platter? We found lots of ideas and examples online, and posted a bunch of them on our blog, along with the ingredients and even downloadable PDF instructions for many of them.
Charcuterie boards are fun for everyone and make a great dinner, where family members and guests can snack to their bellies’ desire while you decorate Christmas cookies, stream that feel-good classic “Miracle on 34th Street,” or exchange gifts.
Below, we’ll walk you through one great example of a holiday-themed board, step by step, because we know that building a Charcuterie spread for your guests can be overwhelming for the “Charcuterie novice.”
Regardless of your experience level, if you follow these steps, you can create a masterpiece – and we hope you’ll also enter your creation into our Holidaze Charcuterie Competition! The deadline to enter is midnight on Dec. 20. After our judges choose the finalists, fans will vote on the top three prize winners, Dec. 23-30!
Below is our step-by-step guide to creating an epic holiday-themed Charcuterie board. You can totally do this!
The 7 Steps
- Choose Your Serving Platters And Utensils
- Assemble Your Cheeses
- Add Your Meats
- Fill In With Olives, Nuts, Veggies, Fruit
- Add Some Dips & Spreads
- Add the Crunchy Stuff (Crackers, Breadsticks, Pretzels)
- Make It Festive!
#1: CHOOSE YOUR SERVING DISHES AND UTENSILS
Start by deciding on the serving platter you’re going to use. Be inspired by the boards and platters you have on hand. Got a wooden cutting board? Great, use it. If you don’t have one, a few alternatives are a cookie sheet, an extra-large plate, or any piece of wood or tile you might have. Just be sure to cover any non-food surfaces with parchment paper before assembling your board.
(PS: If you are in the market for a new board or tray, we’ve just added to our online store a gorgeous new 3-piece handcrafted wooden Charcuterie set, with a board, small bowl, and spreader, all made from reclaimed wood – offered for just $99 for the set. Also available now are handmade fused-glass trays measuring 9 by 12 inches, in bright, beautiful colors and three design options; each piece is a work of art from Vira Dobbins Glass Works.)
Next, choose some vessels for jams, sauces and dips. To get a beautiful look for your board, it’s important to add add vessels or bowls with different heights, shapes, and sizes. We’ve got several different sizes and shapes of serving bowls on our website, including some hand-crafted wooden bowls made from reclaimed trees, and handmade fused-glass bowls that match the artful fused-glass Charcuterie trays from Vira Dobbins Glass Works. Got some of those cute Christmas- or snowman-themed mugs or small bowls? Grab them, too!
Finally, gather a couple of cheese spreaders if you have some – you can buy those here too, and ours match the art-glass serving bowls and trays – and small serving utensils like spoons and forks to help guests gather meats, nuts and olives.
#2: CHOOSING YOUR CHEESES
Cheese is the star of any amazing holiday Charcuterie board, so be sure to pick up some good quality cheeses.
Pick a variety of about 3 to 5 types of cheeses, depending on how large your board is and how many people you’re feeding. (Rule of thumb for serving sizes: if a Charcuterie board is served as an appetizer, a good portion size is 2-3 oz. per person for the primary meats/cheeses on the board; if served as the main course, 5-6 oz. per person is a good idea.)
Types of cheeses:
- Semi-hard cheese
- Hard cheese
Arrange the cheeses first on your board, and then start assembling the rest of the ingredients around then.
LifeMadeSweeter’s board in this example used:
- Aged Cheddar
- Brie – rich and creamy
- Blue Cheese
- Smoked Gouda – cut into cubes
- Goat Cheese
Be sure to set the cheese out to come to room temp prior to serving.
A fantastic “beginner” specialty cheese option is Mt. Tam Cowgirl Creamery, the most popular cheese made with organic milk from Straus Family Creamery. This elegant triple cream cheese is dense and fudgy with an edible bloomy rind, featuring flavors of cultured butter with hints of white mushroom.
A huge crowd-pleaser for any Charcuterie board is Stripey Jack, a savory cheese from British cheesemaker Singletons & Co. featuring five popular cheeses neatly layered: Cheddar, Lancashire, Double Gloucester, Red Leicester and Wensleydale. Also known as Five English County Cheese, Stripey Jack is great delight with wonderful flavors from England’s finest cheeses. (Shop Stripey Jack here.)
Finally, there’s the bolder cheeses like Bayley Hazen Blue – one of the most-awarded blue cheeses at the World Cheese Awards. Bayley Hazen’s texture is fudgy and dense, and it has a lower moisture content than other blues.
#3: CHOOSING YOUR MEATS
Use a variety of your favorite cured or deli meats with different textures. Seafood (such as smoked salmon or shrimp) also makes a great option to add to give your guests more choices.
For the perfect Christmas charcuterie, here are some great options you can easily find:
- Bauernshinken aka “Farmer’s Ham”
- Lachsschinken (thin-sliced, cured pork loin, aka “salmon ham”)
- Summer Sausage
- Beef Jerky
- Pepperoni Sticks
Since this is a holiday charcuterie, meats that are smoked with maple, sage and other flavors of the season are your best bet.
Any type of salami is always a good idea, as is a thin-sliced prosciutto, which costs less overall if you buy it from a Charcuterie store or a deli counter instead of pre-packaged. A peppery, thick-cut hard salami is also fun because it offers up a heartier texture than the other thin-sliced meats – which means it will make your guests feel full and happy, and will go further on a budget.
Our salamis are so popular they’re hard to keep in stock, but we generally offer four different salami flavors from acclaimed small-batch meatcrafter Brooklyn Cured of New York City. They only use pasture-raised pork and lamb and locally sourced ingredients, with no additives or preservatives in their salamis.
When placing your meat selections on the board, start by putting out several slices of each, but then add in more at the end to fill in holes, so make sure you only put out about 2/3 of each type of meat you’ve purchased, and set aside the remaining pieces to fill in gaps as needed.
#4 FILL-IN ITEMS – NUTS, OLIVES, VEGGIES, FRUIT
Next, it’s time to put in some filler items like olives, pickled veggies, nuts, and bite-size veggies to help offset the heaviness of the meats and cheeses, and milder fruits to help balance out all the saltiness. We recommend these Crunchy Okra Pickles that pack some heat – one of our most popular pickled veggies! Another item our customers love is Peppadew Peppers, a fiery red but milder on the heat level, with a bit of sweetness to boot.
Fiber-filled fruits like berries, apples and figs will also serve to aid with digestion, as noshing on cured meats, cheeses and crackers all night can do a number on the tummy.
For a fun Christmas/holiday twist, choose red and green fruits and veggies (think raspberries, cranberries and green grapes) and green olives, broccoli or kiwi to add that festive color.
Other great options are candied walnuts, Marcona almonds, or our Spanish Cocktail mix, which includes Quicos, a crunchy snack made with a special giant variety of corn from Peru, mixed with toasted fava beans, chickpeas, and meaty Valencia almonds. The result is a combination that’s crunchy, salty, savory and just plain addictive.
LifeMadeSweeter suggests the following for your holiday board:
- Fresh Berries (Strawberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Raspberry)
- Broccoli – low carb
- Cauliflower – low carb
- Cucumbers – low carb
- Olives – low carb
- Radishes – low carb
- Red Bell Peppers – low carb
- Plaintain Chips
- Zucchini – low carb
#5 DIPS & SPREADS
Every Charcuterie board needs a dip or a yummy jam with surprising spices to spread on a soft cheese. Some great savory dip options are our Sweet & Hot Mustard for Cheese (they go great with these Dipping Pretzels!), any kind of hummus, tapenade, or ranch. Sweet dip options could include marshmallow, peanut butter, honey, and in our case whipped pumpkin dip.
To go next-level with your board, add some killer gourmet mustards for dipping, unique pepper jams or organic specialty preserves, which are simply fantastic spread over goat cheese, Brie, or similar softer cheeses.
#6 DON’T FORGET THE CRUNCH
The crackers, breadsticks and pretzels are the last ingredients you should place on your board because you want them to stay as crisp and fresh as possible, and if your tray is really jam-packed (see what we did there? Don’t forget the jam! LOL), chances are if put out too soon, the crunchy items may get soggy from touching other ingredients for too long.
On the breadsticks aisle, we’ve got the best vegan, all-natural breadsticks on earth: Jennifer’s Homemade Breadsticks! They’re amazing (you will want to stash a box in your car, for real), and they are available in Regular flavor, Rosemary, and Salt & Pepper.
#7 MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THE HOLIDAYS!
Use the instructions below (or click this link to download a printable PDF of the instructions) to make this snowman board.
For this Snowman Board, the creator used a 4-inch round brie, a 3-inch round Danish Camembert and a 2-inch round Chèvre spreadable goat cheese to create the snowman shape in the center of the board.
For the snowman’s hat, use a Ritz snowflake cracker with 8 red beet crackers stacked on top of it. For the eyes, mouth and buttons, use pomegranate seeds, and for the nose, a baby carrot.
For the scarf around the snowman’s “neck”, twist two salami sticks together and lay it over the space where the top two cheeses connect, pressing the ends behind the snowman’s “neck.” Use two salami sticks for the arms and press them into the sides of the 3-inch round cheese in the center, letting them stick out and kind of up to look like arms.
For the snacks around the snowman, use all red, green and light colored foods to keep it seasonal yet still scrumptious.
Red foods: raspberries, red grapes, salami, pepperoni, red apple slices, dried cranberries, sun-dried tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, beet crackers and some pepper jelly in a little white serving bowl.
Green foods: green apple slices, snap peas, green olives, green pear slices, dried salted edamame, green grapes and cornichons.
Christmas Tree Board
- Place greenery/sprigs in the shape of a tree on a wooden tray, platter, or cutting board to resemble a Christmas tree shape.
- Place celery at the bottom for the tree trunk.
- Arrange cheese cubes, grapes, and kiwi in rows on greenery.
- Add fresh herbs between.
- Tuck additional greenery sprigs under the ingredients in the shape of a tree, if needed.
- Add star shapes on top of ingredients and top off the tree.
- Sprinkle with fresh cranberries, if using.
Even more ideas & recipes!
Got those ideas flowing now?
As you can see, there are a million-trillion ways to build a Charcuterie board, and tonnnns of ways to design it for whatever theme or holiday you’re celebrating.
We hope you’ll snap a photo of your board or tray and enter our Holidaze Charcuterie Contest!
There’s no cost to enter; the only requirement is that you use any two kinds of cheese and any two kinds of cured meat on your contest entry, regardless of where you get it. Deadline to enter is 11:59 p.m. Dec. 20, 2020!
You can read the details here, but short version: Judges will pick the Top Ten after Dec. 20, then the public will be invited to vote to decide the prize winners Dec. 23-30 via our website, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. The three entries with the most votes will win prizes, and the grand prize is valued at over $400!
Show us those Charcuterie skills, and have a happy and safe holiday season!