Look, I’m as in love with the charcuterie board trend as the next person, but they can be so daunting to create. You look on Pinterest for some inspiration, and you’re inundated with these gorgeous boards full of fancy cheeses you don’t even know how to pronounce along with meat that you aren’t sure you’ve heard of before.
Not to mention that good cheese and meat can be costly. So now you’ve got an expensive, daunting thing to try and create for your friends to enjoy when they come over, or for whatever party you’re attending. The whole idea of a charcuterie board can seem pretty intense with these factors to consider.
I’m here to tell you, though, that it does not need to be difficult. You can create a gorgeous charcuterie board on a budget and still have all your friends love it (because let’s be real, who doesn’t love meat and cheese?).
Here are a few of my tips to help you create a beautiful charcuterie board for your next shindig without breaking the bank.
Look, you don’t need to have a dining room table-sized charcuterie board for pretty much anything. Unless you’re hosting a large gala or huge corporate event, you can likely go with a smaller board, relieving you some of the stress of needing to fill the whole thing in the most picturesque thing possible. Even a medium to large cutting board can work for you.
Even if you don’t have a cutting board or specific charcuterie board, chances are you have something else that will work instead. Rather than board, try a fun serving tray. Serving trays with handles make it way easier to transport as well, which is a win-win.
If you do really want to wow with your charcuterie board, I can't recommend Cosmic Creativ enough. She's a local Charlotte artist and her custom boards are so dreamy. You can check her work out here.
2. Chances are, no one can tell the difference between a $30 cheese and a $5 cheese.
Seriously, your cheese will be out of the package, so don’t stress too much about this. Just buy a good mix of types and textures. I’d recommend a few sharp cheeses, one or two that are a little creamier for spreading, and then a few more mild cheeses. Having a mix of colors of cheese will make your board more visually pleasing.
If you're not sure what to get, head to a store with a larger cheese selection. You'll have a better chance to ask the person behind the counter for suggestions. They'll typically ask you what cheese you like generally and then suggest others based on that.
The same thing goes for meat. Just grab 4-5 of your favorites, but don’t feel like you need to break the bank. I typically go with pepperoni, salami, prosciutto and maybe one or two others that catch my eye.
Something else you can do is buy 1-2 pricier items and then go with cheaper alternatives for the rest. This way you won't blow your budget on just a few items by buying some high-end items and some lower-cost items.
Note: if you have meat that’s sliced thinly, you can always roll it up to give a different look rather than just slices of meat.
3. Don’t forget your pops of color.
Truly, I think this is what makes or breaks a charcuterie board. You need some bright, fun colors in addition to all the cheese and meat you’ve got on the board, plus having some sweet things to break up the savory meats and cheeses is a great way to round out the snack station. My favorite go-tos to add color are strawberries, grapes and apples (green or red). You can cut strawberries and apples into different shapes depending on what you’re going for, and grapes go incredibly well with cheese and meat.
4. The other stuff…
Other than what’s listed above, I’ll usually add a few of my favorite varieties of crackers and maybe a few sprigs of fresh herbs for a pop of green, and call it a day. Other folks may add jams, mustards, olives, dried fruit, nuts and other items, but we’re talking easy, budget charcuterie boards here. Just know there are options to go even further. And don't forget your cheese knives! People need to be able to transfer the goods onto some crackers somehow.
5. Don’t stress the layout. Just have fun with it.
Who knew putting cheese on a plate could be so involved? There are some crazy beautiful spreads you can find online for how to layout your board with the different items you have, but honestly, I just say wing it and have fun. Try layering different things, putting your pops of color in randomly throughout, change up where you have different cheeses. At the end of the day, it’s going to look pretty for about 2 minutes before people dig into it, so don’t sweat the small stuff.
6. Is it all still too much?
Putting the time in to create a charcuterie board isn't something everyone wants to do, and I get that. On my busier weeks when I have an event I'm hosting or bringing a charcuterie board to, the last thing I can prioritize is a grocery store trip and the time to lay out my own board. Babe & Butcher makes some of the most drool-worthy charcuterie boards I've ever seen so that you can focus on the rest of your life. Visit their website here.
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The J. Leigh Events team is expanding! This month we welcomed two new additions, both of whom happen to be named Sam. Head here to learn more about our new project manager, Sam Kimball, and our new event planner, Sam Poler.