Build the Ultimate Charcuterie Board in Minutes (Easy Meat and Cheese Appetizer)

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Cheese platter with fruits and more on tray

Love a good charcuterie (AKA meat and cheese tray)? 

I sure do, and an easy charcuterie board happens to be one of my favorite appetizers to make for a gathering with friends and family to share!

Charcuterie, pronounced “Shahr-Koo-Tuh-Ree” is a food prep style that involves curing and brining meats like salami, bacon, and ham. A charcuterie board usually refers to a delicious meat and cheese board served alongside crackers, nuts, spreads, pickles, dried and fresh fruits, etc.

It’s basically a meat and cheese tray that looks fancy, but it’s actually easy to make, I promise!

nuts, dried fruit, jam, cheese, olives on cutting board

I love serving cheese boards for entertaining!

You can assemble them ahead of time if you’d like, and it can be more convenient than actually cooking an appetizer. Plus, it’s a fun way to use up odds and ends from the fridge like olives, pickles, cheese, and fresh fruit, because you can use a little bit of everything!

best easy charcuterie board – ingredients in packaging from the store

Simple, no-fuss party snack

Charcuterie boards are a laid back and fun appetizer everyone enjoys all year round, but especially during the holidays! You can never go wrong with a bunch of cheese and yummy snacks!

Here are some helpful strategies for making a memorable charcuterie you can be proud to share!

best easy charcuterie board – two trays nuts, dried fruit, jam, cheese, olives, meat, and cheese

Step 1: Grab a cheese board or serving tray.

Large wooden cutting boards always make attractive displays, but other options can include slate boards, a large ceramic dish, or even a small sheet pan in a pinch will do. I’ve had my wood cutting boards for years and take care of them using mineral oil every once in a while if I notice they are drying out.

Hip Tip: Some of my favorite entertaining trays and cutting boards have been thrift store finds! Check out your local store’s selection first as you may be pleasantly surprised at what you can score.

cheese, olives, jam, and meat on wooden cutting board

Pictured above are from left, Pecorino Toscana, Monteau Alpine, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

Step 2: Pick a few different kinds of cheese.

If possible, choose an array of hard and soft cheeses with a variety of tastes and textures. For best-tasting results, let the cheese sit out of the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

    • Hard Cheeses: Parmigiano-Reggiano, Manchego, Pecorino Romano
    • Semisoft/Firm Cheeses: CheddarGouda, Havarti, Fontina, Swiss
    • Soft Ripened Cheeses: Brie, Camembert
    • Fresh Creamy Cheeses: Goat Cheese, Ricotta, cream cheese

Don’t forget to also supply a few cheese knives for guests so they can easily enjoy!

kirkland cheese flight sampler package

Don’t feel like you have to spend a ton on pricey cheeses. Find some in your budget and then fill in your board with other less expensive items.

If you have a Costco nearby (or other warehouse clubs), their prices on specialty cheeses are great, plus this year they have a fantastic 5-piece cheese flight for $20 (what I’m using today)! Also if you’re hosting a smaller crowd, my grocery store has a $5 or less bin of cheeses to try, which is perfect for tasting.

Hip Tip: Hip2Save readers always rave about ALDI deals and their affordable selection of specialty cheeses, so make sure to check there too!

best easy charcuterie board – cheese, meat, and olives

Step 3: Pick a couple of cured meats.

Add different types of salami, pepperoni, and prosciutto – all of which pair well with cheese! You can find a variety of choices from your deli in small portions if desired or in larger packages of sliced meats. I bought a sample pack at my grocery store that includes Genoa Salami, Sopressata, Italian Dry Salami, and Calabrese. Yum!

bread, cheese, jam on charcuterie board

Step 4: Add crackers and bread.

You’ll need a way to get all this yummy-ness to your mouth! Choose a nice selection of crackers, mini-loaves, pretzel crisps, breadsticks, etc. I love Carr’s water crackers for a charcuterie board, but use what you like. You can also thinly slice a baguette as well.

best easy charcuterie board, complete tray with serving pieces, cheese knives, and food

Step 5: Add some salty & sweet elements.

This is the fun part! Raid your fridge and pantry for fun add-ins! Make sure to grab some fresh seasonal items, too.

Some yummy ideas include: 

  • pickles, blue cheese stuffed green olives, black olives
  • dried apricots, dried figs
  • fresh fruit like berries, pears, figs, grapes
  • almonds, walnuts, cashews, or any favorite nut
  • spreads like fig jam, jalapeno jelly, honey

nuts, dried fruit, jam, cheese, olives closeup of the charcuterie board tray

Step 6: Add some garnish.

This step is completely optional but so pretty. Fill in any spots on your charcuterie board with fresh herbs or greenery from your yard. I happen to have a rosemary bush, so I used pieces throughout my board. So fun!

charcuterie boards with cheese assortment, wine, a bread loaf, glasses, and more

Cheers! Time to eat and enjoy!

Honestly, it takes longer to take everything out of the fridge (and packaging) than it does to create a charcuterie board. It’s so simple! I bet it only took me maybe 15 minutes to prepare everything!

Even better, charcuterie boards can be customized for every budget and taste. Welcome your friends and family with this delicious board of snacks, or consider taking one to a potluck. I guarantee everyone will LOVE it!

About the writer:

Lina has a Bachelor's Degree from Northern Arizona University with 11 years of blogging and photography experience having work featured in, Martha Stewart, Country Living, Fox News, Buzzfeed, and HGTV.

Join The Discussion

Comments 49

  1. jessica

    (AKA Meat & Cheese Tray) <3 <3 <3 i love how real you are 🙂

  2. Becky

    I’m doing something similar this year for Christmas.. we are going to my grandmother’s house, but we are vegan which is hard for traveling as well as get togethers with family who are not. This year I am making a hummus tray that we can fill up on as well as share with others. I’m going to make several types of hummus and fill the board with crackers, chips, and veggies. I’m excited!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh yum! I love that idea ❤️

    • Teah

      Becky have you seen Rainbow hummus? Incorporating different roasted vegetables into hummus to make different colors and flavors and then serving them in a rainbow. If you haven’t Google it, It’s so fun.

  3. Darla

    I made my first one for a girl’s night out Pinterest party this past weekend. It was about 5 feet long! It was a huge hit and so easy to make. It was easy for everyone to find more than one “something” that they liked. We sat around it at the table and even decided to rotate seats a few times so that we could all get a chance to sample everything in our reach! I will definitely do it again for other functions.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Yay! Yes i agree it’s fun to visit and chat around a yummy snack board !

  4. Micala

    Looooove charcuterie boards! Beautiful photos!

    Our Kroger has such an excellent section (across from the deli) full of different meats and cheeses to choose from. It’s really worth checking out. We tried a lemon cheddar (soft) that was divine. These boards are such a fun way to allow great conversation to organically happen… ❤️❤️❤️

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh thank you so much! I’ll have to look for that cheddar – interesting!

  5. Lulu

    Lina, you make everything look so beautiful. Your posts are my favorite. I appreciate you. Thank you.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Ah yay thanks Lulu! I appreciate you too! ❤️😘

  6. Diana

    I love these trays but i find making them can get pricey!! My grocery store has no $5 bin of cheese.

    • Laura

      I agree. I use Aldis for inexpensive options.

      • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

        Yes I need an Aldi’s!! If you have one – that’s a great tip! Thanks for sharing.

      • TJ

        My Aldi had a neat item the other day. Three chunks of different cheese on a wooden board. I think it was $10.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Ah darn! I think you can use any cheddar or less expensive cheeses. Even regular cream cheese with a spread of jam is great on a cracker. ❤️

      • anom

        try scooping some jalepeno jelly on top of a cream cheese block with crackers, yum.

    • Cassie Sue

      I mix a few cheaper favorites (pepper jack, medium cheddar, Colby jack) with one or two of the more expensive cheeses. It helps keep the cost down and is good for your non-adventurous friends. Winco near me sells pre-cubed cheese for the same price as their brand of cheese, so I can buy like $2 worth of cubed cheddar cheese. Plus adding almonds (I buy mine from the bulk bins), grapes, carrots, cucumbers and other lower cost fillers are always a great way for an abundant spread without breaking the bank. See what’s on sale, depending on the season sometimes you can get great berries for SUPER cheap. And those are always a hit.

  7. Jeremiah2911

    Our farmers markets (Portland) carry the best goodies for adding to trays like this! AND you can gift the local cheeses, spreads and breads you use:)

    • Carlene

      Out there, you have access to Tillamook cheeses….soooo jealous!

  8. Carlene

    Love this! Was already planning something similar but you have some great ideas for fill ins!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh yay! Thanks – enjoy!

  9. Marie

    They’re beautiful. I need to ask Santa for a wood board. Thanks for the inspiration Lina.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Of course! Thanks Marie! <3

  10. Sallys

    This looks so good! I found a gorgeous end grain teak cutting board at TJ Maxx and for a gift I planned on giving it loaded with a bunch of things to make up a cheese board to my mom. It will be great on Christmas day and this gave me new good ideas to add to it! Thank you! The comments are helpful too, I am going to check Aldi’s and Kroger!!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Awesome! I agree love Tj Maxx for great finds like that! Such a great gift idea 🙂

    • Susan Crawford

      Definitely check Aldi’s. I especially like their cheese balls. Not very interesting but I get those and summer sausage is tasty and cheaper than other places.

  11. D

    Charcuterie actually is only meat, no cheese. FYI

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Ok thanks!

    • 50ShadesofLipstick

      Yeah, that had me confused too. But this is always a great idea for parties, so thanks for sharing Lina!

      • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

        Oh Sure! Thanks for reading!

  12. Sus

    How timely; it’s exactly what I was planning. Lovely article and wonderful accompanying photos! Thanks so much! And happy holidays.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Happy Holidays to you too Sus! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  13. Deborah

    I feel like every restaurant has these on the menu lately. I absolutely love this post.
    Lina, you’re so on trend with this one! Just in time for the holidays.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Ah yay! Yes I see them too. 😍Thanks so much Debrah! Happy Holidays 🌲

  14. Sarah

    Buratta cheese is also wonderful for this tray! Soft mozzarella wrapped with cream and shredded fresh mozzarella inside! Yum! Add a roasted tomato and pesto and you have an unbelievably impressive appetizer! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone! <3

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh yum thanks for those ideas!

  15. shop4mybabies

    I love this post. For Christmas, I made my dad a stocking feast, it’s a stocking filled with different meats, cheeses, fancy crackers, preserves, mustard and a few different local IPA’s. I think he’s going to love it

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That sounds amazing! Great job!

    • Kristi S.

      That’s a really cute idea! I might steal that! 🙂

    • Eisbeckers

      What a great idea!!

  16. Amy

    Check out the blog “reluctant entertainer” for other awesome ideas. I made a baked potato board last night per one of her ideas and my family absolutely loved it!!

    • tipaye

      “Reluctant Entertainer” 😭😭

  17. WMears

    Don’t forget that these are also great for kids! PBJ, M&M’s, veggie sticks, cereal….they love this kind of thing!

  18. Cassie Sue

    When adding grapes, cut the grapes into small bunches and then pile up so people don’t have to stand there are pull them off, they can just grab a small bunch. This was a tip I read years ago and it’s a game changer, plus takes only like 30 seconds longer.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh I love that tip – thanks!

  19. Casey

    We made one for Christmas night snacking and it was perfect! I love a good charcuterie!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Yes! Same ❤️

      • Erin

        Hi Lina,
        I’m trying to find a post for a recipe you posted a few years back with no luck! I was wondering if you could help– it was for a pine cone cheeseball (around Christmastime). I found some online but they all have mayo in them and I didn’t think yours did. We are having my youngest son’s 1st birthday party this weekend with a Woodland theme. I would love to make a hedgehog cheeseball…please help!

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