What Is a Charcuterie Board? And What Goes on It?

You know when you’re at a party and the crackers, cheeses, and salamis are all pleasantly placed next to each other, and easy to grab and combine? Well, get this: That’s no coincidence, they didn’t just grow naturally there like forest trees or a geyser! The host laid out a “charcuterie board” for the enjoyment of their guests! Let me tell you all about it!

What is a charcuterie board?

Charcuterie boards are essentially elegantly arranged platters of cured meats, cheeses, and other stuff. They’re often used for entertaining in the home, because they’re relatively easy to prepare—no cooking required! Think Lunchables but for people who aren’t in fourth grade. 

The actual “board” aspect of a charcuterie board is any flat surface on which one arranges these delectable morsels. Some are slabs of wood, others are marble or stone. Even ceramic or metal platters are fair game. The exciting aspect of the board is all the edible goodies laid on it and not the actual serving plane, so you can go ahead and use a hubcap if you want (though I suggest you clean it first). 

What to put on a charcuterie board

Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the best stuff to put in your charcuterie array is…also in the eye of the beholder. Boy, that beholder sure does have a lot riding on them, huh? Personal tastes aside, most folks agree that the bare charcuterie essentials can be broken down to the following:


Particularly smoked, cured stuff like pepperoni, prosciutto, salami and the like. Deli slices of ham, turkey, or even smoked salmon are common, too. You can also venture into spreadable pates or splurge on caviar if you want to get fancy, just don’t drop your monocle when you lean down to get a bite..


There are so many to choose from, it would be silly for me to just name a few. Pick a selection of your favorite types, make sure to diversify the firmness of the cheeses (hard/soft), and make sure there are no cartoon mice around to steal it.


Carrots, broccoli, celery, dippable peppers—they’re all crunchy, fresh elements that add color to your board. Plus, look, my doc says I need to eat more of them so put a few on your board for me, huh?

Crackers and Bread

The load bearing walls of charcuterie. You need these to pile on everything else I just mentioned. 

“The Rest” 

This is where you can get a little wild and maybe carve out a little space for an olive zone on there! Slice up some bread and butter pickles! Grab a handful of mixed nuts! Glob on some fruit spreads or mustards! You heard me: Get globbin’! 

Promotional Toy  

This one is by no means essential, but a Happy Meal-style toy, potentially tying into the latest Disney/Pixar release, would certainly be a welcome treat for one lucky dinner party guest. 

How to pronounce “charcuterie board”

“Char” – As in what my house was reduced to after I left for the day with the oven on.

“Cute” – As in the word my picture is next to in the dictionary. (Note to editor: please do not fact check this.)

“Er” – As in the third Budweiser frog.

“Ee” – As in the sound I make when the postal worker brings my Entertainment weekly.

“Bore” – As in most graduation ceremonies.   

“Duh” – As in what most of you are yelling at me after I had the gall to assume you needed help pronouncing the “board” part of “charcuterie board.” 

And there you have it. The next time you throw a shindig, toss some meats, cheeses and delectables onto a flat surface (aside from the floor, that is) and spread the good gospel of charcuterie boards far and wide. But I call dibs on the toy.

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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  • I’m grateful you told us about charcuterie boards and how they are used to serve arranged platters of cured meats, cheeses, and other stuff. I’m planning to enjoy a bottle of wine with my friends next week while we catch up, so I might want to prepare finger foods as well. I’ll make sure to get a handmade wooden charcuterie board I can use for our finger food platter soon. https://charlieruthcreations.com/charcuterie-boards