Charcuterie Board Ideas for The Holiday Season
Cheese and meat, brunch and hot cocoa boards for the holiday charcuterie win.
A beautiful charcuterie board is always in season, but we think that they totally peak this time of year. Whether you are hosting an intimate, socially distanced gathering or looking to make your holiday celebration special for two, or just you, we think charcuterie board presentations really bring a touch of pomp and circumstance to any occasion.
So, we decided to not only create one classic cheese and meat board that's perfect for the winter season, but we also cooked up two trending charcuterie board ideas, a hot cocoa and brunch board as well. And we enlisted the help of Isabelle English, the Head of Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen to answer your biggest charcuterie assembly questions. Plus, Buck and Bloom, the charcuterie board caterers of our dreams, signed on to give us a cheese-by-meat play-by-play of how to pull together a classic charcuterie platter.
Here's some general charcuterie board guidelines to keep in mind when getting started:
The Non-Edible Supplies
Photo Credit: Williams Sonoma
If don't have a board on hand and would like to create a charcuterie board in a pinch, English explains that you can make a charcuterie board out of just about anything. "Whether it’s a traditional cheese plate, your everyday cutting board or even a sheet tray turned upside down and lined with parchment paper, as long as you have a wide, flat surface, charcuterie boards are in your future."
It’s important to have variety in your board, so that means multiple cheeses, meats and sweet or salty components, like nuts, olives or fruit. "That said, general rule of thumb is 3-4 oz. of cheese and 3-4 oz. of charcuterie per person, plus all the other fun stuff," says English.
More is more. According to English, there is no such thing as a maximum when making a charcuterie board. "But make sure you satisfy all the taste buds when composing a board – salty (cheese!), sweet (fig jam, honey), briny (olives, cornichons), spicy (salami), and always something fresh (fresh fruit, herbs)."
While we would gladly eat cheese blindfolded on any given day, we also know that how a cheese board looks is almost as important as how its components taste. "Besides taste, you want to pay attention to textures – crunch of a cracker or bread, a soft and a hard cheese, something smooth like a fruit preserve or honey," says English. "To make your board visually beautiful, consider different shaped and sized cheese and don’t be afraid to crumble, cut and arrange them to add different dimension."
Now that we have the basics down, here's how to craft a classic winter cheese and meat board, a brunch board and a hot cocoa platter.
Classic Winter Cheese and Meat Charcuterie Board
This is the perfect charcuterie board to serve during a cocktail or happy hour or before dinner. But English warns to make it light if you have a big meal ahead.
English recommends heavier cheeses like triple crème and blue cheese for cozy winter spreads. "I also love including seasonal fruits like pomegranates, citrus and persimmons. [You can] play up the holiday season with color – include reds like pomegranates or currents, and herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme." And don't be afraid to accessorize with fun seasonal linens, like tartan napkins.
Orginal photography by Williams Sonoma
Buck and Bloom chose six cheeses to include in their winter cheese and meat board. "I wanted to get a variety of cheese that was both appropriate for the season and that would please every palate," says Victoria Kinzel, founder. "I chose a classic blue, a funky washed rind, an aged gouda, a truffled goat cheese, a seasonal spruce-wrapped, and a cheddar that doubles as an alpine style. I always choose a variety of milk types to put on a board, sheep, goat and cow!" As far as meat goes, Kinzel used speck, which is a smoked ham, prosciutto di Parma and sopressata. And coppa ( laid flat on the board to show the beautiful marbling of the fat).
Aside from the main components of cheese and meat, Kinzel used dried fruit, "Blenheim apricots are the best," peacock farms sultanas, and fresh fruit (two types of grapes for contrast). Kinzel also used crostini made from pain de campagne and sea salt crackers. "I always go savory for crackers and breads. There are also two housemade jams and honeycomb for sweetness and texture."
Ready to sneak a taste with your eyes?
Brunch Charcuterie Board
Perfect for a holiday breakfast or served as a way to warm up the weekend, "A brunch board is the perfect solution for a lazy Sunday morning breakfast with family or friends – and that’s because its mostly hands off once you arrange all the components," notes English. "It is also a fabulous way to include a lot of variety to satisfy everyone at the brunch table."
Orginal photography by Williams Sonoma
English suggests including something sweet, like pancakes or waffles and their respective toppings, and then something savory like sausage or bacon, hard boiled eggs or a sliced frittata. Just try to stay away from eggs that require a runny yolk. "And don’t forget something fresh – assorted berries are my go-to," says English. Keep in mind that not everything will be piping hot, "But that’s the casual component that makes this board perfect for the hands-off host or hostess."
"The best part of a Brunch board, or any board really, is that you can make it your own. Focus on your favorite brunch staples and go from there. There is no wrong way to do it!"
Hot Cocoa Charcuterie Board
Talk about the perfect way to warm up any weeknight or wrap up a holiday affair. Hot cocoa boards may just become as classic a charcuterie board as cheese and meat. They can also make for simple dessert options, no baking required. Have an easy dessert recipe to share? Post in our easy dessert gallery!
"I like to categorize the components so that guests can easily see all their options." English suggests including hot chocolate, allll the marshmallows, whipped cream, mini chocolate chips, cinnamon sticks or candy canes and chocolate pirouettes. And for the grownups, nips like bourbon or whisky. The board is naturally so kid friendly, just make sure to remove the spirits if serving to the kiddos.
Which charcuterie board will you be recreating at home?