Charcuterie is the must-have menu item for entertaining any size crowd. As its popularity has surged, charcuterie is no longer defined by delicatessen meats. You’re just as likely to find vegan grazing boards described as charcuterie alongside the conventional meat and accompaniment spreads.
Whether you subscribe to the purist definition of charcuterie or prefer to refer to outliers as grazing boards and snack trays, you’ve gotta admit, this snacking trend beats carrot sticks any day.
Read on for tips from professional charcuterie board builders that will help you take your snack spreads to the next level.
1. Spice it Up to Suit the Season
Rockaway, New York based Date Plate isn’t afraid to spice things up with their made-to-order culinary trays, and you shouldn’t be either. One simple way to bring the “wow” factor into your charcuterie is to serve an ingredient infused with seasonal flavors alongside raw honeycomb.
Date Plate said Pass the Honey’s honeycomb “pairs delightfully with this cinnamon dusted toscano cheese for the perfect Fall bite!”
Go for classic warm spices like cinnamon and ginger in the fall and winter. In the spring and summer, look for herbs and brighter flavors like cardamom and citrus zest.
2. Use Labels to Guide the Experience
Have you ever made your way to a grazing table only to realize you don’t know what’s in front of you? Boston-based cheeseboarder Mary Charlotte from Mary Charcuterie uses labels to avoid confusion.
Labeling ingredients helps your guests navigate flavors and pairings with the added bonus of incorporating a charming artisan flair. You can use vertical labels like Mary, or plate up your spread on a chalkboard and label the board itself.
3. Make it Travel-Friendly
After painstakingly positioning every element, it would be a shame for your masterpiece to end up scrambled on the car ride to the party. If you’re traveling with your spread, do like The Charcuterie Beach in Sarasota, Florida and assemble it in a road-ready package.
4. Add Height for Eye-Catching Interest
Elevating your charcuterie is as simple as, well, elevating it. The Grazer Co. in Opelika, Alabama makes adding height easy by stacking Pass the Honey honeycomb on brie. The final result is a brie-licious cake that our Instagram community has been raving about.
5. Send a Care Package
Can’t celebrate with friends and family in person? Honey & Hive Boards in Costa Mesa has the solution: Put together a grazing board kit and have it delivered!
6. Spread Out Your Spread
Even if your space doesn’t accommodate buffet-style grazing or you’re planning with social distancing in mind, you can still make charcuterie work.
Simply divide it all up into single servings, like these charcuterie cones by Cheese Me Charcuterie in San Diego. If you’re worried about a sticky mess but still want a sweet element, serve each one with an unopened pouch of Pass the Honey.
7. Be Generous
There are some things you can get away with skimping on. Charcuterie is not one of them.
As the folks at Cheese Me Charcuterie show with this epic spread, more is more. There’s clearly no worry about not having enough to go around with this board at the party!
8. Don’t Forget the Drinks
Pairing honeycomb with cheese is one thing. Inviting some bubbles or wine to the combination is charcuterie 2.0.
Serving a bottle on the side works just fine, but if you’ve got cans or champagne splits on hand, see if you can work them into the spread. Our friends at Callahan Creative Co on the island of Kauai show us how it's done.
9. Get Creative
When you want to make a statement, you have to think outside the box.
Cheese Me Charcuterie took a simple ingredient (cheese) and reinvented it through something familiar (cheesecake). The result is a jaw-dropping savory cheesecake crowned with unadulterated honeycomb. If this doesn’t satisfy your guests, we don’t know what will.
10. Use What You Have
If the specialty ingredients in this article are making you feel intimidated, let this humble board by type 1 diabetic artist Ariana Frayer soothe your impostor syndrome.
She built this using only what she had in her pantry back in April 2020 when grocery shopping required a hazmat suit and plans A, B, and C. Featuring turkey jerky, herbaceous cheese, what we assume is the last of various boxes of crackers, and yours truly, Pass the Honey.
Don’t Fear the Charc
Charcuterie can call for tweezer-accuracy arrangements or come together with the rustic shuffling of a few ingredients. That’s the beauty of charcuterie—it’s flexible. Don’t let aspirational Instagram trends hold you back from putting together a board of your own.
One simple way to make sure you always have the fixings for a delectable grazing experience is to keep honeycomb on hand. Cut straight from the hive, it’s the best way to add natural sweetness and texture. It’s infinitely shelf-stable, too. Pass the Honey’s honeycomb is pre-measured, and it comes in pouches for mess-free serving. Peel one open to top your brie cake or accompany your next charcuterie board.