See how to make the best spread of fine imported cheese served with meat, fruit, nuts, bread, and crackers for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any get together in this Charcuterie Board Basics: Tips for the Perfect Spread post.

Cheese, fruit, jam, nuts, and honey displayed on a wood board.

How to make a Charcuterie Board worthy of your next party!

Disclosure: This post for Charcuterie Board Basics: Tips for the Perfect Spread includes affiliate links. See the rest of my disclosure policy here.

I don’t know about you, but I squeal like a little girl inside when I walk into a party and there’s a fabulous cheese platter. I. LOVE. CHEESE. It’s that simple. Have you ever looked at a beautiful Charcuterie Board and thought to yourself,  “how on earth do you make that?”

That’s why I’m sharing my Charcuterie Board Basics, tips, ideas, pairings, serving ideas, and utensils as part of my #EverythingButTheTurkey Blog Series. A well-crafted Charcuterie Board is perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any get together. Let’s get started!

cheese, nuts, and olives on a wooden board.

What is a Charcuterie Board?

It is French for delicatessen. When referring to a charcuterie board, it’s basically foods like meat, cheese, olives, fruit, nuts, and spreads that require little to no preparation before serving.

Charcuterie Pronunciation

Charcuterie pronunciation is “shahr-cute-uh-ree”.

Tools you’ll need for a Basic Charcuterie Board

To craft the perfect cheese board, you need to start with the right tools. Think simple and rustic, like these cheese boards.

Ingredients needed to make a Charcuterie Board.
A cheese board with various cheeses, crackers, and fruit on it.
An example of a classic cheese board to purchase.

Next, you’ll need some cheese knives. Each cheese that you serve should have its own knife. These are my favorites:

Examples of a set of cheese knives to purchase.
Recommended cheese knives available for purchase
Favorite cheese knives available for purchase

Additionally, you’ll need some cheese labels, because no one wants to repeat the names of cheeses all night long to inquiring guests.

And finally my favorite resource for making the perfect spread, The Cheese Course. It offers suggestions for pairings, fruit and nut accompaniments, and suggestions for presentation. It’s a must unless you have a cheesemonger in my back pocket because I sure don’t.

Cheese labels available for purchase
Examples of cheese labels for your cheese board
The Cheese Coursebook for tips on various pairings of fruits and nuts

Best cheeses for a Fancy Cheese Board

Close up picture of cheese, fruit, nuts, and bread on a cheese plate.

Most cheeses fall into one of these four categories:

  1. aged
  2. blue
  3. soft
  4. firm
  • For a fabulous cheese platter, try to include different flavors and textures by choosing one cheese from each category.
  • Here are some of my favorites from each category:
  • A sure way to get a range of different flavored cheeses on your plate is by choosing cheeses that are made from different types of milk (goat, sheep, cow).
  • Splurge a little when you’re creating a cheese platter, especially when it’s a holiday. You want to serve specialty cheeses that you don’t eat regularly.
Picture collage of charcuterie for Pinterest.

*PRO ENTERTAINING TIP: If specialty or artisan cheese isn’t in your budget, especially during the holidays, then ask your guests to contribute by bringing their favorite cheese. In my experience, folks get excited about picking out and bringing a favorite or new cheese. This will also help introduce you to different cheese varieties that you may not have tried before.

A lovely charcuterie board for the holidays.

DIY Charcuterie Board: How much cheese is enough?

  • If you are serving the cheese as an hors-d’oeuvre, then you should plan on a total of 2-3 ounces of cheese for each person.
  • If the Charcuterie Plate is the main item being served, then you should plan on a total of 4-5 ounces of cheese per person.

How to make a Charcuterie Board

  • Don’t crowd the cheese platter, no one wants to feel clumsy because their knuckles are bumping into cheese while trying to cut the one they want.
  • Separate strong cheeses from more mild ones, you don’t want cheeses to start tasting like each other.
  • When arranging the boards, think about complementary textures and flavors of the different items you plan on serving. You want a good balance of flavors and textures.
Cheese board with text overlay for social media.

What you need for the best Meat and Cheese Board

  • Bread and Crackers: Offer slices of bread and crackers but keep them mild in flavor. Try to stay away from ones with garlic, seeds or herbs. You want the cheese to shine, not the accompaniments.
  • Meats: You’ll want a few different textures of meat to go with the different types of cheese that you choose.
  • Fruit: tart apples, sweet concord grapes, melon, figs, pears, blood oranges (goes great with a little bit of fennel), and in-season berries.
  • Miscellaneous: nuts, honeycomb, balsamic glaze, bitter greens like chicory, olives, and peppery arugula.

Meats for Charcuterie Board

You’ll want a few different textures of meat to go with the different types of cheese that you choose.

Spreads for Charcuterie Board

Think chutney, fig spread, grainy mustard, and local honey.

Serving Tips:

If you’re serving…

  • Before Dinner, then serve with savory accompaniments like olives, nuts (my favorite is Marcona Almonds), prosciutto, and chutney.
  • After Dinner, then serve with sweet accompaniments like fruit (love Concord grapes), dried fruit, toasted nuts, jams, and honey. Or better yet my favorite, honeycomb.
soft cheese, fruit, and honey comb on a platter.

Tips for serving a Fancy Cheese Board

  • Each cheese needs its own knife. You don’t want your cheese selections to start tasting like each other, there’s no fun in that!
  • Take the cheese out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving. The cold suppresses the flavor.

And that’s it, my Cheese Platter Basics. Did I miss anything? What is your favorite cheese to serve?

Overhead picture of Charcuterie Board Pairings

I recently updated this Charcuterie Board Basics post. It first appeared on FFF on November 12, 2014. Here is one of the older pictures from the post:

A beautiful Cheeseboard ready for serving.

More recipe to help you with your Thanksgiving spread:

Truffle Popcorn

A crunchy, savory snack to serve with your other appetizers and hors d’evours.

Make-Ahead Stuffed Mushrooms with Goat Cheese

Make Ahead Stuffed Mushrooms with Goat Cheese

A scrumptious little appetizer that’s quick and easy to make.

10 Best Thanksgiving Hosting Tips

10 Best Thanksgiving Hosting Tips

These tips will get an amazing Thanksgiving rolling at your house!

Thanksgiving Planner with 5 FREE Printables.

Free Thanksgiving Planner

These printables will get you super organized for Thanksgiving!

Cheese board with cheese and fruits on it with text overlay for Pinterest

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  1. Karen Call says:

    I am going to try this cheese platter soon. Thanks for all your great tips. I love your blog.

    1. You’re so welcome, Karen. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. I found this just in time! Thank you for the tips.

  3. mealplanmaven says:

    What a timely and helpful post! love serving all kinds of cheeses at the holidays and look forward to trying some of your recommendations!

  4. Hi, I’m food blogger from Israel.
    This is my blog:
    I’m writing a post regarding cheese platter and would like to use your picture as an example to a great cheese platter, of course with credit to your blog. . Will you approve that? Thank you so much

    1. Sure, that would be completely fine!

  5. mauricio zenteno says:

    hello, i from Chile, country. my inglish is bad.
    beatifull food and decoration

    your visitors facebook:

  6. I totally relate with you. I love cheese too. Fabulous Charcuterie tips and tricks. Perfect to make for the holidays.

  7. Adriana Lopez Martin says:

    thanks for all the tips and recommendations charcuterie boards with cheese and seasonal fruits are my favorite appetizer ever, easy and so elegant

  8. Hey Jillian, you had me at ‘cheese!’. YUMMO! This is a geat recipe full of ideas and selections of cheeses. My favourites are the blue, gorgonzola, strong and bitey taste to them. Cheers for sharing, saving for Christmas Party ideas!

    1. Yay! So glad this will come in handy for you!

  9. I love cheese platters! Looks so delicious and perfect for hosting!

  10. Such a great post! Beautiful spread !!!

  11. I agree with you, there is nothing better than a gorgeous cheese board! Love how you broke down all of the different ways to make one! Just perfect!

    1. Thanks so much, Beth!

  12. Stephanie says:

    I love the idea of a cheese board for entertaining. Thanks for sharing all these great tips.

  13. Thanks for the tips! I love love love charcuterie and because I’m keto, meats, cheeses and most garnishes are right up my alley! Making my own board soon – armed, of course, with your ideas!

    1. Jenn, charcuterie boards are so fun, aren’t they? Enjoy! 🙂

  14. Genevieve says:

    Love charcuterie boards! They are a staple for us during the holiday season.