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How to Make a Holiday Charcuterie Board

Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry!

When it comes to the holidays, charcuterie boards are the perfect choice for entertaining. Everybody can personalize their own plates with their favorite fruits, meats and cheeses. Those beautiful charcuterie boards can do double-duty as centerpieces on your holiday table. And since they are ready at room temperature and your guests can serve themselves, you’ll have more time for everything else!

But how can you make it special – and still keep it simple – for the holidays?

Here’s how to add some festive flair, step by step!

How to Create Your Holiday Cheese Board

1. Grab Your Gear.
You’ll need a large wooden cutting board, pizza paddle or serving tray to assemble your charcuterie board. Be sure to grab a variety of small dishes for jams, mustards, honey or other sauces, too. 

2. Choose 4-5 Cheeses.
Depending on how adventurous you are, select a variety of different tastes and textures. Something creamy. Something sharp. Something nutty or smoky. Something a little funky.

Personally, I love Brie, Cheddar, Havarti, blue and gruyere, especially for fall and holiday cheese boards since they pair perfectly with fresh apples and dried fruits.

3. Cut Shapes with Holiday Cookie Cutters.
That’s right, friends … they aren’t just for cookies! Use your holiday cookie cutters to cut fun shapes out of cheese slices. I love to do this with wheels of Brie, too!

overhead of Brie on cutting board with tree cutter

Use cookie cutters shaped like trees, snowflakes, snowmen, candy canes, you name it.

4. Select Sweet and Savory Spreads.
A drizzle of sweetness. A dab of tanginess. Honestly, it’s amazing how a little spoonful of a smoky sauce or a smoldering spread can completely transform ordinary cheese and crackers.

Now remember that cute little wheel of Brie with the holiday shape cut out of the center? Here’s how to make it the star of your holiday board!

Brie cut-outs with jam added

Place the cheese rind on your board or platter, and fill the middle with Bacon Pepper Jam or Sweet Pepper Jalapeno Jam. Put the cut-out cheese “tree” (or other shape) on a separate small plate spread with Brandied Pear Butter, and arrange that on your board as well. So pretty and perfect for dipping!

5. Create Some Crunch.
Of course, every cheese plate needs a little nuttiness. Marcona almonds are usually my go-to choice, but for the holidays, candied nuts add a sweet and special touch. I absolutely LOVE Coconut Rum Pecans, which are drenched with a buttery rum glaze and toasted coconut.

But if you prefer savory over sweet, try Red Chile Queso Almonds instead. They really do taste just like queso!

Tip: Want the best of both worlds? You can get the pair in the Snack Nuts Gift Set.

6. Fill with Fresh and Dried Fruit.  
For a feast for the senses, fill your platter with fresh grapes, strawberries, raspberries, apples and/or pears. Add some dried fruits like cherries, apricots and figs, too. They tend to have sweeter, more concentrated flavors, which beautifully complement blue cheese, Gorgonzola and goat cheese.

7. Add Sparkle with Sugared Cranberries.
While they aren’t exactly visions of sugar plums, they are the next best thing! If you really want to impress your guests, add sugared cranberries to your platter, too.

sugared cranberries on plate/cooling rack

How to Make Them: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine ½ cup granulated sugar and ½ cup water. Stir and heat until dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in 2 cups fresh cranberries until coated. Place the cranberries on a cooling rack to dry slightly; then roll ‘em in sugar in small batches. Let them dry completely, and use them for snacking and festive drink garnishes!

8. Add Cured Meats.  
Prosciutto. Pepperoni. Salami. Whatever you choose, a few cured meats will make your platter a whole lot heartier. And, if you really want to dazzle everybody, arrange the slices in the shapes of roses.

Wait … what? I know. Stay with me. It’s actually super simple! Just grab a wine glass, and line the rim with a layer of meat clockwise, folding down and overlapping each piece like this:

Keep working your way around the rim, repeating the circles of layers until you can no longer see the center of the glass.

solid meat over the rim of the glass

Flip the glass onto your board or a plate. Ta-da!

glass flipped upside down so you can see the “rose”

If you want to make smaller roses, use a narrower glass, such as a champagne flute or shot glass.

9. Add a Tangy Tidbit or Two.  
Include baby dills or cornichons, Kalamata olives or even a small dish of spicy brown mustard on your cheese board for a little extra bite.

10. Garnish with Fresh Rosemary.
Fresh rosemary adds a festive touch to any holiday charcuterie board, and it smells positively divine, too. Just tuck a few little sprigs into your platter.

11. Don’t Forget the Dippers.
Crackers. Crostini. Fresh baguette slices. Crispy breadsticks. Whatever you choose, make sure you have plenty of crunch to complement all of that glorious meat-and-cheese goodness.

Note: While you can definitely add a row or two of crackers to your cheese board, I’d also recommend placing a couple baskets or small trays filled with crackers and other carb-alicious accompaniments near your board. That way, you can set out a bigger variety of options in advance, and it will be easier for your guests to help themselves, too.

12. Have Fun … It’s the Holidays!
Remember, there’s no right or wrong. Have fun with it, and make it your own!

No matter how you put yours together, you’ll have deliciousness all across the board.

Happy holidays, friends!

– Jen

P.S. If you’re looking for more holiday-inspired platter recipes, try this fun and festive idea from my blog post last December, too!

How to Make a Holiday Antipasto Wreath