How to set up a charcuterie board to impress your friends

Follow our simple steps to creating a charcuterie board to impress your friends. We will guide you through everything you need, from cheese to cured meats, to chutneys. We also have a great selection of special extras and serving suggestions to truly impress.

From small gatherings to grazing tables for party catering, read on to find out everything you need to know to set up a great charcuterie board...


7 steps to an impressive charcuterie board


Step 1 - Get creative with your serving platters and dishes

For a charcuterie board to impress, it's all about the platters, serving dishes and bowls at the outset.

Take a moment to consider what you are going to serve and 'upon what' will you place those ingredients. 

Wooden boards and black slates are ideal for meats and cheeses.

With a thorough clean, you can even create a large grazing table, laying foods directly onto some clean grease-proof paper or foil on your table.

Small patterned bowls, glass holders or plain white dishes work well for holding chutneys, jams, hummus and other condiments, as well as smaller items, such as nuts or olives. An eclectic mix can look great.


Step 2 - Choose your cheeses

It's not about the quantity of an impressive charcuterie board, it's about the combination.

If this is your first attempt, then just 3-4 different cheeses will be plenty. Go for a variety that offers different textures and flavours.

Avoid a single cheese that is completely overpowering or very strong smelling as these can 'cross-contaminate' and take away from more delicate flavours of the other cheese, as well as other food items you are serving.

A good combination may be a hard cheese, like a parmesan or a mature cheddar, a semi-soft cheese, like Port Salut or gouda, and then, a soft cheese, like brie or a mellow camembert.


Close up of cheese and some cured meats in the British Charcuterie Tasting Hamper

Step 3 - Curate your cured meats

Next, it's time to choose your cured meats - there are so many varieties. Perhaps, start by considering what you know your friends love...and then what they may not have tried before.

There are many traditional charcuterie meats from places like Italy with prosciutto, pancetta and Parma ham. There also there are cured meats from Spain, such as chorizo, serrano and Iberico ham, as well as a range of salamis.

However, it's wonderful to note that there are many cured meat producers right here in the UK too.


Learn more about: Tempus Charcuterie


Once again 3-4 different meats is plenty, perhaps up to 5, if you wish.



Step 4 - Pick your fruit and vegetables

Freshness is a really important complementary addition to a charcuterie board. We recommend a combination of both fruits and vegetables.

For the fruit: small bunches of grapes, sliced apples, and a range of berries work well.

For the vegetables: carrot sticks, cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes are great. For something with a little more flare, roasted peppers or artichoke hearts are nice. Don't forget some olives too - there are so many to choose from, we know.

Close up of Snowdonia Cheese Company Cheese with a selection of charcuterie, olives and nuts too.

Step 5 - Add unique extras

Now, it's time to get inventive with your shopping list. What else would work well with the items you have already decided upon above?

There are chutneys, pickles, jams and mustards to decide between. Consider which will work best - our favourites are our caramelised onion chutney and also chilli jams.

We also love the Italian-inspired idea of a mix of balsamic vinegar and oil for dipping, and offering some runny honey to enjoy with the cheese.

You may also want to offer a small amount of dips, such as garlic mayonnaise, hummus or tapenade. These can be good options for any vegetarian friends.

You can include small bowls or scatterings of nuts - particularly walnuts or almonds.

What about pickled items - such as silverskin onions, cornichons, gherkins or baby beetroot? The crunch and acidity can pair well with the strong meats and mature cheeses.

Finally, you may also want to add a touch of garnish - like a spring of rosemary or thyme.


Step 6 - Selecting a selection of crackers and breadsticks 

The meats, cheeses and vegetables can be savoured on their own, but a little 'serving' accompaniment can be nice in the form of a cracker or breadsticks. 

With the wealth of choice available you don't need to overwhelm your friends with lots of variety. Just one or two types are ok.

You also don't need to offer lots of bread or rolls, for example, as this can be very filling. If you are keen to provide bread, just offer thin slices.

At, we adore sourdough crackers - light and thin. These are perfect for a charcuterie board selection.


Step 7 - Employ your most artistic vision

If you wish to truly impress your friends, now is the time to employ your artistic skills.

Taking each of the 'ingredients' of your charcuterie board, start to consider how to best present each item. Choose which serving board or bowl best suits too. 

Some amazing designs can be made...from fanning salami to creating chorizo slice rosettes. You can also drape some meats over the cheeses or grapes, for example. Not everything has to be kept separate. 

You can also get creative with the way you cut and present your vegetables, including cucumber slice roses and wavy matchstick carrots.

Creating an appetising grazing experience means lots of fun can be had as part of the preparation.

So, be creative!

Impressive charcuterie boards - Our final 5 top tips

Before you start your charcuterie board, we have 5 final top tips to help you create something which is truly excellent and will impress your friends.

- Pick a theme

If you feel completely overwhelmed by the choices, then it can be easier to start by picking a theme. In particular, perhaps choosing items traditionally from one country, for example, Spain, Italy (or even the UK).

- Don't overcrowd

Variety is great, but remember to consider complementary flavours and don't feel like you have to have loads of everything. You can always replenish your board if you are worried about your friends going hungry or not having enough.

- Timing is everything

Be mindful of when you plan to serve your charcuterie board and where. If it is a warm day or a warm room, then do not get out your meats, vegetables, dips or anything else that should be served cool or kept refrigerated too early. However, also consider getting out some cheeses, particularly hard ones, a little while before serving (the length of time may depend on the room temperature), as this will enhance the flavour.

- Be aware of dietary requirements

For those with allergies or other dietary requirements, be aware of foods touching each other and cross-contamination. To impress all friends, do ensure there is something for everyone at the party that they can eat. Obviously, for more serious requirements, such as nut allergies, do consider what you should avoid completely.

- Consider your guests' needs and ease of eating

A charcuterie board can be enjoyed like a 'finger buffet' - which can often work well among good friends...and reduces the washing up!

However, do consider that guests (even best friends!) may require or prefer a small plate, fork and/or serviettes. Also, do supply plenty of serving utensils. including knives and small spoons, to make cutting cheeses or scooping chutney and dips nice and easy, for example.


Keen to get started on your first impressive charcuterie board?

We are salivating now at the thought of a delicious charcuterie board to share with friends...and, importantly, to impress them, of course.

Whether for yourself, a loved one, or a great friend, do explore our specially curated Charcuterie Hampers. They make excellent gifts and picnic hampers, as well as charcuterie board starter kits.

See The British Charcuterie Tasting Hamper featuring a wonderful cured meat platter of Achari fennel salami, smoked coppa and spiced loin from Tempus Charcuterie. Tempus is owned and run by Tom Whitaker (MasterChef finalist) and Dhruv Baker (MasterChef winner) and is based in Weybridge, UK. There is also cheese, crackers and fresh chilli jam, as part of this amazing charcuterie-inspired hamper. 


Also, we have our Brand New Charcuterie & Fizz Hamper - it is a winning combination. It also features the charcuterie board selection from Tempus Charcuterie. Plus, there is a sweet sparkling wine which has floral and citrus aromas from the award-winning Gauchezco Winery in Argentina.

You will also find a range of accompaniments, including a ready-mixed bread dipper, olives and almonds. All packed into a gorgeous wicker basket with leather straps - the perfect picnic hamper and summer gift.



Happy charcuterie board creating and we can't wait to hear what your friends think!

Share your creations and tag us on our social channels.




This blog was posted 2024-05-23 13:01:00