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Learn how to create a beautiful charcuterie board for all your summer entertaining -- whether it's the fourth of July or a simple evening-- using a variety of meats and cheeses and all the bountiful fresh produce available! An easy and effortless appetizer or snack plate that can be used for any occasion.
I have done it. I have woo'ed my city husband into being a man who will sit on the porch and enjoy a warm summer night with me eating fresh fruits and prosciutto and soft cheeses on crackers while sipping sweet tea and whiskey. Have I turned him from a fast-walking, fast-talking New Yorker into a Southern man?
Not yet, he still talks way too fast.
I told y'all that living in the Virginia countryside has totally changed my perspective on food and eating, especially with all the really great local summer produce we have available here. So of course, I had to use it all in one of my favorite things: a gorgeous summer charcuterie board, styled by my good girlfriend Britney from Britney Breaks Bread.
It's the perfect way to bring in the summer days with ripe fresh fruit, fresh herbs, plenty of tasty meats, and a variety of cheeses. A fantastic and easy idea for your next pool party or cookout, since it requires no cooking and very little prep.
But the great thing about this recipe is that you don't have to make a huge party platter for summer entertaining. It can be a perfect little snack board to enjoy on your own back porch with your spouse who still talks way too fast but will slow down to enjoy the summer months with you.
What even is a Charcuterie Board?
Charcuterie is a French word meaning 'cooked flesh', and is used nowadays to describe a meat and cheese platter. But originally it was a term for where cured and cooked meats were sold in France, the charcuterie. Cured meats have been around for millennia, because removing moisture from food is one of the original ways to preserve food, since it stunts bacteria growth.
But in the 15th century, the French created more ways to cure and preserve meat with different meats. curing solutions, and drying times for new creations like jambon, saucisson, boudin, and patê.
Europe has enjoyed charcuterie boards from these shops of centuries, but it's now a popular way to entertain (or just snack) in the States, elevating the old school 'company's coming!' cheese plate to a perfect charcuterie board that's social media-worthy.
What is in a summer charcuterie board?
A summer board differs from a typical charcuterie board with seasonal touches that give a summer twist. Because it's the season where everything is flourishing, use all of that bright produce you find at your farmers market or local grocery store.
A variety of meats. It's not a summer cheese board; a charcuterie board needs charcuterie! Thin slices of prosciutto, salumi, and other cured meats are a must have.
Seasonal fruits. This is the time to let the fresh produce shine. Stone fruit, cherry tomatoes, all of the summer berries, slices of melon, whatever you can get your hands on...go for it!
Different types of cheeses. I talk more in depth about the cheeses below, but if it's a party board go with this guideline: something soft, something interesting, something aged, something common (aka one that everyone generally likes, like a sharp cheddar or mozzarella).
Small bowls. Honey, olive oil, fig jam are my go-to's when it comes to spreads on a meat and cheese board.
Breads. Baguette slices, crackers, breadsticks and whatever other carb you enjoy. Throw them in there.
Types of Cheeses for a Summer Board
Hard cheese. Bring out the manchego, the parmigiano reggiano, that 1000-day aged gouda. And make sure you chunk off parts with a cheese knife for your guests.
Common cheese. This is the one you gotta have if it's a party board. Something that is universally liked, and I usually get at least two just in case. Think a wedge of young gouda, cubes of colby jack, slices of sharp cheddar.
Soft cheeses. A need, in my opinion. This is usually a nice wheel of brie or a log of goat cheese. With that log of goat cheese, you can roll it in herbs or pour a fruity glaze over top.
Funky cheeses, blue cheeses and really aged cheeses. Ones with vegetable ash or mold, ones that are a variation of a favorite...these are all the 'interesting' and 'funky' cheeses that many people enjoy or like to give a try.
Charcuterie board ideas and tips
Add edible flowers. It's a great idea for a beautiful charcuterie board.
Use dried fruit instead of fresh produce. Dried cherries, apricots, raisins, mango, pineapple, and plums are all great options.
Make it simple when it's smaller. If it's for date night, go for the stuff you know y'all like and don't think you need to make it all IG aesthetic. A small board to enjoy can have two cheeses, a few of your favorite crackers or toasted baguette, your favorite fruits, and a variety of meats.
Putting together an easy summer charcuterie board
The first step is to figure out what wooden board you want to use. Make sure it's food safe!
Next, put down the bowls of honey, jam, and oils, and larger items like large wedges of harder cheeses, a wheel of brie or camembert, lines of crackers or breads, and large clumps of grapes or cherry tomatoes on the vine. This creates borders and sections where you can plate the smaller items and summer fruits.
Place handfuls of fresh summer berries between the large items, slices of cheese to pick up, fold slices of your cured meats and tuck them around in the small empty spaces, with plenty of fresh herbs sprinkled around as desired.
A good charcuterie board should use the best cheese you can find (triple creme brie will change your life!), your favorite cured meats, and be totally effortless to put together. Honey, fig jam, and crackers are always on board...get it? 'On board'. Puns.
More Recipes using Summer Produce
- Simple Cherry Tomato Caprese Salad
- Strawberry Custard Tart
- Lemon Blueberry Sour Cream Pound Cake
- Easy Southern Bourbon Peach Cobbler
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- 1 pound green or red grapes
- 16 ounces strawberries
- ½ pint raspberries
- ½ pint blueberries
- ½ pint blackberries
- Cherry tomatoes on the vine
- A small round of brie, cut into wedges
- 8 ounces colby jack cheese, sliced
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar, sliced
- 8 ounces young gouda, cubed
- 8 ounces parmigiano reggiano
- Blue cheese
- Genoa salami
- Slices of prosciutto
- Hard salami
- Peppered salami
- Slices of baguette
- Fig Jam
- Honey with honeycomb
- Chocolate covered almonds
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Brown mustard
- Fresh herbs
- First, place the larger items onto a food-safe board or tray. Fill bowls with the jam, mustard, and other dips.
- Create layouts and borders using the crackers, breads, bunches of grapes, and large cheeses and bowls.
- Fill in the spaces with handfuls of berries, slices of meat, and other items for easy pairings.
This is a general recipe, not something to follow to the tee. All of the items can be replaced with ones you like more, produce you find at your local grocery store.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 270Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 598mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 2gSugar: 9gProtein: 14g
All nutrition facts are estimations. Please see a physician for any health-related inquiries.
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.