Who is ready to cover their kitchen island in a Thanksgiving Charcuterie Board? Me! I am a cheese board and charcuterie fanatic. There is nothing that makes me happier than an excuse to load up on cheeses from Whole Foods, in-season produce from the farmers market, and source fun crackers and accouterments from Trader Joe’s.
And with the holiday season upon us, there’s no better opportunity to bring this dream to life than Thanksgiving. Create a Thanksgiving charcuterie board that will transform your holiday spread from basic to breathtaking. It’s not just about the variety of flavors and textures it brings to the table, but also the visual feast it provides. Like a culinary canvas, it tells a story of abundance, variety, and celebration.
This guide will take you step-by-step through the process of selecting the right ingredients and arranging them in an appetizing layout. The best part is, your charcuterie board can reflect your personal style, preferences, and of course, those Thanksgiving favorites. Let’s make this holiday season unforgettable with a stunning and delicious charcuterie board.
Selecting the Right Board for Your Charcuterie
Factors to Consider
First things first, consider the size of your party—do you need a large one for a crowd or a smaller one for an intimate gathering? The material is equally important. Wood, slate, and marble each provide a different board feel and backdrop for your feast. Keep in mind, it should be easy to clean and sturdy enough to handle the weight of all those delicious components. Be sure the material isn’t porous or you’ll likely end up with staining.
It doesn’t have to be a ‘board.’ Plates, trays, or even a clean, flat piece of wood can act as your canvas. Here are a few of my favorite selections:
- Burlwood Tray from Pottery Barn
- Octavia Large Marble Board with Cheese Knives
- 20” Tondo Acacia Lazy Susan from Crate & Barrel
- 18” Wooden Pedestal Natural Lazy Susan Hearth & Hand
Ingredients for a Thanksgiving Charcuterie Board
The ultimate Thanksgiving charcuterie board is all about the amazing variety of cheeses, mouthwatering meats, and other delightful elements that make this a sensory feast.
- Gruyère – a hard Swiss cheese, famed for its nutty, slightly sweet flavor. It pairs beautifully with autumn fruits like apples and pears.
- Stilton – a unique blue cheese from England that’s rich and tangy, but not overpoweringly so. It’s a great match for cranberries and figs.
- Camembert – a soft, creamy, French cheese with a bloomy rind that adds a touch of luxury to any charcuterie.
- Smoked Gouda – Its smoky flavor is a delightful contrast to the sweet and savory elements.
- Prosciutto – Thin slices of this Italian cured ham add a touch of elegance and a delicious salty flavor to your Thanksgiving charcuterie board.
- Smoked Turkey Breast – It’s Thanksgiving after all! This meat provides a nod to traditional turkey dinner while still keeping things light.
- Salami – Particularly a fall-flavored variety like applewood smoked salami. Its smoky, rich flavor pairs well with both mild and strong cheeses.
Seasonal Fruits & Vegetables
- Concord Grapes
- Roasted Carrots
- Purple Endive
Crackers, Bread & Breadsticks
- Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps from Lesley Stowe
- Cranverry and Hazelnut Crisps from Lesley Stowe
- Pretzel Breadsticks from Trader Joes
- Toasted Baguette Slices
- Cranberry Chutney
- Beet Hummus
- Creamy Kale & Spinach Dip *vegan for those who don’t eat dairy or meat
- Mushroom Pate with Roasted Garlic *another vegan option
- Dried candied oranges from Trader Joes
- Candied Pecans from Trader Joes
- Truffle Marcona Almonds
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Castelvetrano Olives
- Sweet and Sour Cornichons Pickles
Building Your Thanksgiving Charcuterie Board
Step 1: Place Cheeses on the Board
Start by placing your chosen cheeses on the board, including some in pre-cut cubes and pre-sliced. Try to scatter them instead of grouping them together.
Step 2: Put Spreads in Small Bowls
Next, take small bowls and fill them with your favorite spreads. Cranberry chutney or beet hummus can add a creative twist to the traditional flavors we love so much on Thanksgiving.
Step 3: Add Meats
Now it’s time to add the meats. Arrange the prosciutto, smoked turkey breast, and salami around the cheeses or spreads.
Step 4: Fill the Gaps with Fruits, Vegetables and Breads
Look for any gaps or empty spaces on your board and fill them with seasonal fruits and vegetables or breads. This not only adds a pop of color, but also makes the board look bountiful and complete.
Step 5: Garnish with Accouterments
Finally, garnish with your chosen accouterments. Include sweet and sour pickles, olives, or even some dried candied oranges for that extra special touch.
Tips and Tricks
Balancing Colors and Textures
A visually appealing charcuterie is all about balancing colors and textures. Mix soft cheese with hard ones, smooth spreads with chunky ones, and don’t forget to add a burst of color with fruits, veggies, and jams.
Serving Suggestions for Enjoying the Charcuterie Board
A Thanksgiving charcuterie board is best enjoyed when shared. Invite your guests to dive in and create their own perfect bite while sipping on a delightful cocktail or a glass of wine. A crisp Chardonnay or a fruity Pinot Noir would complement the flavors of the board beautifully. Provide plenty of picks and small forks for easy, hygienic serving. Don’t forget to chill and replace any food that has been sitting out for too long.
Things You Might Be Wondering
What Finger Foods Go with a Charcuterie Board?
Bite-sized options are the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving charcuterie board. Alongside olives, mini gherkins, and stuffed peppers for a tangy twist, consider including cranberry jam for a burst of flavor. For a delightful contrast, add mini pastries, dark chocolate pieces or even Christmas or Thanksgiving cookies. And to enhance the experience, include crunchy elements like breadsticks, toasted baguette slices, and chestnuts. For a touch of nuttiness, walnuts can be a great choice. Lastly, don’t forget to incorporate green beans and persimmons to add a fresh and vibrant touch.
How Long Can Meat and Cheese Sit Out?
When serving charcuterie, ensuring safety is crucial. As a general rule, it is important to be mindful of the time perishable foods, such as meat and cheese, are left at room temperature. To maintain freshness and minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses, it is recommended that these items should not sit out for more than two hours. However, it is important to note that if you are hosting an outdoor gathering and the temperature exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it is advisable to reduce this time to one hour. By following these guidelines, you can confidently enjoy your charcuterie (and leftovers) while prioritizing the well-being of your guests.
Can I Put Hot Foods on a Charcuterie Board?
Absolutely! Consider adding delightful hot items such as baked brie, warm bread, or even savory sausages to create a delectable contrast alongside the cold items. However, it’s important to be cautious that the hot items don’t cause your other cheeses to melt or your garnishes to wilt.
Is it Safe to Eat a Charcuterie Board When Pregnant?
Well, it depends on the ingredients. I am a big subscriber to the advice regarding cheese and deli meats from Emily Oster’s book, Expecting Better. While most items on a charcuterie are safe, pregnant women should avoid certain cheeses like blue cheese, camembert, and others, which are typically made with unpasteurized milk. Similarly, cured meats can carry a risk of listeria, so they are best avoided. So, if you’re expecting, just make sure to customize your Thanksgiving charcuterie board with pregnancy-safe options, or ask the host about the ingredients before diving in.
Featured Photo by Eva Bronzini