While a standard appetizer at events and for entertaining, charcuterie boards can function an ideal main-course various, too — particularly this 12 months, as the scale of our gatherings are extra restricted. These spreads allow you to nonetheless take pleasure in quite a lot of meals, however with out the time, trouble, and infinite leftovers that include cooking and cleansing up a multi-course meal.

The benefits of charcuterie-board eating abound: The meals combos are infinite and customizable to your preferences; it may be as huge or small as you need; apart from a handful of small plates, there’s just one board to wash; and all the pieces might be thrown collectively in a flash.

Plus, for those who’ve ever loved a charcuterie board, you understand how stunning they are often — who wouldn’t wish to take pleasure in one?

For a mixture that stuns each eyes and style buds, it would be best to be considerate in your alternatives. So, we requested Chef Ryan Dodge, govt chef of Life Time’s LifeCafes nationwide, for his recommendations on creating your personal your charcuterie board at house.

“When I think of a charcuterie board, two words come to mind: opulence and luxury. A well-designed board offers an entire experience, from providing a span of textures to including all flavor notes,” says Dodge. “You can take a bite 50 different ways from a thoughtfully composed board — it’s like a pick-your-taste adventure. It feels like a lavish experience.”

He says a real charcuterie board honors what you place on it and what you pair collectively. To achieve this, he advises together with one thing from every of the classes under to make sure you hit on quite a lot of textures and flavors. Select what’s seasonal, be impressed by a area, deal with a culinary fashion, or choose and select from objects what you like most.

The star of the board

“Cheese is, in my opinion, the most important part of the spread,” says Dodge. “It’s such a preference food: At my gatherings, the smoked Gouda and sharp cheddar are the first to disappear. Bleu cheese is aromatic and will impact other ingredients, so be conscious of what you pair it with. Cambozola is pliable and spreadable at room temperature. You could even get really festive and build a snowman out of Boursin. Whatever your liking, select a few options for variety.”

Suggested decisions: Brie, Manchego, chèvre smoked Gouda, sharp cheddar, Bleu cheese, Cambozola, or Gournay cheese; non-dairy options, similar to Treeline herb-garlic French-style cheese, Kit Hill chive cream cheese unfold, or Miyoko’s smoked vegan mozzarella

Something with texture

“This is where I like to think about breads and crackers,” says Dodge. “They not only provide texture, but they also serve as your vessel for other ingredients. I’m personally picky in this category as I know whatever you select will influence what you choose to eat it with. You want a strong vessel.”

Suggested decisions: Bread, similar to a baguette or different artisan bread served plain or frivolously toasted with extra-virgin olive oil; crackers, similar to skinny wheat, almond flour, or flax seed

Something salty

“Charcuterie stems from French cooking traditions, and before nitrates were introduced, the technique was rooted in foods naturally preserved by salt, so it’s a category not to forgo,” says Dodge. “Depending on your selection, choices in this area could also offer spice or heat.”

Suggested decisions: Salami, porchetta, speck, prosciutto, sausage, or capicola

Something candy

“Your choices here compliment your ones in the salty and acidic categories,” says Dodge. “Outside of fruit, you could also look to foods that are candied or honeyed.”

Suggested choices: Fresh, seasonal fruit, similar to apples, pears, pomegranate, persimmons, or grapes; dried fruit, similar to cranberries, figs, dates, or apricots; fruit spreads, similar to jam, marmalade, or chutney

Something acidic

“I love using pickled vegetables here,” says Dodge. “Acidic food can be tart, sharp, sour, and bitter, which is great for balancing out the sweet and salty notes.”

Suggested choices: Pickles or pickled greens, similar to pickled artichokes, beets, or asparagus

Bonus Adds

  • Nuts, similar to Marcona almonds or candied pecans. “Because nuts are so widely used, take this as an opportunity to pick a more divine selection to add richness,” says Dodge.
  • Olives, similar to kalamata or inexperienced full of garlic, goat, or bleu cheese. “Hit the olive bar at your local grocer or stuff your own,” says Dodge. “They can add good variety to the board.”
  • Roasted garlic cloves (see recipe under). “Roasted garlic is good for your soul,” says Dodge. “It’ll warm you right up in the winter months.”
  • Spreads, similar to balsamic-caramelized onions (see recipe under), olive tapenade, or a chèvre dip. “Balsamic-caramelized onions take some time to cook down, but they’re so worth it,” says Dodge.
  • Raw veggies, similar to peppers, carrots, or cucumbers. “Charcuterie boards are a great opportunity to fit in veggies,” says Dodge. “Pick ones that are fun and snappy.”


Roasted Garlic

Makes 4 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 45 to 50 minutes


  • 1 garlic bulb
  • Extra-virgin olive oil to style
  • Salt and pepper to style


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 levels F. Remove the highest of the garlic bulb by slicing with a pointy knife about one-quarter-inch down so the cloves are uncovered.
  2. Drizzle the bulb with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil and place within the oven. Roast for about 40 to 45 minutes, till the bulb is golden brown and tender.
  3. Remove the cloves by merely squeezing the top of the bulb, or use an oyster fork or paring knife to take away individually. Serve heat or let cool.

Balsamic-Caramelized Onions

Makes 1.5 cups

Prep time: quarter-hour

Cook time: 1.5 hours


  • 4 purple onions
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbs. honey
  • Salt and pepper to style
  • 1/2 cup water, plus extra to style


  1. Clean the onions by eradicating the outer pores and skin and root. Thinly julienne.
  2. Add the avocado oil to a big pan over medium-low warmth. Sauté the onions till they begin to turn into translucent with a bit of browning.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar and stir.
  4. Add the honey and stir.
  5. Continue to prepare dinner till the liquid is diminished and now not seen.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup water and scale back till the liquid is gone. Continue including water and lowering water as wanted till onions attain desired texture and candy-like style.
  7. Cool and serve.