Recipe by Marisa Martinez @queenofbrie
How do you make a charcuterie board easily and on a budget? It happens to all of us who get intimidated by making a charcuterie board and never get started.
This is why I am here to help you make a charcuterie board simply and easy on your wallet! You’ve always wanted to make a fancy charcuterie board to impress your friends the next time they come over but don’t know how!
Well if you want to know how you’re in the right place! This quick and easy charcuterie board is filled with simple, delicious, crowd-pleasing ingredients that can be assembled in just a few minutes and cheap!
To get you started on your cheese board journey, check out the easy recipe below. The ingredients are basic—no crazy flavors and nothing too exotic, so even folks with the most simple taste pallets will enjoy it.
The great thing about this board is that you can serve it for any occasion and the ingredients are easy to find at almost any grocery store.
It’s a great board to start with and then experiment with, change up and add to as you get more practice building cheese boards. You can really use any meat, cheese, cracker, fruit, veggie, nut, sweet or dip—so customize and make it your own.
If you’ve never made a charcuterie board and have no idea where to start, then read on for some quick tips on how to curate an Instagram-worthy cheese board.
What is on a charcuterie board? The Perfect Shopping List
When constructing a charcuterie board, half the battle is picking out the ingredients.
My rule of thumb for a shopping for a board is straightforward: two types of cheese, two types of meat, at least one type of fruit, a veggie, a dip, a nut and a sweet!
Consider this board recipe your template for the perfect cheese board shopping list and can grow from there.
The ingredients are low-cost (everything for this board cost under $35), and you might find that you already have a few of them in your pantry or fridge.
How to keep a charcuterie board on a budget? Do Meat Math!
The next cheese board stressor always seems to be “how much do I buy for a board?”
For a charcuterie board that is truly meant to be an appetizer, I have another simple rule of thumb—meat math equals at least two or three of each.
You should buy enough ingredients to feed each of your guests at least: two pieces of meat, three pieces of cheese, three crackers, two bites of fruit, two pieces of veggies, two tbsp of dip, two tbsp of nuts and two pieces of sweets/chocolate.
If the board is going to be a meal, double or triple that number.
How do you design a charcuterie board? Go big to small
Putting together the board in an aesthetically pleasing way is always the hardest part of building a cheese board, especially for folks that might not be visual learners or creative types.
For this struggle, I have another easy solution: go big to small. Start with big items and place them on the board first—whole wedges of cheese, containers with dips or bowls filled with small pieces like olives.
Then go down from there—I usually place all my cheese next (crumbled or sliced), then meats — salami rivers or prosciutto bundles, next longer stacks of veggies or crackers (keep those on the edge of your board if you can), then the small “gap fillers” like fruit, nuts and small sweets.
If you go from big to small, you will almost always have a board that is filled to the brim and overflowing with goodies. The fuller the board, the more appealing it is to the eye.
What ingredients work best together for a charcuterie board? Build the perfect bite.
Sometimes when I am not sure what cheese to buy or cracker to use, I think about what the perfect bite might from my board might be—and that helps me choose what ingredients to buy.
Usually the perfect bite is both sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy, basic and flavorful. For example, a plain water cracker usually pairs well with more flavorful toppings—like a sweet goat cheese and a salty piece of prosciutto.
A crusty rustic cracker or bread usually pairs nicely with a creamy brie and a sweet and spicy pepper jelly or honey. To build the perfect bite, go bread first!
Where to Find Cheap Charcuterie Board Ingredients
Trader Joe’s is an amazing place to get charcuterie board ingredients if you are on a budget! They have a ton of amazing stuff and all so cheap!
How to make an easy charcuterie board on a budget
- 1 wedge gouda cheese
- 1 package thick cut colby jack cheese slices
- 1 package assorted sliced salami and prosciutto
- 1 box assorted crackers
- 1 jar pepper jelly
- 1 honeycrisp apple, sliced
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- 1 cup marcona almonds
- 1 cup chocolate covered pretzels
- For all steps-- refer to photo below for placement of ingredients. Use a 12-14 inch charcuterie board or serving tray if possible.
- Slice apple and cucumber into thin slices. Use cucumber to create a "cucumber river" down the center of your board.
- Fan out 3 sets of four or five apple slices and place one set at either end of the cucumber river on your board. Place the third set across the board, as shown in photo.
- Place full wedge of Gouda on board
- Slice your pre-sliced Colby Jack cheese into triangles and layer together, as shown in photo.
- Fold Salami and prosciutto into quarters and bunch together to show texture, next to your cucumber river.
- Fan out at least two different cracker types, near the edge of your board.
- Fill in any gaps in the board with the almonds and pretzels, to make it look full
- Set your board next to a window with great lighting and snap your pic, because this cheese is Insta-worthy!