With the holidays just around the corner, let’s put together a vegan charcuterie board! They are extremely versatile, customizable, and easy to prepare. I’ll show you how you can create the perfect charcuterie board for your next gathering.
So what the heck is a charcuterie board anyway? Well, it’s a large platter filled with finger foods of varying flavors, textures, and colors. It’s a feast for the eyes as well as the senses. Charcuterie boards make a fantastic appetizer for parties, holidays, and other large social gatherings. They are also a fantastic way to serve many different foods as an appetizer or light meal. Everyone is able to select what they would like and create their own spread. In this post, I’ll give you tips about how to put together the perfect charcuterie board.
What to include on your Charcuterie Board
The trick to having the perfect charcuterie board is creating layers. You want to have layers of flavors as well as textures. Think sweet, spicy, salty, savory. As well as creamy, crunchy, and smooth. Fruits, vegetables, spreads, dips, crackers, breads, nuts, meats, cheezes…all of these can fit into any number of those categories. So let’s brainstorm a bit to give you some ideas that might be a little out of the box.
Select fruits that are in season. In the spring and summer think berries, peaches, nectarines, grapes. In the fall and winter months focus on figs, apples, persimmons, grapes, pomegranate arils. And don’t be afraid to add dried fruits. Sprinkle raisins over your board for a finishing touch. Or place dried apple rounds out since freshly sliced apples will brown too quickly.
Raw vegetables are definitely a must when making a charcuterie board. Think sweet bell peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, or cucumbers. If making a charcuterie board in the summer add grilled zucchini or summer squash. Even pickled or jarred vegetables will work. Think olives, asparagus, or artichokes.
Dips & Spreads
It’s easy to select fruits and vegetables when making a vegan charcuterie board. Obviously, those are vegan. But finding dips and spreads that are vegan can be a bit more challenging. If you don’t have access to a grocery store with a wide variety of vegan dips or spreads this may end up being the portion of the charcuterie board that you have to spend a little bit of time preparing. But don’t let that frighten you off. Most dips are very quick and easy to prepare. Allow me to give you some examples of both store-bought as well as homemade vegan dips and spreads.
- Store-Bought: Hope Foods has an amazing French Onion and Almond Dip; Wayfare Dairy-Free Rancho Dip; Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic Hummus; Trader Joe’s Jalapeño Lime Almond Dip; Siete Cashew Queso Mild Nacho; mustard; and Bitchin’ Sauce which has 10 vegan dips and sauces!
- Homemade: Hummus, guacamole, or any number of the above listed dips and sauces can easily be made at home.
Choose crackers that have some personality. You should have some mild ones that will pair well with anything and some others that are for specific dips and cheeses. Think outside the box. I love the beet crackers and sweet potato crackers from Trader Joes. Off the Eaten Path has a fantastically salty and crunchy Veggie Crisp. There are also dried carrot, beet, and kale chips. All of which will add depth and interest to your charcuterie board.
Use your favorite artisan breads to enhance the texture of your board. Add breads with rosemary, hunks of garlic, or cranberries and walnuts to create even more flavor on your board. And don’t think you have to slice your bread either! Feel free to rip the loaves into large chunks to add texture and visual interest to your board.
Including nuts in your charcuterie board will add visual interest and texture as well as flavor. Use raw, roasted, spiced, or candied nuts to further elevate the flavor profile of you board. Don’t underestimate the power that flavored and roasted seeds can have as well. I have three wonderful recipes for roasted squash seeds that would work perfectly in an autumnal charcuterie board.
A traditional charcuterie board will contain deli meats. Now, it is up to you to decide if you would like to include vegan meats in your own charcuterie board. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of vegan deli meat alternatives. I find them to be rubbery, extremely salty, and rather unappealing to look at. That however is just my opinion so please feel free to add whatever, if any, deli alternatives you find appetizing.
There are so many vegan cheeses available now! Check out your local grocery store or whip up your own nut-based cheeses at home. I love this feta recipe from Erin Ireland. It’s so simple and adds the saltiness to your board that definitely cannot be overlooked.
Now that you’ve determined what kinds of fruits, vegetables, dips, spreads, crackers, bread, nuts, “meats”, and cheezes you would like to include on your charcuterie board let’s take just a second to discuss the layout of the actual board. Some tips for creating a beautiful and inviting board are as follows:
- Pick a board large enough to fit everything you want to include. But not a board that is so large that you will have lots of unfilled space. Empty space on the board will give it an unfinished, uninviting feel. You can, to some extent, fill empty space with herbs but you want to use fresh herbs sparingly as a garnish, not as a star feature.
- Make sure that you provide utensils for spreading, cutting, spearing, and slicing the spreads, fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. These can be fancy to add interest to the board. They can be your everyday serving utensils. Or you can use something as simple as toothpicks! There’s not need to go out and buy anything special.
Charcuterie Board Steps
Once you have all the pieces of your charcuterie board puzzle figured out, it’s time to put them all together to create that visually appealing appetizer no one will be able to keep their hands off. Let’s go through the steps of laying out all your charcuterie board items.
- Step 1: Gather your board, bowls, and food items. Place any dips or spreads into your selected bowls and place them on the board in the rough location that you would like them to be.
- Step 2: Begin by placing your largest food items on the board first. Think large crackers, blocks of vegan cheese, fruits (such as this pomegranate half), and vegetables (the florets of broccoli). Ensure that the food is overlapping to prevent the board from showing through.
- Step 3: Place medium food items around the larger ones. Think slices of vegan deli “meat”, smaller crackers, chips, and/or dried fruit.
- Step 4: Place your smallest food items on the board last. If necessary, corral them onto the board by surrounding them with larger, sturdier foods and bowls to prevent them from rolling off the board. Think loose grapes, blueberries, or nuts.
- Step 5: The final step is adding fresh herbs to your board. Top dips with parsley, dill or cilantro as appropriate. Stick sprigs of rosemary or sage out from under bowls. Don’t be afraid to re-arrange as you go. If something doesn’t look or feel right rearrange it or remove it from the board. Everything you intended on using might not fit and that’s ok. You can always have two charcuterie boards!
Make a dessert charcuterie board! Include your favorite cookies, cakes, chocolate hummus, fruits for dipping in chocolate, sugared nuts…let me know in the comments section what you include in your dessert charcuterie board.
I hope that you all have found this charcuterie board how-to informative and helpful. Know that any board you put together will be a hit with your party guest. I mean, who doesn’t love a bunch of fresh food sprawled out on a wooden board? Be sure to let me know in the comments if you make a charcuterie board.