Charcuterie boards are the pantry raider’s dream come true. They are a luscious spread of different meats, cheeses, and snacks you can graze on to satisfy your stomach and scratch your snacking itch.
Here at Pick On Us, we have put our experience in the food industry to work and pulled together some awesome charcuterie tips and tricks so you can start serving charcuterie at your restaurant, hotel, or catering service.
This article will explain what charcuterie is, why it’s a great addition to your food service brand, and some tips for crafting a great charcuterie board.
Are you ready to get started?
What is Charcuterie?
First off, what is charcuterie? And how do you pronounce it?
Charcuterie is pronounced:
- Shar (as in sharp)
- Koo (just like coup)
- Ter (as in turkey)
- Ee (as in eel)
The word charcuterie originated from the French language. Char means flesh, and cuterie means cooked, so charcuterie originally meant cooked flesh. It referred to the cold meats category, including salami, pate, smoked meats, prosciutto, and more.
Thankfully, modern-day charcuterie boards include more than “cooked flesh.” When we say “charcuterie” today, we mean a serving board of some sort topped with a delicious array of meats, cheeses, fruit, nuts, pickles, and more.
You can serve charcuterie boards as an appetizer, light meal, or after a meal to fill in all the cracks. They can be as simple or extravagant as the chef wishes, ranging from table-covering feasts to small, one-person cheese boards.
Your options are limitless!
Why do customers love charcuterie boards?
There are plenty of perks to a charcuterie board that you don’t get with regular appetizers.
For one thing, they offer so many options! You can get all kinds of charcuterie boards, and each board has its own combination of ingredients. It's so fun to pick and choose each bite, and there is sure to be something for everyone.
You also don’t need any utensils to eat charcuterie, except a spoon or spatula in the dips and spreads. Also, skillfully arranged charcuterie boards are beautiful! They give the feeling of abundance and elegance at the same time - two things that don’t often go together.
Perhaps the best feature of charcuterie boards is that they are usually shared among a group. There is something special and meaningful about being with a group of friends and eating food from the same “plate.” In a way, it brings you all closer together.
Plus, you can all discuss which tasty bites are the best, and try each one together.
6 Benefits of Serving Charcuterie at Your Foodservice Business
Now we know what charcuterie is. Why should you have it at your food service business? More importantly, how can it help you build your brand?
Let’s look at 6 benefits of serving charcuterie at your business.
Charcuterie is popular and sought after
Charcuterie is a hot item on many menus! It's such a fun thing to share with friends, and it can be a memorable experience.
It’s often popular with the same type of customers who are willing to pay a bit more for a unique culinary experience and a higher quality of food. So making quality charcuterie can be a lucrative investment.
Charcuterie is easy
Most charcuterie ingredients have a long shelf life, so they are easy to keep on hand. And all you have to do to prepare a board is arrange the ingredients. You don't normally have to do too much cooking or preparing.
Alternatively, a lot of charcuterie ingredients can be specialized and made in-house, giving you the opportunity for a unique flair.
Charcuterie allows for upselling opportunities
Charcuterie pairs well with other things that may be on your menus, such as wines and other a la carte items. Therefore it offers plenty of opportunities for add-ons.
If you make your own charcuterie ingredients, you could even consider offering packaged/labeled versions of your most popular items so customers can buy a pack of their favorite dainties to take home with them.
Bonus: If you want to know how to create unforgettable cocktails to go with your charcuterie boards, read our article on 3 ways to make a crafty signature cocktail.
Charcuterie offers endless (marketable!) options
There are so many options for tailored charcuterie boards:
- Seasonal boards
- Fruit or veggie boards
- Artisan cheese boards
- Brunch boards
- Vegan, gluten-free, or paleo boards
- Dessert boards
- Prepackaged one-person boards or plates
- Personal charcuterie cups or cones (for those who don’t like germs)
- Themed boards (no limits!)
There is no end to the marketable options for boards! The sky really is the limit.
When you market your charcuterie, make sure to play up any limited time, seasonal, or unique in-house elements on your boards.
Charcuterie can be unique
Charcuterie offers your chefs an opportunity to experiment with unique housemade pickles, dips, spreads, and other tasty tidbits.
You could even create a board centered around your own special house-made sauce or other food! There is a special allure that comes with in-house products.
Your charcuterie menu is your opportunity to give your customers an experience they can’t find anywhere else. It’s your chance to create a unique, unforgettable dining experience! Your customers will remember you for your special foods, creating brand loyalty.
Serve your charcuterie and watch the phones pop out as customers snap pictures of their artistic meal. Soon those pictures will be all over social media!
That is why it can be a great marketing strategy to use custom branded boards, skewers, and toothpicks for your charcuterie. Then those pictures on social media are free marketing for your brand!
Charcuterie is flexible
You can serve charcuterie as an appetizer, meal, snack, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It can really fit anywhere anytime. You can customize it to fit any situation.
Whether you are serving a snack to a large crowd at a party or shower or a small appetizer to a few customers, charcuterie works!
A few more places you could serve a luscious spread of charcuterie:
- At the bar
- At parties and showers
- As a brunch
- Themed for local celebrations, sporting events, and festivals
5 Categories of Charcuterie Essentials
We have talked about the edible part of charcuterie. What about the non-edible essentials you should have on hand?
Here are a few essential items you should have on hand for serving charcuterie:
- Boards (These custom branded charcuterie boards can help make customers remember your brand!)
- Cheese knives (each cheese on your board should have a different knife.)
- Ramekins or serving bowls
- Spatulas, tongs, and miscellaneous utensils for spreading and eating.
- Don’t forget toothpicks! Guests don’t like to get their fingers messy, and fun toothpicks add a lot to any party.
Check out Pick On Us’ line of disposable, eco-friendly restaurant supplies to find everything you need for serving charcuterie!
How To Craft A Great Board
Let’s get into some nitty-gritty details! How can you start making great charcuterie boards at your restaurant, hotel, or catering business?
First off, let’s look at the board itself.
You can get lots of different types of boards for charcuterie. There are wood boards, bamboo boards, marble boards, slate boards, and more!
There aren’t any rules for boards. Just make sure it’s food-safe and attractive.
If you want to get really fancy at your restaurant, check out these custom branded charcuterie boards by Pick On Us. With these custom boards, you can build your food service brand while serving attractive food and staying 100% eco-friendly!
We will discuss building your brand with charcuterie boards more later in this article. Now let’s move on to the exciting part - what goes on top of the board!
Choosing ingredients for your board
Of course, what goes on your charcuterie board depends on your tastes and the theme or aesthetic you want. You can customize it how you choose. But here is a master list of everything that goes on your typical charcuterie board:
- Bread or baguettes
- Fresh or dried fruits
- Drizzles such as jam or honey
To put it another way, you could include 8 categories of food on your board:
- Crackers and bread
- Fruits and veggies
You want to think about selecting various items from each of these categories that complement each other well and provide a variety of tastes, colors, and textures on your board.
Let’s look at tips for selecting items in each of these categories.
Charcuterie Board Meats
When selecting your meats, it’s best to choose both some whole muscle cuts and some encased meats like sausage and bologna. You may want to consider some forcemeats or ground meats as well, to add some variety.
Whole muscle cuts are best served sliced paper-thin, while encased meats could be sliced or served whole with a knife.
Some classic meats for a charcuterie board include:
- Sweet Lebanon bologna
- Pate (the traditional forcemeat for a charcuterie board)
- Snack sticks
If you are serving your board as an appetizer, count on serving roughly 3 ounces of meat per person. Double that to 6 ounces if the board is the main course, since people will eat a little more.
Charcuterie Board Cheeses
Cheese is often the star of the charcuterie board! Here are four basic types of cheese:
When selecting cheeses for your charcuterie board, you will want to choose a variety, preferably from different categories. This way, you will be sure to include a range of different textures and tastes so your guests get a varied and fascinating culinary experience.
Another great way to ensure you get some variety is to include cheeses from different types of milk, like goat, cow, sheep, etc.
How much cheese should you serve?
If you are serving the charcuterie board as an appetizer, plan on around 2-3 ounces of cheese per person. If your board is the main course, plan on more like 4-5 ounces per person.
Each cheese should have its own cheese knife, so you don’t mix the flavors. Cheese is best to serve the cheese at room temperature to get the most vibrant and captivating flavor.
Crackers and Bread for Charcuterie Boards
You will want to choose crackers and bread that complement your meat and cheese selections.
You can get artisan crackers with a pop of flavor, like rosemary parmesan crackers or virtually flavorless water crackers that allow your other flavors to shine.
Again, try to select a variety of colors, textures, and flavors of crackers. You could offer a buttery Ritz cracker plus something with some texture, like a Triscuit. It’s up to you.
Three common types of crackers and bread for charcuterie trays include:
Some common nuts you can’t go wrong with include:
- Marcona almonds
- Macadamia nuts
To add a little zip of flavor, remember to add something pickled. Pickles pair wonderfully with meats and add an element of culinary interest.
Olives are another must. But remember that you don't need to overdo the pickled elements. A little goes a long way, so you just need a few on the side.
Fruits and Veggies
Here is where you can add a splash of color to your board!
Your fruits and veggies should complement the rest of your board, but besides that, it’s up to you. Be sure to pick several different colors of fruits and veggies to give your board visual interest.
Grapes are a common fruit to add, as they pair exceptionally well with cheese. Strawberries, raw peppers, and baby carrots are other colorful options. You can also consider adding some leafy greens or sprigs of rosemary or olive leaves.
Pro tip: If you are serving your board before dinner as an appetizer, serve meats and veggies with savory sides, perfect for whetting the appetite. If you are serving it after dinner, go for fruits and sweeter sides that will pleasantly fill in all the cracks and satisfy the sweet tooth.
Condiments add a pop of flavor and moisture to your board, plus some great interest. Add some mustards, hot sauce, or your specialty dips and spreads!
Chocolates For Charcuterie Boards
Aaaand….top it all off with some sweetness! Remember to add some dark or specialty chocolate to your charcuterie for those with a sweet tooth.
Charcuterie Presentation Tips
Once you have your ingredients picked it’s time to lay out and present your board. When it comes to the full culinary experience, visual presentation matters almost as much as taste - as they say, “you eat with your eyes!”
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Roll or fold your meat. You likely won’t have space to spread your whole muscle cuts out flat, so rolling them or folding them will save you space as well as creating some texture and height.
- Add some garnishes such as thyme, olive leaves, or other greenery to make it look lush.
- Use lots of little serving bowls or ramekins that go with your theme.
- Make your board look as full as possible! Charcuterie boards should create an abundant, overflowing feel.
- Drizzle some of your honey or dip over your cheeses or bread.
- Let your fruits fall over the edge of the plate for a full look. You can also add some height and dimension by using large, full clusters of grapes or other fruits.
- Get creative with things! Make a pepperoni rose, cut your strawberries into fans, or make radish flowers. There are lots of ways to present food in new, fresh ways!
Now you know why charcuterie could be a lucrative addition to your foodservice business!
Plus, you know more about how you could start making gorgeous charcuterie boards. If you want to start serving charcuterie at your business right now, check out the custom, eco-friendly boards we have at Pick On Us.
We also offer other supplies for restaurants and catering businesses. All our products are 100% disposable and eco-friendly.
Some of our collections include:
Check it out at pickonus.com to place your order today!