Make an unforgettable charcuterie board for your Thanksgiving celebrations. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making a festive Turkey Day charcuterie board.
A cheese board is always a hit at any gathering—and it’s doubly special for holidays like Thanksgiving because it’s a simple, festive way to serve an appetizer! Our Thanksgiving charcuterie board looks really fancy, but it is actually super easy and comes together in just minutes. Serve this cheese board with a bottle of wine as guests arrive for your big meal, and you’ll have a festive atmosphere happening in no time flat. Let us show you how to make it!
What is a Thanksgiving charcuterie board?
A Thanksgiving charcuterie board is a show-stopping appetizer for your Thanksgiving meal! It’s an arrangement of cheese, cured meats, crackers, and snacky goodies, all on one big board. We love it because it takes just minutes to put together and has so many different textures and flavors—there is a little something for everyone!
How do you make a charcuterie board for Thanksgiving?
Our secret to a festive Thanksgiving cheeseboard? Just stick with the right color palette! It really is that simple. We relied a lot on deep reds and oranges for our Thanksgiving board, plus some earthy brown colors (thanks crackers and cookies!) to make the board feel warm and cozy. Stick to that color palette when you go shopping for goodies, add a few festive touches (we used faux fall leaves and mini pumpkins), and your board will look like it’s ready for the turkey day table.
Do you have to use a wooden board for charcuterie?
Nope! We do like the color of the wood against the red, yellow, and orange fall colors that are often in Thanksgiving decor, but any big flat surface that is food-safe will work. We’ve used a cutting board, slate board, and even a baking sheet in the past for our charcuterie boards!
How many meats and cheeses should a charcuterie board have?
For the best Thanksgiving cheese board, you’ll want foods in a wide variety of flavors, textures, and colors. As a starting point, we recommend:
- One soft cheese, like goat cheese or Brie
- One hard cheese, like gouda, gruyere, or cheddar cheese
- One crumbly cheese, such as feta or blue cheese
- Two meats. At least one of these should be cured—think salami or prosciutto
Look for a bargain bin if you’re at a higher-end grocery store with a cheese counter. Many have a basket of cheese odds and ends that were too small for people to order—they cost less, and can be just the right size for a cheese board.
How much food do I need?
Since this Thanksgiving charcuterie board is meant as an appetizer to hold people over to the big feast, we recommend one standard-size (4-6 ounces) wedge of cheese or meat per three people served. But when in doubt, we err on the side of having extra meat and cheese.
What else should I put on my Thanksgiving charcuterie board?
We like to try to have at least one or two things from each of these categories:
- Crunchy. You’ll need something to put the cheese and meat on! Various types of crackers or slices of baguette are always winners. Make sure you have extras available in small bowls on the side if they don’t all fit on the board. Candied or salty walnuts, cashews, almonds, or pecans are good, too.
- Salty. Cornichons, stuffed olives, and pickles are all good choices.
- Sweet. We wanted to incorporate some yellow, orange, and red colors to evoke the fall foliage outside. So we lean into dried apricots and candied cranberries here. We also like to add small cookies or chocolate-covered nuts for a little sweet treat. This board is a perfect time to bust out those adorable maple shortbread cookies that are everywhere in the fall!
- Fruits and Veggies. To keep with the fall colors vibe, we like to use red grapes, pomegranate arils, and persimmon slices. Pear and apple slices are great if you pre-treat them with Ball Fruit Fresh or diluted lemon juice to keep them from browning. When we want to add vegetables, we like to use blanched vegetables, sliced bell peppers, or cherry tomatoes.
- Condiments. Honey, jams, jellies, cranberry sauce, grainy mustard, and other dips are all good choices.
- Garnishes. To stick with the Thanksgiving theme, we garnish our board with typical Thanksgiving herbs like thyme and rosemary.
What goes first on a charcuterie board?
When it comes to snack boards like these, we have a very “pile and go” mentality. The cheese is always the star of these boards, so that’s what we put down first. If you’re serving mostly adults, you can put the uncut wedges of cheese right on the tray with cheese knives and allow people to slice whatever size they’d like. But if you have a lot of kids around, we recommend pre-slicing or pre-cubing the cheese—that way, kids can serve themselves without interrupting adult conversations for help.
How do you make a charcuterie board step by step?
For a stunning board that comes together in minutes, here is how to build your Thanksgiving charcuterie board:
- Put down the cheese. Space the cheeses evenly throughout the surface of the board.
- Arrange the meats and non-cracker salty items around the cheeses. These include nuts, olives, and other savory goodies.
- Fill in with sweet foods. Add fresh and dry fruits, plus any sweet snacks you selected.
- Add piles of crackers around the board. We like to use a variety of crackers.
- Add condiments. Small jars of jam or mustard can go directly on the board, but you may need to transfer some condiments to small bowls.
- Fill in any holes with clusters of grapes or fresh herbs to make the board look full and lush.
Can I prepare my charcuterie board ahead of time?
Assembling this Thanksgiving appetizer should take only a few minutes, but you can do some of the prep ahead of time if you want. Assemble up to a day in advance, wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerating until party time. We recommend waiting to add the crunchy foods until right before serving—they can lose some of their crispness in the fridge.