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Building the Perfect Grazing Board

Grazing boards, Charcuterie boards, and cheese boards have all hit massive levels of popularity over the past few years. And honestly, we can absolutely see why they’re so popular. When done well, they are beautiful additions or centerpieces for any table setting, they are fun for guests to snack on and explore new flavors, and they can be fully customizable to any theme, group size, or dietary preference. The best part; It’s not rocket science, and there’s no WRONG way to put a board together. Today we’re going to go over some helpful tips on how to get started.

Charcuterie VS Grazing Board. What’s the difference?

Great question. The word “charcuterie” comes from the French language, and signifies “a delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes”. Nowadays, the word has evolved a lot to encompass both fine deli meats and cheeses, and in most cases, you’ll even see fruits, nuts, bread, and olives included in charcuterie boards. the main factor here is that a charcuterie board does usually signify that there is meat included. On the other hand, a “grazing” board can be much more versatile. Grazing boards may be entirely vegetarian, with a unique selection of roasted vegetables, pickles, and jams, or they can be entirely dessert based, with chocolates, fruits, or other sweets. A “grazing” board is simply a display of snack-able foods that guests can “graze” on casually.

Getting started: Serving platter and utensils.

The platter doesn’t have to be massive or ornate, something that you only use for special occasions. Just about ANY flat surface will work. Some ideas you may already have laying around the house:

  • Cutting board (wood, or otherwise)
  • Baking tray (the sides can be helpful in some cases
  • Breadboard
  • Marble pastry board
  • Large flat-ish serving platters (For instance, maybe that big plate used for serving the thanksgiving turkey)
  • Countertop (yup, right on the counter surface. Great if you don’t have to worry about transportation. We recommend putting a layer of parchment paper down for easy cleanup.)

For utensils, we love to include small bowls or jars for items like jams, honey, Olives, or even smaller nuts like pistachios. Be sure to include small spoons to give guests a way to scoop these items.

In general, we prefer to pre-cut anything that will be on the platter into bite-size pieces, but if there’s anything that’s meant to be spread, or that will need to be cut, be sure to include the necessary cheese knives for each of those items.

Lastly, if you don’t want guests to use their fingers, make sure you’re providing either toothpicks and/or a few sets of tongs instead.

What to include:

Because this is such an open question, we are going to outline a few shopping lists based on different themes/styles. As we stated in the beginning, there’s no wrong way to build a grazing board, and you should absolutely customize your board based on what you and your guests enjoy. For quantities, we like to go with about 2oz of each item per person as a rule of thumb (as an appetizer), enough for each person to try a little bit of everything. These examples should serve as a starting point for you to build off. Feel free to make it your own, and tag us if you decide to share it on social!

The Classic Charcuterie:

  • 3-5 types of thinly sliced delicatessen meats
  • 3-5 varieties of cheese (some soft, some hard)
  • 1-2 types of olives or pickles
  • 1-2 types of nuts (roasted or raw)
  • 3-4 types of crackers/crusty bread
  • 1-2 types of Fruits (usually grapes, apples, or pears)
  • 1-2 types of dried fruit (figs or apricots are a great option)
  • 1-2 options for jam or honey

 

The Veggie Table

  • 3-5 varieties of cheese (some soft, some hard)
  • 1-2 types of olives or pickles
  • 2-3 types of nuts (roasted or raw)
  • 3-4 types of crackers/crusty bread
  • 3-4 options for spreads/dips (this can include hummus, jams, tapenade, mustards, etc.)
  • 2-3 raw veggies (thinly sliced radishes, cucumbers, etc.)
  • 2-3 Cooked veggies (Roasted rep pepper, Roasted tomatoes, Butternut squash, etc)
  • 2-3 Fresh OR Dried fruit (Berries, grapes, etc.)

 

The Sweat Heat

This board can be a variation of either the Classic Charcuterie or the Veggie Table, but the focus is on the types of items you decide to include. Try to incorporate a mix of spicy and sweet. Some examples may include:

  • Peppered Salame
  • Hot Capocollo
  • Chorizo Serrano
  • Chipotle Gouda
  • Habanero Cheddar
  • Peperoncino peppers
  • Hot stone-ground mustard
  • Hot pepper honey
  • Blueberry goat cheese
  • Caramelized onion jam
  • Rosemary honey walnuts
  • Candied dried fruits
  • Baked brie topped with jam

 

The Dessert Lover

This is a sweet treat, and the possibilities are endless. We’re listing a few of our favorite items here that are easy to serve, and that look great on a grazing board

  • Yogurt covered pretzels
  • Chocolate dipped strawberries
  • Dark chocolate almond stars
  • Brownie bites
  • 1-2 types of cookies/wafers/ sweet biscuits
  • Nutella and jams for dipping
  • Fruits (yes, fruits are sweet and can definitely be included on your dessert board!)
  • 2-3 varieties of nuts (can be sweet or salty)
  • Whole honeycomb (a beautiful addition to any board)
  • Creamy cheese and crackers (optional, but can be nice if you want some more savory options mixed in on this board).

 

Putting it all together:

Arranging your board partially depends on how big your platter is, and how many guests you’re serving. In general, the different types of items you’re including should be evenly spaced out. That way all the cheese isn’t in one corner, and all the fruits in another. Unless of course, you’re making a very small board and there’s only one of each thing. But in general, we would recommend starting with one group of items and spacing them out across the board. Then move to the next category of items, and so on, and so on. It’s also helpful to place items that go well together next to each other. For instance, if you have Brie and pears on your board, maybe place those next to each other. But again, there’s no wrong way to arrange a board. Just keep three things in mind:

  • Create visual interest
  • Make sure each category of items is accessible from multiple sides of the board (so your guests don’t crowd around one corner)
  • Things that go well together, should be next to each other.

And there you have it! Your guide to creating the grazing board of your dreams. Remember that making a board should be a fun exploration of flavors, and you should tailor it to your needs. And grazing boards are an excellent way for you and your guests to try something new!

Be sure to check out our selection of serving boards, unique deli meats and cheeses, and artisanal goods. We rotate our selection often, so come back often to see what’s new. And if you ever need more assistance to craft your next board, our team is happy to help make recommendations.