No holiday spread is complete without a Christmas charcuterie board. This simple how-to guide will show you exactly what you need to know about charcuterie and how to build a festive Christmas tree charcuterie of your own!
Don’t be afraid to try making a charcuterie board this holiday season. After looking at all of the picture-perfect boards online, it may seem like a daunting task. However, I can assure you they’re both fun and easy to create!
Learn different meats and cheese pairings, unique ideas for fruit and vegetables, and how to create a festive charcuterie Christmas tree!
What Is Charcuterie?
Charcuterie (pronounced shar-koo-tuh-ree) is a branch of cooking that involves preparing meats like salami, ham, sausage, bacon, pâtés, and confit.
The term “charcuterie” is French, and translates to “products of a fancy pork butcher.” Although pork is often used as the main ingredient, many modern charcuterie boards include a wide variety of options from cheese and crackers to fruit, vegetables, nuts, and dips.
Charcuterie Boards For Special Occasions
Charcutier boards might be the single best appetizer to put together for special occasions like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Easter. They’re easy to prepare, look absolutely stunning, and are always a hit amongst the crowd.
Of course, one of the most popular versions is a Christmas charcuterie board. You can design it to look like a tree, a wreath, or even a star if you’re up for it! Choose festive colors to turn a mishmash of ingredients into a gorgeous charcuterie Christmas tree!
Christmas Tree Charcuterie Ingredients
See the full list of ingredients in the recipe card below.
I layer fresh rosemary in between the other ingredients to form the Christmas “tree” branches. You can also use fresh thyme, sage, or even real fir tree branches.
Choose whichever cheese varieties you and your guests will love! I included cheddar and pepper jack in this board, but here are some more ideas:
- Hard & semi-hard cheese: Cheddar, pepper jack, Colby, Parmesan, smoked Gouda, Asiago, gruyere, manchego, Havarti, or Provolone.
- Soft cheese: Gorgonzola, Gourney (Boursin), mozzarella, burrata, goat cheese, or brie.
Use cured meats like Genoa salami, peppered salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, capocollo, summer sausage, or Spanish chorizo.
Carbs & Nuts
Pretzels, water crackers, Triscuits, pita chips, baguette slices, pistachios, macadamia nuts, candied pecans or almonds, and Christmas cookies all make fantastic additions.
Fruits & Vegetables
Use vibrant fruits and vegetables like grapes (green or red), olives, strawberries, blueberries, pomegranates, apples, raspberries, blackberries, dried figs, dates, bell peppers, radishes, cucumbers, celery, or cherry tomatoes.
How To Build A Christmas Tree Charcuterie
Step 1: Find A Board
Start with a large rectangular platter or wooden cutting board. Plan out how many guests you will be serving, and use a board that will fit all of the ingredients.
Step 2: Make The Trunk
Place pretzel sticks vertically at the bottom of the platter or board to create the trunk of the Christmas tree. You can use crackers, but I find pretzels are the best-looking option.
Step 3: Form The Base
Lay a row of fresh rosemary horizontally across the bottom of the board to establish the base of your tree. As I mentioned above, you can also use other fresh herbs or small fir tree branches.
Step 4: Form The Tree
After that, place a row of cheese above the rosemary. Continue layering ingredients and rosemary in shorter rows as you move up to create a triangular shape.
Step 5: Shape The Meat Slices
For any meat slices (like pepperoni), fold them in half and stick them together with toothpicks so they stand up. Remember to assemble your tree using an even mix of colors!
Step 6: Add The Finishing Touches
Place any ingredients that don’t fit in the tree next to it in small bowls, and make a star on top with extra cheese cubes. Decorate the board with more herbs, branches, or berries. Now, you’re ready to eat!
- Use a large cutting board. It needs to be large enough to fit the completed Christmas tree and any additional bowls or decorations.
- Serve the charcuterie board with small appetizer plates to prevent any spills!
- Colored ramekins and dishes add more festivity to the board.
- Don’t forget forks, spoons, and knives to make serving easier (especially if you add any soft cheeses or dips)!
- Switch ingredients up: Don’t worry about buying the exact ingredients shown in this guide. Use what you have on hand, or plan out some of your favorites.
- Don’t stress over perfection: Christmas charcuterie boards are supposed to be fun! Don’t stress over making it look perfect. Everyone will love that you went through the effort of making it for them!
- Prep in advance: Prepping all of the ingredients in advance will help you put together the board much faster. Wash the fruit and vegetables, cut any meats or cheeses that need it, and take foods out of their packages. Don’t cut the produce until just before serving to prevent it from browning.
- Use parchment paper: Adding a layer of parchment paper first can help with cleaning up and projecting the board from stains.
- Serve at room temperature: Charcuterie boards are best served at room temperature. Before you lay it out for your guests, remove everything from the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
What To Do With Leftovers
If you have leftovers, remove the crackers and nuts and store them in an airtight container. Use plastic wrap to cover the rest of the board and store it in the fridge for up to 1-2 days.
More Christmas Recipes
If you’re planning an entire Christmas feast, try out some of these other holiday recipes:
- Spiral ham
- Green bean casserole
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Pressure cooker mashed potatoes
- Homemade cranberry sauce
Frequently Asked Questions
How far in advance should you make a charcuterie board?
You can make a charcuterie board 2-3 hours in advance. Just make sure to keep it refrigerated and take it out 30-45 minutes before serving so the food has time to warm to room temperature.
Are Christmas charcuterie boards gluten-free?
Christmas charcuterie boards (and all charcuterie boards in general) have many varying ingredients. Whether or not your charcuterie board is gluten-free depends on the ingredients you choose to include.
How much food should I include on a charcuterie board?
Your charcuterie board should include about 2 ounces of meat and cheese per person if it will be served as an appetizer. If it is the main course, include approximately 5 ounces of meat and cheese per person.
Quick & Easy Christmas Charcuterie Board
- 8-10 sprigs Fresh rosemary
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese (or colby cubed)
- 8 ounces pepper jack cheese (cubed)
- 1 cup green olives (pitted)
- 1 cup pepperoni (sliced)
- 1 cup salami (cubed)
- 1 cup green or purple seedless grapes
- ¼ cup pretzel sticks
- Crackers (water crackers, triscuits, pita chips, etc.)
- Use a large rectangular platter or wooden cutting board.
- Place your pretzels vertically at the bottom of the platter/board to create the trunk of the tree.
- Then lay a row of fresh rosemary horizontally across the bottom of the board to establish the base of your tree.
- After that, just begin placing your ingredients in shorter rows as you move up to create a triangle. Make sure as you are assembling your tree to plan it out using a mix of colors!
- Layer one cheese, rosemary, cubed salami, then pepperoni (fold in half and stick with toothpicks to stand up), other cheese, olives, red grapes. Nestle sprigs of rosemary between each layer.