If your Thanksgiving is anything like mine, you have friends and family hovering in the kitchen until the much-anticipated meal is ready. In order to keep people from continually asking “Is it ready yet?,” a Thanksgiving charcuterie board is the perfect Thanksgiving appetizer to serve while you’re finishing up the mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey. Packed with meat, cheese, nuts, fruits and veggies, this seasonal spread has something for everyone.
© TMB studio
Foods to Include
Cheeses and meat: It wouldn’t be a traditional charcuterie board without cheese and meat! We opted for rolled-up cuts of hot uncured capocollo, and several kinds of cheese: a tangy blue, cubes of Colby and a wedge of Merlot Bellavitano with a vibrant, edible rind. We also cut a maple leaf shape into a small wheel of buttery Brie and filled it with highbush cranberry jam—a simple yet creative way to incorporate fall shapes on your Thanksgiving charcuterie board.
Fruits, vegetables and herbs: A wide selection of fall produce makes a Thanksgiving board feel especially seasonal.
A loose line of apples, pears and miniature pumpkins (both real and ceramic) draws your eye from one side of the spread to the other. Blanched green beans, as well as sprigs of sage, rosemary and thyme, bring in a pop of green to break up the warm harvest hues, while tiny arils in pomegranate halves add a lot of visual texture—even in comparison to slightly bigger fruits like dried apricots and grapes.
Other items: Both pickles and homemade cinnamon praline nuts bring some necessary crunch, and would make a perfect pair with the blanched green beans. Maple leaf cookies from Trader Joe’s are a sweet treat that everyone will want to try, while a bowl of mixed olives in a pumpkin-shaped bowl is a salty, savory finishing touch.
How to Build a Thanksgiving Charcuterie Board
Step 1: Begin with the Brie
First, cut a maple leaf shape into the wheel of Brie using a cookie cutter. Then, place the Brie and the jar of highbush cranberry jam a little off center from the middle of the board.
While we went with a maple leaf shape to match the Trader Joe’s cookies, you can use whatever fall-shaped cookie cutout you like.
Step 2: Place the bowls
After the Brie and jam, place the next biggest items: the bowls. Put down the bowl of olives in the top right corner, and balance out the board by putting the other bowl of candied pecans further away, leaving some space in between the cheese to make room for produce.
Step 3: Make space for the apples, pears and pumpkins
The empty space between the jar of jam and the bowl of pecans is perfect for bigger items like apples and pears. After you place some there, disperse the rest of them throughout the board, feeling free to cut one (or a few) in half.
Step 4: Set down the other cheeses
We placed the Merlot Bellavitano next to the Brie, since the purple coloring on the rind matches the cranberry jam in the middle of the wheel of Brie. Cubes of Colby would pair nicely with the pecans, so we put them next to each other in the bottom left corner. We set the red pomegranate halves above the orange bowl of pecans.
Step 5: Fill with remaining fruits, veggies, pickles and meat
Since the remaining items are smaller, they’re perfect for filling in the gaps on the board. We put the pickles and dried apricots in the upper left-hand corner, next to the pomegranates. Because the blanched green beans and rolls of hot uncured capocollo are similarly shaped, they look nice near each other in the lower left-hand corner.
Create some visual contrast by putting the round grapes next to the Colby cubes.
Step 6: Arrange the finishing touches
Arrange the Trader Joe’s maple leaf cookies to the right of the wheel of Brie, and sprinkle in a few more cookies in other spots of the board as well. Tuck in aromatic green sprigs of sage, rosemary and thyme sporadically.
Step 7: Serve!
Put out snack plates, napkins and toothpick skewers, so guests can prick their desired food items easily without using their fingers. If you have them, cheese markers will help you as a host by taking away the need to explain each kind of cheese to every guest. If you like, Chardonnay would be an ideal drink pairing, or try even more perfect pairings for cheese boards.
Place spoons with the pecans, olives and jam— and don’t forget to fill your wheel of Brie with the jam before you serve it!
What else can you put on a Thanksgiving charcuterie board?
Although we only included one kind of meat on our board, you could easily add more if your guests love the protein. Some other options for charcuterie meats could include prosciutto or salami. Adding a few kinds of crackers to go along with the slew of cheeses makes perfect sense—whether you go with Wheat Thins, Triscuits or club crackers (or all of the above).
Otherwise, take the spread in a different direction by making it into a Thanksgiving treat board: Fill yours up with fudge-striped turkey cookies, fall-themed sugar cookies, candy corn, maple-glazed shortbread cookies, truffles and more of your favorite fall desserts.
Story by Lauren Pahmeier for Taste of Home©