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Food? Oh no…
Don’t stress, we’ve all been there! Lucky for you, we’ve got the perfect solution for a last-minute appetizer:
A Charcuterie Board!
Creating a beautiful, vegan board is much easier than you think.
Here’s what we’ll cover (Click to jump to that section):
So, before you build your masterpiece, let’s cover the basics:
What Is a Charcuterie Board?
Back in the day, charcuterie (pronounced “shar-cute-er-ree”) was the “culinary art of preparing meat products such as bacon, salami, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit.”
Swap out the meats for veggie meats, cheeses for dairy-free alternatives, amp up the fruits and veggies and even this meat-centric dish can be plant-based.
The Key to a Great Board
A charcuterie board is a feast for the eyes as much as it is for the stomach, so you want ingredients that contrast and complement one another in texture, taste, and colors.
Pulling ingredients out of thin air can be kind of overwhelming, so before heading to the grocery store, try to determine the direction you want to go:
- Will it be sweet or savory?
- What time of day will you be indulging?
- Is there a specific theme you want to abide by?
- Are there any dietary restrictions to be mindful of?
Answering these questions will help you narrow down your shopping list and will make planning less daunting!
[ Image above from vegan gluten free life ]
Traditional Pairing Suggestions
While there’s still a tendency to focus on meats and cheeses when creating charcuterie boards, there are tons of ways to assemble a beautiful, vegan-friendly board that will please even the pickiest of eaters!
A focus on nuts, fruits, crackers, vegetables, olives, dipping sauces, spreads, and vegan cheeses is key here.
For some beloved favorites, include the following pairings on your board:
- Toasted bread with homemade jams
- Pickled vegetables with vegan mushroom “pâté”
- Fresh fruit and soft vegan cheeses
- Flavorful spreads and crackers
- Roasted nuts and dried fruits
- Fresh cut veggies with hummus
Want more inspiration? Check out this post from Nikki’s Plate!
Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty:
How to Select Your Ingredients: 5 Easy Steps
1. Decide Your Charcuterie MVP
Is it a vegan baked cheese, a veggie meat, or a dip?
Having a charcuterie MVP sets the stage for the rest of the board and all of the other flavors should compliment it in some way.
If a smoked baked cheese is the MVP, apples are the perfect crunch to compliment the bold flavor as well as apricots to balance the smokiness.
The result? a cohesive charcuterie.
If you choose a vegan cheese, keep in mind that cashew and almond-based cheeses have a nuttier profile, while coconut cheeses are on the creamy side.
And texture is very important.
Vegan cheeses range from soft (think cream cheese) to hard (think parmesan or cheddar). Soft cheeses tend to be milder in flavor, while harder cheeses have a more pronounced taste.
For the best board, try to include a healthy assortment of options to complement a wide range of palettes and preferences. If you’re having a hard time finding different textures, try cheeses with different flavors and seasonings to achieve a well-rounded assortment.
Not sure where to start?
Check out this article for a roundup of best vegan cheeses.
Tip: When shopping for vegan cheeses, look for cultured cheese. Cultured means probiotics have been added, which gives vegan options the traditional, cheesy, pungent flavor that is common in dairy-based cheese.
Still not sure what to choose?
Try one of the below charcuterie shining stars:
- Fit Living Eats’ Vegan Baked Goat Cheese paired with cucumbers and whole-grain crackers
- Emilie Eats’ go-to Veggie Sausages paired with a vegan cheese, olives, and grapes
- Karissa’s Vegan Kitchen’s scrumptious vegan dip recipes paired with carrots, celery or bell peppers
2. Cut Your Veggies
Veggies are a great way to get your daily dose of essential nutrients like Vitamins A and C, as well as iron, magnesium, and fiber.
The secret to making an Insta-worthy board is super-colorful veggies.
It can be as simple as swapping out your go-to veggies for their heirloom varieties, like purple sweet potatoes, pink watermelon radishes or yellow carrots.
And, bonus - according to nutritionist Kelly Jones, the phytochemicals, which gives heirloom veggies their unique hue, also have health benefits such as heart health, eye health, immune support and more.
Nutritious and colorful!
Get some inspo from The Crowded Kitchen’s eye-catching spreads here.
Another tip: cut your veggies into long sticks or thick circles for optimal dipping capabilities.
3. Figure Out Your Fruits
Why include fruit on your board?
It’s a great palate cleanser!
- Vitamin B1 (enables our bodies to use carbohydrates as energy)
- Vitamin B3 (helps lower cholesterol and boost brain function)
- Vitamin B6 (benefits the central nervous system)
- Antioxidants including as flavonoids and carotenoids
So pick your favorite fruits and throw them on your board!
However, keep in mind that you’re making a charcuterie board, not a fruit platter, so try to limit your choices to 2-3 fruits so you don’t overpower your board. Try one citrus, one sweet, and one crunchy (like red or green grapes).
Just remember, above all, when choosing which fruits and veggies to add, be sure to use what is in season to maximize taste. Check out this cheat sheet here.
4. Layer the Flavors
The key making your charcuterie board really stand out is in the layers.
Dips and spreads are the perfect way to add bold flavors, such as spicy, smokey or savory. From Beet Hummus, to Spicy Green Cashew Dip, to Baba Ganoush (a Middle Eastern roasted eggplant dip) or a vegan cheese spread, the options are endless.
Bear in mind that dips will fill you up fast, so try limiting to one ‘dense’ dip, such as a cheese spread, and one lighter dip, such as a hummus or Baba Ganoush… but we won’t judge if you can’t pick only two!
5. Add Some Crunch
You can’t finish your board without nuts.
Pour a small bowl of almonds, macadamia nuts or pecans to balance out all of the flavors on your board.
Then, fill in the corners of your board with crackers that compliment all of the different flavors:
- Veggie-heavy board: try herb-forward crackers
- Smoky flavors: try a lighter cracker to balance it out
- Spicy flavors: try a cheesy-flavor to compliment it
Or, if you have the time, try making your own vegan crackers, like Be Good Organic’s Cheesy Golden Crackers.
How to Assemble Your Board (The Easy Way)
What type of board should you use?
While natural wood is a classic choice for serving your boards, marble, bamboo, and cast iron boards have also grown in popularity.
Looking for shopping recommendations? Our favorite is this handmade board from SD Wood Designs; however, if you’re interested in something even more personalized, consider making one yourself! Check out these tutorials from DIY Huntress and Ana White for more inspiration.
Now to the tricky stuff:
When you start to build out your board, start by creating little piles of snacks in different areas of your tray, and placing contrasting colors next to each other to amplify visual appeal.
Once all of your ingredients have a home, fill in any gaps with whatever is leftover.
The fuller the board, the better it looks!
Tip: An easy way to get started is by placing little bowls filled with sauces and spreads on your board, and adding your ingredients around them.
While this isn’t vegan, here’s a great video on styling your board for additional inspiration!
Check out our "Vegan Charcuterie" board on Pinterest for some great ideas from vegan bloggers!
[ Image above from emilieeats ]
Bonus: 3 Crazy Out-of-the-Box Ideas You Have to Try
Want to have a little more fun with it? Here are some crazy, non-traditional ideas to try for your next get-together!
BRUNCH BOARD inspired by Completely Delicious
- Fluffy banana pancakes
- Vegan french toast sticks
- Chickpea flour waffles
- Sauces and dips: Honey, Maple Syrup, Coconut Yogurt
- Fruit: Blueberries, Bananas, Strawberries, Raspberries
FRENCH FRIES BOARD inspired by Reluctant Entertainer
- Truffle fries
- Sweet potato fries
- Zucchini fries
- Potato wedges
- Crinkle fries
- Waffle fries
- Tater tots
- Sauces: Ketchup, Homemade Barbecue Sauce, Vegan Fry Sauce, Honey Mustard, Roasted Garlic Truffle Aioli
MOVIE NIGHT SNACK BOARD inspired by Taming Twins (pictured above)
- Your Favorite Candy
- Popcorn Seasonings: Everything Bagel, Healthy Nacho, BBQ, or Cool Ranch Dorito
- If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out this post from Two Market Girls
- Roasted Chickpeas
- Chex Mix
You’re the Charcuterie Queen
As you can see, creating the perfect vegan Charcuterie Board is as easy as 1, 2, 3!
- Choose your ingredients
- Assemble your board
- Enjoy with loved ones (or alone, we won’t judge!)
Practice makes perfect!
Again, we pinned some beautiful examples on Pinterest, so if you want to visualize your board a little more, check those out.
We can’t wait to see the beautiful boards you create!
[ Image above from Salima's Kitchen ]
Want to learn more about vegan dairy? Check out our article "Dairy Free and Happy: Your Forever Guide to Plant-based Milk, Cheese, & More"
[ Cover photo from make mary ]