Catersource is part of the Informa Connect Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

How Caterers Can Elevate Simple Charcuterie Spreads

Artfully designed charcuterie spreadshave an inherent ability to elevate any event – from weddings and engagement parties to Mother’s Day gatherings, baby showers, graduation celebrations, and everything in between. They can also be a crowd-pleasing offering, appealing to a variety of different diets and taste palettes. 

Photo courtesy Graze Craze

When sourcing and creating charcuterie spreads for a crowd, I’ve found that simplicity is best. It's better to have more of a few key ingredients than a little bit of everything. Here are several things you can do to add thoughtful touches and elevate even the simplest of spreads.

Use only the highest quality and freshest ingredients

Sourcing the highest quality and freshest ingredients is the easiest way to take your charcuterie spread from good to amazing. People are very discerning when it comes to quality and often willing to pay more for something they trust is better. Not only do fresher ingredients taste better, but they are more visually appealing.

When deciding what ingredients to include in your spread, consider the party size and bites that pair well together. If the spread you’re creating is for an appetizer, then you only need two to three ounces of meat and cheese per person. For example, for an event that will have 150 people, you’ll want to source 300-450 ounces of product total. From there, you can prioritize sourcing ingredients that are popular and go well together. Some of our favorites include prosciutto, smoked Gouda, and honey which create a delicious bite and soppressata which pairs perfectly with flavorful, rich cheeses. Brie is always a crowd favorite and has a mild flavor profile that will go with everything (you can eat the rind too!).

Photo courtesy Graze Craze

In terms of dips, spreads, and other accompaniments, I recommend having at least one jam, one honey, and one mustard (the amount of each scaled to the party size). A rich fig jam goes with virtually everything, and a stone ground or spicy mustard adds a delightful kick. Also consider integrating olives into your spread–this versatile addition acts as a palette cleanser.

Simple swaps can instantly elevate your spread. Try choosing a premium aged cheddar instead of a standard medium cheddar, or an artisanal salami instead of a generic one. These small changes can make a big impact and leave a lasting impression on your clients and customers.

Source locally

In that same vein, a wonderful way to instantly elevate a charcuterie board or spread is to source local ingredients. Depending on your existing vendor relationships and where you live, you can incorporate locally sourced produce, cheese, dips, and more. This is a great way to further curate your spread, support other local businesses, and create an opportunity for cross-promotion.

Incorporate seasonality into your design

Seasonality should play a big role in sourcing ingredients and developing your design aesthetic. This not only aids in the visual appeal of your spread, but it also helps keep costs down. Produce seasonality often determines its cost, so you should utilize fruits and vegetables that are in season. At Graze Craze, we recently rolled out a Springtime Spread board that incorporated the colors and flavors of the season including apricots, raspberries, kiwi, and watermelon radishes for a splash of color and a unique flavor.

Make dips from scratch

With meats and cheeses usually pre-prepared, making dips from scratch can be a great way to bring a home-made feel to a board. Knowing that most of us don’t have the luxury of time when fulfilling large orders or several orders at once, the easiest dips I’ve found to make from scratch are hummus and everything bagel cream cheese. 

Add displays

The modern-day concept of charcuterie has been transformed by social media. What at one time simply meant “cured meats,” has become intricate and dynamic arrangements of prepared meats, cheeses, fruits, veggies, breads, crackers, and more. Creating visually stunning charcuterie spreads is now essential.

In keeping with simplicity of ingredients, adding displays (or garnishes) to a board or spread can add to its photo-worthiness without significant expense or requiring a huge undertaking. You can incorporate greenery such as eucalyptus or add in seasonal elements such as cinnamon sticks and pumpkins in the fall and rosemary and pomegranates in the winter. Personally, I don’t use anything that isn’t edible on the board so getting creative with the ingredients and making roses out of salami or flower petals out of strawberries is another way to dress up a spread with less waste. 

No matter how you choose to elevate your spread, remember to be creative and approach it as a work of art because that’s what charcuterie has become–an art form. And the most important thing: have fun! 


Nikki Nunley

Owner of Graze Craze Huntersville, NC

 Nikki Nunley is the owner of Graze Craze Huntersville in North Carolina. She is also a speaker, author, real estate expert, and charcuterie enthusiast.