Cheese Board Vs Charcuterie Boards: What’s The Difference

When it comes to creating a visually stunning and delectable spread for gatherings, a cheese board vs charcuterie board is often the go-to choices. 

Both options offer an assortment of flavors, textures, and tastes, making them perfect for sharing and socializing. 

However, despite their similarities, there are distinct differences between these two popular culinary displays that set them apart.

Main Differences

board with cheeses and fruits

A cheese platter, as the name implies, mainly showcases a variety of cheeses, accompanied by crackers, bread, fruits, and occasionally nuts or olives. 

The goal is to create a harmonious combination of complementary cheese-focused bites. 

On the other hand, a charcuterie board emphasizes a variety of meats that have been cured and their pairings.

While charcuterie boards may also include cheese, the focus is on the meats and their flavorful collaborations with accompaniments such as olives, pickles, and nuts.

The traditional definition or original meaning of the words charcuterie board, word charcuterie or term charcuterie, stands for a French word, or French term, meaning cold cooked meats collectively.

Understanding the key differences between these two types of boards will help you create the perfect spread for your next event, tailored to your guests’ preferences and tastes. 

Knowing when to opt for a cheese tray or serving board can elevate your hosting game  for your next party or next gathering and leave a lasting impression for a large crowd, even a wedding reception.

Cheese Board vs Charcuterie Board

Definition and Purpose

A cheese board is a curated selection of different types of cheese, spicy mustards, a selection of meats, pâté de campagne, wine pairings, and any different foods or food items that pair well with these cheeses. 

It typically includes bread or crackers, fruits, nuts, and sometimes olives or pickles. 

The primary focus of a cheese plate is to offer a diverse and delicious array of different cheeses for people to enjoy.

On the other hand, a charcuterie, or meat board features cured types of meat as its principal component, along with foods that complement these meats. 

The main difference is that while a charcuterie platter often contains a variety of cheeses as well, its main emphasis is on the assortment of meats. 

A perfect charcuterie board might also have bread, crackers, fruit, olives, and pickles, similar to a cheese board.

Art and Presentation

woman making a charcuterie board

Creating an attractive and appetizing display is crucial for both cheese boards and charcuterie dessert boards. Here are some pointers for the art and presentation of each:

Cheese Board

  • Choose a type of cheese, such as soft, semi-soft, and hard cheeses, to add variety and diversity in taste and texture. Some examples include cheddar cheese, exotic cheeses, fan favorite cheeses, the best cheese you think your guests will like or spreadable cheeses.
  • It is a good idea to arrange the cheeses in a visually appealing manner, considering color, shape, and size. This step requires a little bit of planning and using the art of preparing.
  • Include a selection of crackers or bread slices that will complement the flavors of the cheeses.
  • A great way to add color and freshness to the butter board is with fruit, such as grapes, berries, or apple slices.
  • A good cheese board incorporates some nuts, like almonds or walnuts, to provide a contrasting crunch.
  • Use small bowls or ramekins to hold any olives, pickles, or dips.

Charcuterie Board Recipe

  • Choose between various meat products that are cold cuts of cured meats, such as salami, prosciutto, saucisson sec, and pepperoni, to offer a diverse tasting experience.
  • Artfully fold or roll the meats to create an appealing presentation on the entire board. This is considered a culinary art and modern cuisine.
  • Include a small amount of cheese to complement the charcuterie meats, preferably softer varieties that pair well with the stronger flavors of cured meats for much flavor.
  • Add crackers or slices of baguette to act as a base for the meats and cheeses.
  • Incorporate colorful, fresh elements like olives, cherry tomatoes, or pickled vegetables to add brightness to the board.
  • Use small bowls or ramekins to hold any spreads or mustards that might go well with the meats.

An epic cheese board focuses on different materials like a curated selection of cheeses and their complementary foods, while a charcuterie board highlights cured meats and their accompaniments. 

The art and presentation of these boards are essential in creating a visually appealing and appetizing display for various families and guests to enjoy.

Remember to make sure that there is enough space for all of the toppings you are putting on the pancake charcuterie board.

Types of Cheese and Meat

When creating a cheese and charcuterie board, or breakfast boards, the main focus is on offering different flavors and textures.

Buy a variety of food products you can place from the grocery store and arrange the board in a presentable way.

We’ve got the scoop on the types of cheese and meat that will be a great addition to consider for your perfect board, as well as a few suggestions.


There are countless varieties of cheese to choose from, but for a well-rounded board, it’s good to have a mix of soft, semi-soft, and hard cheeses.

Here are some examples of each:

  • Soft cheeses: Brie, Camembert, and Goat Cheese
  • Semi-soft cheeses: Gouda, Havarti, and Gruyere
  • Hard cheeses: Parmesan, Aged Cheddar, and Manchego

In addition to these categories, you might want to include an aged cheese and a blue cheese for even more variety. For instance:

  • Aged cheese: White Cheddar or Gruyere
  • Blue cheese: Roquefort or Gorgonzola

Consider the origin of the cheese as well: artisanal cheese from cow, goat, or sheep milk can add an interesting twist to your selection.

There are also options for a low carb cheese board depending on your dietary needs.


Charcuterie focuses on cured meats, providing a savory complement to the cheese selection. There are several types of cured meats to include on your board, such as:

  • Ham: Prosciutto or Jamón Serrano
  • Sausage: Salami, Chorizo, or Pepperoni
  • Dried meats: Bresaola or Beef Jerky
  • Pâté: Chicken Liver or Duck Liver

In addition to cured meats, some popular non-cured meat options like bacon can add an unexpected touch to your charcuterie board.

To make your board even more appealing, consider incorporating a mix of textures, such as different types of bread, crackers, olives, nuts (like almonds), fruits, and spreads.

This will not only create a visually stunning display but also offer your guests a diverse and delectable experience.

Creating Balance and Harmony

cheeses, fruits, and snacks on a wood board

Texture and Flavor

Achieving balance and harmony on a cheese and charcuterie board involves carefully selecting ingredients with a variety of textures and flavors. Consider including:

  • Hard cheeses like cheddar and aged Gouda for a firm, crumbly texture
  • Soft cheeses such as brie and Camembert to add creaminess
  • Cured meats like prosciutto and salami for a savory component

In addition to cheese and charcuterie, incorporate other elements to enhance both texture and flavor:

  • Crunchy nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts)
  • Fresh fruits (e.g., grapes, berries)
  • Dried fruits (e.g., apricots, figs)
  • Crisp vegetables (e.g., carrot sticks, cucumber slices)
  • Dips (e.g., olive oil)
  • Assorted crackers and slices of crusty bread


Successful cheese and charcuterie boards also involve thoughtful pairings that complement each component’s flavor. Some pairing ideas include:

  • Brie with fresh fruit or fruit jams
  • Cheddar with nuts and dried fruits
  • Blue cheese with honey or spiced nuts
  • Gouda with pickled vegetables or mustard

Consider how you’ll present your pairings on the board:

  • Organize items logically (e.g., cheese with its accompaniments, grouped by type)
  • Use a wooden platter or tray for a visually appealing, rustic touch
  • Provide small utensils, such as cheese knives and spreaders, for easy serving

When serving your cheese and charcuterie board as an appetizer, also think about drink pairings like wine or beer to elevate the experience. Here are some examples:

  • White wines (e.g., Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay) with soft cheeses
  • Red wines (e.g., Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot) with hard cheeses
  • Light beers (e.g., pilsners, lagers) with mild cheeses
  • Dark beers (e.g., stouts, porters) with bold, flavorful cheeses

Board Components

Breads and Crackers

Charcuterie boards and cheese boards both typically include various types of bread and crackers. 

These serve as the foundation on which meats, cheeses, and other accompaniments are enjoyed. 

Some popular options for charcuterie boards are baguettes, crostini, and artisan crackers, while cheese boards may feature a mix of plain and flavored crackers or breads.

Fruits and Vegetables

The inclusion of fruits and vegetables on both charcuterie and cheese boards helps to balance the flavors and textures of the meats and cheeses. 

For charcuterie boards, olives are commonly found alongside pickles and other marinated vegetables. 

Cheese boards often feature fresh and dried fruits like grapes, sliced apples, or figs.

Here’s a breakdown of common fruits and vegetables on both types of boards:

Cheese BoardsCharcuterie Boards
FruitsGrapes, Sliced Apples, FigsGrapes, Sliced Apples, Figs
VegetablesFresh CruditesPickles, Marinated Vegetables
OlivesMixed OlivesMixed Olives


Both charcuterie and cheese boards include a variety of accompaniments that enhance the flavors of meats and cheeses. Some common additions are jams, honey, and nuts. 

Charcuterie boards often feature different types of cured meats like salami or prosciutto, while a cheese board will naturally focus on presenting an array of cheeses, often with a mix of soft, semi-hard, and hard textures, and various rinds.

Here are some typical accompaniments for each type of board:

  • Cheese Boards:
    • Cheeses: Brie, Gouda, Cheddar, Blue Cheese, etc.
    • Spreads: Fig Jam, Quince Paste, Honey
    • Nuts: Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans
  • Charcuterie Boards:
    • Meats: Salami, Prosciutto, Pâtés
    • Spreads: Grainy Mustard, Whole-Grain Mustard
    • Nuts: Almonds, Hazelnuts, Pistachios

While charcuterie boards and cheese boards share some similarities in terms of components like breads, crackers, fruits, vegetables, and certain accompaniments, the key differences lie in the main focus of each presentation: meats for charcuterie boards and a variety of cheeses for cheese boards.

Assembling the Board

crackers and cheese utensils on wood board

Cheese Board Materials

To create the perfect cheese board, start by selecting a wooden cutting board or a flat platter to serve as the base.

Choose various cheese types, preferably including different textures and flavors such as:

  • Soft: Brie or Camembert
  • Semi-soft: Gouda or Gruyere
  • Hard: Cheddar or Parmesan
  • Blue: Gorgonzola or Roquefort

In addition to cheese, incorporate other components that complement the flavors, such as:

  • Fruits: grapes, apples, berries, or dried fruits
  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts, or pecans
  • Crackers or sliced baguette
  • Spreads: honey, jam, or chutney

Arrangement and Placement

When assembling the cheese board, follow these steps for an impressive presentation:

  1. Place the largest cheese pieces on the board first, evenly spaced apart.
  2. If possible, include a variety of different shapes to make the board visually appealing (e.g., wheels, wedges, and cubes).
  3. Arrange the other components around the cheese, clustering similar items together.
  4. For easier access, pre-cut some portions of cheese and place a cheese knife or spreader next to each cheese type.
  5. Be sure to leave some space between the items to prevent them from mixing together. An important factor to take into consideration is to arrange with odd numbers to keep the board from appearing too symmetrical.

Different ways to elevate your cheese board into a charcuterie board, simply add different cured meats like salami, prosciutto, or soppressata. 

Arrange the meats in small piles or rolls, and place them in the empty spaces between the cheese and other components. 

This is a good choice because it will create a visually appealing welcome addition board and deliciously satisfying meal for your guests to enjoy.

Make sure to not place the board in higher temperatures than room temperature or the meat and cheese could spoil.

Additional Board Elements


When preparing a cheese or charcuterie board, it’s important to have the right utensils available. 

Cheese knives are essential for cutting and spreading the cheese, while tongs or small forks can be helpful for picking up the meats and accompaniments. 

Small bowls can be used to hold condiments like mustard, pickles, and other spreads that can enhance the flavors of the cheeses and meats.

Sharing and Gifting

A well-arranged cheese or charcuterie board is not only a delight for the taste buds but also a visual treat perfect for sharing and gifting. 

When creating a board as a gift, consider the recipients’ taste preferences and include a variety of cheeses, meats, and accompaniments like tomatoes, berries, figs, apricots, and veggies. 

A beautifully presented board, whether on marble or stone, can be an excellent and thoughtful present for any food lover.

Social Media

In this age of social media, cheese and charcuterie boards have become popular subjects of photography and sharing on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. 

Make your board visually appealing by incorporating different textures and colors with varied elements like chorizo, pickles, and fresh fruits. 

A well-presented board can earn you praise from your guests and inspire others on social media.

Remember to showcase your creative presentation on a beautiful marble or stone board and consider these guidelines:

  • Use a variety of textures, shapes, and colors to create visual interest.
  • Arrange the different elements in groups, for ease of access and organization.
  • Leave some negative space between items to prevent overcrowding and encourage easy grazing.
  • Include small bowls for condiments and proper utensils to allow guests to serve themselves with ease.
  • Don’t hesitate to experiment with unusual pairings and accompaniments that can elicit conversation and pique your guests’ curiosity.

Finishing Touches and Serving

cheese board with meats and cheese

Dips and Spreads

In addition to a thoughtfully curated selection of cheeses and meats for your cheese board or charcuterie board, consider including a variety of dips and spreads to enhance the overall tasting experience. Some popular options are:

  • Pâtés: These rich, savory spreads made from finely ground meat or vegetables are a perfect complement to both cheese and charcuterie boards.
  • Fruit spreads: A sweet element like fruit spread, such as fig or apricot jam, can bring a delightful contrast to the savory items on the board.
  • Mustard: A strong, spicy mustard can be included as a sharp contrast to the rich flavors of the cheeses and meats.

Serving Size and Meal Planning

When planning to serve a cheese board or charcuterie board, consider the size of your guest list and the occasion. Here are some general guidelines for serving sizes:

  • For a small gathering or a light appetizer: 1-2 ounces of cheese and 1-2 ounces of meat per person
  • For a larger gathering or a more substantial appetizer: 2-4 ounces of cheese and 2-4 ounces of meat per person
  • For a main course: 4-6 ounces of cheese and 4-6 ounces of meat per person

Please note that these quantities can be adjusted depending on the variety and richness of the cheeses and meats selected, as well as the guests’ preferences.

In addition to cheeses, meats, dips, and spreads, enhance your board’s visual appeal and add more flavors with the following items:

  • Dried fruits: Rich in natural sweetness, dried fruits such as apricots, figs, and dates are an excellent accompaniment to both cheese and charcuterie boards.
  • Fresh fruit: Grapes, sliced apples, or pear wedges can be a fresh and juicy element on your board.
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, and pecans bring a nice crunch and an extra layer of flavor to the mix.

Remember to arrange the items artfully and invite your guests to enjoy the variety of textures, flavors, and aromas on your cheese board or charcuterie board.

Final Thoughts

Both a cheese board and a charcuterie board offer a delightful array of flavors and options for food enthusiasts.

A cheese board presents a selection of various cheeses, allowing individuals to explore and savor different tastes and textures.

On the other hand, a good charcuterie board includes an assortment of cured meats, providing a savory and diverse range of flavors to complement the cheeses.

Whether one’s preference lies in the creamy richness of a cheese board or the savory delights of a well-curated charcuterie board, both options offer an excellent opportunity to indulge in a variety of flavors and create a memorable dining experience.

Ultimately, the choice between a cheese board and a charcuterie board depends on personal preferences and the desire to showcase a specific selection of delectable items.

cheese board vs charcuterie board Pinterest image

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