If your Thanksgiving is anything like ours, your guests will be milling about in the kitchen all morning, on the hunt for snacks as the smell of roasting turkey wafts through the house. This year, the best way to keep them occupied and out of your hair is with a Thanksgiving charcuterie board.
Though its got a fancy name, charcuterie is really just an assortment of cheeses, meats, and various accompaniments arranged so it's as beautiful as it is tasty. Snack boards have exploded in popularity, so there are thousands of Thanksgiving charcuterie ideas on sites like Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok. From simple and rustic to cutesy and colorful, there's sure to be one idea that'll match your dinner's vibes.
Bright and Cheery
This huge board will keep guests at the biggest Thanksgiving gatherings grazing until dinner. Those autumn-hued mini peppers halved and spread with dip are a genius addition.
Who says Thanksgiving can't be whimsical? Get your creative juices flowing with a cute little turkey peeking out from a container of dip or wheel of cheese.
Little Bit of Everything
There are cheeses, salami, spreads, fruit, nuts, olives, cookies, honey, and herbs on this eclectic platter. Plus those cute little fall signs and turkey knick-knacks from TJ Maxx make a festive addition.
Why Not Meatballs?
If you normally set out a spread of appetizers like meatballs, cocktail shrimp, and spinach dip, go ahead and arrange it all in charcuterie board fashion with plenty of cheese and crackers if you want to wow your guests.
Look at this clever cornucopia board! The horn shape is made from various crackers and dippables with beautiful cheeses, veggies, and even a leaf-shaped bowl of pomegranate seeds spilling out.
This simple "Turk-uterie" board includes a couple cute and easy ideas and makes a great charcuterie board for the under-10 demographic. Use a wedge of orange cheese and some crackers for adorable little slices of pumpkin pie, and incorporate complicated shapes like turkeys by filling a cookie cutter with snacks just as you would a bowl.
Gussy up the centerpiece wheel of brie on your Thanksgiving board with a fall cookie cutter. Push it through the top rind layer, peel off the shape, and then fill it with something like cranberry sauce or apple jam.
Get your veggies in before you load your dinner plate up with stuffing, apple pie, and other carb-heavy offerings. Using the bottom of a bell pepper for the turkey is something we never would have thought of, but it works.
The bright colors on this board make it stand out, and those multicolored carrots are so perfect for Thanksgiving.
New Use for a Muffin Tin
This muffin tin Thanksgiving charcuterie board proves that you don't need anything fancy to put one together. It's still festive and fun without the stress of putting one together for the first time. It's a great beginner's board before you invest in something ornate.
Turkey and All the Fixins
Look closely at this board and you'll notice that it's got an entire Thanksgiving meal on it. There's turkey slices, quiche, brussels sprouts, green beans, and even roasted potatoes. You might even consider doing this if you prefer non-traditional Thanksgiving meals.
Tastefully Arranged Bird
Some of the looks-like-a-turkey designs can be a little silly, but this muted mauve charcuterie board is stylish without being stuffy. Pears, goat cheese, endive, and snap peas keep it classy.
We're loving the vibrant hues and edible flowers on this cheese and charcuterie board. Lots of greenery like kale and rosemary give it a luscious, abundant vibe that makes it so inviting.
Sweet boards are a fun alternative to charcuterie boards, and kids definitely love them. You can add anything from candy to cookies to caramel corn, and you clearly have to shape something this delightful like a turkey.
3D Edible Cornucopia
Do you love fiddly, complicated things for your Thanksgiving table? Bake your own horn-o-plenty with bread dough and relish the "oohs" and "ahhs" from your guests.
Now that we're all drooling, let's get down into the nitty gritty of creating a Thanksgiving charcuterie board. It's not as complicated as you might think, and picking out the ingredients and arranging them all is pretty dang fun, too.
Aim for a variety of cheeses, including a mix of hard and soft cheese, and mild and funky cheese. Three or four cheeses would be fine on a small board, or up to seven on a large one. Gooey cheeses should be left intact with spreaders available, while the hard cheese can be cut into pieces. If you have a cheesemonger nearby, head there to try some cheeses before you buy them.
- Brie. A mild, gooey brie is hard for anyone to resist, and it looks great as a centerpiece on your cheese board. Don't worry about getting anything fancy for Thanksgiving unless you want to; supermarket brands are fine, not to mention usually cheaper.
- Blue. Blue cheeses are earthy and creamy, but most people either love them or hate them. If you suspect blue cheese won't go over well with your guests, skip it.
- Goat. Soft and with a distinct pungent bite, goat cheeses often come in logs that are rolled in various flavorings, like cranberries and cinnamon. They can be sliced into soft rounds or spread with a knife.
- Spreads. Cheese spreads come in all kinds of flavors to match your board's theme. We like the high-quality spreads from Pine River, especially the Port Wine flavor, with its orange-and-red-marbled color that's perfect for fall. Pimento cheese is also a go-to.
- Cheddar. Look for a sharp cheddar aged for a year or more. We love Hook's aged cheddars, especially the 7-year if you can find it! Arrange it near some apple slices to encourage guests to eat them together.
- Alpine. Rich and nutty Alpine-style cheeses include Gruyere, Emmental, Swiss, and meltingly soft butterkase. Their light brown washed rind is edible and looks great on a platter.
- Flavored Cheese. Mix things up with some flavored cheeses. Spicy pepperjack, dill havarti, any kind of smoked cheese, and cheeses that include cranberries are all great options for Thanksgiving. For even more autumnal vibes, the Merlot-soaked Bella Vitano with its deep purple rind is gorgeous and delicious.
Fall Fruits and Veggies
Almost any produce in season can go on your Thanksgiving appetizer board. Vegetables like multicolor carrots, mini-peppers or sliced bell peppers in a variety of colors, rainbow cherry tomatoes, and cucumber sticks are all good options. Think outside the box, too, with items like marinated artichoke hearts or sundried tomatoes.
As for fruits, choose things that evoke the season. Apples and pears are classics, while persimmons and peeled mandarin oranges will give a pop of bright orange. Pomegranates, figs, grapes, and candied orange slices or cranberries are also delicious options, as are dried fruit.
Meats and Proteins
Your favorite salamis, cured meats, and summer sausage will do fine. Black pepper-coated salami, shaved mortadella, and prosciutto wrapped around cantaloupe slices all look and taste great. Vegan salamis are available, or you can include protein-packed vegetarian options like spiced fried chickpeas, hummus, or black bean dip.
Try to arrange sliced meat in fans or flower-like bouquets for height and depth. If you have vegetarian or vegan guests, you may want to keep all the meats on one side of the board to avoid touching.
Breads, Crackers, and Other Carbs
Sure, a bunch of Ritz and some Triscuits will do, but it's fun to think outside the box when it comes to carbs. How about some toasted pita chips? A sliced baguette with everything bagel seasoning? Guests will love having the option between crackers and bread. Pretzels and Chex Mix will be gone quickly, guaranteed. Try and choose a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures for the most variety.
Pickles, Nuts, and Sauces
All the extra goodies on your Thanksgiving charcuterie board are where you can really lean into seasonal flavors and holiday vibes. Almonds are typical inclusions on a board, but pumpkin seeds and candied pecans fit the season. Pickled brussels sprouts, pearl onions, and green beans would all go well on a fall grazing board, too.
Cranberry jam or chutney is practically a must, as are honey and coarse-grained mustard. Apple butter goes great with many hard cheeses, and fig jam is good with cheese or by itself on a cracker. For something unusual, who could resist dipping apples into caramel sauce?
You don't have to make a full-on dessert board to include sweets in your Thanksgiving charcuterie board selection (though you definitely can!). Maple leaf-shaped sandwich cookies are one of the great Trader Joe's grazing board finds, as are decorated petit fours or macarons from your favorite bakery.
If you've ever wished you had a reason to buy some turkey-shaped chocolates or candies, this is your time to shine. Salted caramels and rich chocolate truffles will also be gobbled up fast.
What Board Should I Use?
While a big wooden cutting board is the standard for most charcuterie boards, you can use almost anything you have on hand. Marble or slate slabs, shallow serving platters, trays, and even sheet pans all work just fine as long as they're clean and food safe.
A Thanksgiving meat and cheese board is the perfect time to treat yourself to a new serving platter, though. Olive wood is known for its beautiful and unusual grain, so you might want to display this freeform olive wood serving platter in your kitchen. This 36-inch long and narrow wooden cheese board would fit down the middle of a rectangular table, or you can get a cute pumpkin-shaped cutting board.
If rustic wood is not your style, you can use a shiny stainless steel oval platter that's inexpensive and timeless, or a 3-tier ceramic serving set that'll come in handy for all kinds of occasions beyond Thanksgiving and charcuterie.
What Bowls Should I Use?
Nothing is going to taste worse if it's served out of your everyday cereal bowls, mini mason jars, or ramekins, but it's also fun to find something new.
This set of six ceramic pumpkin bowls is cute without being gaudy, and it's even oven-safe if you want to try your hand at creme brulee. The size of the classy acacia wood bowls in this set is perfect for nuts, dips, and sauces. For something unusual, arrange olives, crackers, or berries in a long and narrow curved porcelain dish.
Don't forget the little extras on your Turkey Day grazing board, like fresh, fragrant rosemary branches, plenty of spreaders and cheese knives, toothpicks, and other decorations like mini pumpkins. They'll make your holiday charcuterie board look professional, but more importantly make it festive and irresistible.