If you’re looking for affordable Valentine’s Day ideas, make a Valentine’s charcuterie board for two! This board is deceptively easy to put together and presents beautifully. At first, charcuterie boards can seem so intimidating to make. For starters, it has some fancy French name pronounced shaar·koo·tr·ee. Say that three times fast. Also, boards are often full of cheeses that are equally hard to pronounce and look way too Instagram-worthy to even be real! Not to mention, if you see a charcuterie board on a restaurant menu, they’re incredibly expensive!
Well, I have good news for you! You can make a beautiful charcuterie board for less than half the restaurant price in under 15 minutes. If you’d like to make the exact board pictured below, this next section gives you step-by-step instructions on how to do that. If you’d like to create your own charcuterie board, I’ll also share some tips on how to customize a picture-perfect board using your favorite ingredients.
Valentine’s Charcuterie How-To (as pictured)
- 1 (6 oz) pack assorted meats such as peppered salami, prosciutto, capicola
- 10 oz assorted sliced cheese (cheddar, swiss, Colby jack, pepper jack)
- 2 mini brie cheese rounds
- 4 oz wedge wine-soaked Toscana cheese (or anything with a purple rind)
- 10 oz assorted berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries)
- 1 small apple (ex. pink lady, gala, Fuji)
- A few radishes (optional)
- A handful of gluten-free beet crackers (you can use any cracker you like)
- A handful of gluten-free chocolate covered pretzels (you can substitute anything bite-size and chocolate)
For this board, I decided to go gluten-free and nut-free but you can easily mix in other crackers and nuts if you’d like.
- Platter – white, rectangle, 14.5″ (you can also use a plate or cutting board)
- Cutting board
- Heart cookie cutter – small
- Prep fruit:
- Strawberries – cut 4 strawberries in half.
- Radishes – cut 2 radishes in half.
- Apple – cut into thin slices.
- Prep cheese:
- Cheese wedge – cut cheese into 1.5″ slices (like you would if you wanted a thinner slice of cake). Turn the 1.5″ slice on its side. Cut further into 1/4″ slim triangle-shaped slices. You’ll want a total of 8 slices. For each section of cheese wedges that you will put on your board, take 4 slices, flipping every other slice so that the rind is on the opposite side (see photo above).
- Assorted sliced cheese – cut out 20 hearts using a small heart-shaped cookie cutter.
- Mini brie – remove 2 from wrappers.
- Place your cheeses on the platter:
- Put sections of cheese wedges down – one in each corner diagonally.
- Place mini brie down in line with wedges about 2″ away.
- Lay assorted cheese hearts in the middle of the plate.
- Place crackers next to cheese wedges in the corners.
- Lay two strawberry halves on each side of the cheese wedges.
- Fan out apple slices and place about 1″ away from mini brie rounds on each side of the plate.
- Take a piece of meat and fold it in half. Lightly fold it again in half the other way. Repeat 6 times and fan the pieces around a mini brie round. Repeat on the other side of the platter.
- Place 3 chocolate covered pretzels in each of the other 2 corners of the platter.
- Fill the gap between the cheese wedges and brie with blueberries until it looks full.
- For color and texture, scatter blackberries and insert the radishes in areas that need to be filled.
- Adjust ingredients on plate as needed to fill the spaces.
Customize Your Own Charcuterie Board
The best part about charcuterie boards is that they are so versatile and can be made with any assortment of snacks and bites of your choosing. Here are some tips and ideas to guide you in the creation of your own board. For a Valentine’s Day charcuterie board, opt for things that are pink and red in color (think strawberries, raspberries, beet crackers, red chocolate-covered dried cherries) or heart-shaped items (like cheeses, chocolates).
Choose 3-5 kinds of cheese that have different shapes. This adds texture and visual appeal to your board. Some popular varieties include brie, cheddar, goat, fresh mozzarella, and white gouda. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, in addition to your favorite cheeses, pick up one type of cheese you have always wanted to try or have never heard of. This is a great way to slowly expand your palate without having to eat a whole plate of cheese you may not end up liking. Who knows, that cheese you’ve never tried may end up being your new favorite!
So many choices and in my opinion, they’re all delicious! No tips here other than to talk about how much you need to make an abundant-looking board. A package of meat may not look like it has a lot in there, but it spreads farther than it looks on a charcuterie board. The board pictured above only has a total of 5 ounces on it. It was plenty for 2 people. If you’re looking for a less expensive option that looks and tastes great, you can use salami. For an elevated look, choose peppered salami. Per ounce, salami can be less than half the price of other meat assortments.
Fruit & Veggies
Berries, grapes, and apples pair well with cheese and are easy to eat. You also can use other crisp fruits such as peaches, nectarines, and pears. Consider adding sliced fruits that are firm enough to hold cheeses or other toppings. For veggies, similar guidelines apply. If you’re going to add a spread to your board, choose handheld vegetables that are fairly neutral in flavor, such as carrots, radishes, and snap peas.
Cut up a lightly toasted baguette or choose from a wide range of crackers. I personally enjoy little toasts and table crackers but choices are unlimited! For color, you can choose veggie-based crackers like blue corn chips, red beet crackers, or orange sweet potato crisps. Generally speaking, choose lightly flavored crackers that will let the flavor of your cheeses and spreads shine.
Many charcuterie boards also include nuts because they pair so well with cheese and fruit. They also add a nice, crunchy texture to contrast your smooth cheeses. Classic choices include almonds, walnuts, and pecans but feel free to use what you have on hand. Choose roasted or lightly salted. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can choose sugar-glazed or flavored nuts that will complement the varieties of cheese you have chosen for your board.
Spreads & Accoutrements
Elevate your board even more by adding spreads and accouterments. Choose small bowls or dishes such as ramekins to put them in. For spreads, you can include cheese spreads, grainy mustard, jams, and honey. Add other crunchy accouterments like pickles and olives to add texture and color to your board.
Choosing a Serving Platter
For this board, I used a 14.5″ rectangle serving platter because I wanted something that was a reasonable size for two people. You can still make a beautiful board using things you already have at home like a wooden cutting board, serving tray, plate, or even a cookie sheet. For a Valentine’s Day charcuterie board, you can also use a heart-shaped plate to make it more romantic. If you’re in the market for a platter, here are a few options:
- white rectangle platters, 14.5″ – great for small groups, versatile, minimalist vibe
- marble rectangle board, 16″ – for medium size groups, classy, French pastry vibe
- wood round board, 19″ – for large groups, iconic charcuterie rustic vibe
Designing a Charcuterie Board
Finally, now that you have all your ingredients and platter for your Valentine’s Day charcuterie board, it’s time to assemble! There’s no one right or wrong way to do it, but here are some general tips to keep in mind.
What To Put on the Board First
Anchor your design by putting your cheeses down first. If you’re using spreads and accouterments, place down your small bowls for these items on the board. Next, lightly fan meat around your cheeses. Lastly, fill in the empty spaces with everything else such as fruit, nuts, crackers, and chocolate. For more tips, check out this helpful video on how to design a charcuterie board.
Things to Consider When Pairing
- Taste. Put things that taste good together next to each other on your board. Some examples include apples and cheese, or chocolate and fruit.
- Color. Arrange items with varying colors next to each other to provide a visually-appealing contrast.
- Texture. Place items of different textures together. Some examples include nuts next to brie and crackers next to a spreadable cheese.
At this point, you now have all the right ingredients, tools, and knowledge to design your own Valentine’s Day charcuterie board. Be creative and let your inner chef shine! I would love to see your designs so feel free to add a link to your board in the comments below.