It’s been a while since Larissa and I have had company over to our house (thanks, COVID!), but with my birthday coming up soon and Mother’s Day around the corner, we’re hoping that this sad streak will be coming to an end.
While we aren’t vegan, we do love to dazzle our friends with meat-free vegetarian and vegan delicacies (our wedding was 100% vegan Tex-Mex!) so I’ve been looking for some good recipes to whip up the next time company comes around.
One fancy feast idea that I’ve seen on my Instagram feed is a charcuterie board. While I was familiar with the basic concept of a charcuterie board, I wasn’t sure exactly what it was. In the article, we’ll explain what vegan charcuterie boards are and how to make one that will dazzle your guests–plant-based and omnivore alike.
You can listen to us discuss vegan charcuterie boards here or read on for a summary and links to everything we discuss.
What is a Charcuterie Board?
Originating from the culinary traditions of France, a charcuterie board is a thoughtfully curated selection of cured meats, cheeses, and other complementary foods often served as an appetizer or snack at gatherings. The word “charcuterie” comes from the French phrase “chair cuite” (cooked flesh), which refers to the art of preparing and preserving meats, particularly pork.
These boards are designed to showcase a variety of flavors, textures, and colors, creating a versatile and visually stunning centerpiece for dinner parties, cocktail hours, or casual get-togethers. Charcuterie boards have gained immense popularity in recent years, thanks to their customizable nature and the communal, shared experience they offer.
Traditional Charcuterie Boards versus Vegan Charcuterie Boards
Traditional charcuterie boards feature cured meats like prosciutto and salami along with cheeses such as brie and blue cheese. They also usually include a selection of olives, raw veggies, pickles, jams, bread, fresh fruits, and crackers.
Vegan charcuterie boards can include all of these items; simply replace the meat and cheese with plant-based alternatives such as vegan cheeses, vegan meats, and marinated mushrooms or eggplant. You can also use fresh vegetables like cherry tomatoes or bell peppers for an extra pop of color.
The Basics of Creating a Vegan Charcuterie Board
You might be wondering, “so is that vegan snack board just a platter with a bunch of random stuff thrown together? Well, not exactly! Crafting a vegan charcuterie board is actually an amazing way to wow your guests and prove that plant-based munchies can be every bit as scrumptious as their traditional counterparts. The secret sauce to whipping up a winning board is balance – you’ll want a delightful medley of flavors, textures, and colors.
Before we start talking about the food, let’s first talk about the board and utensils.
Choosing the Right Board and Utensils
Choosing the right board and utensils for your vegan charcuterie board can be just as important as the foods themselves. The right combination of materials will not only make your board look great but also help keep each item in its place. Glass boards are great for showing off the vibrant colors of your ingredients, while wooden boards offer an earthy feel. A bamboo cheese board set can also work well.
You’ll need a variety of utensils including knives, spoons, forks, and tongs to make serving and eating easier. For a more rustic look, opt for metal utensils or bamboo ones for something more elegant. Whatever you choose, make sure it is easy to clean and maintain!
Finally, consider adding in an accent piece like a decorative bowl or platter — this can really bring the whole presentation together. With these tips in mind, you’ll have no trouble creating the perfect vegan charcuterie board!
Tips For Making Your Vegan Charcuterie Board Stand Out
If you want to make your vegan charcuterie board truly eye-catching, just follow these simple tips.
First, pay attention to colors and textures when picking items for your board. Aim for a mix of colors, shapes, and sizes to create a visually appealing display.
Next, think about the containers you’ll use for the food. Don’t be shy about trying new presentation ideas! Think about how you’ll display larger items. For example, will you use a wooden cutting board or a larger board for your vegan deli meats and dairy-free cheese? The size and the type of board will depend a lot on how many guests you’ll be serving.
How will you display smaller items or loose items? Ceramic bowls, ramekins, or smaller trays around the main board are extremely functional and appealing.
I have this super fun glass tray that I absolutely adore for smaller items.
Now we get to the yummy part of our vegan charcuterie board: the food!
It’s important to not only consider foods that are visually appealing but that are also satisfying to a variety of tastes. When Larissa and I head to a charcuterie board, we usually choose VERY different things for ourselves because our tastes are so different. Your guests have very different tastes too, so it’s important to have something for everyone.
Types of Meats and Cheeses For Your Vegan Charcuterie Board
Creating a vegan charcuterie board is a great way to show off your creativity in the kitchen and will let you show your non-vegan friends that there’s plenty of amazing meat-free, dairy-free food.
While traditional charcuterie boards feature a variety of meats, you can still create a delicious and satisfying board without any animal products. Look for vegan meat alternatives such as:
- Tofurky deli slices
- Field Roast’s sausages
- vegan pepperoni
- vegan jerky
- Mrs. Goldfarb’s vegan deli meats (in case you missed it, be sure to check out our interview with Mrs. Goldfarb!)
The star of any charcuterie board, vegan or otherwise, is the cheese. The world of plant-based cheese has really expanded in recent years, offering a wide range of flavors and textures that cater to various palates.
When building your vegan charcuterie board, aim for a diverse assortment of hard and soft cheeses to create a mouthwatering experience for your guests. Here are some popular vegan cheese brands we’ve mentioned before to consider for your spread.
Miyoko’s Creamery This artisanal plant-based cheese brand crafts its products using traditional cheesemaking techniques and organic, wholesome ingredients. Miyoko’s offers a variety of flavors, from creamy and tangy Fresh Vegan Mozzarella to bold and robust Aged English Smoked Farmhouse. Their cheeses are perfect for creating a sophisticated and delicious vegan charcuterie board.
Violife Known for its wide range of vegan cheese products, Violife offers something for everyone. Their lineup includes options like Just Like Mature Cheddar Slices, Creamy Original Soft Cheese, and even a vegan Feta. With its diverse flavors and textures, Violife makes it easy to create a well-rounded vegan cheese selection for your charcuterie board.
Kite Hill With a focus on plant-based, artisanal cheeses made from almond milk, Kite Hill offers a selection of soft, spreadable cheeses that are perfect for pairing with crackers and bread. Their Soft Fresh Original cheese has a mild and tangy flavor, while their Chive variety adds a delightful, savory twist. These cheeses are excellent for layering with other components on your vegan charcuterie board.
Follow Your Heart This brand offers an extensive range of vegan cheese products, from slices and shreds to blocks and spreads. Their Smoked Gouda, Blue Cheese, and Smoked Provolone styles add a touch of smoky, spicy flair to your charcuterie board, while their creamy Provolone or tangy Mozzarella styles cater to those who prefer milder flavors. With Follow Your Heart, you can create a vegan charcuterie board that appeals to various taste preferences.
Treeline Specializing in aged, French-style nut cheeses, Treeline offers a unique and delectable option for your vegan charcuterie board. Their cheeses are made from cashews and come in flavors like Herb-Garlic, Cracked Pepper, and Scallion. These spreadable, tangy cheeses provide a gourmet touch to your spread and pair wonderfully with fruits, nuts, and other accompaniments.
By thoughtfully selecting an array of vegan cheeses that showcases different flavors and textures, you’ll create a tantalizing and visually appealing vegan charcuterie board.
Crackers and Bread: The Perfect Canvas for Your Vegan Charcuterie Board
The crackers and bread you select play an essential role in bringing together all the flavors and textures of your vegan charcuterie board. Choose a variety that not only taste great but can also hold up to the weight of your vegan cheeses and toppings. Here are some fantastic vegan options that will provide the perfect foundation for your delicious spread.
Mary’s Gone Crackers These wholesome and flavorful crackers are made with organic, gluten-free ingredients and come in a variety of flavors like Super Seed, Herb, Vegan Cheese, and Black Pepper. Their unique texture and satisfying crunch make them an ideal choice for pairing with vegan cheeses and spreads, as well as providing a sturdy base for your other toppings.
Simple Mills Almond Flour Crackers For those seeking a grain-free alternative, Simple Mills almond flour crackers are a delicious and nutritious choice. These crackers come in various flavors, such as Sea Salt, Rosemary & Sea Salt, and Farmhouse Cheddar, allowing you to mix and match with your vegan charcuterie board selections. Their light, crispy texture complements both creamy and firm vegan cheeses, as well as meat alternatives.
Sourdough bread With its distinctive tangy flavor and chewy texture, sourdough bread is a fantastic addition to your vegan charcuterie board. You can serve it sliced or in small, rustic chunks for a more casual presentation. The hearty, crusty exterior and soft interior make sourdough bread perfect for dipping into spreads and sauces, or for stacking with vegan cheese and meat alternatives.
Baguette slices Thinly sliced baguette offers a classic and versatile option for your charcuterie board. Its crispy, golden crust and tender interior create an irresistible combination that pairs beautifully with just about any topping. Toasting the slices lightly enhances their crunch and adds a warm, toasty flavor that compliments your vegan cheese and other selections.
Remember, the key to a successful vegan charcuterie board is variety. Don’t hesitate to mix and match different crackers and bread to provide a range of flavors and textures that will delight your guests’ taste buds.
Fruits, Veggies, and Nuts: Colorful and Flavorful Additions
I’m a big fan of fruits and nuts! Mixing these into your vegan charcuterie board not only adds a delightful pop of color but also provides a delightful contrast of flavors and textures. Who doesn’t love the salty and the sweet?
Let Mother Nature help you balance the savory components of your board, with a variety of what she has to offer.
Grapes These juicy gems come in a variety of colors, from deep purple to vibrant green, and can be served whole or in small clusters. They bring a refreshing sweetness and a burst of hydration to the palate, making them a perfect pairing for those rich, creamy vegan cheeses.
Sliced apples With countless apple varieties available, you can choose a type that best complements the other flavors on your board. Crisp, tangy Granny Smith and sweet, juicy Honeycrisp both work well. Slice them thin for easy snacking and consider serving with a small dish of vegan caramel dip for an extra-special treat.
Dried apricots These chewy, sweet, and slightly tangy morsels are not only a visual delight with their vibrant orange hue but also provide a contrast in texture to the rest of the board. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other dried fruits as well, such as figs, dates, or even mango.
Pears Similar to apples in texture but with a unique flavor profile, pears make an excellent addition to your vegan charcuterie board. Depending on the type you choose, their sweetness and subtle floral notes can add a touch of elegance to your spread. Slice them thin and serve alongside complementary vegan cheeses, or fan out a few slices for a visually appealing presentation.
Berries Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries bring a burst of color and natural sweetness to your charcuterie board. Their bright hues and juicy flavors pair wonderfully with the savory elements on your board. Arrange them artfully around your vegan cheeses and meat alternatives, or serve them in small bowls for easy access and to keep them from rolling away.
Cherry tomatoes These tiny, vibrant orbs can add a pop of color and a burst of tangy flavor to your charcuterie board. You can serve them whole or halved, and they pair well with just about everything, from vegan cheeses to crackers. Choose a mix of different colored cherry tomatoes, like red, yellow, and orange, to create a visually stunning and flavorful presentation.
Carrot sticks and cucumber slices Adding some crunchy, refreshing veggies to your charcuterie board is always a good idea. Carrot and cucumber sticks are not only a healthy option but also provide a satisfying crunch that contrasts with the softer textures of cheeses and fruits. You can serve these sticks with a vegan dip like hummus, or simply enjoy them on their own for a light and crisp bite.
Bell peppers Sliced bell peppers bring a splash of color and a hint of sweetness to your vegan charcuterie board. Opt for a mix of red, yellow, and orange varieties to create a vibrant presentation. Their slightly crisp texture pairs well with both creamy vegan cheeses and more robust meat alternatives. For added flavor and variety, consider serving some pickled or roasted bell pepper strips as well.
Roasted and/or candied nuts A sprinkling of candied nuts like pecans, walnuts, or almonds adds a touch of decadence to your vegan charcuterie board. The combination of sweet, salty, and crunchy is simply irresistible, and these tasty morsels can be easily made at home with just a few ingredients. For those looking for a healthier alternative, you can also opt for plain or roasted nuts instead.
Remember, when creating your vegan charcuterie board, variety is key! Mix and match different fruits and nuts to find the perfect combination that complements your selection of vegan cheeses, meat alternatives, crackers, and bread. With a well-curated and visually appealing spread, you’ll have a stunning and scrumptious vegan charcuterie board that is sure to impress everyone at your next gathering.
How to Arrange Your Items on the Board for Maximum Appeal
Once you’ve selected your vegan meats, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables to include on your charcuterie board, the next step is to arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing way. It’s important to consider color, texture, and height when arranging your items — this will help create a visually interesting board.
For example, you can start by laying down some greenery such as herbs or spring mix around the edges of the board for a subtle background. Then, use different-sized bowls or ramekins to hold small items such as olives or pickles.
Place the larger items such as vegan meats and cheeses towards the center of the board – this will help draw attention to these items. If you’re feeling adventurous, try creating a pattern with colors and shapes for extra visual appeal.
Garnishes and Accents
Garnishes and accents can take your vegan charcuterie board to the next level, adding pops of color and flavor. Here are a few ideas:
- Use fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme to add a pop of green and a subtle flavor to your board.
- Add small bowls of olives, pickles, or other briny items to create contrast and balance.
- Use edible flowers like nasturtiums or pansies to add a pop of color and a delicate flavor.
A vegan charcuterie board is a great way to impress your guests with an array of delicious flavors and textures. Get creative and have fun building the perfect vegan cheese and meat platter for your next gathering.
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