Christmas Charcuterie Board (Antipasto Platter)
Tired of the same old charcuterie board or antipasto platter you see at every party? Today’s focus is on Building a Christmas Charcuterie Board so that your party snacks stand out from the rest this season!
The Perfect Christmas Charcuterie Board
It happens every year.
You’re invited to a holiday gathering where everyone is asked to bring some sort of snack. After a long tiring day at work, you run by the store to grab a few items for a quick cheese board, before heading off to the event.
The only problem is… everyone else at the party had the exact same idea. Therefore the table is covered in mundane platters of cheap cuts of meat and pre-sliced cheese.
This year could be different.
You may still have a crazy day before attending an event.
You may still opt to fall back on the beloved antipasto platter concept.
Yet with just a few tips on ingredient selection, your cheese board could be so much more than a boring cheese and cracker plate.
There’s no shame in throwing together easy flavorful snacks to feed the masses. In fact, even when I have days to plan for a party, I still have some sort of cheese board on the menu. People love cheese, meat, and salty finger foods.
What’s the difference between charcuterie and antipasto?
Charcuterie is the French word for cold cuts. A charcuterie board can have a wide array of smoked or cured meats, cheeses, pickled vegetables, nuts, condiments, fruit, crackers, or bread. However, it is always meat-centered. A simple cheese board is not charcuterie… but it is antipasto.
Antipasto is the Italian word for before the meal. So antipasto is traditionally meant to be an appetizer tray. Like Charcuterie, Antipasto usually also contains meats, cheeses, pickled items, and dips. It is the most common name for an all-encompassing platter of snacks like this.
However, that doesn’t mean every item on your antipasto platter needs to be Italian, or that charcuterie boards must only offer French items. Mixing various cheeses, and ethnic ingredients is a great way to spice up a snack board. The terms Charcuterie and Antipasto can be used interchangeably in most circumstances.
PS – Lt. Dan has been calling our weekly whatever-we-have-on-hand charcuterie board a “snack tray” for years. As in… “Hey Babe, let’s just open a bottle of wine and have a snack tray for dinner.” =
Charcuterie Board Pronunciation
I have heard people pronounce the word charcuterie many ways. However, the proper french pronunciation is:
How to Make a Christmas Charcuterie Board
The general components of a good Christmas charcuterie board or antipasto platter (or cheese board, or snack tray) include:
- Something Rich – usually various cheeses
- Something Salty – like cured meats, nuts, or olives
- Something Tangy – like peppers or pickles vegetables
- Something Sweet – like fresh fruit or chutney
- Something Spicy – this is usually picked up in one of the other categories. Meats, hot peppers, etc.
You do not have to go overboard on any of these categories, and some will overlap. Simply select one item from each (or 2-3 for large gatherings) to create a well-balanced snack tray.
Cheeses for Antipasto Platter
If your Christmas Charcuterie Board is going to be cheese-heavy, I suggest selecting at least 3 cheeses.
- Soft and fresh – like Chevre, Ricotta, or Buratta
- Hard and nutty – like Piave, Asiago, Manchego, or Pecorino
- Ripe and pungent – like blue cheese, brie, or a ripened goat cheese
Try selecting cheeses that are slightly off the beaten path, so to speak. Some of the most interesting cheeses are not necessarily the most popular. Above I have fresh Buratta balls, Piave (a Northern Italian hard cheese), a dense aged farmer’s cheese, and Humboldt Fog (a creamy pungent goat cheese).
The general rule for cutting the cheese is that if your cheese is soft you can set it out whole with a small cheese knife. However, if you are serving hard cheeses, go ahead and cut it for your guests, especially at a large party. You don’t want people standing over the table struggling to cut the cheese.
Meat for Charcuterie Boards
Offering some sort of cured or smoked meat on your snack board is traditional. The classics offerings are:
- Spanish chorizo
- Other cured sausages
Other Unique Protein Options:
Instead of setting out the classic can of mixed nuts this season, why not add a bit of salty intrigue to your antipasto platter?
Fun Alternatives to Cocktail Peanuts:
- Marcona Almonds – buttery and luxurious
- Corn Nuts – crunchy and addictive
- Lupini Beans – although they aren’t nuts, they offer a salty bite and unique texture
- Pepitas – Pumpkin seeds (not officially nuts either) provide great color to any snack tray
Skip the dried fruit and add something fresh to your cheese board. Berries are the perfect finger food. Sweet, colorful, and tangy!
Also add seasonal winter fruits like kumquats, starfruit, figs, persimmons, and pomegranates.
Pass on the jarred chutneys this season. Instead, set out spicy whole-grain mustard, wildflower honey, and/or fresh fruit salsa.
Nix the butter crackers this year and go with toasted bread for dipping and stacking. Cheese crisps and potato chips are fun additions to an antipasto platter, and are great gluten-free options!
(Read the labels to make sure the brands you buy are gluten-free if that is your goal.)
Olives are great. I love olives. But if you want your snack tray to stand out, try adding various pickles and peppers instead!
Christmas Charcuterie Board Reminders
So when you rush into the grocery store this season to franticly purchase your party supplies, try to remember two things:
1) The 5 Components of a Good Snack Tray are: Rich, Salty, Tangy, Sweet, and Spicy.
2) Think Outside the Box!