You've no doubt seen charcuterie boards, even if you didn't know that's what they were called. The French word is pronounced "shar-COO-ter-ee," and it technically refers to cold cooked meats like ham, sausage, bacon, etc. These eye-catching platters are most often a selection of meats, cheese, and other accompaniments elegantly laid out on a wooden tray or board. Fortunately for the veggie-minded, a charcuterie board isn't bound by any rules. You can arrange any combination of delicious and attractive finger foods and dips together to make a charcuterie board-no meat required! Here are some ideas to inspire a charcuterie board for your next holiday get-together or night with friends.

Planning it Out

Before you start your board, decide how big you want it to be. The options for what to include on a charcuterie board are literally endless, and it's easy to get carried away and end up with way more food in your grocery cart that you can fit on your board. That's not necessarily a problem if you like leftovers, but planning before you shop will be easier on your wallet. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Will the board be the main event or an appetizer?
  • How many people does it need to feed?
  • How big is the board or tray that you'll be laying everything out on?

Remember that a charcuterie board is as visually appealing as it is delicious. As you're selecting foods to include, think of visual design elements that will make it beautiful. A few brightly colored fresh foods, like bell peppers or grapes, will pop and catch the eye. The smooth texture of olives will contrast with the rough surface of crackers. A vegan cheese ball can form a striking centerpiece to draw the eye. A charcuterie board is a great place to let your passion for plant-based eating meld with your creative side, so have fun with it.

What to Include

The options for a charcuterie board can be overwhelming! If you're not sure where to start, here are some of our favorite themes to spark your creativity.

  • Mediterranean Charcuterie: For a Mediterranean theme, start with at least three different varieties of hummus, preferably each a different color, like original, roasted red pepper, green goddess, or black bean. Surround the hummus with fresh sliced peppers and red and green grapes for a vibrant splash of color. Set in small bowls of olives, pistachios, and artichokes, then use your favorite dried fruits to fill in the gaps. Make a border around everything with a few varieties of crackers.
  • Classic Charcuterie: If you want your board to most resemble what you'd find at an omnivore party, you're in luck! There are tons of meatless meat options easily available, so check out your local health food store for some great options. The same holds for vegan cheeses. If you want to keep it homemade, give a homemade cashew cheese ball a try.
  • Southwest Charcuterie: Bright salsas and dips are the star of this show. Select a variety of spicy, savory, and sweet, like Cuban-style black beans, vegan cowboy caviar, mango or pineapple salsa, and guacamole. Add some fresh or pickled spicy peppers for the adventurous eaters to try. Get creative with chips for dipping, looking for different colors and bold flavors.

Whatever you choose, your charcuterie board can showcase your creativity and your love for plants. The sky's the limit - go ahead and have fun with it!

We love to hear from you. What will the theme of your next vegan charcuterie board be? Let us know in the comments!