Want to make the Ultimate Gluten-Free Charcuterie Board for your next party? Of course you do!
Call it a cheese board, charcuterie plate, meat and cheese platter – or just delicious – I’m here with a formula for creating the perfect party show piece.
And this tutorial is totally flexible so you can adjust to your exact dietary needs…gluten-free, dairy-free, whatever you require.
What is Charcuterie?
Charcuterie is a branch of cooking devoted to pork…
…and most restaurant boards have cured meats surrounded by all the accompaniments: pickles, jams, crackers, cheese, fruit, and so on.
Here’s the key to a killer charcuterie board: creating a balance of flavors and textures.
It’s like when you go out to eat and order your fave dish ever. I’d bet that the chef has carefully balanced flavors, textures, and even temperatures so everything works in harmony to create, well, a food experience.
But the great thing is that you don’t have to go to culinary school to understand how to do this at home. I’m giving you a crash course right here.
Flavors for Your Charcuterie Board
To construct your Ultimate Gluten-Free Charcuterie Board, you’ll want to think broadly about these things:
Flavors: sweet, salty, sour/tangy, bitter, spicy, umami, herbaceous
Textures: crunchy/crispy, soft, fatty
Temperatures: hot, cold, room temp
Of course, you don’t have to include all of these. But for a bang-up gluten-free charcuterie board include at least a few.
For example, everything I served was room temperature, but I tried to hit several of the flavor and texture notes listed above. Do what you can within your budget and with what’s available. (Scroll down for ideas.)
It’s up to you how allergen-free you keep your charcuterie board.
And for the record, I’m not interested in performing a historical re-enactment of how cavemen ate when it comes to my food. I’m all about finding the foods that work best for my body, nourish me mentally and physically, and still allow me to enjoy life. (So much so that Eat Nourishing Foods is the first pillar of health in my Core 4 framework.)
Why We Customize It
For example, in our house, we both tolerate goat and sheep dairy okay, but we avoid cow dairy. For Z, it’s his eczema that kicks up…for me, it’s best I avoid A1 cow dairy because it increases inflammation which makes my endometriosis worse.
We don’t have a good source of A2 cow cheese here, so we stick to the occasional goat or sheep cheese if I’m putting together a spread like this.
If you can’t do any dairy at all, Kite Hill makes some pretty dang decent almond milk-based dairy-free artisanal cheeses…it ain’t your average vegan cheese. (I used that in this charcuterie board…it’s the one covered with dried cranberries.) Or simply leave it off and maybe include another meat or two. Up to you, boss!
And nowadays, with all the allergen-free cracker options, it’s never been easier to add some crunch to your gluten-free charcuterie board. I used a couple different commercially available gluten-free crackers – made mainly with rice flour.
If that’s a no-go for your family, you could also swap out the crackers for crunchy veggies or fresh fruit – sliced jicama, apple, or cucumbers, for example.
I love spreads like this because you get to customize them based on your needs and tastes.
How to Build the Ultimate Gluten-Free Charcuterie Board
It’s always great to include some variety, so for the main components – meat, cheese, fruit, and nuts – think about putting more than one on the board. Aim for good quality when you can.
By no means is this a complete list, so get creative!
For dried meats, look for uncured if possible. I really like Creminelli which you can find at Whole Foods. Aim for 2-3 meats. They add that salty, fatty, and umami component.
- Soppressata / capicola
- Paté / terrine
Note: I used prosciutto, capicola, and Creminelli Tartufo salami.
I used goat and non-dairy cheese. If you can do cow dairy, the sky is the absolute limit here. (Baked brie makes for a good temperature variation.) Consider including at least one hard and soft cheese.
- Soft goat cheese (chèvre)
- Hard goat cheese
- Sheep milk cheese (feta, manchego, roquefort, pecorino romano…)
- Artisanal almond milk “cheese”
Note: I used hard goat cheddar, soft goat chèvre with herbs, and Kite Hill almond milk soft cheese topped with dried cranberries.
Fresh fruit on a gluten-free charcuterie board is pretty much a must, but think about dried fruit and fruit preserves / jams, too. Go with seasonal fruit when you can…it’s usually better quality and less expensive.
- Fresh fruit (apples, pears, citrus, grapes, pomegranate, berries…)
- Dried fruit (dates, figs, cranberries, cherries, apricots…)
- Preserves or jams (fig, cherry, apricot, strawberry…)
- Butters (apple butter, pumpkin butter…)
- Fruit paste (guava, quince…)
Note: I used fresh blackberries, red pear, red flame grapes, mandarin orange, dried cranberries, and dates.
Nothing adds crunch to a gluten-free charcuterie board quite like nuts. Sky’s the limit, and you may want to play around with raw, candied, or even roasted. I lumped coconut in here even though it’s technically not a nut.
- Coconut (fresh chunks of coconut meat, crunchy flakes…)
- Nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pistachios…)
- Candied nuts (easy to make homemade)
- Nut butters (try my Gingerbread Cashew Butter)
Note: I included homemade candied nuts with rosemary and macadamia nuts.
Use your imagination to round out your gluten-free charcuterie board with a few other ingredients like…
- Gluten-free crackers*
- Jicama or cucumber slices
- Pickles (dude, those tiny cornichons get me every time)*
- Pickled veggies (onions, beets, carrots, jalapeño slices…)
- Marinated veggies (garlic, sundried tomatoes, artichokes)
- Roasted veggies
- Honey or honeycomb (local if possible)*
- Dark chocolate chunks*
- Mustard (whole grain, Dijon…)
- Bacon jam
- Hummus (try this legume-free Beet Hummus)
- Preserved lemons
*Used on my board
I could keep going on and on, but you’ve got an ultimate gluten-free charcuterie board to make!
Some Plating Tips…
It helps to have a nice surface to create your charcuterie board on. I used slate but you could also opt for marble or wood. (Note: Some foods can stain marble so be careful.) Or, use a fancy serving tray or baking sheet…but you may want to put down some parchment or wax paper just in case the surface is painted or varnished and possibly not food-safe.
I added a touch of green with some fresh rosemary, but thyme, basil, parsley and dill are all nice. If you include anything not edible – holiday greens, succulents, etc – just be sure to warn your guests.
You’ll also need some small knives, forks, or toothpicks for serving.
And while there’s no right way to plate your gluten-free charcuterie board, taking a few extra minutes to make it look pretty totally takes it from so-so to show-stopper! Create texture by rolling and folding meats, fanning out fruit and using small bowls for items that may roll around too much.