Charcuterie boards are the pinnacle of the appetizer world. Charcuterie boards are fun to eat because they are like a choose-your-own-adventure.
You can make the combination that suits your fancy. I love charcuterie boards because I can be creative with them.
Charcuterie boards typically combine cheese, fruits, jams, dried nuts, and of course, meat. The meats on a charcuterie board are my favorite because they have so many different types of flavors and textures.
There are a lot of different kinds of meat that you can put on a charcuterie board, but some are better than others.
Best Meat for a Charcuterie Board
After making many various charcuterie boards, I created a list of the best meats for a charcuterie board. You don’t want to miss any of the meats on this list.
Many people don’t like super-processed lunch meats like bologna. Well, leave it to the Italians to make lunch meats gourmet.
Mortadella is an Italian meat made with pork and spices. It’s slow-cooked until it’s incredibly tender.
What makes mortadella so much tastier than other processed meats is that it has to have at least 15% pork fat, and fat is flavor.
Mortadella goes well on a charcuterie board because of the way it’s seasoned.
The spices make it flavorful, and the soft texture goes well with hard cheeses and bread.
Mortadella pairs well with:
- Aged cheddar cheese
Prosciutto is an Italian dry-cured ham that is incredibly thin.
It’s made by salting and air-drying the meat for several months. Prosciutto has a subtle flavor with a salty finish.
Prosciutto is an excellent meat for a charcuterie board because it’s so thin, and you can get a lot of it on one cracker. It also pairs well with other things on the charcuterie board, like dried fruit or jam.
I think prosciutto is one of the best meats for a charcuterie board because of how salty it is. A savory bite of prosciutto with some figs on a slice of bread is heaven.
Prosciutto pairs well with:
The Iberian pig is a cross between a wild boar and a domesticated pig. The ham is made by salting and air-drying the meat for several months.
Jamon Iberico has a nutty flavor with a hint of sweetness. It’s one of the most expensive meats, but it’s worth it.
A little bit goes a long way because it’s so flavorful. In my opinion, the addition of Jamon Iberico puts your charcuterie board on the next level.
Jamon Iberico is a wonderful meat for a charcuterie board because of the intense flavor. I like eating it plain or with a slice of bread because of its intense flavor.
Jamon Iberico pairs well with:
- Manchego cheese
Calabrese is an Italian dry-cured sausage made from pork, chili peppers, and garlic. It’s a spicy sausage that adds a kick to any charcuterie board.
I love Calabrese because it has so much flavor. The chili peppers give it a bit of heat, but the garlic makes it taste amazing. It’s one of my favorite meats for a charcuterie board.
Calabrese is a great thing to add to a charcuterie board if you like things spicy. Traditionally, charcuterie boards avoid spicy meats and cheeses, but I think this is an omission.
Calabrese pairs well with:
- Cheddar cheese
- Whole grain crackers
Pate is a smooth, spreadable paste made from ground meat. You make it from the liver.
People often overlook pate, but I think it is one of the best meats for a charcuterie board. Pate adds a sense of class to your charcuterie board.
Additionally, since some people don’t like pate, you don’t have to worry about sharing it with everyone.
I love pate because it’s so smooth and spreadable. It has a rich flavor, and a little bit goes a long way. I think pate is an excellent addition to any charcuterie board.
Pate pairs well with:
- Fresh baguette
- Mild cheese
Rillettes is a French dish made from shredded or ground meat cooked in fat and then cooled. The shredded meat is usually pork, but you can make it with other meats.
Rillettes has a rich, fatty flavor that is unique on a charcuterie board. The richness of rillette is unparalleled, and the layer of fat on top is the essence of flavor.
Rillettes is the perfect meat for a charcuterie board because it is rich. Like pate, it is different than your traditional sliced deli meat and adds a different texture to your charcuterie board.
I think it pairs best with something that cuts through the fattiness, like pickles.
Rillettes pairs well with:
- Pickled onions
Sopressata is an Italian dry-cured sausage made from pork. It’s a spicy sausage that will spice up your charcuterie board.
I love Sopressata because it has so much flavor. The spice level can vary, but it’s always flavorful.
It’s one of my favorite meats for a charcuterie board. It is fun to experiment with different types of sopressata.
Your local Italian deli will likely have several different types of sopressata. I recommend trying them, finding your favorite, and making them a mainstay on your charcuterie board.
Sopressata pairs well with:
- Havarti cheese
- Toasted baguette
Spanish Chorizo is hands down one of the best meats for a charcuterie board. It is a smoked, dry-cured sausage made from pork and flavored with garlic and paprika.
The flavor of Spanish Chorizo is out of this world. It is smoky, spicy, and savory all at the same time, making it one of the most popular types of sausage.
I often eat Spanish chorizo before my guests come over; I can’t help myself.
Spanish Chorizo is perfect for a Spanish-focused charcuterie board. Spanish charcuterie boards tend to be spicier than ones focused on Italian meats.
Spanish Chorizo pairs well with:
- Sheep’s milk cheese
- Smoked cheddar cheese
Even though it is labeled “uncured,” you don’t have to cook uncured sopressata. You can eat it raw just like regular sopressata because uncured sopressata are preserved and dried.
Uncured sopressata is made from pork and is quite similar to salami. However, the meat isn’t as smooth and is traditionally made with whole peppercorns, which add a nice bite.
I think uncured sopressata is a terrific option for a charcuterie board. It’s easy to find, and it has a lot of flavors.
It’s also a good option if you’re looking for something healthier than some of the other meats on this list.
Uncured Sopressata pairs well with:
- Blue cheese
Capicola is classic Italian deli meat that goes just as well on a charcuterie board as an Italian grinder sandwich. Capicola is a dry-cured, spicy sausage made from pork shoulder.
I love how salty capicola is. Each bite is like a savory explosion in your mouth. Plus, I think the fat layers and how you slice it make it visually appealing.
Capicola has a unique flavor that is both spicy and sweet. This combination makes it one of my favorite meats for a charcuterie board. I often find myself eating more capicola than I intended to.
Capicola pairs well with:
- Thyme honey
- Aged Cheddar
I’m rounding out this list of the best meat for a charcuterie board with one more Italian deli meat.
Genoa salami is a dry-cured sausage made from pork and flavored with garlic, wine, and spices. It can also be made with veal.
Genoa salami has a strong flavor that can be overwhelming for some people. I love the bold flavors of Genoa salami, but it’s an acquired taste. Genoa salami is a great option if you want to add excitement to your charcuterie board.
Genoa salami pairs well with:
- Provolone cheese
- Gouda cheese
Best Meat for a Charcuterie Board
- Jamon Iberico
- Spanish Chorizo
- Uncured Sopressata
- Genoa Salami
There you have it, my thoughts on the best meat for a charcuterie board. All these meats, from mortadella to Genoa salami, are outstanding options and offer something unique to your charcuterie board.
The beauty of a charcuterie board is that you can mix and match different meats, cheeses, and accompaniments to create the perfect board for your taste. I encourage you to experiment and find your favorite combination.
Do you have a favorite meat for a charcuterie board? Let me know in the comments below.
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