When it comes to creating the perfect party spread, a charcuterie board is always a hit. This combination of meats, cheeses, and condiments can be tailored to fit any palate, making it the perfect snack for any occasion.
But for vegetarians and vegans, building a suitable charcuterie board can seem like a daunting task!
What are some ideas for vegetarian and vegan charcuterie boards? There are plenty of vegan substitutes for meat and cheeses, but to highlight the flavors, we suggest picking out a star for your charcuterie board — the dip! Vegan pesto, vegan pate, and baba ganoush are all excellent options.
With some creativity, it’s easy to put together a board that everyone will enjoy! Here are some ideas to get you started.
What Is A Charcuterie Board?
When it comes to entertaining, the French know a thing or two about how to do it right! “Charcuterie” in French literally means cured meats, but in recent years it has come to encompass all sorts of finger foods that are perfect for sharing.
Charcuterie boards are a great way to entertain a large party without having to spend hours in the kitchen. They’re also perfect for parties or other occasions where you want to serve something that’s both elegant and delicious.
Charcuterie boards usually consist of an assortment of meats, cheeses, bread, and other finger foods that can be easily shared.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, then finding substitutes for meats and cheeses is the key to building a great meat-free charcuterie board. Fortunately, there are plenty of delicious options for you to choose from! Let’s take a look.
Ideas For Vegan Ingredients
When it comes to putting together the perfect vegan charcuterie board, the options are endless — however, there are a few key things to keep in mind in order to create a feast for all the senses.
There are seven key ingredients for any great charcuterie board: crackers, cold-cut meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, dips, and antipasti.
The ingredients need to complement one another in textures, flavors, and colors. The key here is balance!
There are five flavors that you will need to have on the charcuterie board: savory (cheese and meat), salty (olives, dips), sour (fruits, pickles), spicy (pepperoni, dips), and sweet (fruits, jams).
In terms of texture, you will need to have a good mix of hard, crunchy textures (crackers, nuts, hard cheeses, vegetables) and soft textures (soft cheeses, meat, dried fruits, and veggies).
Of course, to make the board visually appealing, you will also need to balance the colors of all the ingredients.
Let’s take a look at some great options for vegan ingredients below!
Bread and crackers are the key building block to any great charcuterie board because they can complement every type of topping.
Most store-bought bread and crackers are vegan already, but you can always double-check the ingredients just to be sure.
2. Vegan Meat
Cold-cut meats are a must-have for charcuterie boards, and fortunately, charcuterie boards can be just as delicious (and healthy) without the meat.
There are now a number of vegan meat options on the market that make it easy to create a tasty and varied meat-free charcuterie board.
From plant-based prosciutto to chorizo made from mushrooms, there are plenty of vegan ways to add flavor and texture to your board!
Tofu is a great option for a flavorful and savory meat alternative, and seitan is also perfect for those looking for a chewy, bacon-like option.
3. Cheeses/Vegan Cheeses
When creating a charcuterie board, be sure to include a variety of cheeses to please everyone at the table.
A charcuterie board is not complete without cheese. A mix of hard and soft cheeses provides the perfect balance of flavors and textures while also catering to different preferences.
If your diet permits cheese, then that’s great; you can use a wide variety of cheeses to include in a vegetarian charcuterie board.
Dairy-free cheeses are also an excellent option for those who are vegan or lactose intolerant.
These cheeses are typically made from nut milk, and they can be just as delicious as their dairy counterparts. Nutritional yeast gives vegan cheese a cheesy flavor, while cashews add creaminess.
If you’re looking for a way to add some sweetness to your next vegan charcuterie board, look no further than fresh, seasonal fruit.
Seasonal fruits are not only delicious, but they also add a pop of color and natural sweetness to any dish. Best of all, they’re easy to find and relatively inexpensive!
When selecting fruit for your charcuterie board, look for bright, colorful varieties that are in season. With their vibrant colors and sweet flavors, seasonal fruits are sure to be a hit with your guests!
Depending on the season and your location, you can always find fresh apples, grapes, berries, peaches, oranges, and plums to complement the assortments of cheeses and meats.
For the most flavor, be sure to select ripe fruit that is free of blemishes. Once you’ve gathered your fruit, simply arrange it on the board along with your other vegan charcuterie items.
An assortment of vegetables can also balance out the rich, creamy, and savory taste of other ingredients on the board.
Create a selection of colorful crudités, such as carrots, radishes, and tomatoes, and pair them with flavorful dips and spreads. Add a variety of pickled vegetables, including peppers, cucumbers, and onions.
Finally, round out the board with some roasted or grilled vegetables. These types of vegetables can balance out the board and complement your flavorful cheeses and dips very well.
A charcuterie board is only as good as its dip! The right dip can elevate the flavors of the other ingredients, tying the whole board together in a cohesive and delicious way.
A good charcuterie dip should be able to balance out the other flavors on the board. If there are salty vegan meats, the dip should be slightly sweet. If there are sweet fruits, the dip should have a hint of acidity.
The best dips are also able to stand up to the other ingredients in terms of texture. A creamy vegan cheese, for example, might be delicious with vegan meats and pickled vegetables.
In contrast, a thinner and more delicate cheese might get lost amongst heartier items like vegan salami and breadsticks.
Ultimately, the perfect charcuterie board is one where all of the flavors and textures work together in harmony.
If you have ingredients with a mild taste, you can complement them with strong and flavorful tastes like vegan pesto, satay sauce, dairy-free tzatziki, or baba ganoush. For a fresh summer flavor, try marmalade or cranberry sauce.
Antipasti is a category in Italian cooking, meaning appetizer.
Not only do they add flavor and visual interest, but they also help to balance out the richer flavors of vegan meat and cheese, making the flavor profile more interesting.
8. Finishing Touches
The finishing touches will also help to fill up the gaps between the ingredients, making the whole board more visually engaging and appetizing!
How To Make A Vegan Charcuterie Board
Since there are quite a few options, it can be daunting to know what ingredients will complement one another.
Fortunately, a charcuterie board is quite easy to assemble as long as you pick one key ingredient to build the entire board around!
Let’s take a look at how to make a vegan charcuterie board.
Step 1: Pick A Charcuterie Board
A wooden chopping board is a great place to start building your charcuterie board. Make sure that it’s big enough for all of your ingredients and that it’s safe to handle ready-to-eat vegan meats and cheeses.
For a small arrangement, you can use a smaller board, 9-by-13 inches. For a large party, you will probably need at least 18-by-14 inches to hold all of the ingredients.
Other must-haves are small bowls for the dips and condiments, as well as small spoons and forks to make it easy to serve.
Step 2: Pick A Main Flavor
The key step to building a great charcuterie board is to decide on the theme and flavor.
One ingredient should be the highlight of the board, and you can build all the other ingredients around it. After all, you don’t want all of them to compete for attention!
For a savory, filling charcuterie board, you can choose a rich, savory dip with strong vegan meat and cheese options.
For a summer plate, you can highlight the fresh fruits and vegetables, complementing them with mild cheeses and a light dip.
Step 3: Assemble
After picking the star of the show, you can start assembling the board by adding other complementary flavors around it.
For vegan cheeses, start slicing the cheese and arranging them around the board. If you want to serve baked cheese, you can display it in a serving dish in the middle of the board.
If you are using several types of cheese, make sure to spread it out throughout the board and fill up other ingredients in between the spaces.
Then, start spreading slices of vegan meat on the board in a fan or curve shape around the bowl in the center. You can also fold the large slices in half or quarters to save space.
Next, lay out your slices of bread and crackers on the board in a fan shape. If they take up too much space, you can also place them in a basket next to the charcuterie board.
After that, fill the gaps between the key ingredients with dips, antipasti, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
Finally, top up the gap between aall the ingredients with nuts, dried fruits, and dark chocolate pieces.
To make the board more aesthetically pleasing, you can also top everything off with sprinkles of dried herbs or fresh rosemary sprigs!
Make sure to spread each ingredient out throughout the board to ensure a balance of colors and that there’s not too much blank space on the board.
Step 4: Final Touches
To get the charcuterie board ready for your guests, add final touches like knives to cut the cheeses and meats, plus spoons and forks for serving.
Don’t forget to place some napkins nearby so people can wipe their fingers!
Tips For Assembling The Perfect Charcuterie Board
You don’t need to be an artist to be able to create the perfect charcuterie board! Here are our tips to help you create a delicious and aesthetically pleasing board.
It can be hard to estimate how much to buy for each ingredient, especially if you are serving a large group.
If you are serving the board as a starter, then you don’t need to buy a lot. Only 2–3 ounces of meat and cheese per person will be enough to get people started.
However, if the charcuterie board is the main meal, you should double the portion to make sure that there’s enough for everybody.
Don’t worry if you cannot fit all of the ingredients on the board — you can always top it off when people start to empty the charcuterie board.
Cut the meat and cheeses into slices before arranging the ingredients on the board so that your guests can easily enjoy them — this will also make it easier for you to top up the ingredients later on.
Some people like serving a big block of cheese to let the guests help themselves. If this is the case, you should still pre-slice a few slices of cheese to encourage your guests.
If you are serving large fruits like apples, you can also cut them into small slices for serving.
However, apples tend to become brown after it’s cut, so you can soak the slices in salt water for about 10 minutes before serving to prevent them from browning.
Similarly, make sure to separate grape clusters before placing them on the board to make sure your guests have easy access to them.
To arrange the most aesthetically pleasing board, divide each ingredient into three portions, and spread them out throughout the board.
To ensure that the ingredients perfectly complement one another, group ingredients in groups of 3–5 ingredients that have similar colors.
For wet ingredients like soft cheeses and dips, have one big bowl in the middle of the board, and spread smaller bowls throughout the board to make sure that people can easily access them.
You should also place complementary ingredients next to one another so that it’s more convenient to enjoy them. For example, crackers should be placed next to the cheese and meats. Vegetables should be near the dips.
Finally, make sure that there are not too many big gaps in the arrangements. This is where antipasti and roasted nuts can come in handy — filling in the gaps will make the entire board look more finished and appetizing to your guests!