The Most Impressive $50 Trader Joe's Charcuterie Board
Updated: Feb 14, 2021
Who doesn't love a good charcuterie board? I know my eyes perk up when I walk into a friend's house and see that beautiful masterpiece. I am a HUGE tapas girl, so a platter of meat, cheese, and bread?! YES PLEASE!!
Charcuterie boards can be overwhelming and expensive, but have no fear, Chef Hayley (self proclaimed) is here. Not only can you have an impressive charcuterie board for under $50, but you can make it the most beautiful thing you have ever seen. Ready to wow your guests?
There are 6 main components to any good charcuterie board and as long as you hit every aspect, you will serve your guest something they will talk about forever.
This one may seem obvious BUT the board you chose dictates how good your charcuterie spread will be. I adore the multi-colored wood cutting boards and think they are the perfect foundation for designing an impressive appetizer. I found an 18" wooden pizza peel at TJ Maxx for $12.99 that is my go-to.
Arguably one of two most important components of a charcuterie board. Finding good cured meats can rack up a huge receipt but Trader Joe's has really high quality affordable cured meats. One thing I will not skimp out on is Proscuitto di Parma, and yes it must be di Parma. The second cured meat that is a must is a good Salami. Most pictures you see on Pinterest are the Salami logs, but I find that the pre-sliced Salami is easier to eat/design. I only used about half of the Columbia Calabrese Salami 50z package that could easily feed 5-6 people. The last meat I chose for our board was the Ciao Pepperoni slices, which threw in a little heat to the mix.
Second most important component of a charcuterie board. Having a good mix of different flavors and textures is CRUCIAL. You want variety so everyone can create their perfect bite. A staple cheese is a good Brie. Trader Joe's Triple Cream Brie is hands down one of the best Brie cheeses I have ever had and is beyond cheaper than most grocery stores. The creamy, soft cheese is a perfect compliment to a salty cured meat. To contrast the creaminess of the Brie, I went for TJ's Bacon Cheddar cheese which was utterly divine. It brought me back to the bagel store down the street from where I grew up in NYC that has the best bacon cheddar cream cheese. This cheese brings in the salt and smoke that you didn't realize you needed. I tend to stay away from buying more than one hard cheese for the board, because no one wants to be the person having to cut pieces from it. A good mozzarella is so necessary because its mild nature will go with absolutely everything on the board. I personally splurged and went for a Burrata; but any fresh mozzarella would be perfect. Last but not least, I went for an herb goat cheese to bring in the tang. Honestly, I am not a fan of it but it was a huge hit with my guests!
Grain carbs are my guilty pleasure in life and who can eat creamy cheeses without shmearing them on a piece of toast or cracker?! I wanted a few different options for textures but stayed within the same flavor profiles so the crackers wouldn't be overshadowed by its cheesy, meaty counterparts. For texture and style, I went for Cheddar Twists. They tend to be a stand alone component of the board, but they also tend to be the first to go. They are flaky, cheesy, and crispy...essentially making them super addicting. To spice up a classic cracker, I spotted the Garlic Naan crackers and knew they were a must. The garlic goes hand in hand with the cured meats and creamy cheeses. Lastly we needed a good bread component and the Parmesan crisps were ideal. They were perfect for spreading cheese on top of and were still mild enough to blend in.
So many people overlook how important having a fruity element at the party is. I personally stick to the jelly/jam arena because it is so easy to spread onto your bread of choice and pile on the toppings. Since I went for the Italian cured meats, I chose a Fig Jam (sadly not TJs) that I knew would balance out the salty, smokey, creamy, tangy notes we already have on the board. You pick your favorite jelly/jam! You can also opt to put some dried fruits, but I personally don't because they tend to be stand alone snacks which our next topic covers on its own.
Nuts are a classic snack that will keep your guests' palette happy by providing a crunchy texture that the board needs. I went for a salty and a sweet option for variety. Everyone is either obsessed with or wants to try any Everything But the Bagel related product so when I saw the mixed nuts, it was game over. They have every flavor that is already on the board so they were perfect to add to the mix. My sweet option I went for a candied pecan, but this was a little on the pricier side for a small bag. I would definitely suggest making your own!
Optional (But highly recommended)
* Antipasto salad - I chose the TJ's Antipasto Salad with Feta to add some Mediterranean flavors
* Roasted Peppers - I made my own for another meal I was making and added it to the board! Use up what you already have!
* Chocolate - I needed something to fill a space on my board and went for sweet chocolate chunks
* Honey - I happened to have a small bottle that was gifted to me and threw it on...best decision ever
The last thing you need to do is to design your charcuterie board and make it eye catching! There is absolutely no science to this. I started with my items I had to put in bowls and designed around them. My tactic is to stare at the board until I strike genius; which comes after moving things around a million times. The limit truly does not exist so have fun!
Show me the money! Here is the breakdown of what each TJ item cost:
Proscuitto di Parma: $6.49
Calabrese Salami: $2.99
Ciao Pepperoni: $3.29
Triple Cream Brie: $3.17
Herb Goat Cheese: $2.99
Bacon and Cheddar: $4.12
Cheddar Twists: $2.99
Garlic Naan Crackers: $2.99
Parmesan Crisps: $3.99
Everything But the Bagel Nuts: $3.99
Candied Pecans: $4.99
Antipasto Salad: $4.99