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We love building charcuterie boards almost as much as we enjoy eating them. They are a quick and fuss-free dinner option for us, and we also turn to them time and again when hosting guests. While we appreciate the visual appeal and variety of flavors on a charcuterie board, we also recognize that assembling one can be time-consuming, especially for larger gatherings. This is where charcuterie skewers emerge as a playful and convenient alternative.
Charcuterie skewers offer a simplified and elegant way to present the same flavors of a charcuterie board, all in bite-sized, easy-to-eat portions and are also convenient for guests to enjoy while mingling. Whether you’re planning a casual get-together or an elegant dinner party, charcuterie skewers are a surefire way to impress your guests and elevate your appetizer spread.
What is Charcuterie?
Charcuterie, pronounced sharh-KOO-tuh-ree, is a French term centered on preparing, preserving, and presenting cured and processed meats, predominantly pork. Common charcuterie varieties include salami, sausage, pâté, terrine, rillettes, and confit. Charcuterie boards typically feature meats, cheeses, bread and/or crackers, and a mix of sweet and savory elements like olives, figs, and nuts, complemented by spreads such as honey and mustard. Popular in Europe, charcuterie boards have gained a cult following in the US, with people creating diverse variations like s’mores boards, pancake boards, burger boards, taco boards, and more.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
Just like charcuterie boards, charcuterie skewers are completely customizable. The possibilities are endless, but here are some classic charcuterie skewer ingredients:
In the printable recipe below, you can find a complete list of ingredients and measurements.
- Meats: There is a wide selection of meats such as prosciutto, salami, ham, capicola, and smoked sausages that can be include on charcuterie skewers. Pick a variety of your favorites to mix and match when you are making the skewers.
- Cheeses: Any type of hard or firm cheese are great for skewers but avoid soft cheeses like brie. We like mixing a couple of cheeses like cheddar, Manchego, and marinated mozzarella balls.
- Other Items: To give a variety of taste and textures include elements like olives, tomatoes, fresh basil, melon, and bread that has been cubed.
What Type of Skewer to Use
The best type of skewer to use for charcuterie skewers depends on the ingredients you are using and the desired presentation. We used 6 inch bamboo skewers for our skewers. You can also use wooden skewers but would probably stay away from the metal type. For mini charcuterie skewers there are all types of cocktails picks or toothpicks that can be used.
How to Make Charcuterie Skewers
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
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Pro-tip: Alternate between different types of ingredients. Besides making it more visually appealing, it also creates a nice balance of flavors and textures.
1. Prepare the Ingredients: Dice your cheese, slice or fold your cured meats into decorative shapes, and wash and cut any fruits or vegetables. Larger fruits like apples or pears should be sliced into smaller pieces, while melons can be cut into cubes or scooped into melon balls. Remove the basil from its stems and then slice or fold the leaves. If you be adding bread to your skewers, cut it into small cubed pieces.
2. Assemble Skewers: Take bamboo skewers or toothpicks and thread the ingredients onto them alternating between meats, cheese, and the other ingredients. You can create a pattern or mix and match for variety. Once assembled the skewers can be drizzled with honey or a balsamic reduction or serve it on the side as a dipping sauce.
How to Serve Charcuterie Skewers
Charcuterie skewers are a versatile and delicious appetizer, ideal for any occasion, from holiday parties or casual get togethers, lunches, snacks, or picnics. Elevate your charcuterie experience by pairing these skewers with crackers or crostinis, along with a variety of dipping sauces like mustard, honey, or fruit jam. Add a touch of variety with some traditional charcuterie elements on the side like nuts, berries, and chocolate. Don’t forget the wine, a traditional accompaniment to charcuterie. Red wine, white wine, and rosé are all excellent choices, each complementing the rich flavors of the meats and cheeses.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: Preparing and then properly storing charcuterie skewers can help you save time and ensure they stay fresh. Cut and prepare all the ingredients a day before, keeping them refrigerated until assembly. Assemble the skewers a few hours before serving. However, avoid adding items that could become soggy or mushy, like fresh melon or bread, until closer to serving time. Once assembled, cover the skewers with plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container. Store them in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.
How to Store: Leftover skewers can be store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If your skewers include both moist (fresh fruits) and dry components like bread, store them separately to prevent the dry items from becoming soggy.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Serve charcuterie skewers at room temperature. This allows the flavors of the meats, cheeses, and the other ingredients to meld together.
- Offer a variety of dipping sauces. Mustard, honey, balsamic glaze, and jams are all classic choices that pair well with charcuterie skewers.
- Accompany the skewers with additional crackers or bread. This provides guests with options for balancing out the flavors and textures.
- Have fun and be creative! There are endless possibilities when it comes to creating charcuterie skewers. Experiment with different combinations of ingredients and presentation styles to find what works best for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
The number of skewers you need per person depends on the size of the skewers and the variety of appetizers you are serving. However, a good rule of thumb is to plan on 4-6 skewer appetizers per person for a light snack or appetizer, and 8-12 skewer appetizers per person for a main meal.
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- 1 cup mixed olives
- 12 marinated mozzarella balls
- 8 ounces cheese such as cheddar, cubed
- 3 ounces prosciutto
- 3 ounces dried salami
- 12 cherry or grape tomatoes
- fresh basil
- 3 ounces melon balls, such as cantelope
- 3 ounces grapes
- 12 pieces bread, cut into bite-sized pieces
- honey, fig preserves, or balsamic reduction, optional, for drizzling
- Cube or slice the cheeses.
- Cut the cured meats into bite-sized pieces or fold them into decorative shapes.
- Wash the cherry tomatoes.
- Slice any larger fruits into bite-sized pieces.
- Cut the bread into small squares or rectangles.
- Take bamboo skewers or toothpicks and start threading the ingredients onto them in a visually appealing manner. You can create a pattern or mix and match for variety.
- Consider alternating between meats, cheeses, fruits, and bread to create a balanced combination of flavors.
Drizzle with Honey or Preserves (Optional)
- If you like, you can drizzle a bit of honey, fig preserves, or balsamic reduction over the skewers to add a touch of sweetness.