Best Meats For Charcuterie | 15 Meats To Make Your Next Charcuterie Board Pop!

In the world of culinary arts, the charm of a well-curated charcuterie board is timeless. 

Long before the rise of Instagrammable meals and the trend of gourmet grazing tables, I have been making charcuterie boards. My journey began years ago, way before charcuterie boards became popular and trendy for gatherings and feasts. I really didn’t even know the term; I just thought I was making an expanded antipasto salad! 

Through years of experience and a deep-seated love of salami and pepperoni,  I have perfected my skills to create the ultimate guide to building a charcuterie board that promises not only a feast for the eyes but also a gastronomic adventure that tantalizes the taste buds. 

From offering insights into the best mail-order charcuterie to guiding you in selecting the finest meats, including the luxurious Boar’s Head Sausalito Turkey or the spiced delicacy of Pastrami, our guide serves as a beacon for enthusiasts and novices alike, steering them towards creating a masterpiece that resonates with elegance, flavor, and tradition. 

Let’s get into the world of charcuterie and focus on picking the best meats for your charcuterie board.

Prosciutto: The Crown Jewel of Italian Charcuterie

This dry-cured ham is a staple in Italian cuisine, known for its delicate, melt-in-your-mouth texture and rich, salty flavor. It pairs wonderfully with both hard and soft cheeses, making it a versatile choice for charcuterie boards. Its thin slices can be draped over other ingredients, adding an elegant touch to the presentation.

Why Choose It: Prosciutto, with its delicate texture and rich flavor, adds a touch of luxury to any charcuterie board. Its versatility in pairing with a variety of cheeses makes it a must-have item on your board.

FACT: Prosciutto has a long history dating back to ancient Roman times. It is traditionally made in Italy, with the most famous varieties coming from Parma and San Daniele, regions known for their strict adherence to quality and traditional production methods.


Salami: A Versatile Delight

With its numerous varieties, salami offers a range of flavors and textures, from spicy to sweet and from soft to firm. Its bold, garlicky flavor profile can add a punch to your charcuterie board, complementing the milder flavors of cheeses and crackers. Its versatility makes it a popular choice for many.

Why Choose It: Salami, with its numerous varieties, offers a delightful range of flavors and textures that can spice up your charcuterie board, making it a popular choice for many.

FACT: The term “salami” is derived from the Italian word “salame”, which stems from “sale”, meaning salt. This highlights the important role of salting in the preservation process of this meat.


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Coppa: A Rich and Robust Choice

This dry-cured pork neck or shoulder is a delicacy from Italy and Corsica, offering a rich, robust flavor with a hint of spice. Its marbled texture and deep flavor make it a luxurious choice for charcuterie boards, pairing well with bold cheeses and full-bodied wines.

Why Choose It: Coppa’s marbled texture and deep, spicy flavor profile make it a luxurious choice for charcuterie boards, especially when paired with bold cheeses and full-bodied wines.

FACT: Coppa is a traditional Italian and Corsican delicacy, often made using family recipes passed down through generations, showcasing the rich culinary traditions of these regions.

Chorizo: A Zesty Addition

This spicy pork sausage is a staple in Spanish and Portuguese cuisine. Its smoky, slightly spicy flavor adds a zesty kick to any charcuterie board. It pairs wonderfully with cheeses like Manchego and can be a great contrast to the sweetness of fruits like grapes or figs.

Why Choose It: Chorizo adds a zesty kick to any charcuterie board with its smoky and slightly spicy flavor, making it a great contrast to the sweetness of fruits like grapes or figs.

FACT: Chorizo is often made with Pimentón, a type of smoked paprika that is a hallmark of Spanish cuisine, giving the sausage its distinctive color and flavor.

Our Top Pick Online: IBERICO SPICY DRY CURED CHORIZO SAUSAGE & (believe it or not) Chorizo Autentico by Palacios

Bresaola: A Splash of Color and Flavor

This Italian air-dried, salted beef is known for its lean, tender texture and rich, gamey flavor. Its deep red hue can add a splash of color to your board, and its earthy flavor pairs wonderfully with sharp cheeses and a drizzle of olive oil or balsamic glaze.

Why Choose It: Bresaola’s deep red hue and earthy flavor can add a splash of color and a rich, gamey flavor to your charcuterie board, pairing wonderfully with sharp cheeses and a drizzle of olive oil.

FACT: Bresaola originates from the Valtellina valley in the Lombardy region of Italy. It is often enjoyed with a simple garnish of lemon juice and olive oil to enhance its flavor.

Our Top Pick: Brooklyn Cured Sliced Bresaola

Mortadella: A Smooth and Creamy Delight

A classic Italian cold cut, Mortadella is a finely ground pork sausage with a smooth, creamy texture. It often contains pieces of fat, pistachios, or olives, adding complexity to its flavor. Its mild, slightly sweet taste makes it a good counterpoint to stronger-flavored meats and cheeses.

Why Choose It: Mortadella’s smooth texture and slightly sweet taste make it a delightful counterpoint to stronger-flavored meats and cheeses, adding a creamy element to your selection.

FACT: Mortadella has its origins in Bologna, Italy, and it is said that its production dates back to at least the Roman times, where it was a delicacy enjoyed by the elite.

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Our Top Pick: This Is Best To Get Locally Near You

Pâté: A Rich and Complex Spread

This rich, creamy spread is made from a blend of cooked ground meat and fat. It can be made from various meats, including liver, offering a rich, complex flavor that pairs wonderfully with crusty bread or crackers. Its smooth texture contrasts nicely with the crunchier elements on the board.

Why Choose It: Pâté offers a rich and complex flavor that pairs wonderfully with crusty bread or crackers, adding a creamy, luxurious element to your charcuterie board.

FACT: The word “pâté” comes from the French, and it can be made in various styles, including “pâté en croûte” (encased in pastry) and “pâté de campagne” (country pâté), showcasing the culinary diversity of this dish.

Best Maileorder Pate We Have Found So Far: Black Peppercorn Pate

Speck: A Rustic and Hearty Choice

A smoked and aged Italian meat, Speck brings a deep, smoky flavor to the charcuterie board. Its firm texture and rich, savory taste make it a great pairing with robust cheeses and bold red wines. It can add a rustic, hearty element to your selection.

Why Choose It: Speck’s firm texture and rich, savory taste make it a hearty addition to any charcuterie board, pairing excellently with robust cheeses and bold red wines.

FACT: Speck is a specialty of the Tyrol region, where it is made according to age-old traditions, involving a unique combination of air-drying and smoking over beech wood.

Our Top Pick If Not Availibe Locally: Dry-cured Smoked Speck

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Jamon Serrano: A Taste of Spanish Luxury

This Spanish dry-cured ham offers a firm texture and a slightly nutty flavor. Its rich, complex taste makes it a luxurious choice for charcuterie boards, pairing well with Spanish cheeses like Manchego and marcona almonds for a truly Mediterranean experience.

Why Choose It: Jamon Serrano’s rich, complex taste and firm texture make it a luxurious choice for charcuterie boards, offering a true taste of Spanish culinary tradition.

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FACT: Jamon Serrano is typically cured for longer periods compared to other hams, sometimes aging for up to 18 months to develop its distinctive flavor and texture.

Our Two Top Picks For Ordering Online: MAESTRI JAMON SERRANO & Fermin Jamon Iberico

Roast Beef: A Comforting and Savory Addition

Offering a savory, familiar flavor, thin slices of roast beef can be a comforting addition to a charcuterie board. Its tender texture pairs well with a variety of cheeses and spreads, making it a versatile choice for many.

Why Choose It: Roast beef offers a comforting, familiar flavor that can be a versatile and savory addition to a charcuterie board, pairing well with a variety of cheeses and spreads.

FACT: Roast beef has a long history in British cuisine, where it was traditionally served as a Sunday roast, a meal that brings families together for a hearty feast.

Find This Locally!

Turkey Breast: A Lighter, Leaner Option

For those looking for a lighter option, roasted turkey breast can be a great choice. Its mild flavor and lean texture make it a great pairing with creamy cheeses and fresh fruits, offering a refreshing contrast to the richer meats on the board.

Why Choose It: Turkey breast offers a lighter, leaner option for charcuterie boards, pairing wonderfully with creamy cheeses and fresh fruits for a refreshing contrast to richer meats.

FACT: Turkey is native to North America and was first domesticated by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs, making it a meat with a long history of culinary use.

Find This Locally!

Smoked Salmon: A Flavorful Seafood Alternative

Although not a traditional meat, smoked salmon can be a fantastic addition to a charcuterie board. Its oily, rich texture and smoky flavor pair wonderfully with cream cheeses and crackers, offering a different, yet delightful flavor profile to the board.

Why Choose It: Smoked salmon, with its oily, rich texture and smoky flavor, offers a delightful seafood alternative on a charcuterie board, pairing excellently with cream cheeses and crackers.

FACT: Smoked salmon has a rich history in various cultures, including the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest, who have been smoking salmon as a preservation method for thousands of years.

Our Favorite Mailorder So Far: Smoked Sockeye from Wildfish Cannery & New York’s Delicacy

Pastrami: A Spiced and Smoked Delicacy

Pastrami is a meat delicacy that undergoes a meticulous process of preparation. It starts with brining beef brisket, followed by a generous rub of coriander, garlic, black pepper, and other spices, then smoked to perfection. Its deep red hue and marbled fat lines promise a burst of flavor with every bite, making it a luxurious addition to your charcuterie board.

Why Choose It: Its rich, peppery flavor and tender texture make it a hit on any board, pairing excellently with robust cheeses and hearty breads.

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FACT: Pastrami has its roots in Romanian cuisine, where it was initially made with goose meat. The version we know today, made with beef, became popular in the United States, particularly in New York City’s Jewish delis.

Our Top Pick In The World: Katz’s Delicatessen or shop locally

LUX American Oak Wood Oversized Serving Board 20.5″ x 13″ | Extra Large Charcuterie Board | Cheese Board With Handle for Serving Cheeses, Meats, Crackers, and Wine | Unique Gift (Oval Cutting Board)
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Boar’s Head Sausalito Turkey: A Flavorful and Premium Choice

Boar’s Head Sausalito Turkey is a delightful treat for the palate, offering a perfect blend of sweet and spicy notes. This premium turkey breast is seasoned with a unique blend of ingredients, including a hint of chardonnay wine, making it a standout choice for those looking to add a touch of sophistication to their charcuterie board.

Why Choose It: Its succulent and tender slices can be a great pairing with spicy or tangy cheeses, offering a balanced flavor profile.

FACT: Boar’s Head, a well-known brand in the deli sector, has been in operation since 1905. Their commitment to quality and flavor innovation has made them a popular choice for premium lunch meats, with the Sausalito Turkey being one of their flavorful offerings.

Find This Locally Wherever Boar’s Head Is Sold

Other High-End Deli Meats: Elevate Your Charcuterie Experience

High-end deli meats encompass a range of gourmet products that are crafted with utmost care and precision. From truffle-infused salamis to herb-crusted roast beefs, these meats are known for their superior quality and exquisite flavors. Incorporating these into your charcuterie board not only adds a variety of textures and flavors but also brings a touch of luxury to your dining experience.

Why Choose It: Including a selection of high-end deli meats on your charcuterie board can elevate the entire experience. These premium meats, often seasoned with a blend of spices or marinated in flavorful concoctions, offer a gourmet touch to your board. They pair wonderfully with a variety of accompaniments, from artisanal cheeses to gourmet crackers and fresh fruits.

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FACT: Many high-end deli meats are crafted using time-honored techniques and recipes, often involving slow cooking or aging processes to develop deep, complex flavors. These premium products often come from brands with a long history of craftsmanship and culinary excellence.

Charcuterie Meats: The Heart of any Great Charcuterie Board

I hope you feel equipped and inspired to craft your own charcuterie masterpiece. Remember, the beauty of a charcuterie board lies not just in the vibrant array of meats but also in the personal touch and love that goes into assembling it.

From the early days of crafting what I then considered an expanded antipasto salad, to now sharing the intricate details of selecting the finest meats, it has been a journey of flavor, discovery, and sheer joy. 

As you venture forth, may your charcuterie boards be a canvas of culinary artistry, reflecting not only tradition and elegance but also your personal journey of flavor exploration.

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10 Important Things To Remember When Choosing Meat For Your Charcuterie Board

Quality Over Quantity: Always prioritize the quality of the meats you choose. Opt for premium, well-cured meats that promise rich flavors and textures.

Variety is Key: Ensure a diverse selection of meats ranging from cured to smoked and spiced varieties. This not only adds visual appeal but also offers a delightful mix of flavors and textures.

Local and Fresh: Whenever possible, source your meats from local butchers or farmers’ markets. This not only supports local businesses but often guarantees fresher, higher-quality products.

Online Options: If local options are limited, explore reputable online platforms that offer mail-order charcuterie. These platforms often provide access to a wide range of premium meats.

Balancing Flavors: Aim to balance the flavors on your board. Include a mix of salty, spicy, and sweet meats to cater to different taste preferences.

Consider Pairings: Think about the pairings when selecting meats. Some meats pair wonderfully with specific cheeses, jams, or wines, enhancing the overall charcuterie experience.

Seasonal Selections: Consider incorporating seasonal selections into your charcuterie board. Different seasons might bring unique or limited-time offerings that can add a special touch to your board, showcasing the flavors of that particular time of year.

Experiment with Textures: Don’t shy away from experimenting with different textures. Incorporate meats with varying textures, from the smooth and creamy pâté to the firm and chewy salami, to add interest to your board.

Presentation Matters: Remember that the presentation is crucial. Think about how the meats will look on the board and choose a variety that offers different colors and shapes.

Storage and Serving: Pay attention to the storage and serving of the meats. Ensure they are stored correctly to maintain freshness and brought to the right temperature before serving to enhance their flavors.

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