Before we delve into how to make the best charcuterie board, let's first keep the image of the color wheel in our minds (important for the rest of the article). Wowow, how pretty!

Image from WikiCommons

Image from WikiCommons

In order to create an amazing board, I believe it is crucial to understand and use elements of color theory to make simple ingredients come together to form a masterpiece. Let's analyze some charcuterie boards then, shall we? And I'll prove to you that this theory works!

A Simple Board

Although there are a lot of different ingredients, I am calling this "simple" because the creator utilized the complementary color theory to make this board with affordable ingredients that you can find in almost any grocery store. The greens and reds in this board are the complementary colors (refer to the color wheel to see them opposite from each other on the board) that are pleasing to the eye, and make the simple ingredients look so fresh. For example, the cucumbers, olives, and pickles are probably ingredients you already have at home, and pairing them with the red cherries and salami make this entire creation cohesive and complete. One thing to note is that the reds and greens are not clumped up together; wherever you see some red cherries, you also see some green cucumbers, and wherever you see some salami flowers, you also see a few mint leaves and green olives.

A Monochromatic Board

The monochromatic theory is taking one color, and using different shades of that same color. This board uses different shades of green, which are pleasing to the eye and make the produce look super fresh! Still, @thenapatable is able to make the green pop by contrasting with a simple white background in the photo as well as white cheeses and crackers surrounding the produce. Something along the lines of monochromatic theory is the analogous color theory, where colors next to each other on the color wheel can be incorporated into one board. For example, adding a few yellow lemon slices on this board or a few dollops of mango jam would help satisfy the analogous colors since yellow and green are next to each other on the color wheel

A Themed Board

This Christmas-themed board originally made by @bakerbynature (check out her IG for other delish recipes!) also incorporates the analogous colors theory to create a feeling of comfort. Specifically, shades of red, orange, and yellow are used to fulfill the analogous colors theory (all three are next to each other on the color wheel). Although there are pops of green around the charcuterie tree, the main part of the board is cheese, bread, and fruits that are similar shades of orange and yellow. The darker shades of red seen through the pomegranate and salami are also great additions that are comforting to the eye but still makes the food look appetizing. All colors are darker and reminiscent of fall shades, which further contributes to the comfortable and rustic theme. 

My Take on Charcuterie Boards

I've found that utilizing complementary colors looks the most appetizing to me. Therefore, I often opt for fruits and veggies on the opposite sides of the wheel. For example, if I want to include cucumbers on the board, I make sure to also add in some red cherry tomatoes so that each veggie is highlighted in its own way. Another tip is to work with fruits and veggies that are in season. Going to the grocery story and scoping out the freshest produce can help you decide which colors to focus on as well as save you money on fruits and veggies (buying produce in season is always cheaper!). 

Here are some charcuterie boards that I've made using color theory and not-too-fancy ingredients: 

Shreeya Candipali

With this board, I tried to highlight the three types of cheeses (sharp cheddar, pepper jack, and goat) by surrounding it with complementary colors (red turkey pepperoni and green cucumber slices). Looking back, I wish I excluded the blackberries and included more red raspberries since black does not fit into any color theory here.                          Ingredients used: deli chicken slices, turkey pepperoni, Persian cucumbers, raspberries, blackberries, multigrain crackers, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, and goat cheese. 

Shreeya Candipali

This board includes a few more expensive ingredients, with sardines and feta, but I made my own candied almonds (super easy btw) in order to use up things I already had at home. My goal for this board (in addition to using some things already at home) was to incorporate symmetry, which you can hopefully see with the similar ingredients on each side of the "cracker river". Adding rows of the ingredients parallel to the "river" helped solidify the theme as well as separate the colors based on the split-complementary theory (orange, green, and red). One thing I wish I changed would be the placement of the grapes and the cucumbers since they are the same shades of green (incorporating different shades of the same color would have satisfied the monochromatic theory).                  Ingredients used: deli chicken and turkey slices, canned sardines, candied almonds, pecans, olives, grapes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, Club and Triscuit crackers, feta, and sharp cheddar. 

Good luck on your next board :)

Check out this Spoon article for other fundamentals on making a charcuterie board! Or this one with a step-by-step walkthrough (with images).