The Essential Cheese & Charcuterie Items to Keep on Hand

My friend Kristina lives a busy life like the rest of us.  She has three small children to keep up with and is frequently hosting for fun and work on top of that. Kristina was gifted one of my bourbon barrel charcuterie boards and asked me what she should keep on hand so that she can put together a beautiful board at a moments notice. 

Here are my essentials. (Most of these are from Trader Joe’s!) There are no rules with these boards. This is simply what I keep on hand or run to pick up if I know I’ll be throwing together a board. But you do what you like! The goal is gathering, not perfection. If your board doesn’t look perfect—GOOD. Who has time for that? We’re doing life together, friends. 

My Essentials:
Cheese: Soft, Blue, Aged, Hard 
Fresh (Fruit, Vegetables) 
Accompaniments (Nuts, Dried Fruits, Relish’s, Jams & Honey, Something Fun)
Garnish (Alive or green)


Cheese: Soft, Blue, Aged, Hard 

A variety of cheeses are nice. Consider if it’s made from cow, sheep or goat’s milk and is it soft, stinky, blue, aged or hard cheese? Whether you are making a charcuterie board for two or twenty, offering a few different options is key. 

Soft: My family loves goat cheese. This is a Chevre with honey, and I love to whip it up with a little jam and serve it in a bowl. Pictured is a local maker, City Food Farm’s Strawberry Balsamic. 

Blue: Another TJ’s favorite is this Cambozola Triple Cream Blue Cheese. It’s divine. It’s so creamy and the blue cheese is noticeable and interesting, but mild. It’s great with TJ’s Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps and a fresh fruit garnish.

Aged: Creamy Toscano Cheese soaked in Syrah is always a crowd pleaser. My kids also love it. It tastes like a marriage of parmesan and cheddar. 

Hard: Manchego pairs well with  fresh apple or pear. This is a go to for me in the fall—I even sometimes pack it in my kids lunches. 

Charcuterie (Means cured meats)

We like prosciutto and a variety of salami’s. Because my kids will eat this, I keep it stocked to pull out for a snack or to toss in an Italian Style Salad. 

Pictured are a few Go-To’s from TJ’s and they have a couple month shelf life. 


Add any fresh fruit or vegetables you want or have on hand. 

Accompaniments (Nuts, Dried Fruits, Relish’s, Jams & Honey)

Select these items based on what you would enjoy on a board or otherwise. These are the items that really fill out a board. In general, I try to place these next to the cheese/meat that they pair best with.

The Pure Honeycomb pictured is a splurge item. It’s decadent on top of a triple cream brie or in a pretty bowl. I bought this at a local grocery store for around $18 and I just cut little squares.

The something fun pictured is a Fall TJ’s favorite. It’s just a cute filler item on the board and is something sweet!

Garnish (Alive or green)

If you have fresh herbs growing in your backyard or kitchen, don’t leave them off your board! Just like a house plant brightens up a room, fresh herbs enliven a board. I didn’t happen to have any fresh herbs, but I did have some cute little pumpkins. I’ve also used some small flowers before… anything alive or green will do wonders for making your board beautiful! (Just make sure others know not to eat inedible things!)


I like to keep a variety that go well with different cheese options. Pictured are a few of my favorites. 

I love the Firehook brand of crackers. Their rectangular shape makes for a fun addition to the board, and they are always the first crackers gone.. (These are not sold at Trader Joe’s, I get mine from another local grocery.) 

TJ’s Gluten Free Savory Thins add a nice crunch and GF option.

TJ’s Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps are a great Fall cracker and they other seasonal crisps throughout the year.

Easy enough, right? Here’s to your next date night at home or inviting your friends or family to gather around your Charcuterie Board! Cheers!