One of my favorite ways to feel very on-theme for a season is to make a charcuterie board. A spread that’s bursting with seasonal produce, colors, and unexpected bites.
This fall snack board has it all! A variety of autumn-inspired cheeses, sweet and savory dips, fresh, in-season fruits, and the cheese-board must-haves like olives, bread, and crackers.
It’s easy to make and 100% customizable, as any good grazing board should be! Place a few pumpkins and fall foliage to set the scene and you’ve got the perfect autumn get-together.
What is Charcuterie?
Charcuterie (pronounced shaar·koo·tr·ee) is a French term for a type of meal or snack made with prepared meat products, delicatessen, or deli-style cuts. So, a true charcuterie board consists of a variety of cured meats such as salami, prosciutto, sausages, and more.
This means that vegetarian charcuterie is a little bit of an oxymoron.
Yet, as cheese boards have gained popularity over the past few years, it seems they have become synonymous with the term charcuterie board – at least here in America – whether or not they actually have any meat on them.
Many refer to any sort of snack board as a charcuterie board these days.
VIP Tips Before You Start
- There’s no pressure…and there are no rules! I get it, it might seem overwhelming to try to create a beautiful board, but honestly, take that pressure off of yourself. Follow the simple steps for assembly, and go with the flow. Honestly, the more messy and haphazard is usually when it turns out the most beautiful.
- Keep a color scheme in mind. For an autumn board, I like to focus on muted orange, green, yellow, and red tones to keep it on the theme of fall.
- Don’t put everything out at once. This will overwhelm the board. Instead, keep the extra items in a convenient place so you can continue to replenish the board as time goes on.
- Not everything has to be on the actual board. Remember, you can place items around the board in bowls, too! This is great for sliced baguettes or crostini since they’re usually a bit bulkier.
- Take inventory of your cupboards and fridge before you start. Making a board is an excellent way to use up all those odds and ends you have laying around. Perfect for reducing food waste and your grocery bill!
What to Put on an Autumn Board
The main components for a simple autumn charcuterie board, and what you should add to your shopping list, can be broken into these categories:
I recommend 2-3 cheeses for 2-4 people. Keep in mind you can buy smaller portions of cheese, or always store the remainder for the next time your snack craving strikes. My motto is it’s always better to have extra than not enough.
Look for seasonal cheeses or cheeses that have your fall-inspired colors! On this board we have the following:
- Cranberry Pecan Goat Cheese Log – festive and homemade!
- Rutland Red Leicester Cheese – from Trader Joe’s, the deep orange color was perfect for this board!
- Trader Joe’s Stripey Joe – layers of cheddar, Cheshire, Red Leicester, and Double Gloucester cheese, I couldn’t pass on this totally candy-corn-looking cheese!
When looking for cheeses that go well together on a charcuterie board, look for variety. I recommend a lighter, more mild cheese (like brie or cheddar), a more pungent cheese (like blue cheese), and a fun, new cheese. This way, there’s a little something for everyone.
Before selecting your cheeses, keep in mind that not all cheeses are vegetarian. If you need a specifically vegetarian board, look for cheeses that are either labeled vegetarian or check the ingredient list for microbial enzymes instead of animal rennet.
Dips & Spreads
There are many ways to include dips and spreads on a charcuterie board. You can take it sweet (as I did here) with jams and more, or go savory with olive tapenades or hummus.
Here are some of my favorites for either seasonality or their color:
- Caramel Cream Cheese Apple Dip – this dip is totally nostalgic for me; the sweetness is the perfect touch on a fall board!
- Tapenades – excellent for adding a savory component and for their gorgeous muted green and purple tones.
- Jams – any variety will work, but consider a fig jam to pair with brie (plus it’s very fall!).
- Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Dip – while you’ll need to serve this on the side, it’s one amazing dip to enjoy with a cheese board!
- Hummus – try pumpkin hummus or roasted garlic hummus.
Add fresh produce to your heart’s desire! You can stick to just fruit, or add in veggies, too. For a fall board, I really recommend sticking to what’s in season.
- Apple slices – popular on cheese boards in any season, they’re even more so a must-have on a fall board!
- Blackberries – seasonal in the fall
- Pears – I loved the look of these deep red pears, but any variety will work
- Red Grapes – seasonal, and very on-color
- Cranberries – dried, sugar-coated, or raw
- Figs – a short season, but if they’re available, they’re gorgeous sliced in half
- Persimmons – another short-season fruit, but very seasonal if you can find them
- Pomegranates – usually easy to find from October to December
When it comes to veggies, consider adding carrots, broccoli, celery sticks, or radishes. You could also consider roasting root vegetables like parsnips, onion, and sweet potatoes for a unique addition.
Of course, a mini pumpkin or gourd are fun (though inedible) additions to add to the festivities!
Crackers & Crunch (Salty)
- Crackers – any will do! I love adding a cracker crisp with dried fruit and herbs, as well as a more neutral cracker for variety.
- Bread or Crostini – in addition to crackers, I love the option of bread, too.
- Nuts – add the perfect crunch and are excellent palate cleansers. Any variety works – from almonds to walnuts, to pecans, cashews, and more! Elevate it with rosemary and cayenne mixed nuts.
- Pretzels – a good option if you’re looking for a simple salty crunch.
So it’s not really a dessert board, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be something sweet! I’m not just talking about adding jam, either.
Fall to me feels like it also encompasses an element of sweetness, so I absolutely love adding a few bites of extra treats on the board. Of course, that apple dip counts as one, but I also scatter around praline pecans, dark chocolate with pistachios, and homemade caramel popcorn.
Fun fall candies like a combination of candy corn and roasted peanuts, Reese’s pieces, or pumpkin gummies, are delicious and festive, too!
How to Assemble a Cheese Board
As we mentioned, there aren’t any real rules when it comes to assembling a board, but there are a few tips that will help you make the most beautiful board, and ease assembly.
- Start with the “larger” items. This includes anything that will be in small bowls or the cheeses. These are what we like to call the “anchor” items because they set the stage for the board.
- Place those items in a triangle if possible. This will create visual interest on the board.
- Make sure the cheeses are sliced, diced, or crumbled. At least, to start. You can absolutely set a cheese knife out, too, but giving the cheese a head start encourages guests to dig in right away.
- Continue adding items, working down in size.
- Spread the crackers around, a pile on each side of the board, if there’s room.
- Fill in the spaces with produce.
- Finally, add in the smaller items where there’s room. This would include nuts, berries, and fresh herbs. Keep in mind that you can pile items, too!
What Kind of Board Should I Use?
This a popular question, and you can use whatever you have! I recommend a food-safe wood serving tray.
I like using round boards, but honestly whatever you have on hand will work. If you don’t have a wooden board, a ceramic serving tray will work too. You need something that is flat to spread the items on.
In fact, in a pinch, a rimmed baking sheet works as well.
Pictured is a 12-inch board from Target! It’s the perfect size to serve 2 for a snacky dinner or 4 for an appetizer. For a hungry crowd of 4 to 6 people, I’d recommend sizing up the board to a 15-16 inch board.
Make Ahead & Storage
The good news is that you can prep a charcuterie board ahead of time! Of course, keep in mind certain items may need to be added right before serving, like apple or pear slices, so they don’t brown. Crackers and bread are other items that you shouldn’t add until serving because they will go stale.
I recommend preparing the board no more than 12 hours in advance, placing cut cheese around the board, and adding the bowls so you know where they will go on the board. Then, all that’s left is to add those last-minute items.
Cover the board with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge.
You can also store items in individual air-tight containers or plastic wrap over ramekins, and assemble the board immediately before serving. This is a great option if you want to prepare the board the day before so that the cheeses don’t dry out.
What to Serve with a Fall Board
While the board in itself makes the perfect appetizer because of its variety and heartiness, you can absolutely pair it with other items, too!
First and foremost, serve a festive fall cocktail with the board! Make a batch of apple cider sangria or whip up apple cider bourbon cocktails. Why not cozy in with a hot buttered rum? Or give mulled wine a try!
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe Vegetarian Fall Charcuterie Board
*Ingredients listed are featured in the photos, see post for many variations.
Cheeses (3 Options)
- 8 ounces Cranberry Pecan Goat Cheese Log, see recipe or store-bought
- 8 ounces Rutland Red Leicester Cheese, similar to cheddar
- 8 ounces Trader Joe's Stripey Joe, or another mild cheese
- 1-2 apples, sliced
- 1-2 pears, sliced
- 1-2 bunches red grapes
- Handful blackberries
- ½ cup olives, use your favorite!
- ½ cup mixed nuts
- Fresh herbs, for garnish
- Praline Pecans
- Dark chocolate pistachios
- Start by placing any items that will be in bowls on the board, in a spread-out triangle shape. I recommend placing dips or jams in bowls for easy serving. You can also set a bowl off to the side if needed.
- Next, add in the cheeses, already cut into serving portions, with the exception of blue cheese, which you can start the crumble on the board (or a triple creme that people can spread themselves). Place the cheeses in a triangle around the board, too, to make it the most visually appealing.
- Now, add in any other bigger components like fruit slices, veggie slices, and crackers or bread. Continue to fill in smaller remaining spaces with smaller items like berries, nuts, herbs, etc. Place them sporadically around the board for the most interest.
- Please see the post for more suggestions – there are many varieties of dips, jams, produce, and cheeses you can add to the board.
- Take this “recipe” as a guide and use what you already have on hand to create a beautiful board, following the guidance in the post on how to assemble the board.
- Don’t put everything out at once! This will overwhelm the board. Instead, keep the extras in a convenient place so you can continue to replenish the board as time goes on.
- **Look for cheese specifically labeled vegetarian (or microbial enzymes), if needed.