Learn How To Build A Russian Charcuterie Board using this detailed guide and video! The bright and hearty flavors, variety of colors, and diverse ingredients make this the ultimate crowd-pleasing snack board!Jump to Recipe
Take your friends and family on a trip to Russia right in the comfort of your kitchen! Learn How To Build A Russian Charcuterie Board filled with rich, tangy, and hearty appetizers (“zakuski” in Russian). The diverse elements and bold flavors are guaranteed to be a hit at any party or get-together.
Russia has a lot to offer when it comes to finger foods, appetizers, and side dishes. While this board primarily features Russian and Ukrainian elements, there is a sprinkle of French and Italian snacks throughout. In other words, there’s something for everyone!
What is a charcuterie board?
Charcuterie (pronounced “shahr-ku-tuh-ree”) is the French word for cured meats, such as bacon, salami, and prosciutto. It’s associated with assembling meat products together with other accompaniments, such as vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, and cheeses. When you hear “charcuterie board”, you should instantly think of a beautiful presentation and refined flavors.
What you need to create an authentic Russian charcuterie board
Think of colors and shapes when putting this board together. You can have your guests grab little pieces or set it up as a sandwich-building station. The only rule is to have fun and get creative with each element:
There’s ample opportunity to get creative when it comes to cheese! Choose a few varieties with all different flavors, textures, and milk (like cow, sheep, or goat’s milk) if you want or stick with your favorites.
Not sure how much cheese to buy? Aim to serve 2 to 3 ounces of cheese per person. Pick a few high-quality hard and soft cheeses from your local deli or grocery store.
All of these cheeses pair well with the Russian flavors:
- Gouda (smoked or regular)
- Jarlsberg cheese (Swiss works too)
- Havarti cheese
Salty and savory sliced charcuterie meats are a must on any meat and cheese board. You can play around with many different types and flavors depending on how many guests you’re expecting.
Because sliced meats are one of the board highlights, get creative with the presentation. I like to create rosettes and folds so the meat not only looks amazing but is easy to grab.
Head to your local Russian or European store and look for different shapes and sizes of meats. Have them sliced very thinly so they can be picked up easily or layered on a sandwich. If you’re using polish-style sausage and cured and salted pork fat (salo), keep them in the freezer and slice it yourself with a sharp knife before serving.
Any of these meats would be delicious:
- Smoked sausage
- Polish sausage
- Cured and salted pork fat (served with sliced garlic cloves)
Brined and cured fish is also a popular choice in Russia. Feel free to swap one or two types of sliced meat for:
- Cured salmon (lox)
- Pickled herring
There’s a lot of tang on this board and for good reason! The bright flavors from pickled vegetables add another layer of depth to each sandwich or bite of salty meat. Plus, it just wouldn’t be a Russian snack board without a variety of pickled items.
I like to use smaller pickled items so everything on the board is bite-sized:
Spreads and dips
A tangy mix of Russian dips and spreads will really round out every bite. I like a variety of mustards (especially for sandwiches) but there are endless options you can include:
Dark and rich-tasting bread is perfect for building a Russian sandwich or to hold your meat, cheese, and mustard. Crackers work well too, but bread is the real star when you’re aiming for hearty, warming bites.
Rye bread is very popular in Russia and it pairs perfectly with salty meats and mustards. You can use just one type of bread or a variety depending on what you or your guests like:
- Rye bread
- Wheat bread
- Pretzel bread
These extras are great for adding color, contrast, and flavor to your board. You can use anything from fresh herbs, vegetables, crackers, more bread, or decorative items to make it visually appealing. Just make sure they fit with the Russian theme!
- Green Onions
How to assemble a Russian charcuterie board
You’ll need a few tools to set up your board, which you can see below. Once all of your elements are prepped and ready, follow these tips and tricks to assemble your Russian-themed charcuterie board:
- Prepare each item.
Slice the meats, hard cheeses, and bread so everything is easy to grab. Make sure to slice the garlic cloves and place them on a small plate with the sliced salo (cured pork fat). Place the pickled items and spreads into small bowls
- Add the cheese.
Place the cheeses close to the corners of the board. This will make it easier for your guests to grab a slice or cut it themselves with a cheese knife if necessary.
- Add the meats and mustard.
Next, place the sliced meats near the cheeses. Make sure the small bowls with mustard are close by as all 3 go so well together. Don’t forget about the plate with the pork fat and garlic!
- Add the rest.
Lay the cucumbers and any other fresh vegetables onto the board. Add bowls of pickled vegetables around, then fill the gaps with sliced bread.
- Fill in the gaps.
If your board has empty gaps, you can fill them with green onions, fresh dill, crackers, radishes, or other decorative items.
Tools and equipment needed
- Serving board: The size of the charcuterie board will depend on how many people you’re serving. Use a large marble or wood slab, a ceramic serving plate, or a regular dinner plate.
- Bowls: Grab some small bowls or ramekins for the pickled items, vegetables, mustard, and any other dips and spreads you’ll be serving.
- Cutlery: Put out cheese knives, forks or toothpicks for picking up items, and place small spoons in the bowls with anything that can’t be picked up by hand.
Preparing a charcuterie board ahead of time
Assemble your board without the bread, fresh vegetables, or herbs a few hours before guests arrive. Wrap it in plastic and keep it in the fridge. Remove the board 30 minutes before serving so the cheese has time to come down to room temperature.
More Russian recipes to try
- Herring Under Fur Coat Salad
- Chebureki with Beef and Pork
- Classic Ukrainian Red Borscht
- Easy Olivier Salad
If you follow these tips and make your own Russian-inspired charcuterie board, let me know! Leave a comment below, and don’t forget to take a picture and tag it with #lenaskitchenblog on Instagram. I love seeing what you come up with!
How To Build A Russian Charcuterie Board
- ½ pound smoked gouda cheese cubed
- ½ pound Jarlsberg cheese or Swiss cheese
- ½ pound gouda sliced into thicker pieces
- ½ pound havarti cheese cubed
- ¼ pound hard salami thinly sliced
- ¼ pound smoked sausage sliced
- ½ pound polish sausage sliced
- 4 sticks sticks skinny smoked sausage cut into 1” pieces
- ¼ pound cured pork fat or also called salo, frozen and sliced thinly
- 1 cup small dill pickles halved
- 1 cup small pickled tomatoes
- 1 cup small pickled pattypan squash halved
- 1 bunch radishes halved
- 3 persian cucumbers sliced
- ½ bunch fresh dill
- 1 bunch green onions
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons spicy mustard
- 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
- 1 rye bread sliced into small pieces or use baguette
- Prepare the meats and cheeses.
- Add small bowls filled with pickled items on the board, creating a triangle.
- Thinly slice the cured pork fat (salo). Then thinly slice the garlic. Add to a small plate.
- Prep the green onions by trimming the bottoms and cut the white part and green part in half.
- Slice the bread. You can use dark rye bread or a baguette.
- Start building the board by adding the cheeses first.
- Now add the meats near the cheeses. Add the mustards near the meat in small bowls.
- Add the plate of pork fat and garlic to the board.
- Add in the cucumbers and halved radishes.
- Add the bread to fill in the spots.
- Fill in with dill and green onions on the board. Enjoy!