Looking to take your charcuterie board to the next level? Don’t forget about the pickles! We’re sharing the best pickles for charcuterie. From tangy cornichons to a whole variety of delectable pickled vegetables and fruits, we’ve got all the options covered. So let’s get started and add some extra ZING to your next charcuterie spread!
Hey there, foodie friends! Charcuterie boards are all the rage these days, and it’s easy to see why. They’re a feast for the senses, offering up a mouthwatering array of meats, cheeses, and other delicious goodies. But there’s one element that often gets overlooked in the midst of all this culinary splendor – the pickle. That’s right, folks, the humble pickle is a key player in creating the perfect charcuterie board.
Why are pickles an essential element of a great charcuterie board?
Whether you’re a pickle enthusiast or just starting to explore the world of pickling, the right pickle can elevate and provide contrast in flavor and texture to a charcuterie board, while also helping to cleanse the palate. They are typically sour, tangy, and sometimes sweet, providing a refreshing contrast to the rich, salty, and savory flavors of cured meats and cheese. The crunchy or crisp texture of pickles also provides a contrasting texture to the soft and sometimes fatty textures of meats and cheese.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the best pickles (and pickled foods) to pair with charcuterie, so you can create your own recipe for a well-rounded board that is sure to impress. From classic cornichon pickles to less commonly known pickled fruits and vegetables, we’ll cover a range of options to suit different tastes and preferences. So, grab your favorite meats, cheeses, and pickles, and let’s dive into the world of charcuterie! ?
For more helpful tips on how to build your best board – check out our guides for choosing the best jams for a charcuterie board and best crackers for charcuterie and our step-by-step guide on how to make a beautiful simple charcuterie board. And for some festive seasonal themed boards, see our easy breezy summer charcuterie board, cozy fall charcuterie board, and DIY charcuterie bouquet recipe guides.
Classic Charcuterie Pickles
These pickles are the classics that everyone should know about when it comes to putting together a stellar charcuterie board.
If you are trying to think of the name of those popular small pickles for charcuterie, you are probably thinking of cornichons (pronounce cornichons: “COR-nee-shons”). These tiny French pickles are made from pickled gherkins and often flavored with vinegar, onion, and mustard seed.
Cornichons are tart and tangy with a great crunch, making them a classic choice for pairing with charcuterie, particularly with meats like salami and prosciutto. They also pair well with rich, creamy cheeses like brie and camembert, as well as sharper cheeses like cheddar and blue cheese. It’s no wonder these little pickles are often considered the best pickles for charcuterie.
But what are gherkins? Gherkins are small cucumbers with bumpy skin that are perfect for pickling. So, cornichons are basically a type of gherkin. Gherkins have a sour and tangy taste that makes them a popular choice for sandwiches, salads, and even cocktails. And let’s not forget about sweet gherkins, which are made by adding sugar to the pickling brine – a popular variety that offers a delightful sweetness to balance out the tanginess.
If you love a good dill pickle, you probably already know that they go great with cured deli meats! But you might be wondering what cheese goes well with dill pickles? Well, they pair well with a variety of cheeses, but some popular options include sharp cheddar, feta, havarti, gouda, and brie. My absolute favorite, always have some in my fridge pickles, are Grillo’s Dill Pickle Spears. Total salty, briny, dill-y goodness! They aren’t made with any artificial preservatives so look for them in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.
Bread and butter pickles
Bread and butter pickles can also have a place on your charcuterie board if you’ve got that ol’ sweet tooth. They are really sweet, tangy, and crunchy and they pair well with camembert, cheddar, and goat cheeses.
Pickled pearl onions and red onions add a tangy, slightly sweet flavor that complements the richness of cured meats like salami, ham and pâté. The sweet and tangy flavor of pickled onions also pair well with creamy cheeses like brie and goat cheese, as well as sharper cheeses like cheddar and gouda.
Cipollini, from the same family as the pearl onion, are a classic Italian antipasti accompaniment. They have a creamy texture and are typically pickled in balsamic vinegar that gives them a lovely sweet and sour flavor. They pair well with most cured meat but go especially well with prosciutto and coppa and hard cheeses like parmigiano reggiano and asiago. Look for them in your local Italian market or find them in the antipasti/olive bar at some supermarkets (Whole Foods).
Pickled Vegetables for Charcuterie
While almost any vegetable can be enjoyed in pickled form, here is our curated list of the best pickled vegetables to get you started!
Giardiniera (Italian vegetable relish)
Originally hailing from Italy, this pickled vegetable relish has gained popularity around the world. Giardiniera is made up of a medley of chopped veggies – think cauliflower, carrots, celery, and bell peppers – that are pickled in vinegar and seasoned with a blend of fragrant herbs and spices. The resulting flavor is tangy, slightly sweet, and packs a spicy punch. And the best part? Even after being pickled, the veggies retain their satisfying crunch, adding a delicious texture to any dish.
To truly indulge in the Italian goodness of giardiniera, pair it with some classic cured meats like genoa salami, prosciutto, or capicola, and some flavorful cheeses like fresh mozzarella, sharp cheddar, or tangy goat cheese. Get ready for a taste explosion!
If you can’t find giardiniera at the store or don’t have the inclination to make your own, I bet this colorful pickled purple cauliflower I recently discovered at Whole Foods would also make an eye-catching addition to any charcuterie or cheese board!
Capers and caper berries
Caper berries are the bold and beautiful cousin of capers. If you’re a fan of these salty treats, you simply must try their plump and juicy counterparts! Unlike capers, caper berries pack a tangy and briny punch that will make your taste buds sing. Plus, they’re filled with teeny-tiny seeds that add a satisfying crunch to every bite. Pair them with some soft, creamy cheese and your taste buds will thank you!
There are so many delicious varieties of pickled peppers I hardly know where to start! Roasted, pickled bell peppers and mini sweet bell peppers are always a good choice, but we also have some less common varieties for you in our recommendations below.
Pepperoncini, also known as Tuscan peppers or golden Greek peppers, are mild chili peppers with a tangy and slightly sweet flavor. They are typically pickled and can be found in jars at most grocery stores. Try pairing them with meats like prosciutto, salami, and capicola, along with a selection of cheeses like provolone and feta. Add a few pepperoncini to the plate for a crunchy and tangy contrast to the rich and savory meats and cheeses.
Pepper drops, also known as “sweety drops” and “petit poivrons”, are unique bite-sized pickled Peruvian peppers with a small teardrop shape and a boldly sweet and tangy flavor. They were created using a combination of cherry pepper and jalapeño pepper seeds; however, they are naturally mild in flavor and not spicy.
They are a great addition to any charcuterie or antipasti board and go especially well with coarse pâté, jambon de Paris, prosciutto, and sopressata and hard cheeses like parmesan and gouda. *These are a bit of a specialty item so keep an eye out for these and some of the other pickled veggies on our list at your local antipasti or olive bar available at some larger supermarkets and deli departments.
Peppadew peppers are a type of sweet and spicy cherry pepper that originated in South Africa. In terms of flavor, peppadew peppers have a unique combination of sweetness and spiciness, with a fruity and slightly tangy taste. They are not as spicy as some other types of chili peppers, but still have a noticeable kick.
When it comes to pairing peppadew peppers with charcuterie and cheese, their sweet and spicy flavor pairs well with a variety of meats and cheeses. They go especially well with the tangy, slightly earthy flavor of goat cheese, and you will sometimes see them served stuffed with goat cheese.
Add tangy and flavorful pickled artichoke hearts to your charcuterie and cheese board for a delightful pairing. Enjoy them with salty cured meats like prosciutto or salami, and try them alongside gouda, feta, or creamy goat cheese.
Try adding pickled mushrooms to your charcuterie for a burst of earthy flavor. Pair them with salty and cured meats like prosciutto or salami to balance out the saltiness. And for the cheese lovers out there, pickled mushrooms can also pair well with soft and creamy cheeses like brie or goat cheese. The earthy flavor of the mushrooms can complement the mild and slightly tangy flavors of these types of cheese.
Unique Charcuterie Pickles
Are you looking to spice up your charcuterie board with some unexpected and flavorful options? We totally got you covered! Our handpicked selection of unique and unusual pickled food items will take your board to the next level.
Apricots and Pears
Pickled apricots and pears are a delicious addition to any charcuterie and cheese board. The sweetness of the pickled fruit helps balance out the saltiness of cured meats like ham or prosciutto. They also pair perfectly with nutty and salty cheeses such as gouda or aged cheddar. The sweetness of the fruit enhances the nutty flavors of the cheese and helps balance out the saltiness.
Adding pickled berries like blueberries and cherries to a charcuterie and cheese board is a great way to bring in some sweet and tart flavors. These little gems pair beautifully with salty cured meats like prosciutto or ham. For cheese, tangy and soft varieties like goat cheese or feta are excellent choices. The sweetness of the berries can play off the tangy and salty notes of these cheeses, resulting in a sweet harmony of flavors.
These little bursts of sweetness pair perfectly with salty and cured meats like prosciutto or salami. Pickled figs also an excellent accompaniment to soft and creamy cheeses like brie, blue cheese, or goat cheese. The sweetness of the figs perfectly complements the tanginess of the cheese, creating a heavenly combination of flavors.
For charcuterie, pickled beets team up beautifully with rich and fatty meats like prosciutto or duck confit, cutting through the richness with their unique combination of sweetness and earthiness. As for cheese, tangy and sharp varieties like cheddar or blue cheese are ideal companions for pickled beets. The sweetness of the beets nicely complements the bold and tangy flavors of these cheeses.
Pickled garlic is a pungent and savory addition to any charcuterie and cheese board. It pairs particularly well with salty cured meats like prosciutto, salami, or pancetta. And strong, pungent cheeses like gorgonzola or aged cheddar. The garlic’s strong flavor can balance out the saltiness and sharpness of these meat sand cheeses, while adding a zingy burst of flavor to each bite.
Tips for Choosing the Best Pickles for Charcuterie
Look for pickles that complement the flavors of the meats and cheeses.
If you’re serving up some salty prosciutto, a sweet pickle can really balance out the saltiness and add a touch of sweetness to the mix. And if you’ve got a rich and creamy brie on the tray, a tangy pickle can cut through that richness and provide a nice contrast in flavor. Be sure to consider the flavors of your meats and cheeses when choosing your pickles and you can’t go wrong!
Balance the flavors with sweet, sour, and salty pickles.
To create a well-rounded and balanced charcuterie board, it’s important to include a variety of pickles with different flavor profiles. Consider including sweet pickles like pickled berries or apricots or butter pickles, sour pickles like pickled onions or cornichons, and salty pickles like dill pickles or kosher pickles. By including a range of flavors (and colors!), you’ll be able to create a more interesting and dynamic tasting experience.
Experiment with different types of pickles to find the perfect pairings.
Ultimately, the best way to find the perfect pickles for your charcuterie board is to experiment with different combinations. Try pairing different types of pickles with different meats and cheeses and take note of which pairings work well together.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the best pickles for your charcuterie board. Remember to have fun experimenting and trying new combinations, and don’t be afraid to get creative with your pairings!
Be sure to share with us your favorite charcuterie and pickle combinations in the comments below! Your feedback is important to us. Thank you for visiting Maplevine Kitchen!