The word “charcuterie” has undergone somewhat of a transformation lately. For hundreds of years, charcuterie just meant cured or preserved meat. It comes from the French words “char,” meaning meat, and “cuit” meaning cooked or preserved. Now, thanks to a few misunderstandings on the internet, many Americans are using the word “charcuterie” to refer to snack foods artfully arranged on a board.
For the purposes of this piece, we’re using “charcuterie” with its original definition. If you want a great cheese board book, head to our cheese book roundup instead.
But, if you’re looking to make your own salami, pâté, prosciutto, and more, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re in search of a more literary book that happens to have great recipes, a book that focuses on one style of cured meat, or a straightforward cookbook, we found all of the above.
Here, the best charcuterie cookbooks.
Best Overall: Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing (Revised and Updated)
A range of recipes
Classic options with variations
Reviewers mention issues with some recipes
What do buyers say? 85% of 2,100+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.
If you want to learn the art of making charcuterie from the best-reviewed book by professionals and home cooks alike, this is the one. Written by best-selling food writer Michael Ruhlman and chef/charcuterie expert Brian Polcyn, it’s an enjoyable read and includes 125 recipes of various levels of difficulty.
Here, you’ll learn how to make duck prosciutto, mortadella, bacon (!), confit, cured salami, hot dogs, and more. One reviewer raves that it’s “Easily my favorite culinary book purchase ever!” The late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain called it “an important and definitive work.” Consider it the charcuterie bible.
Price at time of publish: $40
Number of Recipes: 80 | Pages: 320 | Date Published: 2013
Best for Beginners: Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages
Many, many recipes
Teaches ratios and technique
Too bulky for some
Some cookbooks we love because they give us our new favorite recipe. Others we love because they give us the techniques to forge ahead on our own. "Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages" will do both.
It’s a bit drier than some of the others and clocks in at over 700 pages, but this book will give you the technical know-how to make salami without needing to look up a recipe first. Stanley Marianski and Adam Marianski, the brothers who coauthored this book say of their hope for the reader: "We want him to understand the sausage-making process and we want him to create his own recipes. We want him to be the sausage maker." Consider this the textbook for sausage making 101.
Price at time of publish: $27
Number of Recipes: 172 | Pages: 708 | Date Published: 2012
“In the industry, 'charcuterie' generally references cured and aged meat products that range anywhere from name-protected centuries-old recipes to small artisanal batches of handcrafted salamis for slicing or chubs for selling whole," says Zoey Sachs, the Charcuterie Buyer at Bedford Cheese Shop in New York City.
Best for Experienced Charcutiers: Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery
A delightful read
Old recipes you wouldn't find elsewhere
Not a standard cookbook
Famed British food writer Jane Grigson’s first book was this lyrical, practical ode to practicality by way of pork products from 1967. She doesn’t cover cured salami, but if you want traditional, under-the-radar recipes for sausage (including one made of tripe), terrine, pâté, boudin noir, or petit salé (a sort of unsmoked bacon), this book is the perfect place to start.
Grigson assumes the reader is someone with a solid footing around the kitchen, so if you’ve never picked up a chef’s knife, this is not the place to start. But, for readers who want to understand the ins and outs of using up a whole animal and would like to try (or are interested in reading about) recipes for the “lesser cuts,” like pork feet, you can’t get better than this.
Price at time of publish: $35
Number of Recipes: 130 | Pages: 320 | Date Published: 2008
Best for Traditional Spanish Curing: Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain
Learn one region
Often, when we’re talking about charcuterie, the first foods that come to mind are prosciutto or saucisson sec. But Spain’s tradition of cured meats, from smoky chorizo to delicate jamon iberico de bellota, is vast, historic, and too often left out of the spotlight.
"Charcutería: The Soul of Spain" by Chef Jeffrey Weiss brings those traditions, stories, and techniques to life with illustrations, beautiful photographs, and more than 100 traditional Spanish recipes. You’ll learn how to make salami, fresh sausages, Spanish-style ham, pickles, salt cod, and more. Michael Ruhlman calls it “a lovely, loving, fascinating, and, most all, useful book all lovers of the craft should be grateful for."
Price at time of publish: $18
Number of Recipes: 110 | Pages: 816 | Date Published: 2014
Best Writing: Pure Charcuterie: The Craft and Poetry of Curing Meats at Home
Practical and enjoyable
Fewer recipes than some others
Over the past 15 years, author Meredith Leigh has worked as a farmer, butcher, chef, teacher, and non-profit executive director. It’s no wonder, then, that her guide to making charcuterie is chock-full of meditations on frugality, respect for animals, the parts of the animal we think of as “lesser,” and the joy of creating by way of food.
Leigh shares tips on sourcing meat, necessary gear, techniques, and recipes. Other subjects include how to cure meat with koji (the fungus used to ferment miso), tips for working with wild game, and how to create a more equitable food system that generates less waste and more flavor. It's a mix of memoir, how-tos, and a collection of recipes.
Price at time of publish: $25
Number of Recipes: 40 | Pages: 160 | Date Published: 2016
“What are a few of my favorite charcuterie styles? Felino is a style that is long and thin, ruby red, marbled fat, black peppercorn, wine-washed, and soft to the touch. The best snacking charcuterie by far; I’m partial to Red Tables’ Extra Vecchio. It's kid-friendly, yet still complex enough to draw attention to true charcuterie fanatics. I also go crazy for a good, thinly sliced Italian culatello.” — Zoey Sachs, Charcuterie Buyer at Bedford Cheese Shop
Best for Spreads: Pâté, Confit, Rillette: Recipes from the Craft of Charcuterie
A deep dive on one topic
Maybe you don’t want to brave the nail-biting process of fermenting salami in your basement, but you do want to whip up an impressive pâté. Here’s the book for you. Polcyn and Ruhlman team up again in "Pâté, Confit, Rillette" to share techniques, tips, and traditional recipes to make your own impressive charcuterie spread without worrying about the curing process. Learn how to make duck pâté en terrine, Asian-spiced pâté, foie gras en torchon, pig “butter,” crispy stuffed duck necks, rabbit rillettes, butternut squash confit, and more.
Price at time of publish: $40
Number of Recipes: 99 | Pages: 256 | Date Published: 2019
“I like to drink bourbon with a charcuterie board. There's something about the sweetness of the bourbon pairing well with the savoriness of charcuterie. It also helps balance the saltiness.” — Zoey Sachs, Charcuterie Buyer at Bedford Cheese Shop
"Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing" (view at Amazon) is the best starter guide to making charcuterie at home, but lovers of literature shouldn’t miss "Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery" (view at Amazon). If you really want to become a charcuterie master, "Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages" (view at Amazon) is indispensable.
What to Look for in a Charcuterie Cookbook
Some of these books have very broad scopes, and will teach you how to make your own prosciutto, salami, and more. Some focus on one area. It’s not that one is better than the other, but more worth considering what your personal preference is.
If you do decide to do a deep dive, consider the style that you’re most excited to make (and eat). Whether it’s salami, whole muscle meats, or more, each region has its own variation to learn. You could also hone in on a certain country. In that case, a book like "Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain" could be perfect.
Not all of these cookbooks are going to be a satisfying afternoon read, and that may be OK, depending on what you’re looking for. Do you want to get right to it and learn how to make salami in an afternoon or do you care to learn about the history and craft?
What is charcuterie?
Charcuterie is any cured or preserved meat. This includes saucisson, prosciutto, chorizo, pâté, and more.
How do you pronounce charcuterie?
How do you make a charcuterie board?
Ideally, head to a cheese and charcuterie counter near you to chat with a monger. If that’s not an option, aim for three types of meat. Most charcuterie boards will include some sort of salami, a whole muscle meat like, prosciutto or jamon, and a pâté. If you or your guests don’t like pâté, then you can always do another type of salami in a different flavor profile (fennel-flavored finocchiona and zesty chorizo are both salamis, but they taste very different).
Pairing-wise, you can’t go wrong with crusty bread, mustard, and pickles. But, check the packaging, as sometimes the producer will offer pairing suggestions for that meat specifically.
How do you slice cheese for a charcuterie board?
If you choose to include cheese on your charcuterie board, slice it like you would for a cheese board. If there’s a smaller round or wheel, you can leave it whole, but otherwise, you want equal rind distribution.
Does a charcuterie board need to be wood?
Wooden charcuterie boards look pretty and traditional, but there’s no reason to stick to wood. Any food-safe surface is fine.
How do you transport a charcuterie board?
The best way to transport a cheese or charcuterie board is to pre-portion the meat and cheeses, and then style the board once you arrive. That way, you can make sure everything is at its freshest.
What drinks pair best with charcuterie?
If wine is on the menu, light reds, whites, and bubbly all pair very nicely with charcuterie. Many lighter styles of beer and cider also pair well. Regional pairings are great, too, if applicable. For instance, if you’re enjoying prosciutto di Parma, try to find a wine from Parma to pair, such as lambrusco.
How long can charcuterie sit out unrefrigerated?
Cheese and charcuterie were originally so popular because they extended the shelf life of meat and milk products before refrigeration. Most charcuterie can sit out for three to six hours with no problem. The only exception would be something like a liver mousse pâté, which should stay out for no longer than four hours.
Why Trust the Spruce Eats?
Writer, podcaster, and professional cheese nerd Christine Clark has taught classes and trained new cheese mongers on charcuterie and its glory for over six years. Her favorite charcuterie items are silky jamón ibérico de bellota and classic pâté de campagne.