Why Hot Sauce Deserves A Spot On Your Charcuterie Board

Struggling to make bland grazing boards pop? The solution is quite simple: Dial up the heat. Although you can build a charcuterie board that's decorated with spicy salumi, peppery cheeses, and fiery spreads, you could just add hot sauce. Making space for the flame-kissed condiment is a great way to accommodate everyone's spice tolerances and add variety.

Charcuterie boards are often a fantastic display of unique flavors and textures between crackers, cured meats, funky cheeses, brined olives, jellies, toasted nuts, preserved veggies, and an array of fruits. Naturally, hot sauce is just another addition that'll add depth and give boards range. Plus, it also accommodates those who crave big and bold flavors. However, there's an even more valid reason for adding the zesty sauce to the lineup. 

With all the key elements of taste (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami) available for exploration, ingredients can be mixed and matched based on how they complement or, better yet, contrast each other — this is where hot sauce shines. Whether paired with sugary dried fruit or rich and creamy cheeses, hot sauce creates balance. In fact, it can even help neutralize ultra-decadent items thanks to its twinge of acidity. The piquant sauce also has the power to intensify the savory and saltier ingredients on the board.

Hot sauce adds bold flavor and a pop of color to your charcuterie board

Determining the best hot sauces to incorporate onto a grazing board is a matter of considering which flavors will best complement each other. For example, you might not want to add a super spicy Carolina Reaper-based condiment to a board that already has 'nduja, jalapeño cheddar, and chili-laced chutney. Instead, the wisest thing to do is to select a few sauces with varying degrees of heat, flavor profiles, and even colors — this will make for a more aesthetic board.

Beyond beloved Tabasco and other vinegary Louisiana-style sauces, you can highlight international flavors through condiments like smoky harissa paste, garlicky chili oil, chunky green salsa, or tangy sriracha. However, if all you have on hand is one basic hot sauce, you could also create your own flight of peppery sauces by experimenting with an addition like citrus zest, ground spices, sweeteners, or liquid smoke.

Alternatively, you can even create your own sweat-inducing condiment by stirring in a few flakes of chili or drops of hot sauce to crème fraîche, strawberry jam, or nut butter that is already featured on your board. A makeshift hot honey or spicy mustard can also discreetly work hot sauce onto your display of meats and cheeses. However, with the power to take your charcuterie game to the next level, there's certainly no shame in keeping hot sauce front and center.