Best Finishes for Wood Charcuterie Boards | Real Milk Paint Co. (2023)

MailPoet2022-12-02T11:37:52-06:00September 24th, 2021|Categories: |Tags: Finishing Oils, Real Milk Paint®|

Best Finishes for Wood Charcuterie Boards | Real Milk Paint Co. (1)

With the popularity of charcuterie boards for both personal snacking and entertaining rising, more and more people are jumping on the meat and cheese snack train. From simple round oroval platters and rectangular trays to handmade designs cut from a round of wood and ornate options complete with internal storage, charcuterie boards run the gamut from basic cutting boards to elaborate butcher blocks and come in numerous sizes to suit your needs.

(Video) Wood Wax: Benefits, Uses, and How To | Real Milk Paint Co.

The one thing they all have in common, however, is the need for a food-safe finish that easily withstands your level of use.

What Are Charcuterie Boards?

Charcuterie boards are platters filled with a complement of cured meats, cheeses, and spreads plus crackers, nuts, and fruit, making them perfect for snacking at dinner parties, book clubs, and intimate gatherings with friends and family. Typically served on high-quality wood, some charcuterie boards even include olives and dark chocolates to round out the flavor profile. Smaller options offer a fun way to jazz up couples’ snacks for movie night as well.

Originally conceived in Europe over 500 years ago, charcuterie boards showcased meats cured with salt and spices, so many enthusiasts keep to this basic concept, avoiding modern nitrate-laden meats. Common meats used on charcuterie boards include prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, summer sausage and Iberian ham. Likewise, these snack platters typically boast hard cheeses like Parmesan chunks and asiago, firm cheeses like Colby and cheddar, and softer options like mascarpone and Havarti.

Charcuterie board arrangements vary from simple lines of meat and cheese on a butcher block surrounded by nuts and fruit to elaborately placed elements on stylized wood platters designed to make both a visual and a culinary impact. Regardless of how you arrange the entire surface of your charcuterie board or the foods you use on it, though, you need a food-safe finish that holds up well to your level of use and allows fuss-free cleanup.

Best Finish for Wood Charcuterie Boards

Whether you made your charcuterie board or bought a brand new board from someone else, you need a good finish for it that’s considered food-safe, even if just to maintain it over time. The following options line out the best finishes, provide the pros and cons of each one and ensure you know what to avoid when you want tokeep your wooden boards safe to use and looking their best.

Best Finishes for Wood Charcuterie Boards | Real Milk Paint Co. (2)

Wood Wax

If you want to know how to seal a wood charcuterie board, the top option is Wood Wax by the Real Milk Paint Co. This food contact-safe wax has an all-natural formulation of walnut oil and carnauba wax, helping it penetrate deeply yet apply smoothly on your wood charcuterie board. Wood Wax contains no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), so you can use it in spaces without much ventilation, and it also has no mineral oil or solvents for additional food safety.

Besides Wood Wax’s eco-friendliness and vegan-friendly formulation, Wood Wax helps your charcuterie board stand the test of time by conferring excellent water resistance to the wood surface while protecting against knife marks, scratches and abrasions. Wood Wax does, however, require maintenance from time to time, but a 4-ounce container covers 35 square feet, providing an ample amount for aftercare when you finish your charcuterie board with this medium. Surfaces covered with Wood Wax take between 5 and 7 days to cure for light use and 15 to 30 days for full curing.

Pure Tung Oil

Pure Tung Oil ranks high on the list when you want to know how to treat wood charcuterie boards. Also known as chinawood oil, this all-natural finishing oil is FDA approved for food contact and contains no VOCs, heavy metals, additives or distillates for added peace of mind. Pure Tung Oil penetrates deeply into wood without building up or adding a glossy finish, keeping your wooden boards looking natural while enhancing their grain. This medium lends excellent water and scratch resistance to protect your piece, even with heavy use.

One downside to Pure Tung Oil is that it usually requires thinning with our Citrus Solvent for smooth application. Like the oil itself, however, the solvent has a natural formulation with no VOCs for food safety. For this reason, we offer — a product that utilizes half Pure Tung Oil and half Citrus Solvent for easy finishing right out of the bottle. If you prefer a darker look, try our Dark Tung Oil or premixed Dark Half options. Keep in mind that this polymerizing finish takes between 7 and 10 days to partially cure and 15 to 30 days for a full cure when planning your charcuterie board projects.

Hemp Oil

Best Finishes for Wood Charcuterie Boards | Real Milk Paint Co. (3)

Though typically not as durable or water-resistant as Wood Wax or Pure Tung Oil formulations, all-natural Hemp Oil offers a hypoallergenic finish for wood charcuterie boards that you don’t

use that often. Other benefits of Hemp Oil include a naturally thin viscosity that requires no thinning for smooth, even application and a formulation free of VOCs, solvents and distillates. Designed to penetrate wood deeply, this oil finish works great on both bare and already-finished wood. Partial curing times are between 7 and 10 days, while a full cure typically takes 15 to 30 days.

Linseed Oil

Linseed oil is often used to finish wood charcuterie boards, but though this finish has its benefits, it also has its downsides. Made from flax seeds, this finish comes in raw linseed oil and boiled linseed oil formats, so you need to be careful to choose the raw version for its food safety. Advantages to using linseed oil for your wooden boards include protection from scratches, dents and water plus a formulation that showcases wood grain in its best light. Nontoxic and eco-friendly, this finish penetrates well and applies smoothly.

The disadvantages of using raw linseed oil to finish wood charcuterie boards, however, outweigh the benefits. Over time, this finish tends to darken, and it also tends to bleed out of wood pores during extreme changes in temperature and humidity. Additionally, linseed oil doesn’t provide the hard coat protection of Wood Wax or Pure Tung Oil, leaving your wooden boards vulnerable to water rings, staining when exposed to colored liquid, and more severe knife marks, scratches, and abrasions.

Mineral Oil

Food-grade mineral oil may seem like a good option when you want to know how to seal your wood charcuterie board, but it typically isn’t. The advantages of a mineral oil finish are its ready availability, smooth application and even flow.

Mineral Oil disadvantages include lack of durability and scratch protection plus poor water resistance. Additionally, cutting boards treated with mineral oil may take on a dry, dusty look if you don’t maintain them often. Some woodworkers avoid a mineral oil finish, even though it’s food-safe, due to it deriving from petroleum distillates, which makes it a less environmentally friendly option than many other wood charcuterie board finishes, such as Linseed Oil, Hemp Oil, Pure Tung Oil, Wood Wax, and Beeswax.


Beeswax is an all-natural finish derived from honeybees, so it’s considered food-safe by virtue of its origin. Keep in mind, however, that though it’s nontoxic and eco-friendly, food-grade beeswax isn’t all that durable. Additionally, a beeswax wood charcuterie board finish incurs heat damage easily, doesn’t provide good water resistance, and is vulnerable to knife marks and scratches. Beeswax finish also requires frequent reapplication to keep your cutting boards looking good over time.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is safe for food and makes a decent finish for wood charcuterie boards so long as you get the refractionated variety, since exposure to air can turn regular coconut oil rancid. A coconut oil finish, however, isn’t very durable or protective, making it a poor choice for cutting boards.

Maintaining Wood Charcuterie Boards

To get the most use out of your wood charcuterie board after finishing it, you need to clean and maintain it properly. For example, baking soda sprinkled on, wet, and wiped off can help remove stains, and a fresh lemon rubbed on the wood surface helps oxidize organic material left behind to remove smells and stains. A quick wipe-down from time to time with our new cutting board oil will helps keep it looking lustrous and brings it back to its original matte state.

Keep in mind that cleaning solvents aren’t good choices for maintaining charcuterie boards as they can seep into the pores and spoil your finish plus leave behind noxious chemicals. Additionally, never use alcohol to clean your butcher block or cutting board as it dries out the wood surface and leaves the material vulnerable to drying and cracking. If you must sterilize your charcuterie board, use diluted bleach plus soap and water instead to help preserve the finish.

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Charcuterie boards bring elegance to everyday snacking and make it simple to impress guests, whether you’re having an impromptu gathering or a larger planned event. Part of the appeal of these platters is the visual design, making your board finish an important part of the ritual. Use this list to help when you want to know how to treat wood charcuterie boards the right way and maintain them over time.

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What is the best wood finish for a charcuterie board? ›

Pure Tung Oil ranks high on the list when you want to know how to treat wood charcuterie boards. Also known as chinawood oil, this all-natural finishing oil is FDA approved for food contact and contains no VOCs, heavy metals, additives or distillates for added peace of mind.

What do you use to seal a painted charcuterie board? ›

You can also seal the wood cutting board you create with food safe mineral oil or finishing oils like Pure Tung Oil and Hemp Oil — both food safe products from the Real Milk Paint Co.

Should I oil my wooden charcuterie board? ›

Because wood is an organic material, this board will need to be regularly oiled to keep from drying out. In fact, anything made from unvarnished wood, including butcher blocks, wooden bowls, and wooden spoons, will eventually splinter or crack if not conditioned properly.

What is the best surface for charcuterie? ›

Non-porous hardwood wood is the best for charcuterie boards. Woods such as teak, hard maple, American Cherry, Olive, and acacia are ideal. Other materials that make the best charcuterie boards include kitchen slate, marble & bamboo.

Can you put polyurethane on a charcuterie board? ›

According to finishing expert Bob Flexner, all finishes are food-safe once they have cured. Polyurethane varnish does not present any known hazard.

How do I make my charcuterie board stand out? ›

Adding seasonal fruits to a charcuterie tray really serves to bring out the flavors of meats and cheeses and add some acidity. You can include fresh sweet berries, like raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and blackberries along with tart green apples to create flavor variety.

What is the best finish for cutting boards? ›

Food Safe Finishes for Wooden Bowls and Wood Cutting Boards
  • Pure tung oil. Extracted from the nut of the china wood tree. ...
  • Raw linseed oil. Pressed from flax seeds. ...
  • Mineral oil. Although derived from petroleum, it is colorless, odorless, tasteless and entirely inert. ...
  • Walnut oil. ...
  • Beeswax. ...
  • Carnauba wax. ...
  • Shellac. ...
  • Nothing.

Is milk paint food safe? ›

Milk Paint is environmentally safe and non-toxic. There is a slight milky odour when it is applied, but it is completely odourless when dry. The paint is safe for children's furniture and toys, is food safe and can also be used for interiors of homes of people who are allergic to modern paints.

What is a food safe finish for wood? ›

Mineral oil, also known as liquid paraffin and butcher's block finish, is easy to apply. It has lower water resistance and requires reapplication more frequently. Mineral oil is one of the most common food safe finishes.

What is the food safe top coat for painted wood? ›

Pure Tung Oil, aka chinawood oil, dries hard to a lustrous matte finish, making it an excellent wood finish safe for foods.

What clear coat is food safe? ›

Danish Oil. Danish oil, like Teak oil, is a generic term. It usually consists of linseed oil, Tung oil, mineral spirits, synthetic resins, and/or varnish. It is usually food-safe (check the label) so it is a popular option for kitchen cabinets, cutting boards, and wood counter-tops.

How do you seal a wooden platter board? ›

Sealing your wood cutting board periodically

Using 3 or 4 tablespoons of mineral oil (look for food-grade mineral oil which contains no perfumes or chemicals, you can also purchase cutting board oil ) coat the cutting board. Let the board sit for 30 minutes or so to allow the oil to be absorbed by the wood.

How do you prepare a wooden charcuterie board? ›

I recommend a grit of at least 220, but for a buttery-smooth finish on your board, hand-sand it with a 400-grit paper. Once you've sanded your board, wipe it free of dust with a damp sponge, let it air-dry, then oil it to get it ready for your next use.

How many coats of oil on charcuterie board? ›

On new or raw wood surfaces, like cutting boards and butcher blocks, make sure to oil them with Cutting Board Oil. To properly oil new wood surfaces, apply at least 2 coats and let each coat soak in for at least an hour. For thick surfaces apply 3-4 coats.

What oil do you use on a wooden cheese board? ›

The most commonly used oil for cheese boards is food-grade mineral oil.

What kind of oil do you put on a wooden cutting board? ›

Mineral oil for cutting boards is the best option to care for your wood cutting board and make sure it doesn't absorb water. Just be sure to choose a mineral oil that is labelled as food-safe or food-grade.

What is the 3 3 3 3 rule for charcuterie board? ›

Allow me to introduce the 3, 3, 3, 3, rule for making cheese boards. Simply choose 3 meats, 3 cheeses, 3 starches, and 3 accompaniments for the perfect board every time.

How do you make meat look fancy on a charcuterie board? ›

The Fold: Folding pieces in either half or quarters and then fanning them out on the board not only makes it look attractive, the pieces are also easier to pick up. This is best for circular slices like deli salami and mortadella.

Should I wax my charcuterie board? ›

Double up Your Cutting Board's Protection

You can add an extra layer of protection to your seasoned board by waxing it after you're done oiling. Waxing gives your board a smoother exterior surface that allows water to roll off faster, thus preventing moisture from destroying the wood.

Can you use olive oil to seal a charcuterie board? ›

Olive oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil, should never be used to maintain a cutting board or butcher block. These oils experience rancidification – a process that yields a rank smell and unpleasant taste.

How do you seal a live edge charcuterie board? ›

I recommend mineral oil as it is both food safe and it will not go rancid like some other food safe oils (e.g. vegetable oil). The first product I used was a straight mineral oil. You just squirt some on the board and rub it around using a rag or shop towel.

How long should a charcuterie board sit out? ›

Charcuterie meats and cheeses have the most flavor when served at room temperature. Remember these should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours total.

How much should I charge for a charcuterie board? ›

The cost for a medium board can range from $50 to upwards of $100 depending on the type and size of ingredients used. This cost typically includes a variety of meats, cheeses, crackers, nuts or olives, fruits, vegetables, and other accompaniments.

How far ahead should you make a charcuterie board? ›

You can make a charcuterie and cheese platter a few hours ahead of time just wrap it in plastic wrap and store in the fridge and take it out 30-40 minutes before you're ready to serve it. Leave the crackers until the last minute. They will get stale and possibly soggy in the fridge.

What is the best way to finish a wood cutting board? ›

I dip the boards in a mineral oil bath for about 5 minutes then set them on a drying rack to drip off for about 12 hours. I then wipe any remaining residue off the boards and add a thin layer of Walrus Oil wood wax. I let this sit for about an hour, then buff any remainder into the board.

Is cutting board oil or wax better? ›

The pros recommend using mineral oil (or a blend, like Boos Block Mystery Oil) because it's flavorless and odorless, and it won't go rancid on your board like olive or vegetable oils tend to do. Mineral oil is also inexpensive and easy to find at most hardware stores.

Is milk paint good for wood? ›

That said, milk paint is rugged and long-lasting; the finish you get is the finish that's likely to remain for years. While milk paint can be applied to virtually anything, it adheres best to porous surfaces, such as wood; raw wood is ideal, as it takes milk paint well without priming.

Does milk paint need a top coat? ›

It isn't essential to seal a milk painted piece, but it is recommended if it is likely to be handled, need regular cleaning or needs to be water repellent.

Does milk paint show wood grain? ›

Milk Paint will show wood grain in most cases and can be used as a stain. Chalk Paint is thicker and covers wood grain in most cases. Milk Paint can be distressed and/or crackled and will resist some finishes giving an authentic chippy, aged look.

Is there a food grade paint? ›

Fakolith FoodGrade paints and varnishes are coatings widely tested and certified for direct, indirect and occasional contact with food, beverages and drinking water, according to European regulation EU 10/2011, and/or American regulation FDA 21 CFR 175.300, and with all its subsequent modifications.

How do you color wood to be food safe? ›

Add 3 tablespoons of white vinegar to a plastic baggie. It's easier for me if I set the baggie inside a plastic cup to hold it open while doing this. Add your dye to the vinegar – I use 20-25 drops of food coloring per 3 tablespoons of vinegar. Lighter colors need 25+ drops.

Do I need sealer on painted wood? ›

Sealing or sizing a piece of wood greatly reduces the chance of stains, warping and rotting wood from your paint. Yes, this can happen! You should apply two coats of sealer and let it dry thoroughly in-between each layer. Sealing also provides an easier surface to apply subsequent paint layers starting with a primer.

How do you seal and protect painted wood? ›

  1. Clean Painted Wood. Mix the TSP with warm water in the clean bucket. ...
  2. Lightly Sand Painted Wood. ...
  3. Remove Dust. ...
  4. Apply Polyurethane Sealer. ...
  5. Sand Cured Polyurethane. ...
  6. Remove Polyurethane Dust. ...
  7. Apply More Coats of Polyurethane Sealer.
Apr 7, 2023

What is clear coat for wood? ›

A clear finish provides a protective coat for your wood that guards it against stains, water damage, and natural wear and tear. Applying a water-based clear coat to light-colored raw wood can stop the natural yellowing process of the wood, which helps to keep those cooler tones in-tact.

Is there a non-toxic clear coat? ›

Eco-Tuff™ Clearcoat is an advanced high solids one component non-toxic self sealing hybrid bio-polyurethane sealer formulated to deliver outstanding abrasion, moisture, UV, and weathering resistance.

Is Minwax wood finish food safe? ›

Wood finishes contain all kinds of chemicals that you would not want to put in your mouth, so you can't help but wonder: Is it safe to coat a salad bowl or a serving platter with the stuff? The answer: Any commercial finish is safe, once it has dried and cured. Here's a look at the most common concerns.

Is there a food safe clear coat spray? ›

Clear varnish food-safe – a transparent sealant to make surfaces food-safe. Ideal for absorbent surfaces such as wood, concrete, Raysin, paper-mâché and many more.

What kind of wood do you use to make a charcuterie board? ›

The best wood for charcuterie board is one that is durable, food safe, easy to clean, and has the looks of refined elegance. Non-porous hardwoods like teak, acacia, and maple make the best charcuterie boards. Other materials like plastic, marble, and bamboo also make good charcuterie boards.

Can you use olive oil on wooden board? ›

You should not use any type of cooking oil on your board, such as olive oil, vegetable oil, or regular coconut oil, because they will go rancid. Also keep in mind that excess moisture is bad for wood. Never soak your cutting board or let it sit in water for extended periods.

What mineral oil is food safe? ›

Mineral Oil vs Food Grade Mineral Oil

The refined mineral oil, in small amounts, is 'generally recognized as safe' (GRAS) food additives by agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) & the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Can I use polyurethane on a charcuterie board? ›

According to finishing expert Bob Flexner, all finishes are food-safe once they have cured. Polyurethane varnish does not present any known hazard.

What woods are not good for cutting boards? ›

Wood that are too hard - Hardwoods like mahogany, teak, or rosewood (too hard) are not acceptable choices for cutting boards. 2. Soft woods - Avoid all softer woods such as pine or cedar. These woods tend to splinter easily, and they're too porous so they harbor bacteria more easily.

Can you make money selling charcuterie boards? ›

A charcuterie business could be profitable, as long as you can sell your charcuterie boards for a higher price than it costs to assemble them. To ensure your business is profitable, you'll need to track your expenses carefully, including the cost of ingredients, supplies, and delivery.

Can you make a charcuterie board out of any wood? ›

For a project like this one, any type of hardwood will do just fine. The size of your charcuterie board is completely up to you and can be customized to fit anyones needs. This board needed to be flattened and it was too wide for my jointer so I used my planer sled, some shims and my planer.

Is polyurethane paint food safe? ›

Polyurethane is resistant to mineral and vegetable oils, and aromatic hydrocarbons, making it a perfect choice for food grade applications. This material meets FDA requirements and NSF regulations for food processing applications, and is non-toxic, non-marking, and non-allergenic.

How far in advance should you prepare a charcuterie board? ›

How to make ahead: You can make this charcuterie board a few hours ahead of time (leaving out the crackers and nuts), wrapped tightly in plastic cling wrap, and stored in the refrigerator. Allow it to come to room temperature about 30 minutes before serving and add the crackers and nuts.

What is the best oil for live edge wood? ›

The three main players on the market are Odie's Oil, Osmo, and my personal choice, Rubio Monocoat. Unlike film finishes, hard-wax oils provide protection by penetrating and binding to the top most wood fibres on the live edge slab and then a seal layer of wax cures on the surface.

What is the best finish for a live edge table? ›

Use epoxy or polyurethane to seal the wood. Epoxy and polyurethane are both good options for sealing the wood's open grain, which prevents it from warping or cracking as a result of changes in temperature and humidity. Alternatively, use boiled linseed oil to finish the wood.

How do you finish and seal live edge wood? ›

Seal the surface with polyurethane if you want to keep things simple. Apply a coat of polyurethane coating with a sponge brush. Wait for the coat to dry, then sand it with 500-grit sandpaper. Do this 2 more times, then wipe the surface down with mineral spirits.


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