There’s just one thing NOT to include…

Ree Drummond—AKA, The Pioneer Woman—knows a thing or two about throwing together a cheese board. We can’t say were surprised, seeing how she knows her way around a kitchen. (If her recipes didn’t have you convinced, just check out her pantry.) So when she gave loyal followers a peek inside her “anything goes” approach to charcuterie on Instagram recently, we took notes.

As Drummond wrote, she included: “Melon, dried cherries, raw almonds, Brie, Parmesan, marinated tomatoes & olives, asparagus, pesto, fig jam, roasted red peppers, prosciutto, salami, mozzarella balls, marinated mushroom, arugula, basil...and grilled bread to put it on.” Quite the smorgasbord. She then adds: “No rules, though. Anything goes. (Except bananas.)

Looks like Drummond shares our approach to the art of cheese-board-building. As we’ve pointed out, we love a cheese board not just for well, the cheese, but also the ease of throwing one together. No cooking, no dirtying a hundred different dishes. Just throwing a few store-bought items on a tray and maybe a little slicing. For Southern Living Editor Lisa Cericola, there’s just a few rough guidelines to stick to when throwing together a killer charcuterie board—have something smoky, something spicy, and something spreadable, simple bread, and a few little accents, like mustard, olives, pickles, or fruit.

Give it a Southern twist and add in some of our Southern Living Food Awards favorites, like Roots hummus from Asheville, or Holmsted Fines chutney, made in our hometown of Birmingham. For extra holiday flavor, try adding a pumpkin butter, fig jam, or blood orange marmalade. 

So there you have it—to have a Pioneer Woman-worthy cheese plate: throw on whatever sounds good—just no bananas.