People bored of gingerbread houses are making ‘charcuterie chalets.’ And they need to stop.

charcuterie chalet lede

  • People have started making gingerbread houses using meats and cheeses called "charcuterie chalets."
  • I love a good charcuterie board, but a house made out of meats and cheeses is no substitute for a real gingerbread house.
  • The house won't be structurally sound without crackers, the meats and cheeses will become slimy and gross at room temperature, and you'll have fewer options for decorations. 
  • But the biggest reason not to embrace charcuterie chalets is that they don't have the same holiday appeal as gingerbread houses.
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I regret to inform you that people are making charcuterie houses. 

The first thing you should know is that I love charcuterie boards. The combination of meat, cheese, and fresh bread is arguably a perfect snack, regardless of what time of day you eat it. 

But the charcuterie community has recently gone too far with a holiday variety of the ultimate snack. 

People are making 'charcuterie chalets' instead of gingerbread houses

We all know gingerbread houses are a holiday season staple, but some are choosing to abandon that tradition in favor of a meatier variety.

People are making "charcuterie chalets," which are edible houses made of meat and cheese. 

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The homes generally have a base of something sturdy, like crackers, and then they're covered in the builders' favorite meats and cheeses. They might have a salami roof, Gorgonzola walkway, or even a Gouda doorframe. 

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At first glance, I was intrigued by the concept of a charcuterie chalet. I mean, they have everything I like in a food experience: meat, cheese, a carb, and a fun gimmick.

But as I contemplated what a charcuterie chalet would be like in reality, my interest soon turned to horror. 

They're the epitome of something that's great in theory but a nightmare in reality, and gingerbread houses are the better holiday choice by far.

Charcuterie chalets just aren't as functional as gingerbread houses

First of all, gingerbread houses are superior to charcuterie chalets because they're more structurally sound. Meat and cheese can't be combined on their own to make a house.

In the houses I've seen so far, crackers are what people are actually using to build their charcuterie chalets. So they're really just eating a cracker house with some meat and cheese decor. Does that sound festive to you?

Another problem with these chalets is how they stay together. They need a soft cheese to act as a binding agent to keep the crackers together, but a Brie or burrata won't stay sticky like icing will. There's no point in building a house that's just going to crumble the second you take it out of the refrigerator.

Speaking of which, let's discuss the truly stomach-turning aspect of charcuterie chalets: room temperature meats and cheeses. They're icky. I have absolutely zero interest in eating warm charcuterie, and there's no way to avoid the meats and cheeses getting warm on a charcuterie chalet unless you live in a giant refrigerator.

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The chalets I've seen online are beautiful, so it seems they take time to make. That means the meats and cheeses slowly become room temperature as they're made, taking on a slimy texture that does not make me hungry even a little bit.

You could theoretically put the house back in the fridge until you're ready to show it off for the holidays, but you would have to remove it at some point to eat it and the process would be repeated all over again.

The only way you would get the best flavor out of the chalet is if you left it in the fridge and just pulled off individual pieces to eat, but doesn't that defeat the entire purpose of building an edible holiday house?

Sure, you could take a picture of the home for posterity, but it wouldn't have the same impact as a gingerbread house, which can sit out for an entire afternoon or evening and still be delicious when you're finally ready to take it apart for eating. 

An edible holiday house is supposed to double as a festive centerpiece, and a charcuterie chalet simply can't be that because of the materials with which it's made. 

The chalets also aren't as aesthetically pleasing as the more traditional option 

Another reason to skip the charcuterie chalets is they allow for fewer decorative options than gingerbread houses do.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very impressed with the array of shapes people have managed to create with meat and cheese. For instance, Farm Curious is offering classes to teach others how to make their stunning charcuterie chalets. 

They're beautiful, but if you do a quick search of "charcuterie chalets" online, you'll notice the houses only have one color scheme.

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That's not because people are favoring one color palette; it's because everything has to be the color of meats and cheeses. Because of the color limitations, the finished product is just not as impressive to look at as gingerbread houses can be, many of which are feats of ingenuity.

Sculptors add a dizzying array of colors to draw viewers and eaters toward gingerbread homes, making them look like real houses. The colors are also often Christmas-themed, so they set the tone for the holiday experience. 

That variety of hues just isn't possible with a house made of meat and cheese. You could potentially add a pop of color with fruits and veggies to make the house more visually appealing, or you could go as far as to try to dye the cheese (may I just say: ew).

But despite your efforts, there's simply less potential for creative, Christmas-themed expression when you're working with meat and cheese.

But the biggest reason gingerbread houses are the better choice is because they're inherently festive

Gingerbread houses are pretty and delicious, but that's not why people build them every year. People love them because of what they represent. 

Gingerbread houses have been around since the 16th century, according to PBS, so they're intimately connected to the holiday season in a way few other things are.

The smell of the cookies is inherently festive, and you likely feel an instant dose of holiday cheer when you see a group of kids putting one together.

Gingerbread cookies are classic.
Valeriia Sviridova / EyeEm / Getty Images

A pile of expensive meats and cheeses won't elicit that same kind of excitement. All they'll give you is a pricier imitation of a gingerbread house that you can't leave out of the fridge for more than 30 minutes. 

At the end of the day, a charcuterie chalet just feels like the bougie version of a holiday classic that no one needs.

So stick to the gingerbread for your edible crafts this year, and whip out the meats and cheeses for a mid-build snack. 

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