How to Make a Birthday ‘Charcuterie’ Board That’s Better Than Any Cake

Updated: Feb. 08, 2024

With sprinkle-covered cupcakes, cookies and candies, this birthday charcuterie board says "happy birthday!" in the best way possible.

Charcuterie boards are traditionally made with meat and cheese, but nowadays no food is off the table. These creative platters can highlight any theme, meal or occasion, from heart-shaped sweets on a Valentine’s Day charcuterie board to a breakfast board piled with waffles and bacon—or a decadent birthday “charcuterie” board!

When we think of birthdays, we think of sprinkles, frosting and rainbow colors, and our birthday charcuterie board takes the cake when it comes to all three. Here’s how to put together a colorful, festive dessert board perfect for your next birthday celebration.

Tools You’ll Need

How to Make a Birthday “Charcuterie” Board

Foods to include

Sprinkle-covered sweets: What’s a birthday without sprinkles? On our birthday dessert board, we included yellow cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla frosting, birthday cake fudge, thick sugar cookies and store-bought circus animal cookies. Rainbow nonpareils give the board extra pizzazz.

Candy: Along with sprinkles, candies are the easiest way to add pops of color to a birthday charcuterie board—especially when you use gumballs, gummy bears, mini M&Ms, lollipops and jelly beans. Keep the candy coming with Swedish fish and Kit Kats, and add some wrapped Hershey kisses for shine.

Cookies: When you have circus animal cookies, including other classic treats like Fudge Stripes and Oreo sandwich cookies (both golden and regular) just makes sense. We added Mini Oreos, too, since mini foods are playful and cute—perfect for a festive birthday board.

Crunchy treats: Sweet caramel corn (whether it’s homemade caramel corn or store-bought) complements the colors of the cookies, while also breaking up all the brighter hues for a more visually balanced board. Plus, it’s the perfect filler after all of the bulkier items have been set up.

How to Build a Birthday Charcuterie Board

Step 1: Place the bowls on the board 

Choose bowls of different sizes for the candies and a tall jar for the lollipops. Spread them out in different spots on the board, putting the lollipop jar next to the jelly beans for an extra-colorful corner. If you want to go the extra mile, use different bowl shapes to add whimsy.

Step 2: Fan out the sugar cookies 

Arrange the regular-sized cookies in a circle in the middle. On our board, these serve as the platform for a giant sugar cookie with icing that spells “Happy Birthday.” Keep the cookies from falling by placing them against the bowls.

Step 3: Arrange the sturdier sweets

Split up the vanilla and chocolate cupcakes in two places. The golden and classic Oreos look great standing up on their sidea, so you can see both the cookies and the creme. Push them up against a bowl, and put the mini Oreos on the other side to make sure they don’t roll off the board. For contrast, place the Fudge Stripes in stacks next to the Oreos. The similarly shaped and sized cookies next each other in different orientations creates visual interest.

Add unwrapped Kit Kats by the bowl of M&Ms and find an open space for the fudge. There’s no need to stack the fudge perfectly—letting the cubes be a little disheveled makes it look more effortless and playful.

Step 4: Fill in the board with the smallest items

Put the Hershey kisses near the Kit Kats and M&Ms to keep the chocolate candies close to each other, the circus animal cookies near the Oreos to keep the cookies together, and the Swedish fish by the jelly beans and lollipops. The caramel corn can fill in any empty spaces.

Step 5: Top with an oversized cookie 

Birthday Board detailTMB Studio

Write out “Happy Birthday!” on an oversized frosted sugar cookie or buy one already decorated. If you’re going the homemade route, here are cookie decorating tips to keep in mind. Balance it on top of the cookies in the center of your birthday charcuterie board.

Step 6: Serve! 

If you like, you can sprinkle nonpareils on top for even more confetti fun. Serve with dessert plates, napkins and striped straws for whatever beverage you pair with the board.

We recommend you serve this birthday board shortly after assembling it, because you don’t want the Swedish fish to harden or the frosting on the cupcakes or the sugar cookies to get stale.

And for a birthday board for kids, these kids charcuterie boards might give you some ideas.

Tips for Making a Birthday Charcuterie Board

What else can I put on a birthday dessert board?

Taste of Home Food Stylist Josh Rink focused on bright candies and rainbow colors for our board, but there are endless variations. Josh suggests shopping at a store that sells candy in bulk in order to get the widest range of options.

If you want to add even more sprinkle-topped desserts, consider doughnuts, fruity no-bake cookies, chocolate-covered pretzel rods, chocolate-covered strawberries, sprinkle fruit dip, marshmallow pops or chocolate chip sprinkle cookies. Find more rainbow sprinkle recipes and other rainbow treats.

Or, if you’ve already made a chocolate charcuterie board and are looking for something less sweet to add to the birthday party, there are plenty of ways to go the savory route for your birthday charcuterie board. Start by spelling out the person of honor’s name (or “Happy Birthday”) on a cake topper poked into a wheel of cheese, or spell it out with cutouts of cheese slices. Check out some of our favorite cheese board pairings for more ideas—and don’t forget to review our guide to cheese knives.

What drinks can I serve with a birthday board?

Stick with the rainbow theme by pouring a fruity rainbow spritzer with lemonade and pineapple juice. Or pair all those cookies with a pitcher of cold milk—you could even use chocolate milk or strawberry milk for something a little special. And of course, a bottle of bubbly is always welcome at a birthday celebration.

Can I serve this birthday board outside?

Outdoor birthday parties can be a ton of fun, especially when you have a birthday board like this to accompany the festivities. Food stylist Josh suggests placing it in a shaded area away from the sun so the candy doesn’t get sticky. A serving platter with a handle makes it easier to relocate the board once it’s built.

Find More Mini Desserts for Your Birthday Spread
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