A platter filled to the brim with all variety of snacks for the most fun, low-key meal of grazing and chatting! They are so easy to make, and any occasion where a grazing platter is present is bound to be a fun one!
I am anticipating grazing platters being a major feature of our summer. They're like cheese boards, except that anything goes and you are in no way restricted to the usual cheese board fare.
How do grazing platters work? It's really just a matter of putting all the snacky things you have on a platter and then grazing the day away. The most low-key snack (or meal!) for leisurely eating that also looks so impressive!
All the beauty and fun, communal eating of a charcuterie board, but include anything you can graze upon. Pull up your chair, let's get grazing!
Scenarios in which you may want to make one
Can I overemphasize how many scenarios would benefit from a grazing platter? Probably not! Here are some:
- You're having people over and want to sit and eat and chat and you don't want to be making a big meal - Make an extra big grazing platter, pull it out when your guests arrive, and graze all night!
- Dinner is approaching and you have nothing but odds and ends - Make all your odds and ends bite-size pieces and put them on a board!
- You need an easy, portable appetizer - Arrange everything snacky you have in a baking pan, cover with plastic wrap, and go!
- You're having a romantic picnic date - See above. (But bring wine.)
- You're cleaning out your fridge before a trip - Put whatever you can on your platter. Toss whatever's left when you're done eating. Fridge = cleaned!
See what I mean? You can have a grazing board before your Christmas dinner, or have one as an easy weeknight meal and it feels right for both!
What to put on a grazing platter
One of the best things about grazing platters is that anything snacky can go on one! You could probably shop your pantry/fridge and make a good one right now. Some ideas (and this is by no means an exhaustive list) would be:
- loaded potato chip dip
- baba ganoush
- salsa (like this easy blender salsa)
- corn dip
- bruschetta (serve it as a make-your-own, or pre-assembled)
- fruit dip
- watermelon spears
- melon balls
- fruit skewers
- apple slices
- dried fruit (raisins, apricots, etc.)
- prosciutto wrapped asparagus (good at room temperature and hot)
- any kind of crudités (carrots, celery, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, etc.)
Chips + Crackers + Misc. Carbs
- potato chips
- tortilla chips
- cured meats (salami, prosciutto, pepperoni, etc.)
- cheeses (sliced or cubed)
The most important thing is that all the elements can be easily picked up and eaten. Grazing is the name of the game!
How to make a grazing platter
- Get all your ingredients out. Make sure you have everything out. Once you are in the rhythm of arranging, it will go much more smoothly if everything is easily accessible.
- Choose a platter. Take a look at all the ingredients you got out to gauge how big a platter you'll need. If your spacial reasoning skills are anything like mine, this will be a major ballpark estimate, but there is lots of flexibility here! And don't feel restricted to just platters - you can use a plate, a cake pan (ideal for transporting), a cookie sheet, or even a cutting board.
- Start with bowls. Put any ingredients that need a bowl into a bowl, then arrange them on the platter. If you have any hot dips or anything that will be in a bowl but you don't want to put on the board yet, be sure to use a placeholder for it so you can switch it out at the last minute without having to rearrange.
- Place obvious pairings together. Any obvious vehicles for the items in the bowls should go down next. Like tortilla chips by the guacamole, crostini by the bruscetta, veggies by the ranch, etc.
- Fill in the empty spaces. Anything that doesn't have an obvious pairing, or is ideal for mixing-and-matching, I like to use to fill in the empty spaces.
- Place any necessary utensils. Spoons, spreaders, and cocktail spears go on last.
To make a grazing platter, you'll need:
- A platter - I like using this big platter because there's lots of room to fill out. (Though again, if you don't have a platter you want to use, any large surface will do - baking dishes, cutting boards, etc.)
- Small bowls or ramekins - for all the dips and generally grouping things differently. Any size you have can work! I like these ramekins.
- Utensils - Essential for ease of serving! Little spoons (for little bowls), spreaders, and cocktail picks (or toothpicks) are all things that make eating from a grazing platter breezy!
Grazing platters are more work up front with the benefit of being extremely easy to serve. I have napkins (and sometimes plates) available, but nothing else should be needed!
Have an empty bowl for trash- It is nice to have a bowl nearby for anything that needs to be thrown away - pistachio shells, strawberry stems, grape vines, etc.
Keep refills on standby - This will make replenishing the platter so easy!
Tips + Considerations
Optimize easy grazing - Slice or cube things that need to be cut up, make sure everything that needs a utensil for serving has a utensil for serving.
Think about sogginess - Remember when you arrange your platter that foods will be sitting next to each other for probably at least a half hour. Avoid sogginess by keeping anything damp away from anything crunchy. (Like cold grapes and tortilla chips.)
Temperature - Since the nature of a grazing platter is a slow-paced meal, I usually avoid including foods that are best hot and prefer things that work at room temperature. You can definitely go for hot foods (like queso or spinach artichoke dip), just keep in mind it may need to be reheated regularly.
Be careful of "no man's land" - The area between bowls or in the middle of the board are what I like to call no man's land - places that are awkward to reach and/or hard to get to. Be sure to put things that are big and easy to grab in these areas.
Themed grazing platters
Because themes are fun! Some ideas if you want to get more specific than just a general grazing board:
- Dips - just a dip-heavy spread because everyone loves dips! Some for fruits, veggies, chips, etc. so you have a good variety still.
- Mexican - with queso, guacamole, pico de gallo, tortilla chips, salsa, taquitos.
- Kid favorites - animal crackers, ants on a log, clementines, pigs in blankets.
- Mediterranean - baba ganoush, pita, tabbouleh, hummus, veggies, crispy chickpeas. A very vegan/vegetarian-friendly option!
- Italian - anitpasto galore!
- 2 cups popcorn
- 4 ounces feta-stuffed olives
- 1/2 cup baba ganoush
- 1/2 cup bruschetta
- 1/4 cup ranch dressing
- 2 large pitas, cut into strips
- 1 1/2 cups crostini
- 2 large carrots, cut into 2-inch strips
- 2 celery stalks, cut into 2-inch strips
- 1 cup crackers
- 1 cup grape bunches
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1 fuji apple, sliced
- 4 ounces mozarella, cubed
- 4 ounces manchego, sliced
- 4 ounces salami, sliced
- 1/2 cup sesame sticks
- 1/2 cup pretzel sticks
- 1/2 cup snap pea crisps
- Place the popcorn, olives, baba ganoush, bruschetta, and ranch in appropriately-sized bowls and arrange on a large platter. Place the pita by the baba ganoush, the crostini by the bruscetta, and the carrots and celery by the ranch dressing. Fill in the rest of the platter with the remaining ingredients, and serve.