How to Build a Grazing Platter

This grazing platter guide helps you create a healthy snack platter perfect for snacks, appetizers, meals, and parties. It’s fun and very family-friendly!

a pretty grazing platter

What’s a Grazing Platter?

If you’re familiar with the popular charcuterie boards, grazing platters are similar (but contrary to what you see on Instagram, they are definitely not the same). A grazing platter is a large platter, tray, or board that’s filled with lots of snacky, small bites.

The main difference between a grazing platter and a charcuterie? A charcuterie is typically heavy on the meats and cheeses, whereas a grazing platter is less specific and can also include more fruits, vegetables, grains, and more.

So all charcuteries can be grazing platters, but all snack or grazing platters are definitely not charcuterie.

Reasons to LOVE a Snack Platter!

  • They’re flexible – you can easily put a nice grazing platter together with many foods already in your kitchen.
  • It’s a fun way to try new foods. I make snack platters for meals and snacks for my kids when I’m introducing new foods. An unfamiliar food looks less daunting when it’s in smaller amounts and surrounded by other familiar foods they love.
  • Grazing platters can be used in many ways – literally for any meal of the day, for snacks, appetizers, and are a fun thing to bring or set out at parties.
  • While charcuterie boards are often heavily meat and cheese-based, grazing platters are a little more broad. This makes it easy to add more fruits, vegetables, and other highly nutrient-dense foods.
  • Easy clean up! They’re typically low or no-cook, with minimal dishes and serving ware required. Less clean up = sign me up!
  • They make for a relaxed eating experience, perfect for creating conversation and memories.
lots of foods on a healthy snack platter

Is Grazing Healthy?

Is grazing, or snacking, healthy? It depends, but snacking can absolutely be a component of a healthy eating pattern. It can help:

  • Steady energy and blood sugar levels
  • Make sure you’re eating enough
  • Provide opportunities to consume more nutrient-dense foods (like fruits, veggies, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats)
  • Prevent overeating later (like when you wait too long between meals and eat past fullness at your next meal)

Of course if you’re regularly not eating enough at routine meals, snacking all day and night long, often grazing on foods that are ultra-processed, energy-dense, low nutrient-density commercialized snack foods, that may be a different story.

But snacking can absolutely be part of a healthy eating pattern, and these healthy grazing platters are one fun (and nourishing) way to do it.

The Equipment: Grazing Platter Boards

You need something to assemble your grazing platter on – a board, a tray, a serving platter, a cutting board, anything!

I personally love the look of a wooden board (just be sure that it’s food grade). There’s a classic rectangular board, a wood board with a handle, round boards, and other fun shapes, like these octagonal wooden boards.

You can also use boards made of other materials. A bamboo cutting board makes a great base, as do marble boards (this marble and wood board is beautiful!)

Other equipment you may find helpful includes cheese knives, small serving spoons, and ramekins (or other small bowls – these blue bowls and earthy ceramic ramekins are gorgeous).

For the Everyday

Remember that grazing platters aren’t just for big parties! One of my family’s favorite ways to enjoy grazing platters is just ordinary, everyday meals and snacks.

And we don’t typically get too fancy or aesthetic for these meals. In fact, sheet pans are my go-to for snack plates and snacky lunches. They have built in rims to catch things like rolling grapes and cracker crumbs, and are very convenient.

grazing platter snacks in a muffin tin

And for a little novelty, try deconstructing your grazing platter into a muffin tin for kids. I have six compartment muffin tins that are perfect for offering fun snacks and lunches to my kids.

Foods to Put on a Snack Platter

Now for the best part – the food! Get creative here, the world’s your oyster! Play around with foods already in your kitchen, your garden, things that are seasonal, etc.

But as a dietitian, I find it easiest to consider foods in their categories when making a grazing platter. This can help make it more nutrient-dense (even help make it a balanced meal!), but also adds more visual interest, too.

Proteins

  • Deli meats (like deli ham and turkey, pepperoni)
  • Cured meats (like prosciutto, soppressata, salami)
  • Jerky, biltong, or meat sticks (beef, venison, turkey, fish)
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Smoked Salmon
  • High protein dips, like buffalo chicken dip
  • Edamame

Fats

  • Soft cheeses (like brie, goat cheese)
  • Hard cheeses (like gouda, sharp cheddar)
  • Nuts (like almonds, pistachios, walnuts — play around with different flavors, too, like dry roasted, honey roasted, cocoa dusted, etc.)
  • Seeds (like pumpkin, sunflower — you can try things like seed clusters, too)
  • Olives
vegetables on a healthy grazing platter

Vegetables

  • Bell peppers (sliced, mini peppers, or even appetizers like pesto brie stuffed mini peppers)
  • Cucumbers (try slicing English or Persian cucumbers for delicious snacking cucumbers)
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Celery sticks
  • Carrots (baby carrots or sliced rainbow carrots)
  • Broccoli florets
  • Cauliflower florets
  • Kale chips
  • Crunchy broccoli bites

Fruit

  • Apple slices
  • Apple chips
  • Apricots
  • Dried fruit (apricots, cherries, cranberries, jumbo raisins, mango)
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Blueberries
  • Pear slices
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Orange wedges
  • Mandarin orange sections
  • Cubed pineapple
  • Tiny watermelon triangles
  • Peach slices
  • Freeze dried fruit (adds a crunchy texture)
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries

Whole Grains & Starchy Carbs

  • Pita (bread cut in wedges or chips)
  • Crackers
  • Sweet potato chips
  • Pretzels (sticks, mini twists, or pretzel thins)
  • Tortilla chips
  • Plantain chips
  • Popcorn
  • Rice cakes
  • Crostini
  • Crunchy breadsticks
  • Crunchy chickpeas
roasted red pepper feta dip on a grazing snack platter

Dips & Condiments

Something Sweet

  • Chocolate pieces
  • Cocoa dusted or chocolate covered almonds
  • Candied nuts
  • Honey, honeycomb, or hot honey to drizzle
  • Jam or preserves
pieces of chocolate on a grazing platter

Garnishes (optional)

  • Fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil)
  • Edible, fresh flowers
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Other small foods like berries and nuts can easily be tucked in-between other foods to make the platter prettier, too.

How to Build a Grazing Platter

When building a grazing platter, I like to go in this order:

  1. Anchor with Bowls: Put down first any small bowls of dips, nuts, or condiments you’re using first – this helps anchor the tray and give you focal points to decorate around.
  2. Add Large Items First: Once your bowls are in place, add large items around it, like meats, cheese, crackers, and any larger amounts of fruits and vegetables (like the fanned out cucumber and watermelon on my tray).
  3. Fill in with Smaller Items: Grazing boards should look abundant, so fill in all remaining areas with smaller groupings of smaller items, like berries and baby carrots.
  4. Finish & Garnish: Use small foods, like berries, cherries, and nuts, to fill in any remaining holes. If desired, garnish with fresh herbs and edible fresh flowers at the very end, too.
a healthy charcuterie grazing platter

Practical Considerations:

  • Head Count: Whether it’s a small snack for your kids or a large grazing platter for a party, know how mouths you’re planning to feed.
  • Minimize Waste: Try to pair foods that go well together to minimize waste. Example: if you’re serving dips, have plenty of dippers, like crackers, crunchy breadsticks, veggies, and chips available so your dip doesn’t go to waste.
  • Food Versatility: Crackers are a great example of a versatile food board item. They can be topped with cheese, meats, spreads, dips, soft cheese, hard cheeses, and more.
  • Use Different Textures: Switch up textures, like having both soft (brie) and hard (cheddar) cheeses, crunchy carbs (pretzels, crackers) and soft carbs (pita bread). Fruits and veggies are a great way to add more textural interest, too, with all their variety.
  • Budget: Fancy cheeses and meats can quickly add up! I like to browse my kitchen and pantry first and get creative. This can also be a great way to use up extra nuts, condiments, crackers, and dried fruit.
  • What’s in Season: Making seasonal boards can help cut costs and increase festivity. Fresh berries and stone fruit like cherries, peaches, and plums will taste better and be more affordable when they’re in season in the summer. At the same time, oranges, pears, and pomegranates will be at their peak in the fall and winter.
  • Bite-Sized: Grazing boards are made for grazing, so ditch the whole apple and use apple slices or dried apple chips instead.

Aesthetic Considerations

Grazing platters can be quite stunning, even serving as functional centerpieces of your food table! Keep some of these aesthetic considerations in mind:

  • Keep it Colorful: Adding more colors adds more visual interest (plus it can add more nutrient variety, too!).
  • Vary Shapes and Sizes: Just like adding more color adds more interest, so does including more shapes and sizes.
  • More is More: With grazing platters, more is more – don’t skimp. Your board should be filled to the brim!
  • Fill in the Gaps: Use smaller foods to fill any holes on the board, like almonds, dried fruit, berries, and small pieces of chocolate.
  • Fan it Out: When it comes to anything sliced (like cucumber slices, the tiny watermelon slices on my board, sliced cheese), fan out of the slices on your board. This works well with other same-shaped items, like crackers, too.
  • Use Natural Garnishes: While not necessary, using fresh herbs and even fresh, edible flowers can be a beautiful way to garnish your board.
  • Prevent Browning: Squeeze fresh orange or lemon juice over freshly cut produce that tends to brown (like apples). Another trick is to soak the cut fruit in honey water for 20-30 minutes.
  • Play With it: Try visual symmetry, like with square crackers on one side of the board and square cheese slices on the opposite. Try spreading colors out throughout the tray, or experiment with group like colors together if you have enough colors to create a rainbow effect. Have fun and make it pretty!
healthy foods on a grazing platter

Food Safety

You have to consider food safety when serving any kind of snack tray, charcuterie board, or grazing platter. This style of eating encourages slower grazing, conversation, etc. And while this can make for a memorable eating experience, you’re working against time and temperature for food safety.

Some food safety tips:

  • Include more shelf-stable foods, like oven baked cheese crisps over fresh cheese.
  • Keep your serving platter on the smaller side and continually refill and refresh your board as needed throughout the night.
  • When outside, set up your food table in a clean area. Consider placing your table under a covering and having table top fans to help minimize bugs.
  • Any foods that spoil quicker shouldn’t be left out for more than two hours.
  • Set out proper utensils to discourage folks from using their hands. Consider small tongs, spoons, knifes, and forks.

Have Fun with it

Remember – this is just a guide, because really? There are no rules when it comes to snack and grazing platters! Grazing platters can be a fun and nourishing way to snack or enjoy snacky meals, whether it’s just for you or a crowd. Have fun with it, and enjoy!

Did you make this recipe? Give it a 5★ rating below! For more balanced nutrition and simple, healthy-ish recipes, be sure to follow me on Instagram!

a pretty grazing platter

How to Build a Grazing Platter

This grazing platter guide helps you create a healthy snack platter perfect for snacks, appetizers, and fun, family-friendly meals.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Lunch, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Lindsey Janeiro, RDN

Ingredients

Proteins

  • deli meats (deli ham, turkey, pepperoni)
  • cured meats (prosciutto, salami, soppressata)
  • jerky, biltong, or meat sticks
  • hard boiled eggs
  • smoked salmon
  • high protein dips (like buffalo chicken dip)
  • edamame

Fats

  • soft cheeses (brie, goat cheese)
  • hard cheeses (gounda, parmesan, cheddar)
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • olives

Vegetables

  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Bell peppers (mini or sliced)
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Celery sticks
  • Carrots (baby or sliced/ sticks)
  • Broccoli florets
  • Cauliflower florets
  • Kale chips
  • Crunchy broccoli

Fruit

  • apple slices
  • apple chips
  • apricots
  • dried fruit
  • cherries
  • grapes
  • blueberries
  • pear slices
  • pomegranate arils
  • orange wedges
  • mandarin orange segments
  • cubed pineapple
  • tiny watermelon triangles
  • peach slices
  • freeze dried fruit
  • strawberries
  • raspberries
  • blackberries

Whole Grains & Starchy Carbs

  • pita (cut in wedges, or chips)
  • crackers
  • sweet potato chips
  • plantain chips
  • pretzels
  • tortilla chips
  • popcorn
  • rice cakes
  • crostini
  • crunchy breadsticks
  • crunchy chickpeas

Dips & Condiments

  • hummums
  • protein dips (like buffalo chicken dip or greek yogurt ranch)
  • spinach artichoke dip
  • red pepper feta dip
  • honey greek yogurt dip
  • nut butter
  • mustards
  • guacamole
  • salsa
  • pico de gallo

Something Sweet

  • chocolate
  • cocoa dusted or chocolate covered nuts
  • candied nuts or seeds
  • jam or preserves
  • honey or honeycomb

Garnishes (optional)

  • fresh herbs
  • edible fresh flowers
  • small fruits and nuts (like berries, cherries, pomegranate arils)

Instructions

  • Anchor with Bowls: Put down first any small bowls of dips, nuts, or condiments you're using first – this helps anchor the tray and give you focal points to decorate around.
  • Add Large Items First: Once your bowls are in place, add large items around it, like meats, cheese, crackers, and any larger amounts of fruits and vegetables (like the fanned out cucumber and watermelon on my tray).
  • Fill in with Smaller Items: Grazing boards should look abundant, so fill in all remaining areas with smaller groupings of smaller items, like berries and baby carrots.
  • Finish & Garnish: Use small foods, like berries, cherries, and nuts, to fill in any remaining holes. If desired, garnish with fresh herbs and edible fresh flowers at the very end, too.

Notes

Nutrition information will vary based on foods served

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