Grazing boards are the ultimate choice for entertaining. Whether it’s for date night or you’re hosting for a crowd, we’ve pulled together a complete guide to sharing platters. Learn how to make a grazing platter and what to include on yours to impress your guests at your next dinner party.
- What is a grazing board?
- What should I put on a grazing platter?
- Easy grazing board ideas to impress
- Cheese board
- Charcuterie board
- Vegan grazing board
- Crudités board
- Breakfast grazing board
- Dessert grazing board
- Afternoon tea grazing board
- Italian grazing board
- Tips for how to make a grazing platter
- The best grazing boards and tools
What is a grazing board?
A grazing board is a selection of ingredients artfully displayed on a serving platter, often presented at dinner parties to share. Unlike a traditional meal that’s eaten with a knife and fork, guests can tuck into a grazing board and help themselves to their favourite nibbles.
Sharing platters can be made with a whole range of ingredients. Cheese and charcuterie boards are some of the most popular, but dessert and breakfast boards are a fun twist on two of everyone’s favourite meals.
Grazing platters take an array of delicious finger foods and turn them into a beautiful edible spectacle. Easy, impressive, and requiring no cooking at all, they make entertaining a breeze!
What should I put on a grazing platter?
What to include depends on the type of grazing platter you want to make. However, there are a few ingredients you can rely on to bring your board to life.
- Savoury – For most platters, like cheese and charcuterie, savoury bites are the heart and soul of any selection. Whether it’s soft sourdough slices, cuts of creamy brie, or ribbons of cured meats, your guests should have plenty of options to fill up on.
- Sweet – To complement the savoury, sweet ingredients will help balance out any board's flavour profile. Fruit is a common choice, pairing exquisitely with cheeses and helping to cleanse the palate. Honey and chutneys are also great additions to include.
- Textures – As well as flavours, don’t forget ingredients that add a little extra bite to each mouthful. Think smooth pâté generously spread over toasted bread or chunky hummus that’s waiting to be dipped into with a selection of crackers.
- Garnishes – The role of garnishes is two-fold: to add even more deliciousness, and to make your board look irresistible. Fresh herbs, nuts, and seeds are perfect for filling in any gaps on your board and can be sprinkled over each mouthful.
Easy grazing board ideas to impress
The classic cheese board is arguably the most famous type of grazing board. From appetiser to after-dinner treat, it can be brought out whenever you want to give your guests something to pick on and has something to satisfy every taste.
The secret to any cheese board is to include a few different kinds of cheese. Three to five varieties is usually the sweet spot, with a selection of mild, medium, and sharp cheeses to please even the fussiest eaters.
No cheese board is complete without:
- Mild cheeses: brie, emmental, mozzarella, edam, gouda, camembert
- Medium cheeses: cheddar, manchego, feta, swiss, provolone
- Sharp cheeses: mature cheddar, stilton, gorgonzola, gruyère
And to complement your cheeses:
- Crackers, breadsticks, and toasted baguette slices
- Sweeter fruits like apples, grapes, figs, and peaches are great for balancing out the saltiness of the cheese
- Vegetables like pickles and roasted peppers for a savoury addition
- Pistachios, walnuts, almonds, and pecans to top off each bite
Read our full guide on how to make a cheese board here.
We like to think of charcuterie boards as the more luxurious sister to cheese boards – the one you make when you want to pull out all the stops to impress.
To some, the two are the same thing, and they often share a lot of the same ingredients. But the difference is all in the name: ‘charcuterie’ is a French term that describes the culinary method of preparing preserved meats. Think deli classics like salami, ham, sausage, bacon, and pâté.
So even though you can technically have charcuterie on a cheese board and cheese on a charcuterie board, we’re sure culinary connoisseurs would confirm that charcuterie is very much deserving of its own platter.
Here’s how to get started:
- Soft and spreadable pâtés, terrines, and mousses for layering on bread
- Cured sausages like salami, saucisson, and chorizo cut into thin medallions
- Wafer-thin ham like prosciutto, jamón, and guanciale folded into pretty ribbons
- Fresh fruit like berries, grapes, and melon help to counteract some of the saltiness of the meats
- Sweet preserves like onion chutney and tomato relish help to add texture to meats which can otherwise be quite dry
- Cheese to complement the meat, like brie, cheddar, goat, and blue cheese
Vegan grazing board
As versatile as cheese and charcuterie boards are, they can be trickier to adapt for plant-based diets. While you can definitely substitute regular cheese for vegan alternatives, there are plenty of other meat and dairy-free options you can also fill your sharing platter with.
With endless vegan options pre-made and ready to buy from the supermarket, it’s never been easier to vegan-ify your grazing board. Our top tip for before you fill your basket is to double-check the nutritional information if you’re unsure about anything.
A few vegan options to include are:
- Hunks of crusty sliced bread and toasted baguettes are an excellent base for loading up with nibbles
- For a lighter option, choose crackers, wafers, and pretzels
- Vegan cheeses
Fresh produce will help to cut through the richness of your other ingredients:
- Fruits – apricots, pomegranate seeds, grapes, figs, and apple slices
- Vegetables – sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, carrots, and peppers
- Pickled vegetables and fermented foods like kimchi will add extra flavour
- Vegan hummus, guacamole, baba ganoush, and chutney are perfect for dipping
- Don’t forget the finishing touches like nuts, seeds, olives, or edamame beans
A selection of nature’s most vibrant colours and satisfying textures, a crudités platter is a board of raw vegetables sliced and arranged into an appetising display. Traditionally, crudités are a French appetiser of bitesize veggies accompanied by a dip.
While we’re all familiar with celery sticks and carrot batons, combining them with a wider range of legumes and homemade dips creates an elegant platter that’s tasty and healthy. Perfect if you’re looking to pull together a lighter, or vegetarian-friendly, grazing board option!
A crudités platter will work with most vegetables that are usually eaten raw. We love to choose the brightest options in a variety of flavours and consistencies:
- Bell peppers
- Salad leaves
- Baby corn
You might also want to blanch some veggies to bring out their colours and take away some of their fibre-y toughness:
- Snap peas
- Green beans
For dips, choose from:
- Baba ganoush
- Artichoke dip
- Sour cream
- A soft cream cheese
Breakfast grazing board
Who says you can’t turn the most important meal of the day into a grazing platter? We think this would be perfect for a special-occasion breakfast, like Valentine’s Day, or if you’re hosting brunch at the weekend.
Continental breakfast works best here as there are fewer elements that need to be cooked. And our favourite part? After dishing out some preserves for your board, save some jam to make a delicious gin and jam brunch cocktail!
Why not wake up to:
- A healthy selection of fresh pastries like croissants, scones, and pain au chocolat
- Waffles and pancakes that can be quickly heated up before serving make for a fuss-free prep
- Sliced ham, smoked salmon, deli meats, and cheese for convenience
- Plenty of fresh berries, grapes, melon, and oranges
- Cereals, grains, and granola – and don’t forget the milk and yoghurt
- A variety of condiments for spreading, such as butter, jams, chocolate spread, and cream cheese
Dessert grazing board
Not everyone likes cheese after dinner, we get it. Enter: a dessert grazing board filled to the brim with all manner of treats to satisfy any sweet tooth. We love creating sweet grazing platters for dinner parties, movie nights, parties, or any other excuse for a social gathering!
For the ultimate showstopper, why not build your dessert sharing platter around a fondue? Layout a spread of bite-sized fruits and nibbles that your guests can dip into silky, creamy chocolate to their heart’s delight.
Our favourite sweet grazing platter ideas are:
- A fondue set filled with delicious milk chocolate
- Sliced strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and bananas
- Savoury bites like pretzels and wafers
- Baked desserts like brownies, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, and biscuits
- Marshmallows, popcorn, meringues, and broken-up chocolate bark
Afternoon tea grazing board
Reimagine afternoon tea with an elegant spread of British picnic essentials. Swap your tiered stand for a beautiful wooden board and pile it high with dainty sandwiches bursting with an array of fillings.
Create a spectacular display for Mother’s Day or any other special occasion, and don’t forget to serve your sharing platter with a steaming pot of tea for your guests to sip.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Finger sandwiches with classic fillings like ham and mustard, cucumber, cream cheese and smoked salmon, egg and cress, coronation chicken, and cheese and chutney.
- Buttery scones with lots of clotted cream and jam
- Savoury scones filled with cheese and sun-dried tomatoes
- A range of mini desserts like cakes, tarts, and biscuits
- Mini quiches
- Fruit like strawberries, blueberries, and cherries
Italian grazing board
Also known as an antipasti board, these platters are essentially charcuterie boards brimming with Italy’s best-loved flavours.
Why not swap a traditional appetiser with an Italian grazing platter? ‘Antipasti’ literally translates to “before food”, making this a no-brainer for your next dinner party. Celebrate fine Italian dining with cheeses, meats, vegetables, and dips – paired with a bottle of Barolo or pinot grigio.
Create an Italian grazing board with:
- Classic Italian cheeses like parmesan, mozzarella, burrata, or gorgonzola
- Cured meats such as prosciutto, pancetta, guanciale, and salame
- Fresh fruits like peaches, olives, grapes, figs, and cherries to balance out the richness of the cheese and meat
- Sliced artichokes, tomatoes, grilled aubergine and peppers, and baked squash
- A warm loaf of focaccia or ciabatta cut into finger-sized slices
- Olive oil and vinegar for easy drizzling and dipping
Tips for how to make a grazing platter
After you’ve got your supplies, it’s time for the fun part – the assembly.
There are no hard or fast rules to creating a grazing platter, but there are a few tips you can keep in mind:
1. Assemble as close to serving
Whatever type of grazing board you’re making, you’ll probably have a few ingredients that will need to be prepared just before serving to keep them as fresh as possible.
Things like veggies, fruits, pastries and bread, and dips should be assembled on your board last.
But, some ingredients, like cheese, should be taken out of the fridge 30 minutes before you’re planning to serve your platter as they’re best enjoyed at room temperature.
2. Dig out your best serveware
Flavour is the name of the game, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook the presentation. Don’t hold back, dig out your favourite serveware to display your grazing board. Whether it’s a solid oak chopping board, a marble board, or a slate serving platter, it’ll make your display look all the more impressive.
Decant dips and condiments into pretty bowls, dishes, and ramekins, and we love to use shot glasses for smaller items like seeds, nuts, and chutneys.
3. Cut ingredients into bite-size pieces
Avoid placing ingredients whole onto your board; cut them up into bite-sized pieces or tear them into unique shapes for a more effortless appearance.
This will help make your platter look even more delicious and make it easier for your guests to tuck in.
4. Follow our assembly steps
When assembling your board, start with the largest items first and place them spaced out on your board.
Next, start to fill in the empty spaces with other ingredients. Experiment by folding, scrunching, and rolling different foods to boost the aesthetic appeal of your spread. For crackers and bread, spread them out instead of stacking them on top of each other. You’ll be able to cover more space and it’ll be easier for guests to access.
Finally, fill any gaps with the smallest ingredients like your garnishes and fresh herbs.
5. Remember to provide utensils
Most sharing platters can be enjoyed without cutlery, but you might need to provide serving tools for specific ingredients.
Cheese knives and planers will make it a doddle to tuck into a firm block of cheddar, while dips and sauces should be accompanied with spoons for your guests to help themselves.
6. Save your leftovers
And finally, if you have any ingredients left afterwards, make sure to box them up in storage containers to cut down on your food waste.
It can be difficult to gauge how much food will feed your party; no matter how hard you try to avoid buying too much food, leftovers can happen.
When serving fresh ingredients that don’t save well, lay down smaller portions and add more if you need them to reduce waste. For shop-bought condiments and dips, save the containers after you dish them out into serving bowls so you can use them to store any other leftovers.
To prolong the life of your leftover manchego and brie, a cheese storage box is an excellent addition to any container collection. Make your cheese sharing platter go further thanks to these special boxes that are specifically designed to reduce condensation and keep your fromage fresher for longer.
The best grazing boards and tools
Best for a classic serving board: MasterClass Gourmet Prep & Serve Medium Mango Paddle Board
This spacious square paddle board by MasterClass is perfect for any grazing platter, from cheese to antipasti. Crafted from natural mango wood, it features a beautiful grain for a rustic look that complements any spread. The handle makes it easy to serve and the rope hook means that it can be hung up when not in use.
Best for a show-stopping sharing board: Artesà Rustic Large Wooden Serving Board
This large acacia wood serving board is sure to be the main character of any meal. Each board is unique and features stunning grain patterns and growth rings to form a gorgeous backdrop to any grazing board spread. The wood is sourced from sustainable forests and is treated with a food-safe finish so you can enjoy it for years to come.
Best for charcuterie boards: Artesà Slate with Twin Brass Coloured Handles
For platters that feature a range of best-served chilled ingredients, this slate board is just the ticket. Its cool, food-safe surface is ideal for displaying charcuterie meats and desserts and the two brass-coloured handles make it easy to carry.
Best for serving up condiments: Maxwell & Williams White Basics 12cm Ramekins
From dips and sauces to olives and nuts, these Maxwell & Williams ramekins are endlessly versatile. They’re an excellent size for sharing platters and the pack of six means that you can fill ‘em up with a range of ingredients. Best of all, they’re also fridge, oven, and dishwasher safe, so you can serve hot or cold dishes straight from the kitchen.
Best for cheese boards: Artesà Cheese Knife Set - Green and Gold, 3 Pieces
Make slicing into a firm block of cheese a breeze with this Artesà cheese knife set that’s as pretty as it is practical. Thoughtfully designed with gold-plated stainless steel and finished with green enamel detailing, these knives elevate any spread.
Best for tucking into condiments and dips: Artesà Set of Teaspoons - Green and Gold, 4 Pieces
This matching set of green enamel and gold-plated teaspoons can be brought out for a number of occasions – from serving dips and desserts to stirring afternoon teas. These elegant spoons are an essential finishing touch for whatever grazing board you're making.
Best for saving your leftovers: MasterClass Deli Food Storage Box
This innovative storage container is a game changer for housing grazing board leftovers. It’s made up of three separate compartments that stack neatly together to save space and keep your ingredients fresh. The lid is air-tight, and the BPA-free container means you don’t have to worry about your cheeses coming into contact with your cuts of meat or sliced veggies.
Share delicious flavours with your loved ones with CookServeEnjoy
No matter the occasion, a sharing platter is a fail-safe option for serving up an impressive spread. From romantic date nights to birthday celebrations, browse our grazing board ideas to find a theme to suit you.