A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Grazing Board, Our Favorite Appetizer for Year-Round Entertaining
Our answer to entertaining: a grazing board. Forget individual appetizers and assemble an interactive platter that brings together the best of crudités, cheese, and charcuterie—it's a snack lover's dream. The best part? There's no cooking necessary: Just assemble, then let guests help themselves.
Use a Large Board
Start by selecting an oversized board that's large enough to artfully arrange each item while maintaining visual order. Think of it as a blank canvas for swirling and layering flavors, colors, and textures and making a visually appealing presentation.
First and foremost, make sure the surface is food safe. If you don't have an oversized option, arrange multiple pieces side by side.
Prepare Your Food
Cut every item that goes on the board so it is ready to eat. Keep slices to one or two bites, allowing guests to try a bit of everything without getting too full. Leave the cheese knives for the cheese board; this is an eating-with-your-hands experience.
Start with the main ingredients: cheese, meats, and dips are the building blocks of the board. Space each out in their own area, then place items around them to suggest what pairs well together.
Choose two or three different cheeses. Each should be different in color, shape, and flavor. Manchego and Drunken Goat both have beautiful edible rinds and slice into sharp triangles. Or, cut a fancy Swiss-style cheese or a Gouda with rounder edges in half; then slice crosswise for a different shape. Alternatively, crumble aged Cheddar or Parmesan into bite-sized bites.
Get ahead by slicing the night before (it's best to do so when the cheese is cold) and gathering the slices back up into a block or wedge. Wrap well in plastic and refrigerate.
How to Style Cheese
Once you've selected and sliced your cheeses, visually divide the platter into two or three segments—then select an area for each cheese. Fan slices in artful overlapping half-moons.
Select two types of cured meats. Opt for thinly sliced, beautifully marbled meats, like prosciutto and capicola, or salami.
How to Style Charcuterie
Choose spaces on either side of the board for each type of charcuterie. Try rolling or folding the meat for an interesting presentation; slice salami thinly.
Choose one or two dips that bring new flavors to the board and add pops of color; they should command visual attention. Opt for our creamy green Avocado Ranch Dip and the stunning Beet-and-Tahini Dip (in either red or yellow), or use store-bought options.
How to Style Dips
Place the dips in vibrantly colored bowls of varying size; they'll add dimension and height to the board. Place the bowls in any remaining gaps, leaving enough room around them to arrange some dippers, like crunchy vegetables. Add a few smaller vessels with pickled items, such as olives and cornichons.
Fruit and Vegetables
Select seasonal fruits and vegetables with bright colors, such as radishes, cucumbers, bell peppers, figs, and grapes.
How to Style Fruits and Vegetables
Cut the vegetables into different shapes and arrange them in a flowing circular pattern around the dips. Whole carrots turn into elegant baby carrots when you cut them on a strong bias into two-bite pieces.
Leave edible greens on young radishes and baby carrots. Pull apart white-and-red endive and arrange the beautiful two-toned leaves around a bowl. Opt for yellow or purple cauliflower and break into florets.
Place fruits that go particularly well with certain cheeses or meats right next to them. Halved figs pair nicely with cheeses and meats, as do grapes.
No grazing board is complete without crackers, which are the base of a perfect bite. Pick at least two different types. Try nut and fruit crisps and rustic flatbreads to add shape and texture.
How to Style Crackers
Swirl or stack the crackers into remaining empty spaces. Give them a semblance of order to keep the board looking neat.
Use your favorite nuts, like almonds, peanuts, and pistachios, to complete your board.
How to Style Nuts
Sprinkle nuts in any lingering gaps for the perfect salty finish. An added bonus? They go nicely with everything on the platter.