What Is on an Appetizer Tray?

Discover the delightful variety of delicious options you can include on an appetizer tray to impress your guests and elevate any gathering.

Appetizers are the perfect way to kick off any party or gathering. They set the tone for the meal and can be a great conversation starter.

But have you ever wondered what exactly goes on an appetizer tray? With so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to decide what to include. In this article, we’ll break down the components of a classic appetizer tray and give you some ideas for creating your own delicious spread.

So grab a drink and let’s dive in!

Classic Cheese Selections

appetizer tray

When it comes to appetizer trays, cheese is a classic and essential component. A well-curated selection of cheeses can add sophistication and variety to your spread.

Consider including a mix of soft, hard, and blue cheeses for different textures and flavors.

Some popular options include brie or camembert for their creamy texture; cheddar or gouda for their sharpness; goat cheese or feta for their tanginess; and blue cheese like Roquefort or Gorgonzola for its pungent flavor.

Pairing the right accompaniments with your cheese selections can also enhance the overall experience. Crackers, breadsticks, sliced baguette are all great choices as they provide a neutral base that won’t overpower the taste of the cheeses.

Fruits such as grapes, figs or apples complement soft cheeses while nuts like almonds pair well with harder varieties.

Charcuterie Varieties

A charcuterie board typically includes an assortment of cured meats paired with complementary cheeses and accoutrements. The beauty of a charcuterie board lies in its versatility; you can customize it to suit your taste preferences or the occasion.

When selecting meats for your charcuterie board, consider including both soft and hard varieties. Soft options like prosciutto or speck are delicate in texture but pack a flavorful punch.

Harder options like salami or chorizo have more bite but pair well with milder cheeses.

To add some variety to your spread try incorporating different types of meat from various regions around the world such as Italian coppa or Spanish serrano ham.

Crisp Vegetable Platter

Not only does it add color and texture, but it also provides a healthy option for guests who may be watching their diet. When creating your vegetable platter, consider using a variety of vegetables such as carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.

You can also include some less common options like jicama or radishes for added interest.

To make your vegetable platter even more appealing to the eye and palate you can add dips like hummus or ranch dressing on the side. This will give guests an opportunity to mix flavors while enjoying their favorite veggies.

Assorted Dips

They add flavor and texture to your spread, and they’re perfect for dipping veggies, crackers or breadsticks. There are countless dip options out there, but some of the most popular ones include hummus, spinach artichoke dip, guacamole and salsa.

Hummus is a classic Middle Eastern dip made from chickpeas blended with tahini (sesame paste), olive oil and lemon juice. It’s creamy in texture with a nutty flavor that pairs well with pita chips or fresh vegetables.

Spinach artichoke dip is another crowd-pleaser that combines cream cheese, sour cream mayonnaise along with chopped spinach leaves & marinated artichokes hearts baked until bubbly golden brown perfection! This warm cheesy goodness can be served alongside tortilla chips or toasted baguette slices.

Guacamole is an avocado-based Mexican-style sauce made by mashing ripe avocados together lime juice salt garlic onion tomato cilantro jalapeno pepper cumin powder black pepper etc., which makes it tangy yet spicy at the same time! Serve it up as an accompaniment to crispy corn tortilla chips!

Salsa comes in many varieties ranging from mild to hot depending on how much chili peppers you use while making them; this chunky tomato-based sauce goes great when paired up alongside nachos & quesadillas!

Seasonal Fruit Display

Not only does it add color and variety, but it also provides a healthy option for guests who may be watching their calorie intake. When selecting fruits for your display, consider what’s in season and choose a mix of sweet and tart options to appeal to different tastes.

In the summer months, watermelon slices or cubes are always popular choices as they’re juicy and hydrating on hot days. Berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries are also great options that can be mixed together in one bowl or displayed separately.

For fall gatherings try adding sliced apples with caramel dip alongside pears which pair well with cheese selections such as brie or gouda.

Winter brings citrus fruits like oranges (sliced into rounds), clementines (peeled) grapefruits (cut into wedges) which provide an excellent source of vitamin C during cold season while adding bright colors to the table setting.

Springtime offers fresh pineapple chunks along with kiwi slices that bring tropical flavors onto your platter while providing essential nutrients such as Vitamin C & K respectively.

Gourmet Finger Sandwiches

These bite-sized sandwiches are perfect for any occasion, from elegant cocktail parties to casual get-togethers with friends. The key to making gourmet finger sandwiches is using high-quality ingredients and getting creative with your flavor combinations.

Some popular options include cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill, chicken salad with grapes and almonds, or prosciutto with fig jam. You can also experiment by adding different spreads like pesto or hummus or incorporating unique breads such as pumpernickel or sourdough.

To make the presentation even more impressive, try cutting the sandwiches into fun shapes using cookie cutters or layering them on top of each other in a tiered display.

Stuffed Mushroom Caps

These bite-sized treats are easy to make and always impress guests with their savory flavor. To prepare them, start by cleaning the mushrooms and removing the stems.

Then, fill each cap with your desired stuffing mixture – options include cream cheese and herbs, sausage and breadcrumbs or spinach dip filling.

Once stuffed, bake in the oven until golden brown for a deliciously crispy exterior that gives way to a warm center bursting with flavor. Serve on a platter garnished with fresh herbs or grated Parmesan cheese for an elegant touch.

Stuffed mushroom caps can be made ahead of time so you can spend more time enjoying your party instead of being stuck in the kitchen during it! They’re also versatile enough to fit any dietary restrictions – simply swap out ingredients as needed.

Bruschetta Toppings

It’s a simple yet flavorful dish that can be customized to suit any taste preference. Here are some delicious bruschetta toppings to consider for your next party:

– Tomato and Basil: This is the most traditional topping for bruschetta, featuring diced tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper.

– Mozzarella and Pesto: Top your toasted bread slices with creamy mozzarella cheese and homemade pesto sauce made from fresh basil leaves.

– Ricotta Cheese Spread: Mix ricotta cheese with lemon zest, chopped herbs like thyme or rosemary, salt & pepper then spread it on top of the toasted bread before adding other toppings.

– Mushroom Medley: Sautéed mushrooms in butter until tender then add minced garlic cloves at the end. Spoon this mixture over each slice of toast before serving.

These are just a few ideas to get you started! Don’t be afraid to experiment by combining different flavors or trying new ingredients altogether.

Small Seafood Bites

Shrimp cocktail is always a classic choice, but there are plenty of other options to consider as well. For example, you could serve mini crab cakes with remoulade sauce or smoked salmon on cucumber rounds with dill cream cheese.

Oysters Rockefeller or clams casino make elegant choices for more formal events.

If you want to get creative with your small seafood bites, try making ceviche cups using shrimp or scallops marinated in lime juice and mixed with diced avocado and tomato salsa. Or how about serving up some lobster rolls on toasted brioche buns? The possibilities are endless when it comes to incorporating seafood into your appetizer spread.

Mini Quiche Bites

These bite-sized treats are perfect for any occasion, from brunches to cocktail parties. They’re easy to make and can be customized with your favorite ingredients.

To make mini quiche bites, start by preheating your oven to 375°F (190°C). Roll out some store-bought pie crusts and use a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter to cut circles that fit into the cups of a mini muffin tin.

Press the circles into each cup and prick them with a fork.

Next, whisk together eggs, milk or cream, salt, pepper in a bowl until well combined. Add in chopped vegetables like spinach or bell peppers along with shredded cheese such as cheddar or Swiss cheese.

Pour this mixture over the prepared crusts filling each cup about three-quarters full then bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top and set in the center.

Grilled Skewers

They’re easy to make, customizable, and perfect for outdoor gatherings. The best part is that you can mix and match different ingredients to create unique flavor combinations.

To make grilled skewers, start by choosing your protein of choice such as chicken or beef. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and marinate them in your favorite sauce for at least an hour before grilling.

Next, choose your vegetables such as bell peppers, onions or zucchini. Cut them into similar sized pieces so they cook evenly on the grill.

Thread the meat and vegetables onto skewers alternating between each ingredient until all of it has been used up.

Preheat a grill over medium-high heat then place the skewers on it turning occasionally until everything is cooked through with some char marks visible (around 10-15 minutes).

Slider Samplers

These mini burgers come in all sorts of flavors, from classic beef with cheddar cheese to vegetarian options like portobello mushroom or black bean patties. You can even mix and match different toppings for each slider, so everyone can find something they love.

One great thing about sliders is that they’re small enough that you can try a few different kinds without feeling too full before the main course. And because they’re handheld, guests won’t need utensils or plates – just grab one (or two!) and enjoy.

To make your own slider samplers at home, start by choosing your favorite types of buns – mini brioche rolls work well here. Then select your protein(s) of choice: ground beef or turkey are popular options but don’t be afraid to get creative! Add some cheese slices on top while the patties cook for an extra burst of flavor.

Set out bowls filled with various toppings such as sliced tomatoes, lettuce leaves, pickles chips onions rings etc., so guests can customize their sliders however they like them best.

Spring Roll Collection

They are light, crispy, and filled with fresh ingredients. A spring roll collection is a great addition to any appetizer tray because it offers variety and allows guests to try different flavors.

There are many types of spring rolls you can include in your collection. Vegetable spring rolls made with carrots, cabbage, and bean sprouts offer a refreshing crunch while shrimp or pork-filled ones provide protein-packed bites.

For those who like spicy food, adding some Thai-style chicken or beef satay skewers alongside the classic vegetable-based options will add an extra kick.

Meatballs With Sauces

They’re easy to make, and you can customize them with your favorite flavors and spices. But what really takes meatballs to the next level is pairing them with delicious sauces.

Sauces add an extra layer of flavor and texture to meatballs, making them even more irresistible. Some popular sauce options include marinara sauce for Italian-style meatballs or sweet chili sauce for Asian-inspired ones.

For a twist on traditional flavors, try serving Swedish-style meatballs with lingonberry jam or cranberry sauce. Or go bold by pairing spicy buffalo chicken meatballs with blue cheese dressing.

Flatbread Pizzas

They’re easy to make, customizable, and always a crowd-pleaser. Start with pre-made flatbreads or naan bread as the base and add your favorite toppings.

Some popular options include classic margherita with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil; prosciutto arugula with goat cheese; or BBQ chicken with red onion and cilantro.

To make things even easier for yourself when hosting guests at home, you can set up a DIY flatbread pizza station where everyone can create their own mini pizzas according to their preferences. Simply provide an array of toppings such as different cheeses (mozzarella, feta), meats (pepperoni, sausage), vegetables (mushrooms peppers) sauces (tomato sauce pesto) herbs/spices like garlic powder oregano.

Deviled Eggs Variations

Why stick to the same old recipe when you can mix things up with some creative variations? Here are a few ideas to take your deviled eggs game to the next level:

  • Bacon and Cheddar: Add crumbled bacon and shredded cheddar cheese for a smoky, savory twist.
  • Sriracha: For those who like it spicy, add sriracha sauce or chili flakes for an extra kick.
  • Guacamole: Mash avocado into the yolk mixture and top with diced tomatoes for a fresh take on guacamole.
  • Buffalo Chicken: Mix in shredded chicken tossed in buffalo sauce for a tangy, protein-packed option.

These variations will not only impress your guests but also add some excitement to this classic dish.

Stuffed Dates and Figs

These bite-sized treats are easy to make, yet impressive in presentation. Simply slice open the date or fig, remove the pit, and stuff with your favorite filling.

Some popular options include goat cheese with honey drizzle, almond butter with sea salt flakes or blue cheese wrapped in prosciutto.

Not only do stuffed dates and figs taste delicious but they also offer some health benefits too! Dates are high in fiber which can aid digestion while dried figs contain antioxidants that help protect against disease.

For an extra touch of elegance at your next gathering try serving these stuffed fruits on a decorative platter garnished with fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme.

Olive and Antipasti Plate

It’s perfect for those who love savory bites with bold flavors. The key to creating a great antipasti plate is variety, so don’t be afraid to mix it up! Start with an assortment of olives – green, black, Kalamata – and add some marinated artichoke hearts or roasted red peppers for color and texture.

Next, include some cured meats like prosciutto or salami. These can be rolled up into bite-sized portions or left in larger slices for guests to cut themselves.

Add some chunks of Parmesan cheese alongside the meat for a salty contrast.

Finish off your olive and antipasti plate with something crunchy like breadsticks or crostini. These can be used as vehicles for the other items on the platter but are also delicious on their own.

Chilled Shrimp Cocktail

It’s refreshing, light, and perfect for any occasion. To make this dish, start by poaching the shrimp in boiling water until they turn pink and curl up into a “C” shape.

Then transfer them to an ice bath to cool down quickly.

Once the shrimp are chilled, arrange them on a platter with some lemon wedges for garnish. Serve with your favorite cocktail sauce or try making your own by mixing ketchup, horseradish sauce, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice together.

Caprese Skewers

These simple yet elegant bites feature cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and mozzarella balls all threaded onto a skewer. Drizzle with balsamic glaze or olive oil for added flavor.

Not only do caprese skewers look beautiful on the platter, but they also offer a burst of flavor in every bite. The sweetness of the cherry tomato pairs perfectly with the creamy mozzarella and fragrant basil.

To make these tasty treats even more appealing to your guests’ taste buds, try adding some variety by using different types of tomatoes such as heirloom or grape varieties. You can also experiment with different herbs like thyme or oregano instead of basil.

Caprese skewers are perfect for summer gatherings when fresh produce is abundant but can be enjoyed year-round as well! They’re easy to assemble ahead of time so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your company.


What goes on an appetizer tray?

An appetizer tray typically includes a variety of items such as berries, nuts, olives, dips, light cheeses (goat, feta, mozzarella), meat, bread, hummus, and veggies, offering something for everyone’s taste preferences.

What is on a charcuterie tray?

A charcuterie tray typically includes cured meats, a variety of cheeses, crackers, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and dipping sauces.

What are the 4 parts of an appetizers?

The 4 parts of an appetizer, specifically a canapé, include the base (such as bread, puff pastry, or crackers), spread, topping, and garnish.

What are some creative ways to present appetizers on a tray?

Creative ways to present appetizers on a tray include using various shapes, colors, and patterns, incorporating curious bowls, or creating a visually striking layout through height variations and garnishes.

How can you create a vegetarian/vegan-friendly appetizer tray?

To create a vegetarian/vegan-friendly appetizer tray, include a variety of plant-based items like fresh fruits, vegetables, hummus, nuts, and dairy-free cheeses.

What are some globally inspired appetizers to include on a tray?

Globally inspired appetizers to include on a tray could be Spanish tapas, Japanese sushi, Indian samosas, Mexican guacamole, Lebanese falafel, and Italian bruschetta.