A loaded grazing board is one of the ultimate ways for us food-lovers to enjoy a delicious assortment of food, shared with our dearest friends.
There is nothing better than putting together a selection of our favorite nibbles, perfectly arranged to pick away at whilst enjoying catching up with our loved ones.
So, what are the best foods for grazing boards? The best grazing boards are those that consist of the perfect bite-size pieces of food, that you can eat with your hands or transfer to a side plate. You need a variety of food choices that complement each other, and you need to make sure there is enough food to satisfy everyone’s hunger!
Are you struggling for inspiration on what to put on a grazing board? Let’s take a look at the ultimate grazing board ideas!
What Is A Grazing Board?
A grazing board is a large platter or tray, loaded with bite-sized pieces of food.
They normally contain many different items of food and are shared between a group of people. Think of it as a buffet, but all laid out beautifully on a stylish board!
The idea for a grazing board originates from a traditional cheese or meat platter but takes these restaurant favorites to the next level.
Most grazing boards do have cheese and meat included on them but are also loaded with vegetables, dips, potato chips, olives, and a myriad of other flavorsome foods.
This means that a grazing board can be served as a main meal or party platter for nibbling, as it should contain a little bit of everything to keep everyone happy.
There is nothing better than sitting down with good friends to share a grazing board filled with delicious foods—just as long as no one gets upset over who gets the last bit of prosciutto!
How To Prepare A Grazing Board
When preparing a grazing board, you can go completely over the top or keep it subtle and simple. It is entirely up to you!
Firstly, you will need a suitable board or platter. Don’t feel that you have to rush out and buy a purpose-made grazing board, as you may well be able to use something from your kitchen.
A large serving platter or wooden chopping board both make a lovely base for a grazing board.
If you are planning on serving grazing boards as a regular event, then it may be worth investing in a purpose-made serving tray.
There are some lovely options available, made of stylish materials such as slate, stone, and high-quality wood (we’d definitely recommend this one if you’re currently on the hunt for the perfect board)!
Any other items, such as cutlery or serving knives, will depend entirely on the food you are serving on your grazing board. If your guests are eating finger food such as mini sandwiches, all you need to provide is some napkins.
But if you’re planning on serving cold meats, cheeses, and other fiddly types of food, your guests may appreciate a side plate to hold their food. Some mini forks or serving cutlery is also a good idea.
Preparing a grazing board is relatively simple, but there are some food preparation precautions to bear in mind.
Some foods, such as cured meats, should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. This means they will need to be added to your board just before your guests arrive.
Cheeses should also not be left out of the fridge for long periods, but most cheeses taste better when served at room temperature. However, cheese is not pleasant if it gets too warm and sweaty, a difficult balance to get right!
Slicing your cheeses and popping them into an airtight container in the fridge means they are ready to arrange on your grazing board when you need them.
The final thing to bear in mind about a grazing board is that everything on it should be in bite-sized pieces, ready for your guests to pick up and eat.
And obviously, you need to make sure there is enough for everyone to have equal amounts of everything!
So, if you have 6 guests, prepare either 6 or 12 pieces of each item on the board. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to smaller items such as nuts, as everyone will just take a few of these.
Don’t forget to get creative when putting your grazing board together. An intricately arranged grazing board is a thing of beauty, and is almost (but not quite) too good to eat!
The Ultimate Charcuterie Grazing Board
OK, so let’s start with the ultimate grazing board: a fully loaded charcuterie board!
The food pairings you can put on this board are pretty much unlimited, but there are some classic ingredients that we would suggest you always include.
And although this board is based on meat and cheese, you can bring in other healthier nibbles to counteract the overindulgence. Add in some carbs in the form of bread or tortilla chips, and you’ve got all the food groups covered!
Some components are vital to making a good charcuterie grazing board. To start with, let’s look at the cured meats. You should include two or three meats, such as salami, prosciutto, and chorizo.
The meat should be sliced into rounds or slices to make them easy to eat. They can be laid out flat on the board or rolled into individual tubes or cones.
Next, you will need some cheese. Again, two or three types should be perfect. Hard cheeses such as vintage cheddar and gouda are easier to arrange on a grazing board.
If you want to serve a softer cheese such as brie, it might be a good idea to place slices on small crackers to make them easy to pick up.
Now you’ve got your cheese and meats, it is time to move on to the accompaniments. Place chopped vegetables and fruits around the board for a splash of color and flavor.
The traditional fresh fruit on a charcuterie board is grapes, but dried fruits like raisins and dates are also very tasty. For vegetables, thin slivers of carrot and cucumber are delicious when paired with cured meats.
Lay crackers or tortilla chips around the board, and pop some breadsticks into a skinny glass in the center of the board.
A dip isn’t essential on a charcuterie board, but if you want you can include bowls of hummus, guacamole, or sour cream.
And finally, whether you love them or hate them, add a dish of olives to your board!
These salty snacks are the perfect accompaniment to your charcuterie grazing board. And it gives you an excuse to use those little olive forks you’ve got lurking at the back of the cutlery drawer!
Ultimate Cheesy Grazing Boards
If you’re skipping the meat, then a cheesy grazing board is guaranteed to get everyone’s tastebuds tingling!
And if the cheese is the main event, this means you can really go wild on the cheese selection.
We would definitely include a punchy blue cheese here, as well as a fragrant goat’s cheese and soft mozzarella slices drizzled in olive oil.
Fancy a twist on the traditional cheese grazing platter? Take it to the next level by serving cooked cheese!
A fondue-style cheese platter is super simple to put together and is a great crowd-pleaser. If you have a fondue dish, melt mountain-style cheeses such as Gruyere or gouda, or use a strong cheddar or raclette.
Then all you need to do is provide your guests with dipping forks and a variety of foods to dip.
The good thing about a cheese fondue is that you can use some unusual foods not normally found on a grazing board, like steamed new potatoes, crispy baked bacon, or slices of tart apple and pear.
Don’t have a fondue pot? No problem! There aren’t many people who don’t enjoy a delicious baked camembert, filled with oozing hot cheese.
You could serve a selection of individually baked camembert, each with a different topping.
Our favorite is to do one topped with crispy bacon pieces, another drizzled with honey and sprigs of thyme, and a third with rosemary and garlic.
Bake them in the oven along with homemade doughballs and cherry tomatoes and you’ve got a ready-to-serve hot cheesy grazing board!
Best Grazing Boards For Vegetarians & Vegans
Catering to vegetarians and vegans needn’t be daunting when it comes to grazing boards! We’ve got plenty of options to keep everyone happy, and a veggie-only grazing board can be just as satisfying as a meaty version.
Firstly, don’t underestimate how satisfying and tasty a simple platter of vegetables and dips can be! Throw in some breadsticks or potato chips and you’ve got a delicious grazing board that will keep your guests happy for hours.
To make a stunning visual display, use vegetables and dips to create a colorful rainbow!
Good veggies to use on a grazing board include cauliflower florets, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, colorful sticks of bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes.
Layer the sliced vegetables around the outside of the board, and pop bowls of dips in the middle. Hummus and guacamole are always firm favorites, as well as a punchy blue cheese dip or palate-cleansing tzatziki.
When it comes to creating a vegan grazing board, finding a nibble-friendly source of protein needn’t be a problem.
Falafel bites are packed full of chickpeas and taste great paired with spicy red pepper hummus. You can also include a selection of nuts, such as salted pistachios and peanuts.
And of course, there are also some delicious vegan cheeses available, and you could even include a bowl of fresh bean salad to make sure everyone goes home satisfied.
Fun Fishy Grazing Boards
Think that grazing boards are just for meat and cheese? Think again! Fish can be a light and refreshing alternative to a meaty platter and gives you a range of inspirational ways to create a delicious and attractive feast for your friends.
And when it comes to fish, there are plenty of flavorsome options out there.
Seafood lovers will soon polish off a grazing board loaded with buttered lemon prawns, battered calamari rings, oysters, and lobster tail. Just don’t forget the napkins, as this may get messy!
If you’re looking for an upmarket fish platter, smoked salmon is always a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. And if you are feeling creative, add a bowl of fresh trout pate and a selection of succulent crawfish tails.
For a speedy option, canned fish can be used to make a delicious grazing board. Anchovies, sardines, and tuna can all be bought canned with a variety of sauces and accompaniments.
Canned seafood such as mussels, clams, and oysters all make great grazing snacks as well.
Fish isn’t the easiest food to eat with your fingers, but there are some clever ways to get around this. Crisp slices of lettuce or squares of toast can be topped with small pieces of fish or seafood, making them easy to pick up.
When serving a fish grazing board, your accompaniments may need some tweaking.
Dips containing lemon, dill, and capers all work well with fishy flavors. Avoid strong and overpowering foods, and keep this aquatic grazing board light and fresh.
Griddled vegetables, such as eggplant and zucchini, are delicious when paired with fish.
Artichokes and avocado can also work well, and give you some different options for dips and sides for fish. And of course, don’t forget the seafood sauce or tartar sauce!
Simple Grazing Board Ideas
Grazing boards do not have to be complicated! Yes, we could spend hours putting together delicately arranged nibbles, making sure our carrots are perfectly aligned and our rolls of salami are evenly spaced.
But it’s going to be eaten in a matter of minutes, so if you’re in a hurry here are some speedy ways to make a fun and simple grazing board!
One great way to make a crowd-pleasing arrangement is to use miniature versions of all your buffet favorites.
Sandwiches can be cut into bite-size pieces, and a filled wrap can be sliced into individual rounds.
Add some miniature sausages, pickles, potato chips, and a bowl of cherry tomatoes, and you’ve got a delicious grazing board!
Another simple idea is to use slices of cooked pizza and garlic bread to create a scrumptious grazing board. Cut them into easy-to-hold fingers, and add some bowls of dips for those crunchy crusts.
Clever Ways To Create A Healthy Grazing Board
Grazing boards might seem like a huge overindulgence, but there are some clever tricks we can use to make them as healthy as possible.
The first thing to do is look at the balance of food on your board. One that is almost completely covered with cheese and meat with only a sprinkling of grapes is probably not the healthiest option!
Don’t get us wrong—we love a packed grazing board, and we’d be quite disappointed if there was just one sliver of cheese per person.
All we’re saying is, take a look at the proportions of food and make sure there is as much healthy stuff as possible.
A good rule of thumb is to cover a third of your board with protein options, such as cheese, meat, or falafel.
Another third of the board should be made up of carbohydrates (breadsticks, potato chips, etc.) and dips. The final section of the board should be fruit and vegetables.
There are also some clever substitutions you can make to ensure your grazing board is as healthy as possible.
Firstly, load it up with whole foods, such as nuts and olives. These are great for satisfying hunger and are much healthier than processed foods.
Maximize the vegetables too! Ditching the breadsticks and using slices of carrot, celery, and cucumber instead can help anyone trying to reduce their carbohydrate intake.
And when it comes to dips, hummus and guacamole are great vegetable-based dips that are much healthier than creamy dips.
If you’re serving a sweet grazing board, go for foods with rich, intense flavors to satisfy the palate. Dark chocolate will quickly satisfy that sweet tooth and works well with berries and granola.
Easy Breakfast Grazing Boards
Grazing boards can be enjoyed at any time of day, as this breakfast version proves! This tasty platter is a fun weekend treat that the whole family will enjoy.
If you’re a fan of a continental breakfast, your imagination is guaranteed to be set on fire with this unusual platter.
Firstly, start with some mini waffles and pancakes. Build them into a tower to add some height and drama to your platter! Add some pastries, such as croissants, cinnamon rolls, or pain au chocolat.
Arrange some smoked salmon, Prosciutto di Parma, and crispy oven-baked bacon around the pastries and waffles. Scatter fruits such as fresh berries, grapes, and orange slices over the platter.
For a cereal substitute, you can use granola bites or small cereal bars. If you normally enjoy an egg for breakfast, include some wedges of hard-boiled egg or squares of toast topped with scrambled egg.
And to finish off, use individual pots of yogurt, jam, marmalade, chocolate spread, and cream cheese as the dips.
Fruit-Filled Grazing Boards
Do you ever worry that you and your family don’t eat enough fruit? A fruity grazing platter is a great way to get more fresh fruit into your diet, giving a vital burst of nutritious vitamins. And of course, it tastes delicious too!
It is a weird fact of human nature that we all enjoy fruit more when it has been sliced and prepared for us. There is something really decadent about tucking into a fruit salad, which somehow tastes far better than the individual ingredients!
Of course, a fruit grazing board can be made with pretty much any type of fruit, but it is easier if you use fruits that hold their shape well when sliced.
And the great thing about fruit is that they come in a huge range of bright and vibrant colors, so your grazing platter can include every color of the rainbow!
Strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, watermelon, apple, bananas, grapes, and blueberries are all perfect for a fruity grazing platter.
And, as with every grazing platter, we need to add in some other components too.
Instead of bread or potato chips, rounds of meringue or light wafers can be used to bring some crunch to the platter.
For dips, use bowls of fresh yogurt, fruit compote, and chocolate ganache. Add some dishes of crunchy sprinkles, such as granola or chopped nuts.
Best Dessert Grazing Board Suggestions
Grazing boards aren’t just for the savory course! Putting together a selection of bite-size dessert choices is a great way to finish off a meal, perfect for when we can’t make our minds up about what to serve after dinner.
The great thing about a dessert grazing board is that you can have fun making it look like a spectacular food extravaganza, all prepared in advance ready to bring out for your guests!
The best place to start with a dessert grazing board is with some baked goods, such as cookies, cakes, and brownies. If you’re a fan of frosting, have fun decorating each bite-sized piece ready for your guests!
Haven’t got time to bake? Use a selection of biscuits, chocolate wafers, honeycomb, and chocolate-coated fruits to create a stunning array of sweet treats.
Once you’ve got your baked centerpiece, you can start adding the sides. Yes, this is a grazing platter, so we need a range of different textures and dips too!
Chocolate pieces can be served in a bowl, or scattered around the board. Add fresh sweet fruits, such as succulent raspberries or juicy grapes.
And what about the dips?!
For a sweet grazing board, offer a selection of toppings such as sticky toffee sauce, crème Fraiche, whipped cream, and peanut butter dip.
We’d strongly suggest that you provide your guests with side plates, forks, and napkins for this sweet grazing platter, so they can make the most of the delectable treats on offer!
If you’re trying to make a suitable charcuterie board on a budget, check out this video from Joshua Weissman!