overhead closeup of a relish tray on a wooden serving platter

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What goes on a relish tray?

There are relish trays being served at almost every supper club in Wisconsin. I actually had no clue that they even had a name – or that it was a “thing”, but after doing research for this series, I realized that I had seen them at almost every supper club I’d ever been to for Friday night fish fry.

They normally have a few dishes of pickles, other brined things like olives or peppers, a variety of crunchy, fresh veggies like celery and carrots sticks, and super boring saltines in their packages. They also normally have a cheese spread (we substituted vegan cheese spread) or some cubed cheeses.

Other than that last little bit, relish trays are the perfect alternative to a charcuterie spread if you’re dairy free. Of course, if you’re serving it at home, you can choose what goes on it, and even class it up a little with some artisan crackers are charcuterie meats.

I had a little bit of fun with it over Thanksgiving, and I think it would make a great choice for a Christmas even spread.

relish tray with dairy free cheese spread, pickles, crackers and cold cuts
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Here’s what you’ll need to make a relish tray

overhead image of a dairy free charcuterie board

How to assemble a relish tray

There are a few things you want to keep in mine when you’re creating a relish tray. You can keep it as simple as you want, or you can make your relish tray a little fancier and assemble it like a cheese tray. I think the latter is a bit more fun and gives it a more modern look. But, do your thing.

Decide what you’re going to use on your relish tray. You want to choose a mix of pickled, brined, and fresh vegetables. Classics like olives, pickles, and celery are great choices. I suggest also adding some proteins and some carbs for a good mix. Just make sure you’re going for a variety.

closeup of relish tray with pickled blackberries, olives, crackers and celery

Tips for building your relish tray

  • Use small containers to contain the brine and keep it from messing your platter and your table. I like to use little mason jars and divided glass serving trays to fit the odd shaped things.
  • Spread out your colors to build visual interest. Don’t put too much of a single color in one area. There will probably be a lot of greens, but try to break it up by putting on different sides of the board.
  • The same goes for heights and textures. You want to vary them as much as you can.
  • Garnish with edible greens. I like to use fresh rosemary because it’s festive for the holidays.

More creative ideas for your relish tray:

Last Updated on November 5, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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  1. Thank you I loved this post!!! Just in time for up coming holidays. My daughter and grandson are dairy free. It is harder to come up with alternatives to dairy peoducts than gluten free options.

  2. You, my dear, are a LIFE SAVER!!! We are having our Wedding reception this Saturday. 4 count ’em 4 days away. EEK!!! I have been looking for ideas that appeal to the eye to me. Because, let’s face it…if I am NOT happy, no one will be! I love the style of your tray and I am going to use it…ON A LOT OF TRAYS! Thank you for sharing. It IS much appreciated