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How To Build The Perfect Appetizer/ Grazing Table Spread

Holiday Appetizer | Grazing Table Guide

Tis’ the season for some great apps. My role at this Thanksgiving was to do the appetizer/grazing table, this table served as our lunch & snacks throughout the day. It sat out for almost like a pot luck to enjoy for about 4 hours. While we had traditional Thanksgiving dinner around 7pm. Let me tell you everything turned out SO GOOD!  There was 6 of us total (just my immediate family-hello 2020) & this spread delivered. This spread could easily serve as appetizers for 12, but who doesn’t love leftover snacks to enjoy the remainder of the weekend?! Below is my guide to everything I made along with some dos & don’ts I learned along the way.

 Hope you enjoy as much as I enjoyed creating!

Tips for a successful appetizer line up

  • Don’t try to make everything from scratch,  there isn’t enough time in the day and it’s too much work. Below I have broken out what I did in two different categories light/pre-made prep & then the items that involved a little more work, simple but more in depth recipes.
 
  • Remember when you’re making multiple appetizers / a grazing table that you can do small batches of appetizers you don’t need a huge amount. When you’re do a variety of different items not everyone is going to eat everything, easier said then done, I love to go overboard on food, but trust me if you’re debating on needing that extra chunk of cheese chances are you don’t.  
 
  • Different serving platters and bowls can go a long way with the look of your grazing table, before day of hosting I would recommend doing a dry run on presentation so day of you know exactly what dishes you want to use for each appetizer. This will save you time and guessing day of when you have a million other things to worry about. Also, it’s easier to help give direction if you have a family member/ friend helping out.
  • I like to choose 3 or 4 “themed’ items to really help give the appetizer table a little something extra depending on the occasion you are celebrating. For this appetizer spread celebrating Thanksgiving: I did a pumpkin dip (in a carved out pumpkin), chocolate acorns, made the cheese ball into a turkey and made sweet potato bites.  
  • At end of this blog post I put some other simple ideas for Christmas that would help add a special touch to any grazing table. 

Light Prep & Cooking Involved or Store Bought Items

Spinach & Artichoke Cups

This is one of those appetizers that look fancy but take little effort. All you have to do is heat Phyllo shells fill with the premade spinach artichoke dip and place in oven on 325 for about 12-15 minutes. Take out and are ready to serve!

Double Tall Extra Foam Tip: I like to cook my Phyllo Shells in oven at 325 for 4-5 minutes prior to adding the dip to make them a little more flaky 

Pigs In A Blanket

I bought this directly from Trader Joe’s freezer section and they work great for an appetizer table, just preheat the oven and follow instructions on back of box (I believe its 375 and bake for 20min) Or if you have an air fryer you can actually airfry them on 380 for about 12min. The actual Trader Joe’s name for this product is the Parmesan Pastry Pups  

Double Tall Extra Foam Tip: if you are making in air fryer lightly spray with an olive oil spray to help turn the a more golden brown on top, if cooking in oven I would recommend you broil on low for a minute or two (keep a close eye because a little time while on broil can go a long way)

Veggie Tray w/ Dip

A veggie tray on any appetizer layout is always successful for a couple different reasons:

1. You can use the vegetables in place of crackers & chips for other items allowing you to mix and match. 

2. Great way to allow for a healthier option into your grazing table/appetizer layout.

Some of my go to vegetables for an app are:

  • Mini Bell Peppers
  • Snap Peas
  • Cucumber
  • Cherry Tomatos
  • Carrots

I did use radish for my veggie tray over Thanksgiving, honestly wouldn’t recommend it. Because of their size they are hard to use as a replacement to a cracker and to eat plain is a very strong flavor. I must not be the only one who thinks this because I don’t know if a single radish was touched from the tray. 

I always like to serve a nice cold dip to go along with the vegetables. For Thanksgiving I chose Stonewall Roasted Garlic Aioli, this is another item I personally wouldn’t recommend unless you are a big horseradish fan because to me it was overpowering which was surprising because nothing about the name screams “horseradish” . But if you are a big horseradish this dip is for you! Instead I would probably recommend sticking with the tried and true favorites Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus or Heluva Good French Onion Dip

Double Tall Extra Foam Tip: 2 to 3 days out I would recommend washing, cutting, and deseeding (if needed) then placing them in separate ziplock bags to stay fresh. Then come day of party you can easily pull out of fridge and you’ll be good to go.

Hot Cheese Dip w/ Pretzel Bites

This is another store bought hack that hasn’t left me disappointed yet! I buy a premade cheese dip and place into a mini crockpot for Thanksgiving I used YoQuiero 4 pepper queso and then bought Pretzill a soft Pretzel Bred Bites both the queso and pretzel bites I have listed here were great quality and delicious, I would highly recommend both brands. Only thing with pretzels is they only really last for 3 days once open, after that they do start to get a little hard.

Double Tall Extra Foam Tip: Buy crockpot liners, I said it once and I’ll say it again.  They are reasonably priced and worth every penny to not have to scrub down your crock pots after using. Here are the mini ones.

Charcuterie Board

I could go on and on about the art of making a beautiful charcuterie board and the best way to choose what to pair on the board but for time sake I’ll leave you with the list of what I went with on this occasion.

Keep in mind though everything on the board was store bought charcuterie boards do take some prep time to put together, for a board like this I would recommend setting an extra 15 minutes aside to build out. Along with some extra ziplock bags and chip clips as you won’t use all of every single item.

What I used for the Thanksgiving Charcuterie Board:

One of the Cheeses & Two of the Meats are from The Culture Shop in Charlotte. If not in Charlotte area I linked items similar items you can find at the grocery store. If you are in Charlotte area I would 10000% recommend checking out The Culture shop, their selection of fresh meats and cheeses are unreal and unmatched to the local grocery store.

Crackers tray to pair with the board

 

Recipes For Appetizer Spread: Ahead of time prep work involved

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This dip is amazing! It’s so easy, it’s a true set it and forget it crock pot dip. For this recipe the only thing you have to do in advance is cook the chicken. This is another mini crock pot recipe & make sure you don’t forget your liner  I served this dip with tortilla chips and celery. 

Double Tall Extra Foam Tip: Boil the chicken breast in advance.  Two days in advance was I boiled (yes you read that correctly boiled) 3 chicken breast in chicken broth, salt & pepper for about 10 minutes until chicken is fully cooked. Let set to cool and then shred with a fork and store in an air tight container in fridge until your ready to make in crockpot.

The 3 chicken breasts made over 4 cups of chicken (what the recipe calls for) but I just added it all in and made it a bit more of a heartier dip. If you want to stick with recipe I would recommend 2 chicken breasts.

Cranberry Jalapeno Dip

This was my first time making this recipe but it certainly won’t be the last. The night before you will want to make the cranberry jalapeño mix so it can sit and absorb the flavors overnight. One important part of the recipe that I want to stress again here is making sure you drain this mixture the next day before spreading on top of the whipped cream cheese. I served this with ritz crackers

Double Tall Extra Foam Tip: I used the whipped chive cream cheese when making this recipe & it really added some great flavor, I would highly recommend trying.

Sweet Potato Bites

Easy to make and delicious flavor! For this recipe most of the work is required day of, the only thing I was able to in advance was cut the sweet potato into rounds. While storing sweet potato in fridge overnight put them in a dish with cold water. Also as good as these bites are they are more of a fork appetizer not a finger food so I would set out forks accordingly. 

Double Tall Extra Foam Tip: With the size of sweet potato rounds I used for this recipe, the marshmallow expanded larger than planned when broiling and much larger than the picture on recipe. If using smaller sweet potato rounds I would recommend using half of a marshmallow per sweet potato. 

Pumpkin Dip

This is an awesome fall desert dip and takes less than 3 minutes to whip up. I would recommend making it the night before to really have all the ingredients absorb into each other. I served with ginger snap cookies and apple slices.

Double Tall Extra Foam Tip: Buy the pre-sliced apples for no prep and you don’t have to worry about them browning while sitting out

Chocolate Acorns

These little bites were a hit over Thanksgiving, and the first thing to be polished off from the appetizer table. They are a little messy to make and are time consuming considering how they are just a one bite treat but are worth the effort to add that special touch. You can make this recipe 3 or 4 days in advance, heck I would even argue you could make a week ahead of time and just freeze until the big day just make sure you store an air tight container.

Double Tall Extra Foam Tip: I used Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses and and it was a game changer. If you are are dark chocolate fan at all I would highly recommend. 

Christmas Themed Appetizer Ideas

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