A Wisconsin supper club classic, a relish tray is a serving platter filled with pickles, olives, fresh vegetables and other finger foods. It’s perfect for holidays and parties. From traditional to unique and modern, learn what to put on a relish tray and ideas for a creative appetizer display. Makes 1 serving platter.

overhead closeup of a relish tray on a wooden serving platter

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.

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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

Here’s what you’ll need to make a relish tray

  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Serving platter
  • Small mason jars & glass trays (or any glass containers)
  • Cocktail picks
overhead image of a dairy free charcuterie board

How to assemble a relish tray

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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:

  • Peel and eat shrimp with cocktail sauce
  • Olive tapenade
  • Pumpkin hummus
  • Pickled peppers
  • Pickled asparagus
  • Spicy pickled eggs
  • French rillettes
  • Homemade crostini (use dairy free butter to make them)
  • Everything twists

Last Updated on December 14, 2020 by Melissa Belanger

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