A Spicy Perspective

Building a Better Antipasto Platter

Tired of the same old antipasto platter you see at every party? Today’s focus is on Building a Better Antipasto Platter so that your party snacks stand out from the rest this season!

Building a Better Antipasto Platter #holidays #party

It happens every year.

You’re invited to a holiday gathering where everyone is asked to bring some sort of snack. After a long tiring day at work you run buy the store to grab a few items for a quick cheese board, before heading off to the event.

The only problem is… everyone else at the party had the exact same idea. Therefore the table is covered in mundane platters of cheap cuts of meat and pre-sliced cheese.

This year could be different.

You may still have a crazy day prior to attending an event.

You may still opt to fall-back on the beloved antipasto platter concept.

Yet with just a few tips on ingredient selection, your cheese board could be so much more than a boring cheese and cracker plate.

How To - Building a Better Antipasto Platter #holidays #party

There’s no shame in throwing together easy flavorful snacks to feed the masses. In fact, even when I have days to plan for a party, I still have some sort of cheese board on the menu. People love cheese, meat, and salty finger foods.

Antipasto is the most common name for an all-encompassing platter of pre-made snacks like this. However, that doesn’t mean every item on your platter needs to be Italian. Mixing various cheeses, and ethnic ingredients is a great way to spice up a cheese board.

Lt. Dan has been calling our weekly whatever-we-have-on-hand antipasto platter a “snack tray” for years.

As in… “Hey Babe, let’s just open a bottle of wine and have a snack tray for dinner.” Sold.

Building a Better Antipasto Platter

Building a Better Antipasto Platter

The general components of a good antipasto platter (or cheese board, or snack tray) include:

  • Something Rich – usually various cheeses
  • Something Salty – like cured meats, nuts, or olives
  • Something Tangy – like peppers or pickles vegetables
  • Somethings Sweet – like fruit or chutney
  • Something Spicy – this is usually picked up in one of the other categories. Meats, hot peppers, etc.

You do not have to go overboard on any of these categories, and some will overlap. Simply select one item from each (or 2-3 for large gatherings) to create a well-balanced snack tray.

Cheese - Building a Better Antipasto Platter #holidays #party


If your snack tray is going to be cheese heavy, I suggest selecting at least 3 cheeses.

  • Soft and fresh – like Chevre, Ricotta, or Buratta
  • Hard and nutty – like Piave, Asiago, Manchego, or Pecorino
  • Ripe and pungent – like blue cheese, brie, or a ripened goat cheese

Try selecting cheeses that are slightly off the beaten path, so to speak. Some of the most interesting cheeses are not necessarily the most popular. Above I have fresh Buratta balls, Piave (a Northern Italian hard cheese), a dense aged farmers cheese, and Humboldt Fog (a creamy pungent goat cheese).

Cheese Cutting

Why can I not type “cut the cheese” without snickering?

The general rule for cutting the cheese is that if your cheese is soft you can set it out whole with a small cheese knife. However, if you are serving hard cheeses, go ahead and cut it for your guests, especially at a large party. You don’t want people standing over the table struggling to cut the cheese.

Meat - Building a Better Antipasto Platter #holidays #party


Offering some sort of cured or smoked meat on your antipasto platter is always a good idea. Instead of going with the classic rolls of salami and prosciutto, why not try something different like hard spanish chorizo?

Here I used Imperial’s amazing classic chorizo, spicy chorizo, and white chorizo.

Other Unique Protein Options:

  • Smoked trout or salmon
  • Mortadella
  • Halved hard boiled eggs
  • Chopped roasted chicken
  • Bacon



Instead of setting out the classic can of mixed nuts this season, why not add a bit of salty intrigue to your antipasto platter?

Fun Alternatives to Cocktail Peanuts:

  • Marcona Almonds – buttery and luxurious
  • Corn Nuts – crunchy and addictive
  • Lupini Beans – although they aren’t nuts, they offer a salty bite and unique texture
  • Pepitas – Pumpkin seeds (not officially nuts either) provide great color to any snack tray

Fruit - Building a Better Antipasto Platter #holidays #party


Skip the dried fruit and add something fresh to your cheese board. Berries are the perfect finger food. Sweet, colorful, and tangy!

Also add seasonal winter fruits like kumquats, starfruit, figs, persimmons, and pomegranates.

Condemints - Building a Better Antipasto Platter #holidays #party


Pass on the jarred chutneys this season. Instead, set out spicy whole grain mustard, wildflower honey, and/or fresh fruit salsa.

Bread- Building a Better Antipasto Platter #holidays #party

Cracker Substitutes

Nix the butter crackers this year and go with toasted bread for dipping and stacking. Cheese crisps and potato chips are fun additions to an antipasto platter, and are great gluten-free options!

(Read the labels to make sure the brands you buy are gluten-free if that is your goal.)

Pickle - Building a Better Antipasto Platter #holidays #party

Olive Substitutes

Olives are great. I love olives. But if you want your snack tray to stand out, try adding various pickles and peppers instead!

#HowTo Building a Better Antipasto Platter #holidays #party

So when you rush into the grocery store this season to franticly purchase your party supplies, try to remember two things:

1) The 5 Components of a Good Snack Tray are: Rich, Salty, Tangy, Sweet and Spicy.

2) Think Outside the Box.

Snack Tray 101: Building a Better Antipasto Platter #holidays #party

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15 comments on “Building a Better Antipasto Platter”

  1. Pingback: The COOLEST Party Platter Ideas! Veggie trays & Fruit Trays Gone WILD!

  2. Love anti pasto platters! We have them every year for new years and Christmas eve instead of a big heavy dinner. :)

  3. I’m with Lt. Dan … give me a bottle of wine and a ‘snack tray’ for dinner ANY time! Especially if they’re one of these gorgeous ones you’ve pulled together. Beautifully done, Sommer.
    Tracey @ The Kitchen is My Playground

  4. I would never get bored of this!!

  5. One of my favorite things about entertaining is the endless antipasto platter combinations possible! These are gorgeous – the fruit selection alone, wow!

  6. Great post! Love your suggestions!

  7. Great tips Sommer and good suggestions for alternatives to the same old boring cheese plate!

  8. Yes! I am tired of the same ol’ antipasto platter! So ready to change it up.
    Thanx for the ideas!!!

  9. Party food perfection!

  10. Great inspirations! It is wonderful to present nibbles that are not only tasty but beautifully presented. A gift for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Yum!

  11. this is a lovely tray- we love to eat like this around the holidays too!

  12. I love eating this way, and it makes for easy entertaining, too. Great tips, Sommer!

  13. This looks EPIC!!! Seriously, I want a bite of everything on there. Beautifully done, Sommer!

  14. I’m loving this spread, Sommer! So festive!!

  15. Stunning spread Sommer + so many great ideas!