An Updated Relish Tray for the Holidays

Serving up a modern spin on the old favorite.
Relish Tray

Relish Tray

A modern relish tray using fresh produce, exotic dips and homemade pickles of all shapes and sizes.

Photo by: Mick Telkamp

Mick Telkamp

Most of us remember the classic relish tray. At holiday gatherings it would appear, that enormous glass platter, divided into compartments brimming with carrot sticks, gherkins, canned olives, radishes and maybe some pepperoncini, all meeting in the middle, where you might find a bowl of ranch dressing. They were nice enough. We’d have missed them if they weren’t there, but no one ever went home raving about that stunning relish tray. We’re going to fix that.

We’re ditching the divided tray in favor of a more casual format. Using a large ceramic, glass or terra cotta tile and a few smaller plates or bowls, the austere relish tray of the past becomes warm and welcoming. Merging the old standbys with a melange of delectables including homemade pickles, elegant olives and dips from around the world, the relish tray becomes something more. Irresistible foods presented in an inviting way. A variety of flavors dished up using fork, chopsticks or fingers moves the modern relish tray to the front of the hors d'oeuvre table.


Differentiating a relish tray from a plain old veggie tray, a variety of pickles spice things up and gives home canners a chance to share what they did on their summer vacation. Classic dill, bread and butter chips, dilly beans, beets, asparagus, pearl onion or garlic pickles are all favorites. Less common pickled fare like grapes, watermelon rinds or green tomatoes can be head-turners. If you don’t have a pantry full of homemade pickles on hand, you can still make your own in a flash using a basic “quick pickling” recipe.  


Try celery and carrot sticks, bell pepper spears, radishes, mushrooms, cucumbers, heirloom tomato wedges, grape tomatoes, broccoli florets, cauliflower and sugar snap peas.


An essential on any relish tray. Thanks to grocery store olive bars, olive options now go beyond green or black. Consider including blue cheese, feta or garlic stuffed olives.


Although dips aren’t strictly required on a relish tray, a good dip or two is always welcome when raw vegetables are offered. Ranch and blue cheese are common, but more exotic choices like hummus, pimento cheese, anchoïade or tahini add flair and flavor.


Keep it simple. The produce is the star of this plate, but a crisp palate cleanser has its place here. Flatbread, rye crackers, whole grain crackers, water crackers or pita chips are all familiar choices that will get the job done.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Dress Up Your Bubbly With 5 Quick and Easy Champagne Garnishes

It's sparkling cocktail season! Here's how to dress up yours.

Q&A: Planting a Live Christmas Tree

Tips for maintaining a live Christmas tree indoors.

The 17 Creepiest Places in the Country

Some of America's most haunted homes are also its most famous.

Comfort Food: Cornbread and Honey Butter Holiday Gift

This delicious combination of homemade cinnamon honey butter and cornbread mix makes for a lovely holiday present.

Spicy Shrimp Toast

These decadent, bite-sized shrimp toasts are crisp, super savory and bursting with flavor. Coupled with the sweet chile sauce, this is the perfect cocktail party appetizer.

Feta, Mint and Watermelon Bites Recipe

Simple, fresh watermelon and feta appetizers flavored with red wine vinegar and mint pair perfectly with bubbly champagne.

Make a Rustic Holiday Star From Paint Sticks and Jute

This inexpensive holiday star made from paint sticks and jute adds rustic charm to any holiday decor.

Keftethakia Cocktail Meatballs

Perfect for a last-minute party, these Greek-inspired meatballs can be made ahead of time and reheated.

Quick and Easy Party Recipes

Finger foods and light bites are perfect party fare. Get 15 recipes right here.

Perfect Party Appetizer: Dates With Herb Cheese Wrapped in Prosciutto

Guests will love the savory, sweet goodness of this irresistible appetizer. (And you'll love how easy it is to make!)


Fixer Upper

7am | 6c

Fixer Upper

8am | 7c

Fixer Upper

9am | 8c

Fixer Upper

10am | 9c

Fixer Upper

11am | 10c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Hawaii Life

8pm | 7c

Hawaii Life

8:30pm | 7:30c

Island Life

9pm | 8c

Island Life

9:30pm | 8:30c

Mexico Life

10pm | 9c

Mexico Life

10:30pm | 9:30c

Caribbean Life

11pm | 10c

Caribbean Life

11:30pm | 10:30c

Island Life

12am | 11c

Island Life

12:30am | 11:30c

Mexico Life

1am | 12c

Mexico Life

1:30am | 12:30c

Caribbean Life

2:30am | 1:30c

Hawaii Life

3am | 2c

Hawaii Life

3:30am | 2:30c

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.