HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Relish Tray

I was just wondering if people still put these out for Thanksgiving and if so what do you put on it?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I do! I still use my mom's 70's format.
    Baby dill pickles
    bread-and-butter chips
    olives (garlic stuffed green olives, pitted kalamata, brine)
    roasted red peppers
    stuffed celery (cream cheese based stuffing)

    this sits next to the bowl of mixed nuts w/ nutcrackers and picks.

    1. reminds me of Gram's house...she used to put green onions on hers too

      1. Definitely, gherkins, various olives,, celery stuffed with peanut butter, claussen dill pickles. One relative I know also does hearts of pal, artichoke hearts.

        4 Replies
        1. re: LisaN

          I thought I was the only person who put peanut butter on celery...Good to know!!!

            1. re: lpatter

              What? only person who puts peanut butter on celery!! That's a childhood favorite, I don't bother spreading, just dip and go or mom would do the cute ants on a log with raisins sprinkled on top.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                The stuffed celery was a HUGE hit with the kids (my dozens of cousins and me) at TDay and at Christmas. On Christmas Eve, when my Aunt Dora would put out a plate of baked stuffed shrimp for a first course (I know...the grown ups would have one or two with a cocktail) we would have fallen upon the platter and decimated it, but we got our fill of celery while the grownups noshed. Nobody felt deprived, either. Good stuff.

          1. stuffed celery (cream cheese and chopped olives)
            carrot sticks
            black olives
            alongside a bowl of Marcona almonds

            1. Sixties/Seventies-style would include ripple-cut carrot sticks, celery, olives, pickles, radishes cut into roses, and cheddar spread with little garlic toasts. A dish of "fancy" mixed nuts might be alongside.

              4 Replies
              1. re: sandylc

                this is the one I remember.

                I was SO proud when my grandma showed me how to cut my radish roses, and to notch the ends of the celery, then soak them in ice water so they get curly.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  Oh, my, I forgot about the curly celery!

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    Oh, and the veggies were all soaked in that ice water until the last minute before serving, so that they were icy cold and wet on the divided serving plate.

                  2. re: sandylc

                    my mother in law was famous for her radish roses .And her 6 layer frosted cake , anything else , not so much .... good memories .

                  3. For fun, you might want to add a pile or bowl of lupini beans. You can find them in jars in the regular grocery store, cooked and in a light brine I think, perhaps in the Italian section. If you pinch them and squirt the bean into your mouth, leaving the skin in your fingers, it becomes an interactive relish tray item!

                    Link just to give you a look-see.


                    1 Reply
                    1. My mom's never varied. Cream cheese stuffed celery and canned blog olives. Those things still make me gag!

                      1. Always. It will be a fairly small collation this year, since there are only 4 of us for dinner, but it will be put out, along with cheese and crackers, for pre-prandial nibbles to go with drinks. This year, I'll probably only put out carrot sticks, bell pepper strips, celery, and black olives -- the first three in my Grandmother's Fosteria divided relish dish, and the olives in a separate bowl.

                          1. Homemade pickles, sweet and dill. Pickled green tomatoes. Celery and carrots with pimento cheese or thick blue cheese dip. Mixed olives.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: kitchengardengal

                              I like to do homemade quick pickled fresh green beans and pickled carrots. For something sweet & pickled, I do seedless red grapes with cider vinegar, brown sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, a star anise pod, ginger, crushed black pepper pods and a jalapeno pepper. Marinate at least overnight in the fridge. Delicious added to a relish tray or spooned over baked brie or a brick of softened cream cheese with crostini

                              1. re: Cherylptw

                                The CHOW recipe for pickled grapes is good, with fewer ingredients, if that is a plus.

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  I'm not familiar with theirs; I created my own recipe.

                            2. My mother had a relish dish with six compartments around the sides and a round bowl section in the middle. It was always large green olives, large black olives, celery sticks, radishes, sweet pickles, carrot sticks, with cherry tomatoes in the middle. No dips or anything with the veggies. Also a bowl of nuts in the shell with a nut cracker along side.

                              I still do a version of that with an olive medley, celery sticks, homemade bread and butter pickles, radishes and grape tomatoes. I also do the nuts in the shell with a nut cracker provided.

                              1. Absolutely. Usually tiny sweet gherkins pickles, small pitted black olives, pimento stuffed green olives, carrots. Often fresh mushrooms get added. Seldom celery since we don't like it, but we'll put that out for guests / kids if they've mentioned looking forward to it. This year we are guests and our hostess has already told me she's got all of our favorites planned for the tray. She makes wonderful cinnamon-spiced crab apples per her family's tradition, and has those on the tray too.

                                1. I do, for tradition's sake. I've mentioned before my love for cream cheese stuffed prunes. I'll also have cherry tomatoes and two kinds of olives.

                                  I have an antique celery dish and I put celery and green onions in it as well. The fresh taste of organic celery and the sharp flavors of green onions are welcome at the traditionally starch laden table.

                                  14 Replies
                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                    Can you post a picture of your celery dish, please? I'm not finding anything of use when I Google, and I'd love to see what you're talking about. Thank you.

                                    Edited: I did find pictures of celery vases. Is that what you have, or is it a tray sort of thing. Curious. Thanks, again.

                                    1. re: nemo

                                      Nemo, a celery dish does indeed look somewhat like a tray -- typically oval in shape with low sides, made of china or glass. Here's a link to some currently available on ebay, http://www.ebay.com/bhp/vintage-celer....

                                      1. re: masha

                                        Thank you for the link, Masha. A picture is worth, well, you know!

                                        1. re: masha

                                          Ha! I have one of those and had NO idea what it was! Thank you for posting the picture!

                                          1. re: mirage

                                            Your welcome. I actually have a cut-glass one that is on a bureau in the guest bedroom as a tray for jewelry, etc. As mentioned up stream, I've got my grandmother's relish tray, which has 3 compartments -- one of which I typically fill with celery -- so I've got no use for a whole separate serving piece just for celery.

                                            1. re: mirage

                                              same here!

                                              it's from a china set from early 1900s europe and i've always just used it as a small platter. thanks!

                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                My mother has been known to use her celery dish for serving crackers.

                                                1. re: masha

                                                  it's a very useful size so it will continue to do multiple jobs for me. am not much of a celery fan anyway, lol.

                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                    I know what you mean about not being much of a celery fan. As noted upthread, my standard relish offerings on Thanksgiving are carrot sticks, sweet pepper strips, olives, and celery sticks. Barely any of the celery sticks get consumed then, however. I'll bag them up and they will get chopped up for use on Sunday when we make turkey a la king for dinner and turkey broth from the carcass.

                                                    1. re: masha

                                                      No one in my family loves celery either, but I do love the organic celery very much. It has such a fresh taste.

                                                      I think it is traditional for Thanksgiving because it must have been a delicacy in former times.

                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                        i used to love it, but i feel the supermarket stuff is just bitter and stringy now. i rarely buy it and have totally stopped using it in stocks and broths.

                                          2. re: nemo

                                            http://tinyurl.com/l5fml6q This is similar, except mine is plainer although it does have the fluted edge.

                                            I put celery sticks and green onions in it.

                                            My mother had a cut glass celery dish that sort of resembled a glass canoe. Very pretty, and old. (It might have been her mother's.


                                            I like the vase shape because it doesn't have a large footprint on the crowded table.

                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                              My mother has a Candlewick celery dish, pictured here, http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/37034680...

                                              As mentioned upthread, I've got my grandmother's Fostoria relish dish, pictured here, http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/17061788...
                                              Not the first pattern that I would have selected if it had been my choice but the fact that it was my grandmother's makes it special.

                                          3. re: sueatmo

                                            I forgot to mention the pickled green beans I intend to put out.

                                            I have a couple of glass tray shaped pieces that I use for relish trays. You can often find these at antique stores. Mine are old or oldish. They usually are divided in sections that keep the different sorts of things separated.

                                          4. This photo may be inspirational to others (like me) who struggle with presentation style. And also may be a great project for keeping restless youngsters occupied until dinner time.
                                            Edited link to original site

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                              As posted and pictured upthread, two days ago.

                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                Sry about that duplication - I thought I'd looked carefully, but see how I missed it since the pintrest post link had it partially obscured. Hope your day is delightful.

                                              2. My aunt, who cannot cook, always bring the relish tray--pretty much as described here--olives, dill pickles, sweet pickles, celery stuffed with pimiento cheese. Before that, my frail grandmother made that contribution (although she had been able to cook). We eat a lunch, usually 1pm, so I never much saw the need for them. But now my grandmother is gone, and my aunt's side of the family has broken off into their own family for Thanksgiving, I might miss it.

                                                My fiancee's family does pickles and olives and a cheese ball!

                                                1. I do. My wife does a fair amount of pickling and canning during the summer months so I just put out whatever we have on hand.

                                                  1. Hi! I do like to put out a small relish tray, I try to avoid filling foods like cheese or sausage. I stick with pickles, olives, pickled peppers, pickled herring, saltines, baby carrots, grape tomatoes. No dips or spreads.

                                                    For some occasions I buy a variety of pickled vegetables, mildly spiced to very spicy, and lay them out with some diced feta and a shot glass with toothpicks. This goes over well if I remember to warn guests which are the spiciest.

                                                    1. If I were to host thanksgiving, I would put one out. I like to have something light to nibble on so I'm not starved when facing the buffet of CARBS!

                                                      If I'm having a gathering of more than 6, I put one out with carrots, bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes and some kind of creamy dip.

                                                      All served up in my late grandmother's celery dish and divided relish tray.

                                                      1. I was going to polish off a box of kolaches before breakfast, eat some waffles before breakfast, snarf a dozen chili cheese biscuits as I prepped, eat the "pre-pie" (the extra pecan pie that is made with pieces instead of halves), and then cast an aura of abstemiousness over the proceedings as people arrive.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: tim irvine

                                                          that's the secret of being the cook...you can snarf at will!

                                                        2. Most of it has been said. I did relish tray for a bunch of friends midsummer and it was demolished before we got around to eating the meal. In addition to what I noticed above, I included broccoli florets and cauliflower (the latter not my fav,but others loved it.) I had red and pink radishes, and some spicy pickled green beans. I indtended to include aritchoke hearts but ran out of room and time. I did include a hummus based dip (hummus, yogurt, and balsamic vinegar.)

                                                          As a child when grandma made a relish dish for a special occasion my brother and I would delight in those ho-hum tinned black olives, we were allowed to put them on our fingers and eat them that way, but only on a holiday! Anything that makes fresh vegetables attractive to kids is a good thing. And since we liked the olives we tried other things on the dish. Some we liked and some we didn't, but at least we tired them of our own volition. Thats how I learned to like radishes and bell peppers.

                                                          A divided tray/dish is nice, but any large plate will work and you can always set a plain glass bowl in the middle of almost any plate for the 'featured' veg or for the dip. Hope you share a picture. Im wishing I had seen this before I committed to sauteed vegetables this year. Don't know where my brain was.

                                                          1. I remember years ago, the good steak houses use to always put out a relish tray and it always included radishes, celery, dill pickles, olives and cottage cheese was a must.

                                                            Just thinking about this makes me want to do one.