How to Calculate Amount for a Meat & Cheese Tray

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A meat and cheese tray is a versatile addition to any party. It can be as elegant or as casual as you'd like, and you can easily modify it to serve 2 or 200.

Appetizer

Before a dinner party, serve a meat and cheese tray that is simple yet interesting enough to whet your guests' palates. Plan for 1/2 ounce of meat and 1/2 ounce of cheese per person. You will generally need less per person for a passed hors d'oeuvre than for a buffet-style tray.

Pre-Dinner Suggestions

Start off your next dinner party with bites like:

  • Prosciutto wrapped around bocconcini, or bite-sized balls of fresh mozzarella,  secured with a toothpick. 
  • Genoa salami cubes or slices served with sharp cheddar or Parmesan.
  • Serrano ham and brie served on crackers.

Buffet

A meat and cheese tray can serve as the centerpiece to a casual buffet. Offer a selection of breads and condiments so your guests can build sandwiches or simply enjoy a counterpoint to the proteins. As a main course, expect each guest to consume 2 to 3 ounces of meat and 1 to 3 ounces of cheese.

Tip

  • Choose at least two meats and two cheeses for variety.

Tasty Combinations

Certain combinations of meats and cheese are particularly complementary and appetizing.

  • Serve honey ham, roast beef and chicken or turkey with cheddar, swiss and provolone cheeses. 
  • Arrange Genoa salami, mortadella and pastrami served with Parmesan, mozzarella and swiss.

Cocktail Party

A meat and cheese tray can serve as one of several hors d'oeuvres or as the primary offering at a cocktail party. If the meat and cheese tray will be one of several appetizers, plan for 1 to 2 ounces of meat and 1 ounce of cheese per person. If it will be the only dish, expect to serve 2 to 3 ounces of meat and 2 ounces of cheese per person.

Other Elements

Find ways to add interest to your tray using other types of foods.

  • Fruit -- fresh berries, grapes or figs add a sweet counterpoint to the heaviness of meat and cheese. Dried fruits add sweetness while mimicking the texture of meat.
  • Spreads -- offer a selection of breads or crackers with jam or a compote. Spreads can add sweetness or complement the savory aspects of the tray with a hint of spice.
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