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Best serving trays for entertaining

Which serving trays are best for entertaining?

Hosting guests means you’ll be serving them all sorts of food, from crudités to cake bites — but you might be wondering how to plate them. A serving tray is your best option.

When it comes to serving trays for entertaining, it’s all about presentation. Some people prefer simple, organized arrangements, while others are more creative. Take charcuterie boards, for example. Some of them have surpassed the line of being Instagram-worthy — and entered the territory of going viral.

To help you find the right serving tray for entertaining, we’re sharing an overview of everything you need to know about them. 

What do I need to know about serving trays for entertaining?

What is a serving tray?

A serving tray is any type of tray that is used to present food or drinks. 

Some are plain and flat, whereas others may have divided sections, different tiers, modular designs or mini bowls for dips. A subset of serving trays are charcuterie boards, many of which have drawers or hidden compartments that house cheese knives.  

What goes on a serving tray?

Serving trays can plate almost any type of finger food, such as cheese, cold cuts, hors d'oeuvres, crudités, fresh fruit and dessert. They’re also useful to plate cooked appetizers, like sliders, mini meatballs and kebabs. 

Provided the foods aren’t too messy, there isn’t much you can’t put on a serving tray. It’s unlikely you’ll be serving salad or gooey pasta dishes from a flat serving tray. 

How big should a serving tray be?

Serving trays are designed to be practical, giving you plenty of space to arrange or spread food. With that said, how much space you need depends on the size of the foods and how you intend to arrange them. 

Ideally, a serving tray shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of food stacked on it. Each piece of food should be easy to pluck from the tray without disturbing others too much. However, some platters benefit from elegant overlaps, such as cheese slices that lean on crackers.

In short, there’s no hard and fast rule on serving tray sizes. Many consumers invest in a variety of sizes. At the very least, it’s helpful to invest in a classic rectangular tray and a few smaller serving trays. 

What materials are used for serving trays?

Serving trays are made with a wealth of materials, including glass, metal, plastic, ceramic, porcelain, acrylic, melamine, wood and bamboo. Some people use their Himalayan salt blocks as serving trays.

How much are serving trays for entertaining?

Cheap serving trays, usually made of plastic, cost $20 or less. Mid-range serving trays, priced between $25-$60, include better-quality designs. The most expensive options, made with premium materials like ceramic or porcelain, cost $75 or more.

What are the best serving trays for entertaining?

Best cheap serving trays for entertaining

Charity Leaf Disposable Palm Leaf Life Bamboo Serving Trays

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly option for disposable trays, this 10-piece set is 100% biodegradable. The trays are microwavable and oven safe to 340 degrees.

Where to buy: Amazon

Prodyne Flip-Lid Appetizers on Ice Tray

Say good-bye to warm, soggy appetizers with this nesting ice tray set. It’s a popular investment for outdoor entertaining in warm weather. 

Where to buy: Amazon

Greenco Rectangle Bamboo Serving Tray

Appreciated for its environmental-friendly design, this tray has a strong and beautiful appearance and in-built handles. It is perfect for serving juice, wine, breakfast and can also be used as a decoration piece.

Where to buy: Amazon

Fiesta Turquoise Bread Tray

The bold color of this oblong, art deco-inspired design is ideal if you’re looking for statement serveware. Made from vitrified ceramic, it’s safe to place in the dishwasher, microwave and oven.

Where to buy: Amazon

Best serving trays for entertaining in the $25-$60 price range

B. Smith 3-Step Server in White

As a tiered server, the sky’s the limit when it comes to presenting appetizers, petit fours or truffles. It’s a minimalist design that blends in well with other serveware. 

Where to buy: Bed, Bath & Beyond

Lenox Butterfly Meadow Melamine Serving Tray

This outdoor-friendly serving tray by Lenox is popular for casual al fresco dining. The soft, pastel colors of the design let the food remain the focal point of the presentation. 

Where to buy: Macy’s and Bed, Bath and Beyond

Tabletops Unlimited Serving Set

Look no further for an upscale dip tray. The practical design, which is oven safe to 400 degrees, features a bamboo tray with three cups containing dip, olives or garnishes. 

Where to buy: Macy’s

Godinger Pineapple Serving Tray

A guest favorite, this shiny pineapple tray adds personality to any table. The dish-like design invites hosts to create an attractive platter featuring brightly colored veggies like tomatoes, broccoli and peppers.

Where to buy: Bed, Bath and Beyond

Best expensive serving trays for entertaining

Villeroy & Boch French Garden Sandwich Tray

The countryside-inspired tray is versatile enough to plate sandwiches, desserts and other fixings. The tray is also dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. 

Where to buy: Macy’s

Michael Aram Black Orchid Handled Serving Tray

This hammered-metal serving tray captures light and remains a crowd favorite as a popular housewarming or wedding gift. It’s appreciated for its fine craftsmanship, and elegant orchard handles.

Where to buy: Macy’s

Olivia & Oliver Marble 2-Piece Nesting Serving Tray Set

As modern as it is, this marble nesting set complements any décor or arrangement. It’s considered by many consumers to be the ideal cheese board since marble has a cool-to-touch feel. 

Where to buy: Bed, Bath & Beyond

Godinger Dublin 3-Tier Serving Rack

It’s hard to beat the chic aesthetic of this tiered crystal rack, which draws inspiration from mid-century serveware. Each plate is 12 inches in diameter. 

Where to buy: Macy’s


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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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