Antipasto Platter Tips – 14 Ideas for the Perfect Antipasti Platter

An antipasto platter is a delicious combination of cheeses, vegetables and meats, usually served with good wines. It’s a great way to start an evening with friends and is very easy to put together.

Plate of meat and vegetables with text reading "14 Tips for Making Antipasto Platters."

The holidays are filled with opportunities to gather with friends. What better way to start a party than with an antipasto platter?

These delicious platters of food make for easy entertaining at the end of the year, but they are also versatile enough to serve at parties all year long!

What is antipasto?

Antipasto, (the plural is called antipasti)  when translated, means “before the meal.” Antipasti platters are meant to stimulate your guest’s appetite before they dig into the main meal of the evening.

An antipasto platter could rightly be called a “starter platter.”

Antipasti platter loaded with meat and cheese.

Antipasto is a flexible course, too. Check out his post for a using the ideas of antipasti in an antipasto salad, instead of on a platter.

If you enjoy having friends over for a wine and cheese pairings, this type of platter is perfect for that event. See my tips for hosting a perfect wine and cheese party here.

This type of platter makes great party appetizers.really tempt them. knock their socks off. Assembling one of these platters can be done in 30 minutes or less, which makes it ideal for a busy schedule when you are entertaining.

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What goes on an antipasto platter?

There is not really a set recipe for an antipasto platter. All it takes is a love of all things that taste good, a bit of creativity and a sense of style.

Tray of slice meat and cheese with text reading "how to make an antipasto platter."

Most antipasto platters include a variety of cured meats, with rich types of cheese and easy to eat vegetables. Small bites of seafood are also fun to include.

The trick is to keep this part of the party casual and relaxed. That is the fun of an antipasto platter!

One of the things that I like most about starting the evening with an Italian antipasto platter is that most of the work is done ahead of time.

This gives me lots of time to relax and socialize with my guests before the dinner party starts.

The holidays will soon be here. Head on over to The Gardening Cook to find out how to assemble the perfect antipasto platter for your next gathering. 🧀🥠🥂🥑🌶 Click To Tweet

Antipasto platter ideas for a great party starter.

Creating the perfect antipasto platter means knowing what types of foods your guests enjoy and then combining them in a pleasing way on a nice platter.

Choosing the serving platter for antipasti.

This is where style comes into play. Since the food will all be served on one large platter, it is important that is appealing in look. Antipasto platters options truly can be very versatile with many ways to serve the meats, breads and cheeses.

One idea is a large cutting board. This works well if the cheese has not been cut and you plan on letting the guests do this themselves or if you are going for a very rustic look. Remember that people eat with their eyes first!Cutting board with glasses of wine and fruit.

Another idea is to use a large white platter that is simple in design.

This type of platter works well if you have some color in the food options, or if you plan to serve fruit as part of the bites of food. The white platter will make the food just pop!White antipasti platter with sliced meats and vegetables.

For my antipasto platter, I will be using a wonderful 8 – piece Vineyard wine service set. This lovely set includes everything I need  to serve my antipasto platter as well as the wines that will accompany it.

In addition to the glass platter, the wine service set also has 6 wine glasses. It even has a little “meat cleaver” knife for cutting the cheese that I just love!

I had the platter personalized with our family name. How fun is that? What I really love about this platter is that I can load it with the antipasto food and the guests won’t see the specialized wording until later in the evening.

What a great talking point! I know that I want to be the one who is serving the food as the “Speake’s Vineyard” wording starts to show!

Personalized Glass cheese plate with knife.

Antipasti platters for outdoor guests

We often think of antipasti platters as a good choice for indoor entertaining, but they are perfectly suited to outdoor gatherings as well, particularly during the summer months when it can be so hot indoors.

Summer entertaining is often casual, and serving wine along with the rustic look of these platters is just perfect for the start of an outdoor party.Antipasto platter and glasses of wine in an outdoor setting.

Note on safety: Bring the food to room temperature indoors until your guests arrive to be safe with the food. 

If your outdoor area is not screened, you may also need some type of food covering or food cloche to keep the pests away.

Choosing cheese for an antipasto platter

I like to choose a variety of cheeses that give me both different tastes and different textures. Use both soft cheeses and firm ones. Keep the flavor of the cheese simple, as opposed to a cheese ball which has been flavored.

Since you will be serving meats and other tastes, let the cheese just compliment the other food choices rather than trying to be the star. Some good cheese options for an antipasto platter are these:

  • Sharp Blue Cheese
  • Havarti cheese
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Gorgonzola cheese
  • Dutch Edam Cheese
  • Sharp Cheddar CheeseVariety of cheese selections to add to an antipasto platter.

You can put out small wedges of cheese and let the guests cut their own. This is the perfect way to use a small meat cleaver or cheese knife. Alternatively, you can cut some thick slices in advance to make it easy for your guests.

Pre-cut cheeses makes it a bit easier for the guests to sample the food if you are planning on holding the tray to serve guests. This also make the prep for the antipasto platter much easier.

How to eat antipasti

By following my tips, it’s easy to see how to make an antipasto platter, but how do you serve it to guests?

Antipasti is often served on individual plates – some artfully designed for presentation. You can also serve it in bite-size pieces on a plate that is passed around the table – waiter style.

For a more communal feeling, present the antipasti on an elegant centerpiece in the center of your table. Then, guests can all help themselves at the same time.Antipasti presentation for a party.

The perfect antipasti plates.

It is not just the platter that matters. You’ll be serving the guests individual portions, so they will need something to hold their choices on.

In addition to the antipasto platter, you might want to think about having some appetizer serving plates for your guests.

My husband and I found this wonderful antipasto plate set at a consignment shop when we were antique hunting one weekend. They set the mood for the party and are perfect for serving the antipasto food.

Any nicely designed plate will add to the experience and set a great mood for your party.Specialty appetizer plate with silverware and red napkin

How do I choose meat for antipasti?

Meats on an antipasto platter are most often pre-sliced, cured, and loosely arranged. This makes them easy to pick up. Remember, we are going for rustic and casual. You can roll them or twist them for a bit of extra flair.

Keep the slices thin, since you want to stimulate your guests’ appetites, not make them full on the main course. Some good options for the meats are these:

  • Genoa salami
  • Proscuitto
  • Mortadella
  • Sliced CoppaHave a variety of thinly sliced cured meats for an antipasto platter.

Which vegetables go on an antipasto platter?

Vegetables on an antipasto platter give you a chance to add color to the dish, or to include some fresh picked or preserved items.

Roasted baby bell peppers are the perfect choice for this. They are the ideal size! Lightly toss them in extra virgin olive oil and roast the baby peppers at 400 º F for about 10 minutes to bring out their sweetness. Some other options are:

  • Marinated artichoke hearts. (we had these for Christmas entertaining and my guests loved them.)
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Garlic stuffed Olives
  • Sweet pickles
  • Pickled Onions.
  • Stuffed Grape leaves
  • Vegetable Spring Rolls
    Antipasto vegetables, olives and cheese.

Don’t forget to use fresh herbs. Basil, sage, and rosemary sprigs add a touch of freshness to any antipasto platter and they decorate the platter with color as well.

Serve something hot or grilled for extra flavor.

Who doesn’t love grilled marks on food or the taste of hot food with cheese? I know that I do and so do my guests. This could be a fun addition to the antipasto platter to transition into the next part of the evening.

Most guys love to gather around a grill with a beer while the cooking is done by the host. This gives you a chance to end up with some freshly cooked hot meat for your platter when they are done!

Don’t serve them whole or they will be too filling. Just remember to keep this on the lighter side and thinly slice whatever you grill so the guests have just a taste! Some options:

Add some bread choices but keep them light.

It is nice to have something small for the guests to put their food choices on. Once again, don’t go too heavy on the bread or you will fill your party guests up. Here are a few options:

Thinly sliced baguette, tomatoes and bottle of wine.

The extras take the platter to the next level!

I like to take one last look at my platter and then see what I think it needs for either color or texture. Think about things that will break up the richness of the fruit and cheeses. Some extra things that I often add are

Which wines are good with antipasto platters?

No good antipasto platter is complete without some wines to go along with it. Even though I have meat on my antipasto platter, I tend to favor fruitier white wines or light reds to pair with the food.

Once the party gets rolling, I can move to the drier, heavier reds later in the evening as I serve the main course. My favorites wines to serve with antipasti are:

  • Pinot Grigio
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pinot Noir
  • Merlot
  • SangioveseBottle of wine and wine corks on burlap.

Large or small antipasto platters – Which is Best?

The choice is really yours and it really depends on the size of your party. If you are only having a few guests, keep the platter small.

My thought is that if you have a huge antipasti board of food, and are planning a main course, the guests will definitely fill up to much on the offerings, so a simple selection is best.A small antipasto platter is better for just a few guests

On the other hand, if you are only serving drinks and appetizers or are expecting a large crowd, then a large platter of choices is more fun. Think in the 12- 18 food items range to really WOW your guests.

Antipasto platter presentation

I put together an antipasto plate for a dinner party recently. It was a huge hit with our guests. I tried to incorporate items from each of the groups above when I assembled it, and it came out beautifully!

The platter has everything going for it – from freshness, color, taste, and heat, to cold choices and crunch. There is a bite on this antipasti platter for every taste bud.

Antipasto Platter with specialty meats, cheeses and knife

This is what went on my antipasto plate:

  • Classic Water crackers
  • Roasted baby sweet peppers
  • Hard boiled egg quarters
  • Almonds, both raw, unsalted and dark chocolate coated.
  • Baby sweet tomatoes
  • Grilled Sweet Italian Sausages
  • Havarti Cheese
  • 50% reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • Smoked Gouda Cheese
  • Old Word Pancetta
  • Prosciutto stuffed with Mozzarella
  • Capocollo
  • Geneva Sausage slices
  • Blue cheese stuffed olives
  • Rosemary, Spinach leaves and Cilantro

The tastes were amazing and the special serving plates were just the right size so that my guests did not eat too much before dinner.

Antipasto served on specialty appetizer plates with wine

Keeping the Platter Cold.

One of the best things about an antipasto platter is that you can prepare it ahead of time. Since it has cold meats and cheese, you will want to place it in the fridge to keep it fresh. But don’t bring it out right when the guests arrive.antipasto platters with cold meats and cheese.

Cheese has much more flavor when it is served at room temperature, so bring the platter out of the fridge about 30-45 minutes before serving time.

Keeping the wine cold

I generally serve chilled wines (and have some beer on hand for guests who don’t like wine) to go along with the food on the platter.  You’ll need something to keep it cold.

Galvanized tubs filled with ice are the perfect choice. They are very trendy right now and do a great job at keeping beverages cold.

For outdoor entertaining, I like to use this amazing wine beverage tub. It is the perfect way to keep the beer and wine chilled for a BBQ party outdoors!

The tub is also personalized and comes with a convenient iron stand that holds the bottles at the right level for serving. Personalized wine cooler with bottles of beer.

What are your favorite antipasto platter tastes? Do you ever add sweet tastes on the platter or do you keep it all savory?  I’d love to hear your comments below.

Pin these antipasto platter tips for later.

Would you like a reminder of these tips for making antipasti? Just pin this image to one of your entertaining boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

Antipasto platter on a slate counter with text reading "Tips for making an antipasto platter."

With a bit of thought ahead of time to purchase the right ingredients and put this platter together before your party, an Antipasto Platter will greet your guests tastes in style and allow you the time to spend enjoying the company of your party guests.

Admin Note:  This post first appeared in January of 2017. I have updated the post to add new tips, a video and some extra photos to help you in perfecting your antipasti for guests.

Yield: 6

Antipasto Platter

Antipasto Platter with specialty meats and cheeses

An antipasto platter is a delicious combination of cheeses, vegetables and meats, usually served with good wines. It's a great way to start an evening with friends

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • Classic Water crackers
  • Roasted baby sweet peppers
  • Hard boiled egg quarters
  • Almonds, both raw, unsalted and dark chocolate coated.
  • Baby sweet tomatoes
  • Grilled Sweet Italian Sausages
  • Havarti Cheese
  • 50% reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • Smoked Gouda Cheese
  • Old Word Pancetta
  • Prosciutto stuffed with Mozzarella
  • Capocollo
  • Geneva Sausage slices
  • Blue cheese stuffed olives
  • Rosemary, Spinach leaves and Cilantro

Instructions

  1. Arrange the water crackers in a ring along the outside edges of your serving platter.
  2. Place the rest of the food items in groups, nicely arranged on the platter.
  3. Serve the platter and offer guests appetizer plates and napkins for their food.

Notes

Nutritional information is approximate since I did not give total amounts of each item on the platter. Values are typical of a platter with these items.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1/6 of the total

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 454Total Fat: 23.9gSaturated Fat: 9gUnsaturated Fat: 6.4gCholesterol: 141.4mgSodium: 1142.1mgCarbohydrates: 36.9gFiber: 3.8gSugar: 4.1gProtein: 23.8g

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  27 comments for “Antipasto Platter Tips – 14 Ideas for the Perfect Antipasti Platter

  1. Sue
    01/18/2017 at 1:52 pm

    I love a great antipasto platter and would opt to have this as a main meal rather than just a starter. I think the key to a great platter is to have a good variety of options plus colors as we eat with our eyes first. Your example looks so tempting, I can see why it was such a hit with your guests. The hardboiled eggs were a surprise to me, I had not thought to include them but they add such great color.

    • Carol
      01/18/2017 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks Sue. The eggs were a last minute addition. I like the way they look, as well. Carol

  2. 01/18/2017 at 4:59 pm

    Your antipasto platter came out perfect! I love the way you’ve presented everything in such a way that they all look so appetizing. I love the meats and the cheeses, and the almonds too. Your choice of wines would really go well with the food on this platter. I’m going to copy this the next time I host a small party at home.

    • Carol
      01/18/2017 at 8:18 pm

      Thanks Annemarie. Glad you like the way it looks. Carol

  3. 01/18/2017 at 9:31 pm

    I have never made an antipasto tray though I do love them when I go to parties and they are available as appetizers. I usually go straight for the cheese and strawberries. The almonds in it sound interesting. I guess I could make something like this. Seems pretty simple and nice to have to offer guests. Maybe I will try this.

    • Carol
      01/18/2017 at 9:37 pm

      One of the things that I like best about antipasto platters IS how easy they are to make. Seriously…about 10 minutes and you are done! Carol

  4. 01/18/2017 at 11:34 pm

    Wine and Antipasto platters! YES PLEASE!! I love making antipasto platters for our small get togethers. I really like your tips here. So many great options to hosting a great party with friends and family. Such a simple option but guests love it.

    • Carol
      01/19/2017 at 8:31 am

      Thanks Censie. It is always nice when tasty and easy go together!

  5. 01/19/2017 at 12:54 pm

    We try and entertain on a semi-regular basis, and antipasto platters are always my go to. So simple to put together, but they offer a lot of variety. I’m always looking or new tips — and yours are really helpful. Now, time to plan another reason to get my friends together! 🙂

    • Carol
      01/19/2017 at 1:12 pm

      Thanks Kristy. Glad you found the article useful. Carol

  6. 01/19/2017 at 1:51 pm

    Your antipasto platter looks incredible! I love all of the different meats and cheeses! Havarti is one of my favorite cheeses! So super creamy! I also love that you added hard-boiled eggs to the plate! They compliment meat and cheese so well! I would eat this plate up!

    • Carol
      01/19/2017 at 2:24 pm

      Thanks Echo. We love to make this as a meal sometimes instead of as a party appetizer. It makes my husband VERY happy!

  7. 01/19/2017 at 3:33 pm

    Oh wow…that platter is packed with a lot of variety – and I love smoked gouda cheese. I’ve never made one before, but seeing all of this makes me want to. I like the idea that I can be creative and finally use my cheese platter set that’s been collecting dust.

    • Carol
      01/19/2017 at 5:04 pm

      Hi Yona. The variety is what I like about the platter too. There is something for all tastes.

  8. 01/19/2017 at 7:47 pm

    Honestly, this just looks like a fabulous DINNER to me. I LOVE antipasto. With a glass of wine, too? Sign.me.up. Your serving plates are just too cute, btw! Such good tips for getting it right – I’ve seen a lot of people try to do it themselves at home and it isn’t true antipasto. I love that yours is the real deal!

    • Carol
      01/19/2017 at 10:03 pm

      Thanks Heather. Very nice comment and much appreciated. Carol

  9. 01/22/2017 at 3:55 pm

    I could do this for one of our weekend dinners too. I just love anything antipasto. My hubby will always go for it too. He is coming around and trying more things like olives. I’m trying to get him to eat artichokes. If he would eat like this all of the time I’d finally be thin.

    • Carol
      01/22/2017 at 4:35 pm

      Luckily my husband loves this sort of food so we get to eat it often. Carol

  10. rika
    01/24/2017 at 10:19 pm

    This antipasto platter looks so good! I love Italian foods! This platter consists all of my favorite things!

    • Carol
      01/24/2017 at 10:23 pm

      It was fun to put together. Those are my husband’s favorites too!

  11. 03/31/2018 at 9:20 pm

    Great post. Look delicious and nutritious. Thank for sharing.

  12. 04/06/2019 at 2:39 am

    Very helpful tips. Through this, I can create more special and unique dish in our table. All the details are all interesting. Thumbs up! I will share this tips to my friends who also love to cook.

  13. Jeanne A Ennis
    01/06/2020 at 2:36 pm

    This was a very informative article, the best I have ever seen. It was so thorough and informative. I couldn’t find a print for text only. I had to print the whole thing. All the pages were different numbers and not in order at all. I print on both sides but it was a mess. For instance one was not on the other side of two. I have been cutting and pasting most of the afternoon to put in my recipe book. Also there was a picture of Antipasto Platter Tips on most of my pages. I don’t know what happened. I love the article though.

    • Carol Speake
      01/08/2020 at 2:59 pm

      Hi Jeanne. There is a printable card at the bottom of the article with a print function but it will only print out the ingredients and directions for the whole page. Unfortunately, when you try to print out any whole page on the Internet, you will get everything on the page including ads and photos. You can highlight the text only and then use the file menu and choose “print selection.” This will give you the text only.

    • Jeanne
      01/09/2020 at 12:13 pm

      Thank you very much!!! I didn’t realize this wasn’t personal. I am so glad I found your page, I haven’t seen anything like it!!! It is amazing and I can sit and just read it. It is refreshing. Thank you for helping me and so quickly. I don’t know how I got the pages printing on different pages. Thank you also for the printing instructions, it worked perfectly. Also, I enjoyed every picture.

      • Carol Speake
        01/11/2020 at 11:37 am

        So glad you were able to print out the recipe and thank you for the kind words.

  14. 08/14/2020 at 5:03 am

    I love your wording, love your cooking articles, my kids love your blog …

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