A variety of deli meats like ham, turkey and roast beef pair well with cheese to make a Meat and Cheese Tray that guests will love.
Meat and Cheese Trays
We are all about giving people option so they can enjoy party food more. Especially when we’re trying to feed a crowd at the holidays or a graduation party.
A cold meat and cheese tray makes a delicious addition to the food table at a party. Just like our Loaded Baked Potato Bar guests can choose the type of protein and cheese to pair together to make a meal or snack that they will enjoy.
We like serving meat and cheese with sliders rolls or buns for DIY sandwiches. A bonus is that it’s so easy to grab a few pieces and make a roll-up that’s perfect to help satisfy hunger.
Why This Recipe Works:
- Meat and cheese pair well to create basic flavors that most people enjoy.
- It is easy to vary the size of the tray and the amount of food stacked on the platter.
- People think its fun to chose their own combinations of protein and cheese together or on a bun.
- Can be served in stacks of slices, rolled up or in cubes depending on the occasion.
A deli tray typically features popular, budget friendly meats and cheeses. Here is a list of our favorites that make a great club or Italian sandwich.
- Turkey – Simple poultry flavors are often enhanced with a cracked pepper turkey, oven roasted turkey, or cajun style. Choose one for the tray.
- Ham – Choose your favorite type of ham. The most popular types of ham are honey ham, brown sugar ham and maple glazed ham.
- Roast Beef – Look for the same size and thickness of slices as the other meats that you serve the roasted beef with.
- Salami or Pepperoni – More salty and aromatic than other meats salami or pepperoni are great to fill in the center of the tray or any gaps.
- Colby Jack – Is always the most popular cheese in all of our tests.
- Colby Cheese – Is another popular option that will go quickly.
- Provolone – A more mild white cheese option that pairs well with pepperoni or salami.
- Swiss Cheese – Pairs well with bolder meats, but isn’t as popular with teens and kids.
Here’s a tray that shows Colby Jack or marble cheese and turkey is chosen the fastest.
We try to avoid mixing strong flavors like cajun turkey and maple glazed ham for more basic flavors that are likely to pair well together.
How Much Deli Meat Per Person?
When serving sandwiches plan to have .15 pounds of meat per person. This works out to be one pound of thinly sliced deli meat serves 6.5 people.
Plan to provide about .09 pounds of cheese per person. Plan for one pound of thin sliced cheese to feed 12.5 people.
How Much Meat & Cheese for 50 People?
Seven pounds of meat and four pounds of cheese serves 45 to 50 people. Choose a combination of any 3 meats and any 3 cheeses.
How To Make A Meat and Cheese Tray
Begin by rolling deli meat up into cylinders or rolls. The rolls can be made 2 to 3 days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container with firm sides in the refrigerator.
Keep the various proteins in separate containers to keep the flavors separate if possible.
I like to use stackable containers that are the same size to help keep the refrigerator organized.
Begin by placing the meat on the tray first. Leave room to alternate meat and cheese.
Fill in the space in the center with salami.
Work in layers. The second layer should be a little bit less wide than the base layer.
Continue to add layers. Be aware that the tray will get heavy as more slices of meat and cheese are added.
If the plastic tray is thin consider layering two or three trays to prevent from breaking.
Alternate layers of cheese to create pretty cascades.
Build small pyramids of rolls of meat.
Keep the stacks low enough to be sturdy and not so high that the meat will easily roll off.
Also test that they tray is strong enough to hold the amount of meat and cheese stacked on top.
Through testing we find that condiments like ketchup and mustard are not typically used at a party as they often get lost on a crowded table. It can also be tricky to balance a plate while adding sauces, so we prefer to serve a plain meat and cheese tray.
We do have success serving a platter or bags or slider rolls along with the deli meat tray.
How To Serve Cheese and Meat Together
A meat and cheese tray is typically called a deli tray when the ingredients are sliced and served in pile or rolled up and stacked neatly.
Another option is to make thick layers of cheese and meat and cut them into cubes for a more uniform look on the tray.
A more modern, artistic and decorative look with meat and cheese arranged in a variety of shapes and patterns is called a Charcuterie Board.
Is It Cheaper To Make Your Own Deli Tray
If you provide the labor to roll the meat and make the tray then it should generally be cheaper to make your own.
To properly compare the cost of making your own deli tray versus buying one be sure to compare the exact ingredients included.
There is quite a bit of variation in the cost, quality and size of slices of deli meat. So if you price a tray with meat with lower water content and higher quality that is premade with the cheapest meat at the grocery the price points will be very different.
Make It An Appetizer
Cubes of meat and cheese that are around 3/4″ to 1″ cubes are great to eat with toothpicks or your fingers while mingling.
Make It A Main Dish
Thin slices of meat and cheese give guests the chance to make whatever combination of sandwich they choose.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- A larger tray is easier to use, but can get too heavy quickly. It may be best to use a couple of plastic trays and always carry supporting by the weight. Hold in the center on the bottom to prevent breaking.
- Single stacks of meat looks best filled in with layers of cheese and salami or pepperoni in the holes.
- Tray can be made a couple days ahead of time if kept tightly wrapped and refrigerated in a safe spot where it won’t slide out of the fridge.
- Lettuce looks nice as a garnish, but must be added a few hours before serving to stay most attractive or it will wilt.
More Recipes For A Crowd
- Fruit Salad For A Crowd is easier to serve with a spoon. A Fruit Tray offers another way to give people options.
- Corn for a Crowd is our easiest side dish for big groups of people.
- Brisket in a Roaster and Shredded Beef make great warm sandwich options.
- Serve with a tray of cookies or a big batch of brownies.
Meat and Cheese Tray
- 2 pounds turkey sliced thin
- 2 pounds ham sliced thin
- 2 pounds roast beef sliced thin
- 1 pound hard salami
- 1.33 pounds Colby Jack cheese sliced thin
- 1.33 pounds Colby cheese sliced thin
- 1.33 pounds Provolone cheese sliced thin
- Take individual pieces of meat and roll up. Stack neatly.
- Alternate deli meats and cheese on the tray in layers.
- Fill in any gaps with hard salami.
- Choose any 3 meats and cheeses to alternate on the tray and fill in gaps with cherry tomatoes, salami or lettuce
- Pepperoni makes a great substitute for salami
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