Deli Meat and Cheese Tray

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.

Ham, turkey and roast beef deli meat alternating with colby jack, provolone and colby cheese with salami in the center of a round black tray on a red and white napkin.

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.

Overhead view of a meat and cheese tray with a variety of each option and mini tongs resting on top for serving with another tray of slider buns on the table in the background.

Deli meat like turkey, salami, ham and roast beef pair well with our Mac and Cheese for a crowd, Cheesy Potatoes in an electric roaster or Pasta Salad For A Crowd.

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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.
Overhead view of rolls of deli meat and circles of cheese neatly arranged around the outside of a tray with salami laid in the circle in the middle on a red and white napkin.

Add a smaller tray with Salami Roll-Ups or Dried Beef Roll-Ups filled with cream cheese pairs well with a larger deli tray.

Ingredients Needed

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.

Cheese being eaten off of a meat and cheese platter at a party on a buffet table with other food.

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.

A pile of ham deli meat on a cutting board with a piece of ham unrolled and a row of slices of ham rolled up showing how to prepare deli meat for an attractive tray.

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.

First layer showing how to build a deli meat and cheese tray to look good for a party on a brown wooden counter top.

Work in layers. The second layer should be a little bit less wide than the base layer.

Third layer of deli meat and cheese showing how to make a meat and cheese tray on a brown counter top.

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.

Side view of slices of Colby cheese fanned out and layered to look nice on a cheese tray between piles of meat.

Build small pyramids of rolls of meat.

Partial layers of rolled deli roast beef stacked attractively in a partial pyramid on a meat and cheese tray for a party resting on a red plaid napkin.

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.

Serving Condiments

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.

Layers of slider buns stacked to look pretty on a clear tray for making sandwiches.

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.

Rolled up deli meat stacked on a tray covered with lettuce in between fanned squares of cheese on a red and white plaid napkin.

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.

Over lapping rolls of of ham, turkey and roast beef alternating with layers of Swiss, Colby and Colby Jack cheese on a layer of decorative lettuce covering a large round tray.

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.

We like to use leftovers to make Roast Beef Sliders, Ham and Cheese Sliders or Turkey Sliders on Hawaiian Rolls.

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.
Rolled up deli meat stacked on a tray covered with lettuce in between fanned squares of cheese on a red and white plaid napkin.

More Recipes For A Crowd

Overhead view of a variety of meats and cheeses on a deli tray for a party.

Meat and Cheese Tray

Servings 50 people
Jennifer @ Plowing Through Life
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.
Prep Time 40 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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

Nutrition

Calories: 258kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 22gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 69mgSodium: 941mgPotassium: 213mgSugar: 0.2gVitamin A: 353IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 311mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Plowing Through Life” is not a dietitian or nutrition professional. Any nutritional information shared is an estimate and can vary greatly depending on specific products are used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator of your choice.

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