Hear Me Out: A Tinned Fish Board Is the Appetizer You Should Be Making Now

Have you ever gone to a friend’s house for dinner and their hosting style was so casually cool it made your jaw drop? These are my favorite people. Everything about them is warm and inviting, and the way they gather everyone around the kitchen island for good food and even better conversation makes you crave the next time you can get together. A few weeks ago, I attended a friend’s happy hour at home, and they pulled out this tinned fish board.

First off, I get it. If your reaction is one of doubt yet intrigue at the idea of arranging a charcuterie board with tins of fish, then let me say—at first, I was right there with you. And yet when my friend did exactly that a few weeks ago, she instantly became the coolest person on the planet. Who can so casually yet confidently arrange a few ingredients on a board with some tins of fish and have it feel both elevated and approachable? As the season ramps up and it feels like all I’m doing is penciling in catch-ups with friends and celebrations with pals, there’s nothing I love more than the idea of a simple get-together around a board of delicious ingredients. 

How to Build Your Tinned Fish Board

Think of the theme of this board as a casual French happy hour picnic. It involves simple ingredients, none of which need to be prepped ahead of time. Everything on your tinned fish board complements each other into something more satisfying and special than just cheese and crackers. Here’s what you’ll need.

Tinned fish. We have all the options you need below!

Cheeses. Like any other charcuterie board, having a nice selection of cheeses can help anchor the ingredients. I like one salty cheese like a wedge of parmesan that you can just cut chunks from, a creamy brie that pairs well with sharp pickled ingredients as well as being smooth enough to temper the flavors of any tinned fish, and one herbed or marinated cheese that is creamy and flavorful like a Boursin.

Vegetables. Crunchy veggies always round out any board for me. I like cornichons or castelvetrano olives for a pop of green goodness. And then vegetables like radishes or cucumbers pair perfectly with the cheese options and butter. Speaking of…

Really good butter. Get the special stuff. Butter on crackers and bread is always a crowd pleaser, and the flavor pairs perfectly with vegetables like radishes (sprinkle on salt, as the French do), and also goes well with the fish.

Nuts. I like pistachios or Marcona almonds with this board.

Bread and crackers. A nice crusty baguette and your favorite crisp crackers will give everyone something to snack on.

Use the above as your baseline, then build from there. Pickled onions would be nice with the fish, some friends love ritz crackers or saltines with their tinned fish, and fresh herbs like a bowl of dill would also be a tasty pairing.

Tinned fish board.
Tinned fish board.

Tinned Fish Options

If you’re feeling intimidated or don’t know where to start with choosing from the tinned fish options, I polled our team for a few of their favorites.


Get the good stuff. It feels special, especially for the holidays! Of course, caviar leans on the more expensive side, but as with anything, it can be hard to know what to get based on price alone. We love Caviar Russe’s selection, trusted by casual hosts and restaurants alike. Each tin is sustainably farmed and packed to order, meaning you’re getting the freshest caviar possible. Expect a nutty, full flavor. And if you want to serve something bubbly alongside your tinned fish board, this caviar offers the best bite.


I know what you’re thinking: even for the well-trained tinned fish lovers among us, anchovies can be… a lot. And while they’re a necessity in the best caesar dressings, they might come as a surprise on your tinned fish board. Well I’m here to tell you they’re an appetizer essential—here’s why. These anchovies are rich and buttery. And while they do pack the same salty punch as other brands, Fishwife’s boast a mellower flavor that pair beautifully with bread and butter. Trust me, these will change you forever.


Sardines are a personal fave of our Managing Editor, Isabelle Eyman. She explains to me that this tin in particular is the best of the best (though Trader Joe’s sardines offerings comes pretty close). Portugal-based José Gourmet is a trusted and favored tinned fish brand among fanatics for their sustainable practices and unbeatable flavors. The sardines are packed in olive oil, letting the fish shine in all their glory while still retaining a nice, fruity bite. They’re a bit more mild than other small fish, making these great for beginners.

Salmon or Tuna

Perhaps the most familiar tinned fish varietals, salmon and tuna make great low-key additions to your board. I’d recommend opting for one or the other. Though they each offer different flavor profiles, they’re similar enough that they would end up competing against one another on the board. Again, Fishwife is a great option when it comes to tuna, and no one does it better than Patagonia Provisions when you’re selecting a sustainably-sourced salmon. Be sure to load up on a few tins the next time you’re shopping for outdoor gear.

Assembly Tips and Tricks

Everything on this board can be opened and prepped right before serving, meaning you don’t really have to plan ahead if you have everything on hand. But you can still keep a few tips in mind to ensure maximum enjoyment.

Let the cheese come to room temperature. Especially for a creamy brie, letting the cheese sit before serving helps the flavor shine and it spreads on a baguette or cracker much easier.

Salt is your best friend. Especially with the fish on this board, a little bowl of flaky salt lets everything shine a bit brighter. Including some lemon wedges for the fish is also a way to help elevate their flavor.

Group ingredients together. If you have fish and topping combos you like, group those ingredients close together on the board to help streamline assembly.

A Bruschetta Board Is the Festive Appetizer You’ve Been Searching For

Nothing makes me happier than walking into a party and seeing a gorgeous grazing board. Whether it’s cheese-centric, inspired by the season, or supports a “desserts-first” mentality—it’s always exciting. Anything served up on a board feels warm and inviting, and always makes a great conversation starter. I love observing which ingredients guests end up obsessing over, whether it’s a delicious dip or a new favorite cheese. And the good news: there’s always an abundance of ingredients begging you to grab seconds.

Throughout the holiday season, I’ll be sharing some of my go-to entertaining boards (did you catch my dips and crudites board?). Each is designed around a different theme, letting you serve an entire evening’s worth of meals, all on a board. Next up: a rustic, but elegant bruschetta board that’s sure to wow every guest.

How to Build Your Bruschetta Board

It’s a well-known truth: we all love bread. As much as American food culture has tried to demonize it over the years, it will always have its comeback. And as far as boards go, what better way to set a strong foundation than with our favorite carb of all? The additional accouterments are just the delicious icing on the cake. A bruschetta board is an easy, elevated appetizer for the holidays.

I follow a formula to simplify this board and all the possible topping combinations that you could come up with.

  • Savory crostini. Toppings options are endless, but I like to make sure that I have at least one savory option that could act as both an appetizer and also a full happy hour meal if needed.
  • Slightly sweet crostini. While I draw the line at dessert crostini, having a sweeter crostini that celebrates the season’s best fruit adds some flavor variation to the board.
  • The fun pieces. Think of these things as fillers that add a bit of abundance to your board. They might not necessarily be a part of your crostini combinations, but sometimes guests want to get creative or just have stand-alone ingredients to snack on.

Following this formula for choosing your veggies ensures you have a strong variety of textures and flavors to elevate this board for the holiday season.

Bruschetta Combinations to Choose From

With these guidelines, I then choose from a few combinations to build my bruschetta board. Some of the ingredients can cross-pollinate and work for both a sweet and savory bruschetta, but use what you have on hand. Think about ingredients that are easy enough to serve in bowls or on the board, and that guests can easily assemble themselves.

Savory Bruschetta Options

For this board, I turned to creamy burrata, roasted tomatoes, and pesto. Especially in the winter when tomatoes are out of season, this is an easy way to boost their flavor. Other savory combinations I love:

  • Boursin or flavored goat cheese, roasted vegetables, and pesto
  • Cream cheese, smoked salmon, and dill
  • Brie and caramelized onions
  • Horseradish mustard and steak
  • Ricotta, fig, and prosciutto
  • Go gluten-free with sweet potato crostini

Sweet Bruschetta Options

When I think of special and sweet crostini, I go for palate-refreshers more so than leaning toward dessert. For this board, I went with brie cheese, fall pears, honeycomb, and pomegranate. Here are a few other sweet combinations to try:

  • Brie, apple, and caramelized pecans
  • Goat cheese, cranberry sauce or chutney, and pistachios
  • Ricotta, fig, and honeycomb
  • Blue cheese, pears, and honey
  • Brie, persimmons, and pomegranate
  • Whipped feta, figs, and thyme
  • Goat cheese, caramelized grapes, and balsamic

Bruschetta Board Add-Ons

To make this bruschetta board feel fuller, I like to utilize bite-sized snacks that might also work on the above sweet and savory crostini options.

  • Cornichons. These are great for a pickled bite to a savory crostini,
  • Nuts. Pecans, pistachios, or Marcona almonds can also be a stand-alone snack. They also add a crunchy bite to either sweet or savory crostini.
  • Crackers and bread. I like a combination of both. A fresh baguette is great, but I find they can run stale fast. Crunchy baguette slices can be bought ahead of time but have a lighter crunch to them than a cracker. Including crackers is great for someone who may just want a slice of cheese on a crisp cracker. I like both seedy crackers and a good classic plain cracker.

Assembly Tips and Tricks

A few simple tips to style an impressive bruschetta board that’s sure to satisfy any crowd.

  • Utilize small bowls and plates. We all know that a board dinner means easy clean-up, but smaller bowls and plates also ensure that you can guide guests with flavor combinations in an easy-to-visualize way. I like to group cheeses and fruits together on a plate that can be served together in one corner to help anchor the board, and smaller bowls with the accompanying toppings. Filler ingredients like crackers, nuts, and other fruits, can go in several places on a board to help add abundance and texture while filling out the board.
  • Choose fruits that last. Nothing is less appetizing than fruits that have turned brown or aren’t at their peak on a board. To ensure cut fruits (apples, pears, etc.) stay fresh and pretty, add a squeeze of lemon or a drizzle of honey to keep them looking fresher on the board longer.

Be sure to share your favorite crostini combinations with us in the comments!

This Dips & Crudité Grazing Board Is the Perfect Holiday Appetizer

We’re knee-deep in the holiday season, and truthfully, I couldn’t be happier about the gatherings that are quickly filling up my calendar. Just a few years ago, the thought of entertaining friends and family so frequently would send me down an anxiety spiral. Party planning and menu prepping—they may be some of my favorite things, but they can take a lot out of you. These days though, my stress is low and my excitement for get-togethers is at an all-time high. What’s changed? I’ve embraced the wow-factor simplicity of an aesthetic crudité platter.

Your Guide to Curating the Perfect Crudite Platter

No longer do the holidays mean extensive menus and fussy table settings. For me, it’s all about casual gatherings where my friends can squeeze together in my living room and around the kitchen island, topping up their drinks while deep in conversation and grazing straight from a board. Think of it like a giant mix-and-match dinner of conversation-worthy flavors and textures. And most of which can either be assembled ahead of time or requires very little prep.

Throughout the holiday season, I’ll be sharing some of my go-to grazing boards, each with a different theme. That way, you can serve an entire evening’s worth of meals, all on a board. And to kick us off, I’m sharing one of my favorites: the crowd-pleasing crudite platter.

How to Choose Veggies for a Crudite Platter

I know, I know, a board of vegetables? One word: yes. Especially during the holidays when I’m enjoying indulging in extra sweet treats and delicious things, I LOVE when someone breaks out a flavorful vegetable side dish or platter. It feels refreshing—and when done right, just as satisfying as any other food. But just because we’re doing a veggie crudite platter doesn’t mean you need to stick to boring vegetables. I live by one rule: exciting veggies only.

Follow this formula to ensure your veggie boards stay exciting for all to enjoy.

  • Fresh and crisp vegetables. Think crunchy and refreshing veggies that stand strong on their own. Cucumbers, radishes, rainbow carrots, sugar snap peas, and fresh baby greens or endive. I’ll also quick-blanch some asparagus or broccolini if I have it on hand.
  • Roasted and charred vegetables. Roasting these veggies adds a bit of that savory char to create a nice depth of flavor. Sliced zucchini tossed in lots of olive oil, baby potatoes, seasonal squash, and even out-of-season tomatoes all benefit from the roasting treatment while adding some interest to your board.
  • Pickled and bright vegetables. Perhaps my favorite category. This group of veggies is truly a make-ahead party trick since most of them are store-bought. (Unless you love to pickle veggies yourself, by all means!) Jars of artichokes, pickled peppers, olives, cornichons, and any fun vegetable from the olive bar at your local market make a great choice. Their pickled bite adds a nice flavor element to your crudite platter.

Following this formula ensures a strong variety of textures and flavors, making for the perfect holiday grazing board.

How to Choose Dips for a Crudite Platter

For the purpose of satiety and satisfying flavors, a selection of dips is a must. And if you’re at a loss for where to start, don’t worry—I have a formula for that as well.

  • A creamy and rich dip. ‘Tis the (holiday) season, after all. Including an indulgent dip on your tray is the perfect pairing for your crisp veggies. Spinach artichoke dip, cheesy jalapeño, buffalo chicken, pimento, or in this case—a caramelized onion dip. (Recipe below!)
  • A bright and zesty dip. Including a light and zesty dip adds a tangy and bright flavor to contrast any rich dishes. From tzatziki to salsas, or in this case, my herby lemon and sour cream, go with your favorites. (Yes, even a great ranch dressing!)
  • A bean dip. Seems simple enough, but having a hearty dip on the platter helps transform a snack plate into a full meal. While you could stick with hummus, for the holidays, you can find a seasonal variety, a black bean dip, or try a homemade recipe, like this spiced pumpkin white bean dip.

Assembly Tips and Tricks

Like any good charcuterie board, a few simple tips will help you craft a holiday-worthy crudite platter that’ll impress every guest.

  • Mix and match bowls and platters. The best part of serving everything on a board is that clean-up and serving are so much easier. But to add some depth and visual interest, layering small bowls and plates is a great way to group and ground different items together.
  • Use the same ingredient in several places on your board. This creates a visually cohesive vibe while also filling in any empty spaces you might have.
  • Include strategic filler ingredients. If a crudite board is all you’re serving, you’ll want to include some other ingredients that can make this board more satisfying. Think crackers or bread, or different nuts and salty snacks. This again will add textural interest while also adding more visual depth to your board.
  • Keep to-go boxes on hand. My number one hack for hosting is always having to-go boxes for my lingering friends to take with them. Is it mostly to save myself the headache of post-party clean-up? I’ll never tell… But a board like this is a great way for friends to add a bit of everything into a box to take home or snack on in their Uber on the way home.

Follow these tips and tricks for an Instagram-worthy crudite platter. And steal my recipe below for a crave-worthy caramelized onion dip that’s sure to be the star of your next holiday gathering. Enjoy!


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Creamy, vibrant, and packed with plenty of flavor, this caramelized onion dip is the star of any and every grazing board. Be prepared to share the recipe with every guest.

  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon honey

  1. Prep the caramelized onions. In a stovetop pan, add the oil and bring a medium heat. Add the onions and salt and cook until translucent. Cover the pan, keeping on low-medium heat, and cook the onions. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking, this is a low and slow process. Continue cooking until the onions are a golden brown color. Add the apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan. The total cooking time should be 30-40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

  2. In a food processor, add the sour cream, cream cheese, honey. Blend until smooth. Add about half the caramelized onions and blend. Stir in the other half of the onions. Salt to taste and adjust flavorings as desired.

  3. Pour into a serving bowl and chill until ready to serve.