A Modern Relish Tray for Thanksgiving: Homemade Pickles & Rye Crackers

published Nov 13, 2014
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

When Faith floated the idea of having the gang from The Kitchn gather at my house in Oakland to celebrate and shoot the 2014 Thanksgiving spread, I was thrilled. They would take care of everything, she promised, except maybe could I do a modern interpretation of the old-fashioned relish tray as appetizers?

Absolutely! We ended up deciding on three trays: pickles, spreads, and cheese and fruit. Let’s start with my favorite: the pickle tray.

To prepare for my task, I revisited an old post I wrote on how to reimagine the relish tray into something more modern:

I also researched some favorite quick pickles to make at home as well as a few ways to dress up a jarred pickle, as Faith was bringing her mother-in-law’s pickled beets. Our relish trays were going to be served with cocktails (as opposed to passing them at the table which is the more traditional way in some households) so we wanted to be sure they were easy to eat and didn’t require utensils.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

For the quick (i.e. refrigerator) pickles we made a batch of spicy pickled grapes (amazingly delicious) and then another batch of gorgeous pickled carrots.

Another easy-to-make pickle that I can vouch for is my Aunt Lorraine’s Refrigerator Pickle which has been in my family for 60 years!

For the third pickle, I simply drained the pickled beets of their brine and gently mixed them with a few spoonfuls of sour cream. If you don’t have or want to make your own, or if you don’t have a mother-in-law to give you a jar, then you can certainly purchase picked beets at most grocery stores.

Get the Recipes

The point of these three pickle selections is that they all have different shapes, textures and flavors. I especially appreciated the beet and sour cream version for adding a creamy note to the tray. But this also kept them from being finger food so I broke up some rye crackers and scattered them on the tray for dipping and spreading.

→ Find the board: This relish tray is pictured on the Round FEED Cutting Board from west elm ($49).

The pickles can be made several days ahead of time, which is a huge bonus on Thanksgiving, and can even be store-bought if you simply don’t have time to make them yourself. Just be sure you go for variety.