Through my client work, I have experience building platters of all kinds. Putting together a smoked salmon platter is like painting a blank canvas and creating a work of art. It’s not just about piling ingredients onto a tray, but about balancing flavors, colors, and textures. The best part is it’s a lot simpler than it sounds!
To make a smoked salmon platter, I created and follow a simple formula. Here’s how I break it down:
- 1 Main Protein (smoked salmon)
- 1 Secondary Protein
- 2 Creamy Elements
- 2 Pickled Elements
- 3 Crunchy Elements
- 1 Salty Element
- 1 Condiment
In this post, I’m going to teach you how to use the formula, make it your own, as well as how to arrange a gorgeous smoked salmon platter. So whether you’re planning a brunch, throwing a party, or just want a pretty snack, you can easily create your own feast for the eyes.
📋 Formula & Ingredients To Make A Smoked Salmon Platter
I created the measurements for this formula to serve two people. Feel free to halve the recipe for one person, or double or triple it to serve more. For exact measurements, scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
This formula is not set in stone. It’s a guide, a starting point for you to create your own smoked salmon platter. Feel free to experiment with different ingredients (suggested below) and find what works best for you.
- 1 Main Protein: Smoked salmon is the star of the show. It’s the ingredient that catches the eye and sets the tone for the rest of the platter. I like to use cold smoked salmon because I love the flavor and texture, but you can also use hot smoked salmon, gravlax, or lox.
- 1 Secondary Protein: I like to include a secondary protein that complements the main protein. It adds another layer of flavor and texture to the platter. For this example I used a boiled egg, however, you could also use these Sriracha deviled eggs, or a mild harder cheese like Gruyère or Manchego.
- 2 Creamy Elements: Creamy spreadable elements add a rich, smooth contrast to the other elements on the platter. Here I used cream cheese and homemade crème fraîche with dill, but you could also consider options like Boursin cheese, goat cheese, bang bang sauce, or something lighter in flavor like this homemade pesto mayo.
- 2 Pickled Elements: Pickled items bring a tangy kick to the platter, and cut through the richness of the other elements. I chose easy pickled onions and gherkin pickles, but other great options include pickled cucumbers, pickled beets, or even pickled jalapeños for a spicy twist.
- 3 Crunchy Elements: For me, crunchy elements usually include vegetables and crackers of some sort. I added cucumber, radishes sliced paper thin on my mandolin, and homemade bagel chips. You could use carrot sticks, celery, sweet peppers, any kind of cracker, pretzels, or anything else you can think of to give you a satisfying crunch.
- 1 Salty Element: I like to include one salty element to enhance all of the other flavors on the board and I love capers for their unique flavor and texture. Other options include olives, feta cheese, or even anchovies.
- 1 Condiment: The condiment ties everything together. It’s the finishing touch that completes the platter. I chose whole-grain mustard for its tangy flavor and beautiful texture. You could also use horseradish sauce, any mustard you want, honey, red pepper jelly, chutney, homemade basil pesto, guacamole, or anything else you like.
Use the JUMP TO RECIPE button at the top of this post, or scroll to the bottom of the post, to see the PRINTABLE recipe card with ingredient measurements and complete instructions.
👩🍳 How To Assemble A Smoked Salmon Platter
Ok, now that you have an idea of which ingredients you might want to use, I will show you how to assemble the platter.
STEP 1—Choose The Right Platter
The first step is choosing the right platter. Smoked salmon has a beautiful pinky coral hue that looks terrific with pink, orange, or melon-colored platters, or it can be contrasted with cool blue or green tones. White is always a safe choice, but don’t be afraid to play with color to make your platter pop. I love the contrast of a blueish-green platter.
STEP 2—Salmon Goes First On A Smoked Salmon Platter
The first step to building a smoked salmon platter is placing the smoked salmon. You can place it anywhere you want. I like to cut my slices of smoked salmon into smaller more manageable pieces and arrange them slightly off to the side. I also like to layer the salmon and fold the edges to make it look abundant and attractive.
STEP 3—Dishes Are Next
You don’t have to use dishes if you don’t want to. I just love the look of small bowls and I have a collection of handmade ceramic dishes and ramekins. I usually put anything spreadable in dishes and go from there. You can use any number of dishes you want.
If you use dishes, I will say that I think they look best when they are all around the same size and height. Bonus points if they are all different shapes! Don’t choose anything too tall, as tall dishes will cast shadows on the board.
One of the main keys to adding visual interest to the platter is to ensure none of the dishes line up with one another. If you look at all of my dishes in the image below, from both horizontal and vertical perspectives, none line up perfectly with any of the others. From a vertical perspective, the mustard and the onions are close, but they are still offset.
STEP 4—Adding Quantity Elements
Next, add elements that you have in quantity, like crackers or cucumber slices. Arrange them in sections around the board, ensuring different colors are distributed evenly. So for example, don’t place two kinds of brown crackers side-by-side. In this example, I didn’t have to worry about it because my two quantity ingredients are brown bagel chips and green cucumber.
STEP 5—Incorporate The Smaller Elements
Now it’s time to add smaller elements that aren’t served in dishes. For me, this is the hard-boiled egg and pickles. Place them in any larger empty spots that remain.
STEP 6—Filling in The Gaps
On this platter, radishes are pulling double duty: They are both a crunchy element and a garnish. If I wasn’t using radishes, I would use a smaller crunchy element like nuts, pretzels, or slices of pear or apple. You can also use fresh berries or dried fruit to fill in the gaps. Dried apricots look gorgeous on a smoked salmon platter!
STEP 7—Finish With The Salty Element & Garnish(es)
The final step is to scatter the salty element randomly over the platter. The salty element here is capers, but you could also lay whole anchovies randomly over the platter, tuck in some olives, or even add a small bowl of feta cheese if you have room.
Adding garnish is optional. I love using fresh dill and pea shoots to decorate smoked salmon dishes. Dill fronds are so beautiful and they taste amazing, and pea shoots are gorgeous with their curling tendrils. They’re both a really lovely finishing touch!
Remember, this is your platter. Feel free to experiment with different arrangements and ingredients. The most important thing is to have fun, create a platter you’re excited to share, and enjoy eating it!
🗣 Expert Tips
1. A good platter has a mix of textures and colors so look for ingredients that have a good mix of both.
2. Don’t let the formula stop you from creating your own showstopping board. Just because it’s not on the list doesn’t mean you can’t add it.
3. If you make your smoked salmon platter ahead of time, don’t add the garnishes until just before serving to prevent wilting.
📝 Recipe Notes
- A typical serving size for smoked salmon is about 2 ounces per person, however, if you’re making a large platter, you may need less.
- If you like a bit of heat, consider adding some spicy elements to your platter. This could be spicy mustard, hot pepper jelly, or pepperoncini peppers.
- If you’re not serving the platter immediately, cover it gently with a damp cloth and keep it in the fridge to keep everything fresh. Remove it from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off and bring out the flavors.
🙋♀️ Recipe FAQ
Some common pairings for smoked salmon are cream cheese, capers, red onion, lemon, and fresh dill. Smoked salmon is great served on a platter with different elements, such as pickled, creamy, and crunchy. You can also serve smoked salmon on a charcuterie board. It’s a unique flavor that pairs well with cheeses, fruits, and bread or crackers.
Once opened, smoked salmon should be eaten within a week. If it’s unopened it can last for up to two weeks in the fridge, depending on the expiry date. Always check the packaging for specific instructions.
I don’t recommend refreezing smoked salmon that has already been thawed. Between degrading the texture, and the potential risk of illness, it’s not worth it. Instead, use the smoked salmon in a cooked dish that can then be frozen like a quiche or pasta.
Did you make this smoked salmon platter? Please rate the recipe and tell me how it went in the comments below. Also, stay in touch with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to see more delicious food and recipes!
How To Make A Smoked Salmon Platter
- Measuring cups and spoons or digital kitchen scale
- Knife and cutting board
- Ramekins or other small bowls optional
- 2 ½ ounces smoked salmon, main protein
- 1 large egg, secondary protein
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese, first creamy element
- 1 tablespoon crème fraîche, second creamy element
- 1 tablespoon pickled onions, first pickled element
- 3-4 gherkin pickles, second pickled element
- 1 ½ ounces bagel chips, first crunchy element
- 2 ounces cucumber, sliced, second crunchy element
- 1 medium radish, sliced as thin as you can, third crunchy element
- 1 tablespoon capers, salty element
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard, condiment element
- fresh dill & pea shoots, optional for garnish
- Choose a platter and 3 to 4 small ramekin-sized dishes (if using). Cut the slices of smoked salmon into smaller, more manageable pieces and arrange them on the platter slightly off to the side, layering the salmon and folding the edges to make it look abundant and attractive.
- Place any of the elements you want in the small dishes (for this recipe I did the cream cheese, crème fraîche, pickled onions, and grainy mustard). Arrange the dishes wherever you like on the platter. For visual interest, ensure none of the dishes line up with one another, both horizontally and vertically.
- Add any elements that you have in quantity (in this recipe it's the cucumbers and bagel chips). Arrange them in sections around the platter, ensuring different colors are distributed evenly.
- Now add any smaller elements that are not served in dishes (for this recipe it's the hard-boiled egg and gherkin pickles). Place them in any larger empty spots that remain.
- Next, fill in any remaining gaps on the platter (this is where I added sliced radishes). Finished by scattering the salty element randomly over the platter (capers in this recipe), and adding garnish if using. Serve immediately, or cover gently with a damp cloth and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
- 1 Main Protein (smoked salmon)
- 1 Secondary protein: hardboiled eggs, deviled eggs, mild hard cheese
- 2 creamy elements: cream cheese, crème fraîche, Boursin cheese, goat cheese, mayo-based sauces
- 2 pickled elements: pickled onions, pickles, pickled beets, pickled jalapenos, spicy beans
- 3 crunchy elements: bagel chips, any crunchy vegetables, crackers, pretzels
- 1 salty element: capers, olives, anchovies, feta cheese
- 1 condiment: any mustard, horseradish sauce, honey, jellies, jams, or chutneys, basil pesto, guacamole
- A typical serving size for smoked salmon is about 2 ounces per person. However, if you are making a large platter, you may need less.
- If you’re not serving the platter immediately, cover it gently with a damp cloth and keep it in the fridge. Remove it from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off and bring out the flavors.