With summer well and truly on its way, serving dishes and platters can prove immensely practical investments for the barbecue and picnic season. From an eye-catching centrepiece for a chic garden soiree or a simple platter perfect for sharing finger foods and nibbles, there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes.
The size of serving platters makes them a kitchen essential for displaying food at get-togethers and we also love them for everyday use as a grazing platter for kids. If you’ve toiled away in the kitchen, it seems only right to be able to display the fruits of your labour. Serving platters are also practical for outdoor dining – those with lids will protect the contents from flies and spills while doubling as trays.
If you’re hosting a crowd this summer for a barbecue, a selection of platters will come in handy for everyone to help themselves. For fuss-free al fresco dining inspiration, try our garden party and easy barbecue recipes. Not just for summer, flat platters are good all year round for serving up Sunday roasts and hearty salads.
Best serving dishes and platters at a glance
- Best lidded serving dish: Oliver Bonas, Blue ceramic lidded bowl, £25
- Best salad bowl: M&S, Cabbage salad bowl, £17.50
- Best biodegradable serving tray: FOOGO, 10 disposable palm leaf serving trays, £17.99
- Best sustainable serving platter: Wearth London, Large bamboo fibre platter, £19.95
- Best decorative serving dish: Bordallo Pinheiro, Strawberry serving dish, £26
- Best for tapas: Occasion, Lazy Susan serving platter with ceramic dishes, £27.95
- Best serving bowl: Denby, Halo medium serving bowl, £55
- Best large platter: Glassette, Green Galaxy large oval serving platter, £70
- Best for charcuterie platter: ANDEN, Zigzag platter, £80
- Best investment platter: Innes, Vitra trays set of three, £109
- Best set of trays: Samhita mango wood serving platter, £11.89
- Best round serving platter: natural bamboo wooden tray, £13.59
- Best tiered serving stand: Lauchuh three-tier serving stand, £49.68
Best serving dishes and platters 2022
Oliver Bonas, Blue ceramic lidded bowl
Best lidded serving dish
The addition of a lid makes this bowl a great one for keeping food warm, covered and ready to be stored in the fridge or reheated in the microwave. The lipped lid can also double as a plate to serve food straight from the kitchen to the table, making this a handy 2-in-1 platter and bowl. The beautiful two-tone stone design is low maintenance as it’s dishwasher-safe.
M&S, Cabbage salad bowl
Best salad bowl
This stoneware salad bowl with its design of moulded cabbage leaves brings a touch of quirky style to a table, whether it’s used for storing fruit and vegetables for everyday eating or filled to the brim with a fresh salad for a party. It’s also dishwasher-safe, so there’s no extra washing.
Marks & Spencer, £12.50
FOOGO, Palm leaf serving trays
Best biodegradable serving tray
These biodegradable, compostable serving trays are made from naturally fallen Areca palm leaves and are even freezer-safe. During production, the platters are gently cleaned with water and then heat pressed into shape, making each tray unique. We think this is a lovely selling point as you know that you’re getting one of a kind.
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Wearth London, Large bamboo fibre platter
Best sustainable serving platter
This BPA-free blue wave bamboo fibre platter is made from sustainably sourced bamboo, corn starch and resin. Being both lightweight and shatterproof makes it a safe choice for picnics and parties if you’ve got little ones and pets running around. Pop it in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. When you buy one, 5% of the profits go towards a charity to help the Great Barrier Reef.
Bordallo Pinheiro, Strawberry serving dish
Best decorative serving dish
This colourful strawberry-inspired serving dish from Bordallo Pinheiro is made of earthenware and is still produced in the same factory in Caldas da Rainha in Portugal when artist Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro first designed them back in the 1800s. Manufactured using traditional ceramic-manufacturing techniques, this plate is microwave and dishwasher-safe, making it a wonderful show-stopping centrepiece as well as perfect for everyday use. Use it to serve up big fruit salads or a summer pavlova.
Occasion, Lazy susan serving platter with ceramic dishes
Best for tapas
This lazy Susan-style bamboo base and ceramic dish set keeps starters or tapas within easy reach of guests. The individual ceramic dishes are stackable, so they can be easily packed away to take up minimal storage space, and are also dishwasher and microwave-safe.
Denby, Halo medium serving bowl
Best serving bowl
We love the two glaze tones and striking speckled finish of Denby’s Halo collection. Handcrafted in Derbyshire and made from stoneware, this serving bowl has been expertly glazed to prevent chipping, enhance durability and ensure it is dishwasher and microwave-safe. Pile it high with green veg side dishes or colourful pasta salads.
Glassette, Green Galaxy large oval serving platter
Best large platter
This green galaxy large serving platter is a striking take on the typical splatter-ware trend. Each piece is handmade and painted in Puglia, southern Italy, making each one unique. The deep greens and pastel blues make the perfect backdrop for some colourful fresh summer salads.
ANDEN, Zigzag platter
Best for charcuterie platter
Designed and crafted in East London, the new Zigzag platter by Anden is made using solid cherry wood for the handles and hard-wearing maple for the body. The timber comes from sustainably managed FSC certified forests, making this another guilt-free buy. This versatile chopping board is ideal for serving up anything from charcuterie to pizza. The clever ‘saw tooth’ joint of the handle adds decorative flair and strength, making this platter able to withstand years of everyday use.
Innes, Vitra Trays Set Of 3
Best investment platter
These simple trays designed by Jasper Morrison are highly versatile. Use them all together at a buffet or dinner party to create a real focal point. You can also display them as decorative pieces, such as a key bowl or fruit platter. They also make fantastic serving dishes for parties or picnics. Made from ABS plastic, the trays are dishwasher-safe but can’t be heated in microwaves.
Samhita mango wood serving platter
Best set of trays
With a raised edge, these serving trays in a stylish mango wood bring some elegance to your dishes. Whether you’re serving sushi, fruits or a modest charcuterie dish, this set of three 30.48 x 12.7 x 1.90cm trays are fit for your next party.
Natural bamboo wooden tray
Best round serving platter
Made from solid yet light bamboo wood, this perfectly round serving platter can fit a good amount of snacks or small cakes. This tray is particularly good if you’re serving whole citrus fruit, as there is a raised edge to stop your food from slipping off.
Lauchuh three-tier serving stand
Best tiered serving stand
Ideal for when you want to serve a main side dish and any garnishes all in one, this three-tiered serving platter is sure to make a statement at the table. The gold accents would complement a wooden table, and the rack is collapsible for easy storage.
What we looked for in serving dishes and platters
Which serving dish you choose to buy depends on what you’re looking for. Factors to consider:
- Is it for special occasions or everyday use? It’s essential to consider this before buying because it might be wise to invest in a statement dish that can comfortably sit as a simple decoration in the kitchen and as a centrepiece for dinner parties.
- Dishes come in a variety of shapes and sizes – is it it a priority that the plate can be easily packed away into a cupboard? Do you prefer to have smaller dishes that can be piled up easily to take up minimal storage space?
- Is it useful for your serving dish to double up as a container? It’s handy if you can leave leftovers in a dish and pop it straight into the fridge.
- Is it essential for your dish to be microwavable? Once leftovers have been stored, some people might consider it a bonus if the same dish can then be transferred straight from the fridge to the microwave for reheating.
- It might also be a priority that your serving platter or dish is machine washable. Not everyone has the time to hand wash dishes but, alternatively, you don’t want to invest in a more expensive centrepiece only to have it chipped in the dishwasher.
Check out our article on how our experts test and review products at BBC Good Food for more information.
What to serve on serving dishes
- Breakfast pancake platter – Provide a base of wholemeal American-style pancakes with the toppings of your choice. Make it a vibrant fruit extravaganza or a more sophisticated affair with soft cheese and smoked salmon.
- Healthy veggie platter – Conjure up a moreish, meze-style veggie platter using a variety of colourful produce. Whizz up a butterbean tahini and enjoy the spread in the sunshine.
- Summer vegetable & flatbread platter with dill & mustard dip – Make the most of al fresco dining with a vegetable platter of flatbreads and a lovely mustard and dill dip. It’s a perfect sharing platter for a summer barbeque in the sun.
- Baked cheese with roasted garlic jersey royals – What could be better than dunking crispy roast Jersey Royals into gooey baked cheese? It’s a simple, delicious and indulgent sharing dish.
- BBQ chicken platter – Roast or barbecue these BBQ chicken pieces, then serve on a platter with onion rings, coleslaw and mac ‘n’ cheese for an all-American banquet.
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