How To Put Together A Cold Plate

Monday 10 July 2023


Cold Plate 

I don't know if it is really common elsewhere in the world, but I know here in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, a very popular meal in the summer time will the what is known as the "Cold Plate."

These are very popular options at some restaurants in the summer months, a real favorite of family get togethers and a wildly successful option for community fund raisers and the like!

Cold plates are also a delicious option after a big holiday meal. A delicious opportunity to enjoy some of the meats that were previously served cooked along with a few special and tasty additions.

Cold Plate 

Usually a supper option Cold Plates are hearty, uncomplicated, rustic, not fancy in the least and quite a delicious meal. One of our local restaurants always offers a turkey dinner on the menu, 365 days of the year and in the warmer months a delicious cold plate will be on the special's menu, offering a nice cold plate of sliced turkey and a variety of salads on the side, with a dinner roll as well.

That is at the very heart of the cold plate.  Some kind of protein, cold meats and cheeses, and an assortment of delicious salads to go along with them and for the really hearty eater a dinner roll or baking powder biscuit on the side.

On Prince Edward Island, a Cold Plate is an essential part of the local Lobster  Dinner's they serve.  People will be treated by a beautifully cooked lobster and then a cold plate of salads.  I can tell you ain't nobody complaining.

The British Equivalent of a Cold Plate would be a Traditional Ploughman's Lunch

Today, in honor of the stinking hot weather we have been having I wanted to share with you how to put together a delicious Cold Plate supper that will have everybody licking their lips and coming back for seconds.  

It can be completely vegetarian, or a carnivore's delight. It can be as complicated (as in homemade salads) or as simple (as in store purchased salads) as you like, but it will always be delicious. 

Cold Plate 

At the heart  of every cold plate should be some type of protein. If you are a vegetarian this could be some kind of cheese, or even fish, if you are pescatarian.  Mom often served cold plates in the summer months with tinned salmon.

Perhaps you are on your way home from work and you are feeling just too tired to put together anything complicated. A rotisserie chicken is perfect for this!

I have enjoyed cold plates in which an assortment of deli meats were at the center of the feast. Cold sliced ham, turkey or beef all go very well with a cold plate.  In fact I cannot think of a deli or luncheon meat that wouldn't.

Canned corned beef, or spam are also tasty options. 

I like for my proteins to be cold when I am doing a cold plate.  That is where deli meats or leftover cooked meats are perfect to serve.  Whatever you choose to serve, some kind of condiment or pickle to go along with them is also always welcome, be it mayonnaise, horseradish, mustard, piccalilli or whatever.  A bit of sauce always goes down nice.

Cold Plate 

I always like to include fresh vegetables of some sort on my cold plates. On this particular day I chose to serve some fresh lettuce and sliced ripe tomato. I also included baby cucumber spears.

Fresh and crisp, juicy ripe.  You could even add some grapes if that is your thing. I have enjoyed cold plates that had nothing but grapes and cheese along side of the salads and they were delicious!

Some other options might be sliced ripe avocado, celery sticks, sliced sweet apples, melon.  There really is no wrong answer to this option. Just so long as it is cold and crisp and delicious with flavors that go along with everything else on the plate! 

These things add color, texture and interest.

Cold Plate 

Some kind of pasta salad always goes well on a cold plate. Perhaps from a tub you picked up at the store the same time you picked up your chicken or deli meats. There are some very delicious options available today.

Homemade Creamy Macaroni Salad is a good choice. You can make it up ahead of time and have it chilling in the refrigerator. Aside from going well on a cold plate it is also a delicious portable lunch option any time of the year.

Another favorite of mine is Cheese, Peas and Bowties Salad Quick and easy to make it makes good use of store cupboard ingredients and things we, most of us, will have in our homes at all times. Frozen peas, pasta, cheese and a creamy dressing. This is a visual feast as well as being delicious. We do eat with our eyes first! 

Cold Plate 

I always like to include potato salad of some sort in my cold plate feast.  In Newfoundland, Pickled Beet Potato Salad is very popular.   This is a brilliant deep pink in color and is delicious.  If you like beetroot, then you will love this.

I always favor my Mom's Potato Salad.  With a rich and creamy dressing,  cubed potatoes and eggs, crispy vegetables, it is always something we all love to eat. It is a very basic potato salad, but that is what you want here really, something which is only going to enhance the remaining things on the plate and not take away from them.

Some other potato salad options are Baked Potato Salad  and Creamy Dilled Potato Salad.

And of course if you are stopping by the shops to pick up some deli meats and the macaroni salad, its nothing to also pick up a tub of good potato salad.  Just make sure it is one you know the whole family will enjoy.  Costco makes a really delicious red potato salad!

Cold Plate 

Another option I like to include is coleslaw.   I like a Creamy Coleslaw myself, with plenty of color and crunch.

A coleslaw vinaigrette or Deli Coleslaw  is also nice if you think there is enough creaminess on the plate already. 

Cheese slaw is really nice.  It is tangy and rich with the flavor of grated strong cheddar cheese.  Or, you could kill two birds with one stone and serve Macaroni Coleslaw, which is also incredibly delicious!  Classic Memphis Coleslaw is also really nice.

Or, once again, you can just pick up a tub of your favorite type of slaw when you are picking up everything else!

Cold Plate 

Some cold plates will offer more than one kind of potato salad.  That is very common in some places.  Personally I could not eat more than one kind in one sitting, but I know a few hearty eaters who could!

Deviled Eggs are also very welcome on a Cold Plate.

Some places will also offer jellied salads on the side as an option. Tomato Aspic is nice.  Myself, I love LOVE Perfection Salad.    This is almost like a combo of coleslaw and jellied salad and most refreshing.  Crunchy and delicious.

Cold Plate 


1. Make sure your plates are ice cold. This helps to keep all of your salads really cool. A lovey bonus in hot, hot weather.

2. Make sure your salads and meats are ice cold.  This is good food hygiene and healthy.  Keeping your food cold makes sure that nobody gets food poisoning from food that has been allowed germs to multiply and take hold at room temperature.

3.  Make sure all the flavors, colors and textures work well with each other.

4. Have fun and relax.  Good eating doesn't have to be complicated and should be fun!

Anyways, I hope that I have fueled your appetite for this delicious Maritime Summer tradition here today.  When you are having a load of company over for supper and the temperatures are rising exponentially, nothing makes for a better feast than this type of meal. 

Know that you can keep it as complicated or as simple as you like, and above all remember to enjoy the process. If your family and guests know that you are enjoying it as much as they do, it will only add to their pleasure! 

Cold Plate

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  1. Beautiful, I love a 'cold plate' or a 'ham/chicken salad' as we say in England, or a good ploughman's lunch.

    1. Thanks Vinnie. I love a nice plate like this in the summer especially! xo

  2. Mom often made these with salmon loaf and deviled eggs as the protein, Potato salad on a bed of iceburg lettuce, coleslaw, tomatoes and cucumber slices. I have advanced out by adding a macaroni salad with salmon and cubed cheese,green onion, peas and shredded carrots,pickle relish.with thousand island dressing in it, no tomatoes as I am allergic. Potato salad, deviled eggs, coleslaw,, deli meats or ribs, celery,cucumber and lettuce( shredded) and a dinner roll or two on the side. The options are endless.I will be giving your peas,cheese and bowtie a try as well this summer. You recipes and stories always bring back such fond memories

    1. Thanks so much. I know I do go on a bit sometimes, but it is a good exercise for my brain I think and I am pleased that you like the recipes and the stories. I enjoyed hearing how your mom did things as well. Weren't mothers grand. I loved to watch my mother making potato salad. There was a method to it, her cubing the potatoes, the eggs, the onions, mixing it all together. There was plenty of love as well. I hope you enjoy the peas, cheese and bowties salad! Its a good one for sure! xo


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