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Meet Our Favorite Party Food Fix: The Tex-Mex Grazing Board

Updated January 27, 2019
Meet Our Favorite Party Food Fix: The Tex-Mex Grazing Board
Pull off this crowd-pleasing spread in three simple steps.

The ultimate party trick is something that’s seemingly simple, but sometimes hard to pull off: Having a good time at your own party. Anyone who’s ever played host knows exactly what we mean. When you end up more focused on preparing food than enjoying friends, the party becomes more work and a lot less fun. And since fun is the point of any party, let’s pledge to avoid this scenario now and forever more. How, you might ask? With this simple and elegant solution that we’re calling the Tex-Mex Grazing Board!

First things first: What’s a grazing board? A grazing board is an oversized cutting board spread with all sorts of snackable bites—often cheese, cured meats, pickled veggies, dips, spreads, crackers and breads. Our spin is to use the grazing board concept to set out a beautiful array of fixings that can be adapted for tacos, tostadas, burritos, bowls and more. It’s the perfect union of form and function that’ll makes every entertaining occasion, from game day parties to grad parties, simply delicious!

Here’s how to assemble a terrific grazing board with a Tex-Mex twist in three easy steps.

1. Pick a Meaty Main Dish

Start with the main dish, which we prefer to make in either a slow cooker or an Instant Pot™. (New to the Instant Pot™? Get all the ins and outs of using one effectively in our article, How to use an Instant Pot™.) Using one of these appliances frees you up to prepare for the party, instead of babysitting the stove. Even better, these devices are both excellent ways to turn large, tough cuts of meat into meltingly tender morsels. We’ve got recipes for groups of all sizes.

2. Gather Your Fixings

Once you’ve picked out your main dish, the rest of the menu is equally easy—you just need to pick favorites. Start with the base into which all the goodness goes: shells and tortillas. Make it easy for guests to adapt their meals to their tastes by setting out Old El Paso flour and soft corn tortillas, crispy Stand ‘n Stuff taco shells, taco boats or all of the above—you can’t go wrong. The same goes for the fixings, but to make things extra easy, we’ve assembled a quick shopping list of essentials:

  • Avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese
  • Black olives
  • Salsa
  • Green chiles
  • Cilantro
  • Limes
  • Fresh or pickled jalapeño
  • Chopped tomatoes

If you think you’ll have an extra hungry crowd or want to include a vegetarian option, beans and rice are always a welcome addition and can make a great base for a burrito bowl, too.

3. Build Your Board

Now for the fun part: building your board! If you don’t have an extra-large cutting board, improvise by pushing together a couple of smaller boards. Prep your fixings ahead of time so they’re ready to set out and eat. That means washing and chopping vegetables, grating cheese and pouring all your sauces into bowls, so people can dress up their plates directly from the board.

Meet Our Favorite Party Food Fix: The Tex-Mex Grazing Board

Here are a couple of quick tricks for setting up your board and presenting everything prettily:

  • If you anchor the corners of your board with the main meat dish, plus tortillas and taco shells, more than one guest can help themselves at a time.
  • Save space and make your tortillas and taco shells look pretty by stacking or fanning them out.
  • Shred your chicken, pork or beef so that it’s easy for guests to dig in. Serve meat in bowls or keep in your slow cooker on the “warm” setting.
  • Cut your limes into wedges so they’re easy to squeeze. If you’re serving Mexican beer or margaritas alongside, the wedges can do double duty.
  • Squeeze a little lime over your chopped avocado to keep them from going brown.
  • You don’t have to put out all your fixings at once. Put out as much as your board can bear and store the rest of your chopped fresh veggies in the fridge, so they stay fresh. Cilantro is especially delicate and prone to wilting.
  • If you want to take some of the kick out of fresh jalapeño, remove the seeds and ribs of the pepper. You can also dice, instead of slice, to keep the spiciness from being overwhelming.
  • Put chopped tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle with salt to drain off some of the liquid and punch up their flavor before adding them to your board.

Got all that? Good! Now you’ve mastered the ultimate party trick. Pour yourself a drink and go enjoy your party.

P.S. If you want to dive deeper into hosting, check out Betty’s article on All the Secrets to Simplify Hosting.