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What can I use to garnish a turkey platter?

When serving a beautifully roasted turkey as the centerpiece of a holiday meal or dinner party, you’ll want to dress it up with some festive garnishes to complete the presentation. Turkey garnishes not only add visual appeal to your platter, but can provide flavor and textural contrasts to the tender, juicy meat. There are endless options for turkey platter garnishes that can complement the roasted bird and impress your guests.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs make simple yet elegant garnishes for a roasted turkey. Sprigs of rosemary, thyme, sage, and other herbs used to season the turkey infuse it with flavor while providing a pop of color and freshness. Arrange small sprigs of different herbs around the turkey platter for an attractive garnish. Some good herb options include:

  • Rosemary – Fragrant pine-like flavor pairs well with poultry
  • Thyme – Earthy lemon thyme complements turkey nicely
  • Sage – Savory herb that enhances poultry’s richness
  • Marjoram – Pleasant sweet and citrusy flavor
  • Oregano – Robust herbal flavor complements Mediterranean-style turkey
  • Chives – Oniony flavor and grassy green color

Make sure herbs look fresh and vibrant. Carefully wash and pat dry any herbs before placing them on the platter. Herbs like rosemary and thyme hold up well, while more delicate herbs like parsley may wilt quickly.

Fruits and Vegetables

For a more colorful turkey garnish, fresh fruits and vegetables add bright pops of color and natural sweetness. Some options include:

  • Cranberries – Festive red berries complement turkey perfectly
  • Pomegranate arils – Juicy red seeds with a sweet-tart flavor
  • Orange slices – Bright citrus flavor and color
  • Grapes – Red or green grapes offer sweetness
  • Kumquats – Petite citrus fruit with sweet rind
  • Persimmons – Vibrant orange color and sweet flavor
  • Apples – Sliced apples or cranberries spiked with apple cider
  • Figs – Intense sweetness pairs nicely with turkey
  • Pears – Elegant sliced pears

Cut fruit and vegetables attractively and make sure they are dry before placing on the platter. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice to prevent oxidation. Place them creatively around the turkey to add spots of color.


Nuts are a perfect way to add crunch and richness to a turkey platter. Toasted nuts not only provide flavor contrast, but their brown hues contrast beautifully with the turkey meat. Some nut garnish ideas include:

  • Walnuts – Toasted walnut halves add earthy crunch
  • Pecans – Buttery, rich pecans pair wonderfully with turkey
  • Hazelnuts – Toasted hazelnuts lend a sweet nuttiness
  • Almonds – Sliced or slivered almonds toast up nicely
  • Pine nuts – Subtly sweet pine nuts provide texture

Chopped or sliced nuts can be sprinkled directly over the turkey, while whole nuts look lovely scattered around the platter. Make sure to toast nuts first to intensify their flavor.

Edible Flowers

Using edible flowers to garnish a roasted turkey is an elegant and visually striking choice. Vibrant flower petals add natural beauty to the presentation. Some edible flowers that make lovely turkey garnishes include:

  • Nasturtiums – Bright orange and red blossoms with peppery flavor
  • Pansies – Colorful petals with a mild, grassy taste
  • Marigolds – Cheerful yellow and orange flowers
  • Roses – Fragrant rose petals in a range of hues
  • Lavender – Fragrant purple flowers
  • Dianthus – Sweet-spicy scented blooms
  • Violets – Delicate purple or white flowers with floral aroma

Be sure to source edible flowers from a trusted supplier. Carefully wash and dry the petals before using. Place flowers creatively on the platter for a stunning presentation.

Fresh Herb Butter

Flavored herb butter pats make for both a delicious and beautiful turkey platter garnish. Herb butters infused with fresh herbs complement the roasted turkey while providing spots of color. Shape the butter into round discs or use small molds to shape into leaves, flowers, or other festive shapes. Here are some herb butter blend ideas:

  • Parsley and sage butter
  • Lemon and thyme butter
  • Rosemary and garlic butter
  • Orange and ginger butter
  • Cranberry and orange zest butter

Keep herb butter refrigerated until ready to serve, then let soften briefly at room temperature before garnishing. The flavors will nicely melt over the hot turkey when served.


For a savory, appetizer-inspired turkey platter, olives make a perfect garnish. Briny, salty olives provide flavor contrast and visual appeal. Use a combination of different olive varieties for interest. Some recommended types include:

  • Kalamata – Rich, earthy purple olives
  • Picholine – Bright green, buttery olives
  • Castelvetrano – Mild green olives with fruity flavor
  • Cerignola – Large green olives with mild brininess
  • Niçoise – Small black olives with robust olive flavor

Drain and pat dry pitted olives before adding to the platter. Scatter them around the turkey or cluster them in small piles for a decorative touch.

Pickled Vegetables

Quick pickled vegetables lend pops of tangy flavor and crunchy texture to a turkey platter. Their bright colors also make them a festive garnish. Some pickled veggie options include:

  • Pickled red onions – Ruby red with tangy-sweet flavor
  • Pickled carrots – Orange and crunchy
  • Pickled radishes – Rosy pink with peppery bite
  • Cornichons – Mini tart dill pickles
  • Pickled green beans – Crisp and tangy

Drain excess liquid from pickled vegetables before garnishing. Arrange them around the turkey platter for bursts of color and acidity to balance the rich meat.

Dried Fruit

Dried fruits like apricots, cherries, cranberries, figs, and raisins offer concentrated sweetness and chewy texture that complements roasted turkey. Their jewel tones also make them an attractive turkey platter garnish. Try:

  • Dried apricots – Orange slices with honeyed flavor
  • Dried cherries – Bright red and sweet-tart
  • Dried cranberries – Intense cranberry flavor
  • Dried figs – Sweet and rich purple fruit
  • Golden raisins – Mild and lightly sweet

Chop dried fruits into smaller pieces before garnishing. Spread them directly over the turkey or scatter them around the perimeter of the platter.

Fresh Breads

A carved turkey just begs to be accompanied by fresh bread or rolls on the platter. Breads provide an edible base to soak up the savory juices from the roasted meat. Some excellent options include:

  • Dinner rolls – Soft, fluffy rolls for soaking up juices
  • Cornbread – Crumbly, dense bread with yellow color
  • Focaccia – Herb-flecked Italian flatbread
  • Biscuits – Buttery, soft homemade biscuits
  • Challah – Braided egg bread with a rich golden crust

Slice or break breads into smaller pieces and arrange around the turkey platter. Provide a basket of whole rolls or slices on the side for guests to enjoy.

Stuffing or Dressing

No turkey platter would be complete without a generous scoop of homemade stuffing or dressing. Used to stuff the turkey cavity, stuffing can also be baked separately in a casserole. The rich, savory bread mixture soaks up turkey juices and gravy for added flavor. Options include:

  • Bread stuffing – Made with cubed bread, onion, celery, herbs
  • Cornbread stuffing – Sweet, crumbly cornbread base
  • Wild rice stuffing – Nutty whole grain rice with mushrooms
  • Sausage stuffing – Savory stuffing with pork or turkey sausage
  • Oyster stuffing – Coastal version with briny oyster flavor

Mound stuffing alongside the carved turkey, drizzling some of the savory pan juices over the top. The combination of tender turkey and ultra-savory stuffing is hard to beat.

Gravy and Cranberry Sauce

You can’t have turkey without gravy and cranberry sauce! These classic sauce complements provide essential flavor and moisture for roasted turkey. Options include:

  • Turkey pan gravy – Made from the flavorful drippings
  • Giblet gravy – Enriched with giblets and neck
  • Mushroom gravy – Earthy version with sautéed mushrooms
  • Fresh cranberry sauce – Tart, ruby-red relish
  • Jellied cranberry sauce – Moldable sweet-tart condiment

Serve gravy in a gravy boat alongside the platter so guests can pour over their turkey. Round out the platter with a dollop or side dish of bright cranberry sauce.

Fresh Greens

Finally, add some freshness with a simple green salad or fresh herb sprigs. Crisp greens and herbs complement the rich turkey and give guests a refreshing contrast. Ideas include:

  • Arugula salad – Peppery baby arugula with a lemony vinaigrette
  • Spinach salad – Tender baby spinach leaves
  • Watercress – Delicate peppery leaves
  • Parsley – Curly Italian parsley sprigs

Place small piles of greens or individual herb sprigs in open spots around the platter. The fresh herbs and greens tie the whole turkey presentation together beautifully.

Putting It All Together

When garnishing a turkey platter, it’s best to choose 3-4 complementary garnishes and artfully arrange them around the turkey. Avoid overloading the platter. Some classic garnish combinations include:

  • Fresh rosemary sprigs, roasted apples, sage leaves
  • Dried cranberries, toasted pecans, thyme sprigs
  • Orange cranberry sauce, parsley, celery leaves
  • Gravy boat, cornbread stuffing, Brussels sprouts
  • Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, oregano sprigs

Place garnishes evenly around the turkey, alternating colors, flavors, and textures for visual appeal. Leave some open space between garnishes to let the roasted turkey shine as the star of the platter.

Turkey Platter Garnish Ideas

Garnish Benefits Suggested Varieties
Fresh Herbs Provides flavor, aroma, and color Rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley
Fruits Adds bright colors and sweetness Pomegranate, cranberries, orange, grapes
Vegetables Pops of color and crunch Brussels sprouts, roasted squash, broccoli
Nuts Crunch and rich nutty flavor Walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds
Edible Flowers Natural beauty and elegant touch Nasturtiums, pansies, roses, lavender
Herb Butter Flavor and color contrast Parsley-sage, rosemary-lemon
Olives Briny, savory contrast Kalamata, Cerignola, Picholine
Pickled Vegetables Pops of acidity and crunch Pickled onions, carrots, beans, radishes
Dried Fruit Concentrated sweetness Apricots, cherries, cranberries, figs
Breads Soaks up savory juices Rolls, cornbread, biscuits, focaccia
Stuffing Rich, ultra-savory flavor Bread, cornbread, sausage, oyster
Gravy & Cranberry Sauce Essential moist flavor complements Turkey pan gravy, whole berry cranberry
Greens Fresh contrast and color Spinach, arugula, watercress, parsley


When planning your turkey platter garnishes, think seasonal, fresh, and colorful. The goal is to complement the star attraction – the juicy roasted turkey. Choose garnishes that add flavor accents, textures, colors, and visual appeal. Popular options include fresh herbs, fruits, vegetables, edible flowers, nuts, salad greens, pickles, olives, flavored butters, breads, stuffing, and the essential sauces. With artful arrangement and the right combination of garnishes, you can create a stunning turkey platter centrepiece that will wow your holiday guests.