Our Thanksgiving table would not be complete without this turkey veggie platter! It is an easy, allergy friendly appetizer that everyone can enjoy and also doubles as a fun centerpiece.
This little turkey actually went viral years ago and has been duplicated many, many, MANY times! It makes me smile when I see the variations so many people have shared. Who knew a turkey veggie tray could travel so far via the internet?!
Thanksgiving meal traditions
I am often asked what in the world possessed me to make a turkey out of veggies. The answer is, I was trying to make a new, allergy friendly food tradition for my kids.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! Getting together with family, eating delicious food, watching football…what’s not to love?
We also would make little candy turkeys for each table setting. Each little turkey was made with Ritz crackers as the base and back, chocolate candies for the body, and candy corn for the feet and beak.
In November 2008, when my kids were four and two, I was getting ready to host Thanksgiving. I wanted to continue the food traditions from my childhood but, with so many allergens to avoid, it seemed impossible!
Eventually, I got my menu squared away but I couldn't seem to come up with anything to take the place of those Ritz cracker and candy corn turkeys!
Then it hit me...forget Ritz crackers and candy corn! Let's make a turkey veggie tray!
Killing two birds with one stone (haha), the turkey veggie platter was born! We made our first turkey veggie tray in 2008 and have made one every year since.
Turkey veggie platter tips
When I make this platter, I use a 12-inch round plate. I cover it with Romaine or leaf lettuce. This is just for aesthetics - if you don't have an abundance of lettuce laying around, just skip that step!
I always start with the cucumber "body". Everything else gets kind of layered above and around that so it works as a good anchor.
Next are the multi-colored bell peppers. I always cut them cross-wise and then in half so they have that rounded shape. I think it looks more like feathers but, again, you can cut them however you like to eat them!
The baby carrots are the easiest part! I usually stack two layers of carrots.
For the turkey's head, I use the bottom of a green bell pepper. I save the bottom of the yellow bell pepper to cut out the beak.
And for the little red part that hangs down (I think that's called the "snood"?) I use a short curvy piece from a slice of red pepper.
The eyes are black beans. I think the eye shape makes this little guy look really cute but you really could use anything dark and round for the eyes.
I use toothpicks that are broken into small pieces to attach the eyes, nose, and snood to the green pepper head. It's a little tedious but totally worth it!
More Thanksgiving recipes
Turkey Veggie Platter
- Romaine or leaf lettuce
- 1 cucumber sliced
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- baby carrots
- 2 black beans or black olives
- ⅓ celery stalk
- Slice the bell peppers crosswise and then cut each circle in half. Cut one ½" piece off of one of the red pepper slices and set aside (this will be used for the face). Set aside the bottom part of the peppers for the turkey's body.
- For the feathers: Cover a 12 inch round platter with the leaves of lettuce. To make the turkey's feathers, start with forming a circle with the cucumber slices towards the bottom of the platter. Above the cucumbers, form a semi-circle with the red peppers, then the yellow peppers, then the green peppers. Place the baby carrots vertically above the last row of peppers.
- To make the turkey's body and face: Break two toothpicks in half. Put two of the toothpicks where the eyes will go. Push the black beans onto the toothpick making sure that the toothpick doesn't go all the way through. Cut a triangle out of the leftover bottom from the yellow pepper. Attach with a toothpick below the eyes. Attach the reserved red pepper piece to the left of the yellow pepper "beak".
- For the Legs: Cut the piece of celery in half lengthwise. On each piece, carefully slice lengthwise from the end of the celery piece to almost the center. Do this twice on each piece. Place the celery in ice water and place in the refrigerator until the ends curl. When curled, nestle the un-curled end under the cucumbers.
Serve with hummus or other allergy friendly dip.
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