Effortless eats: Creating the ultimate girl dinner

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What is girl dinner, the snack plate trend taking TikTok by storm? These no-cook platters of perfectly-arranged finger foods are the answer to quick dinners when solo dining.

An orange, a jar of jam, meats, apples, nuts and cheeses on a grazing board.
Photo credit: Unsplash.

Charcuterie boards, snack plates, butter boards and girl dinner: These plates of finger foods and spreads have a lot in common.

However, girl dinner is meant to be the whole meal, while the others are usually served as appetizers, bar food or snacks.

But what exactly is girl dinner and how do you make a balanced one?

What is girl dinner?

A search for #girldinner on TikTok or Instagram reveals plates with arrangements of snacky foods like charcuterie, nuts, cheese and crackers.

According to Insider, TikTok user Olivia Maher came up with the term girl dinner when she posted a video of a dinner plate of bread, cheese, grapes and wine on May 12, 2023. By July, #girldinner was trending on TikTok.

The craze has gone viral. Myriad users showcased their own elaborate arrays of savory and sweet snacks. It even landed its own music via a trending audio clip on TikTok, as well as a highlight on The Today Show and a featured menu item at Popeye’s restaurants.

“Girl dinner is my favorite way to eat, especially when I’m busy,” said Michelle Price of Honest and Truly. “Grabbing little bits and bites of my favorite foods, without having to take the time and energy to arrange them, makes me so much less stressed and so much happier.

A plate of fruits, meats and cheeses.
Girl dinner. Photo credit: Unsplash.
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The components of girl dinner

Girl dinners are ideal for people who prefer a variety of foods and a quick, no-cook meal. The “a little bit of this, a little bit of that” quality appeals to people dining solo and busy parents alike.

These finger food meals typically follow the pattern of one or two protein-rich options, like prosciutto, salami or other cured meats, plus a variety of types and textures of food, such as:

  • Cheese
  • Fresh fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Dried fruit
  • Bread or crackers
  • Chips

Girl dinner ideas 

Whether you call it a snack plate or a girl dinner, these dinners are a delicious way to incorporate lots of your favorite foods into one meal.

“I love girl dinner. Many years ago as a single mom, it was one of my secret joys. I’d make just what I wanted, or even had on hand, for dinner and enjoy my girl dinner alone while reading a good book.”

— Laura Sampson, Little House Big Alaska

Here are some creative, themed ideas for a delicious yet balanced girl dinner.

  • Italian: Prosciutto, pepperoni, sliced bread, burrata with olive oil, salt and pepper, sliced tomatoes, pesto, Tuscan white bean dip
  • Middle Eastern: Hummus, pita bread, tzatziki, grilled chicken, stuffed olives, sliced cucumber, whipped feta dip
  • French: Baguette slices, brie cheese, grapes, paté, dried apricots, jam, fermented pickles
  • Mexican: Tortilla chips, guacamole, jalapeños, salsa, sliced avocado, sliced cherry tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, peach salsa
  • Kid-friendly: Deli meat, sliced cheese, celery with peanut butter, summer berries, trail mix, pretzel sticks, potato chips, sliced apples

To drink, enjoy your girl dinner with a glass of wine, a cocktail or flavored water.

Italian cheeses, bread, tomatoes and cucumbers on a blue plate.
Photo credit: YayImages.

Tips for girl dinner

Ready to make your own girl dinner? Follow these tips:

  • Start with an assortment of your favorite snack-like foods.
  • Use a mixture of flavors and textures.
  • Be sure to include protein-rich items to make it a balanced meal.
  • Utilize what you have on hand — even leftovers.
  • Use more fruits and vegetables than carbs.
  • Arrange them artfully on the plate, or don’t. There are no rules.
  • Anyone can enjoy girl dinner — not just women.

Price offers some more advice for putting together your meal. “The important thing is that you like what’s on your plate. It is not about eating as little as possible or skimping on nutrients you need,” she said.

Based in Charlotte, N.C., Susannah Brinkley Henry is the cocktail content creator behind the blog Feast + West. Her work has been featured in Southern Living, Oprah Daily, Buzzfeed and more. In 2019, her website was a finalist in the Saveur Blog Awards for Best Entertaining Blog. As a professional graphic designer, photographer, writer, and recipe developer, Susannah helps home bartenders and drink enthusiasts level up their cocktail skills.

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