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I have heard both of the terms "relish tray" and "veggie tray" used somewhat interchangeably. It seems as though there is some overlap between the two based on some simple Google Images searches (relish tray and veggie tray), though they do appear to be somewhat distinct. I am left wondering what the real difference is between the two - as well as appropriate (and inappropriate) uses for each.

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In my experience, a relish tray is more like pickles and beets, whereas a veggie tray has things like carrots, cauliflower, and something in which to dip them. The major difference being that you would add the relish to some part(s) of the meal, like pickles to a hamburger, but you might eat the veggies outright using the accompanying dip. –  cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Nov 17 '12 at 2:50
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A description by Phyllis McGinley: "... But down New England way, \\ Where once the bean \\ Was high cuisine, \\ Behold the Relish tray! \\ Don’t look now, \\ But here it comes: \\ Cinnamon apples, \\ Candied plums, \\ Fanciful notions \\ Like pickled peas, \\ And oceans and oceans \\ Of cottage cheese. –  Peter Shor Nov 17 '12 at 2:56
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You can get seasoned advice on cooking.stackexchange.com. –  coleopterist Nov 17 '12 at 4:00
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

In my experience a veggie tray will contain mainly raw vegetables perhaps with a sauce or other condiments.

A relish would be made from vegetables by cooking or some other preserving process (such as pickling). So a relish tray would include a range of processed vegetables.

Of course, it would not be uncommon for a single platter to display a mixed array of raw and processed vegetables.

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