We eat with our eyes first, right? There’s no need to get out the edible flowers and tweezers for a weeknight family dinner, but if you want to make a meal feel extra special, or you’re planning to take a picture, you can use a few simple tips to create a beautiful plate. These are some of the plating tips our chefs use at home.

plating tips for grain bowls
A bright bowl adds a pop of color

Choose the right plate 

Before you start arranging food, you have to choose your dinnerware. Dinner plates can range in size from 8.75 to 12 inches in diameter. In some cases, your plate might be bigger than your stomach. Choosing a smaller option can keep your plate from feeling empty. If your dinner plates are too big, try plating on a salad plate. 

Use matte plates 

This plating tip is especially important if you’re planning on photographing your food. High-shine plates can reflect light and cause glare, or, even worse, capture your own reflection. 

plating tips for pizza
Cut slices so that your dish looks ready to eat

Think about volume too 

It’s not just about the surface area of the plate, consider the height of your food too. Add visual interest by piling lettuce high or stacking a few roasted vegetables on top of each other. 

Go for a garnish 

A sprinkle of fresh herbs can add a splash of color to stews, roasted meats, or pasta dishes. For soups or breads, a drizzle of olive oil can add a beautiful sheen. Garnishes can be creative! Nuts, thinly sliced vegetables, and seeds can all add to your plate. Just make sure that the garnishes you choose are edible. 

Use garnishes to add contrasting colors

Embrace imperfection

Don’t forget: dinner is there to be eaten. If you’re photographing a serving dish, try taking a scoop out or leaving some sauce splatters on the side of the dish. This will make your photos feel relatable and authentic.

Want to try these plating tips at home? Get started with your next Blue Apron delivery.