What Is a Groaning Board?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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As a popular and whimsical term for a buffet, the groaning board is a favorite option when it comes to food serving at family events, church suppers and in many family style restaurants. With a casual air and the promise of an ample amount of choices, these buffets allow easy access to all the food items as well as plates, utensils, and napkins.

Organizing a groaning board is usually accomplished by placing like items in the same section of the space. Cold salads and toppings are normally positioned at one end of the groaning bar, along with the choices of salad dressing. Next, any cut and fresh fruit is set in place, along with serving forks and spoons that make it possible to quickly spear or dip the cut fruit. Generally, this section of the groaning bar may include some type of cooling agent, such as a bed of ice underneath the serving containers. This helps the greens to remain crisp and fresh for the duration of the event, as well as keeping the fruit chilled to just the right temperature.


As the buffet items move on to foods that are served hot, an array of cooked vegetables usually appears next in the arrangement. Often, the host will provide a wide range of vegetables, taking care to mix the color and texture. In addition, care is usually taken to include plenty of green vegetables as well as starchy options, making it possible for persons who are watching their cholesterol and carbohydrate intake to still enjoy plenty of good food.

Following the hot vegetables, a selection of meats is usually available. Typically, a nicely arranged groaning board will feature options for both red and white meats, with some items fried, others baked or broiled. In an era when many people are attempting to choose healthy options at a buffet, it is not unusual to see more than one chicken and fish offering, along with at least one lean red meat. Generally, the meat and hot vegetable sections will include some sort of heating medium, in order to keep the selections warm. Oblong chafing dishes are not uncommon sights at a casual buffet.

Breads are usually found as part of the groaning board as well. In some cases, the breads are placed after the meats, while at other times, they may serve as a buffer between the cold and hot foods. Desserts, along with beverages, are usually placed away from the main groaning board. However, when the buffet is set up in the home, the desserts and beverages may be placed at one end of the board. This arrangement allows people to prepare their salad and dinner plates, set them down at a table setting, and return for a beverage or dessert.

Intended to help make serving food simple and easy, the groaning board is an ideal solution for casual dining where the idea is to allow guests to enjoy whatever foods they like, while avoiding any foods they should not consume.


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Post 2

How about smorgasbord.

Post 1

I *get* what a groaning board is, but is there another term that can be substituted to make it sound more appealing? We sell packages to groups. Other than the boring "buffet".....

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