Easy Make Ahead Deli Meat Triangle Cold Sandwiches For Large Crowd With 9 Useful Tips

       Assorted sandwiches are a very convenient food for a party or everyday meal. However, if we prepare for a large crowd it will be different than we make for a family. The best about this snack we can make sandwiches the day before the event, so on the day of the party we have time to do other preparations. So many sandwich ideas for a crowd on the Internet but my best advice keep simple as possible for a large crowd!

      I am going to share easy triangle sandwich ideas we can serve without picks. I was making for a large kids’ party and going to share my experience and what I learned. We were celebrating our grandson’s 6-year-old birthday. The photo below is of my practice in making sandwiches.

        Remember, when we cook for many people choose less assortment and focus on quality. My best advice, make a few sandwiches in advance to get a feel for how you are going to make them for the party and let other people (besides family) taste the meat you choose. When the day to make them comes, no stress and you know what you are doing. We can make a sandwich tray the day before the party and store it in a cold environment. With mini sandwiches, you can easily feed a large crowd without spending so much time in the kitchen.

On the page:

  1. How to make mini sandwiches
  2. How to decorate sandwich trays
  3. How long we can keep out the sandwiches at the party
  4. How to keep the sandwich tray cold longer
  5. Where to buy large party trays with lids in the USA (Tip about Restaurant Depot Store)
  6. Where I found my budget-friendly cooking tongs for mini sandwiches
  7. Sandwich tray bell pepper decor idea for Halloween (Easy!) The napkins+plastic cover can be adjusted for any theme and season.

Tip 1

We can make sandwiches with mixed meat for our family but for a large crowd, I suggest making sandwiches with one kind of meat in each sandwich. For example, turkey meat, ham, and roast beef sandwich. Some people like ham and some prefer turkey and we don’t know everyone’s preferences. Guests have an assortment of sandwiches to choose from.

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What We Need:

1 large white bunny bread and 1 whole wheat

1 pound thinly sliced turkey breast meat

1 pound thinly sliced ham

1 pound thin slices provolone cheese

1 can Mayonnaise (or your favorite sandwich spread)


Soft room temperature butter  (if you are going to serve the next day)

Tip 2

If you prefer your favorite meat and cheese. For one loaf of bread, we need 1 1/2 pounds of meat and 1/2 pound of cheese thinly sliced. However, if you prepare for a large event have some extra everything. Keep leftovers for the family to eat later.

Tools We Need:

1 spreading knife

1 bread knife or electric knife (much better!)

cutting board

paper towel

cling wrap



Tip 3

Use an electric knife instead of a bread knife. An electric knife makes cutting sandwiches so easy and much faster than a bread knife! No, any smashed sandwiches because we don’t have to apply pressure when cutting them.

How To Make The Mini Sandwiches:

  1. Place everything you need on the table. Make assembly line. I like to slightly wet the table and cover it with cling wrap for simplicity. Cling wrap sticks well to wet surfaces. Spread mayonnaise or sandwich spread a very thin layer on each slice of bread.

Tip 4

Spread a very thin layer of room-temperature butter on each piece of bread. Adding butter is the prevention of soggy bread. Butter is hardened in the refrigerator and makes a barrier between the bread and mayonnaise. So our sandwiches stay well over knight and not only looks and taste good.

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2. Place cheese on each slice and add just a little mayonnaise, so the meat sticks to the cheese well. I used a ziplock bag as a piping bag.

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3. Place meat as flat as possible on the cheese. We can also add little mustard to meat slices, this helps stick well layers of meat with each other and add more flavor to ham.

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4. Assemble the sandwich. Place the wooden sticks in the center (this step helps to keep the sandwich together). Cut the crust off with a sawing motion, if you use a bread knife. (If you use an electric knife, so much easier!) Try to hold the bread and don’t apply pressure to the bread when cutting. This simple step prevents squishing the bread.

*We can do 2 sandwiches at a time as well. However, if I tried to do more at the time, it was not easy to handle to make perfect triangle shapes.

Tip 5

We can leave the crust on sandwiches, but if your bread is perfectly square. However, without crust sandwiches look more festive, in my opinion.

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5. Use the wooden stick as a guide and cut the sandwich into triangles.

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Mini sandwiches in a triangle shape look good on a round platter and square platter as well. We can also cut some in a square shape for more visual interest. Our fantasy is the limit!

Tip 6

If you don’t want to use wooden sticks to hold together sandwiches, avoid using lettuce. Mini sandwiches don’t stay well together with lettuce inside without sticks holding them together not easy to pick up. Just add vegetables on a side.

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How To Decorate Make Ahead Sandwich Tray For Crowd

        To make our sandwich tray attractive we need to add garnish that doesn’t add moisture. It is best to do garnish at the last minute, but if we have to add it to the sandwich platter, make sure to add a paper towel on the top. Paper towels absorb moisture when you keep finger sandwiches in the refrigerator. My favorite garnish for the trays is parsley and cherry tomatoes, which brings visually more interest to the plate and festive looks but is so easy. The square tray is a sandwich tray I made for my grandson’s birthday party.

*The round tray sandwiches were made not by me.

Sandwich platter garnish ideas:

  1. Italian parsley
  2. Curly parsley
  3. Roman lettuce
  4. Curly lettuce (just before serving)
  5. Cherry tomatoes (orange, yellow, and red)
  6. Celery
  7. Radish

In the photo below I made sandwiches for the family, the reason you see the Roman lettuce inside. In the photo, you can see how cute looks if we add different colors of cherry tomatoes. The greens on the sides are Roman lettuce.

Tip 7

For large parties keep decor simple to make if you don’t have many helpers! Cherry tomatoes and some greens are the perfect garnish for a sandwich tray!

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How Long We Can Keep Out Sandwiches At Party?

     I asked a food safety professional how long sandwiches can sit out at a party. She said that most types of sandwiches can be safely left out at room temperature for up to two hours. Our goal is to keep the temperature of sandwiches below 40°F. Good practice to have two sets of sandwich trays and time to time rotate them. One goes to the refrigerator and another stays on the party table. Then take the tray from the refrigerator after 2 hours and replace the tray on the table. This way, the sandwiches will always be within the safe temperature zone.

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How To Keep Sandwich Trays Keep Cold Long With Gel Ice Pack?


            Keeping a sandwich tray cold can be a challenge even for 2 hours, especially in hot weather. We live in Louisiana, the USA and summer is very hot here. Here are a few tips to keep trays cold at the party:

  • Use gel ice packs. Reusable gel ice packs made for after-surgery recovery are a great option. (The pack on the photo is over 20 years old!) They come in different sizes and can be found on Amazon for around $19. We use them under our trays at our party (photos above) and they are flat and not noticeable. We don’t have to worry, they leak after melt as if we use ice.
  • Place the ice packs under the tray. This will help to keep the sandwiches cold from the bottom up.
  • Make sure your ice packs are completely frozen before placing them under the tray. This will help them to last longer.
  • Good to have a double set of ice packs and rotate them.

          Another option is to use catering ice sheets. These are large, rectangular sheets of ice that are specifically designed to keep food cold. You can find them online or at catering supply stores. I don’t know how long they last because I never have them.

No matter which method you choose, be sure to keep the sandwich tray in a cooler place at the party. This will help to prevent the food from spoiling.

Here are some additional tips for keeping a sandwich tray cold:

  • Use an ice chest to keep sandwiches cool before serving, if you have one large enough for your trays. This will help to trap the cold air around sandwiches.
  • As an option, place the sandwich tray on top of a well-sealed ziplock bag with ice (better in double bags, to be sure the bag doesn’t leak). This will help to keep the bottom of the tray cold.
  • Cover the sandwich tray with a lid as long as possible. This will help to prevent the cold air from escaping.

By following these tips, you can keep your sandwich tray cold and fresh for 2 hours without a refrigerator and safe to eat for your guests. Make someone responsible for watching your food and rotate trays. For the host will be not easy to keep up with everything and the best practice ask someone to do it, if it is a large party.

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Where To Buy Large Trays And Food For Sandwiches For Large Party Locally In The USA

       The best places locally to buy food and black plastic catering trays with lids for parties are wholesale stores. Costco, Sam’s Club, or Restaurant Depot. Restaurant Depot is a wholesale store for restaurants and businesses. To shop regularly there we need to have a membership. However, if we need to shop just for one day we can get a day pass with a driver’s license.

     Another option, ask your local bakery or deli department at the store to sell empty large trays.

*If you don’t have a Sam’s Club membership. You can get a guest membership for the free trial but it is only for online shopping and applies an additional fee per online order. Costco store does not offer free shopping passes.

Tip 8

      Reuse trays. Cover the bottom with plastic wrap and we do not have to clean the bottom. The top needs to be rinsed with warm soap and water. If we see nothing on the lid visually, I suggest rinsing with warm water anyway. The reason, some drops may not be visible Dry well before storing. Buy the same size and shape trays for easy storage.

* For the square tray can be tricky to keep plastic in corners. I found this simple step helps to stick plastic wrapping better to the tray corners. Cover the tray with plastic wrap but plastic isn’t placed under the tray yet. Place the lid on the tray. The lid lets plastic stick to corners well. Then place plastic under the bottom of the tray.

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Budget Friendly Cooking Tongs for Mini Sandwiches

       Place cooking tongs close to sandwich trays. The best is with easy access for guests’ convenience to pick up the sandwiches. Make sure you have a place to put the tongs separate from the sandwiches, so your guests can easily find a place to return the tongs after using them. It can be simply a mason jar. This way we keep a good distance between people’s hands and the sandwich tray.

∗Some of my metal cooking tongs I bought at “The Dollar General” store for around $1 each.

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Halloween Sandwich Tray Decor Idea

Jack O Lantern pepper simple decor is great for a Halloween sandwich tray. Very bright and fun addition! I have celery sticks in the pepper. Celery is great on sandwich trays as well. My sandwich platter is small in the photo compared to the pepper size, but if you have a large tray looks much better.

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Tip 9

Plastic trays are plain colors, mostly black and beige. This is the easiest way how we can make them match your party theme.

  1. Choose napkins that match your party theme.
  2. Cover the tray with napkins and smooth them out.
  3. Cover the trays with plastic wrap to secure the napkins and avoid contact with sandwiches.

This method is a simple, inexpensive, and easy way to make our plain trays match any party theme, making them unique and festive.

*We can also use different types of paper, such as scrapbook paper or wrapping paper instead of paper napkins.

We can change any tray to the desirable theme. In the photos, for example, I have the summer tray and want to make a Halloween sandwich tray. I covered the tray with black napkins. My Halloween tray is ready!

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