Eating lunch in the sun somehow makes everything taste better! Maybe this is why picnics are so good? Or maybe it’s because picnic food is incredible, combining everyone’s favorite finger foods with bright and light flavors?
The best picnics need a comfortable blanket, a good cooler, and a place to sit in the shade. Oh, and lots and lots of food! Sandwiches, salads, wraps, pastries, fruit, chips, dips — picnics are all about delicious food, eaten in the sunshine with friends.
With plenty of room in the cooler, you might be wondering exactly what to bring for your picnic. Check out our guide to find our favorite food selections.
Put Together An Amazing Picnic With These Recipes
Picnic food should be so much more than just soggy sandwiches and crumbled chips. Picnic food can explore fun and exciting flavors, to eat with your fingers, sitting in the sun.
We’ve put together this list of our favorite picnic foods, to make the most of the sunny weather!
Is it a picnic without sandwiches? Possibly, but it wouldn’t be as good. Tuna salad sandwiches use one of the most underrated pantry ingredients – tinned tuna – to create something filling and fantastic.
This recipe switches mayo for tahini and Greek yogurt, for a lighter sandwich that’s ideal for very hot days. Packed with olives and sun dried tomatoes, the Italian flavors add a twist to the classic.
Chicken salad is a real crowd-pleaser, and this recipe keeps everything classic. Combining mayonnaise with Dijon mustard, the simple flavors are perfectly suited for family picnics.
Make sure to cut the chicken up small, for easier sandwich eating! Because the recipe is so simple, you can mix it up to suit your own tastes. Add some nuts for a crunchy texture, or a touch of sweetness from grapes or dried cranberries.
A caprese sandwich needs just a few classic ingredients for a little taste of Italian summer. Zingy ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, and fragrant basil are drizzled in balsamic vinegar, for a mouthwatering mixture of sweet and savory.
This recipe adds pesto to the mix to ramp up the basil flavors. Make it extra special with homemade pesto, or keep things simple with your favorite store-bought brand.
Egg salad is an underrated picnic staple, the kind of sandwich you forget how much you enjoy until you’re actually eating it. The recipe is incredibly simple, combining boiled eggs with mayonnaise, mustard, and then seasoned to perfection.
Play around with the seasoning levels to find what’s right for you. We love a big pinch of cayenne pepper, to add some heat to the otherwise creamy dish.
Switch things up at your next picnic by replacing your standard sandwiches for the Vietnamese banh mi. It’s a little extra effort, but is sure to impress — and the taste can’t be beaten.
Pork is marinated overnight in a lemongrass-based marinade, and then grilled until charred. A classic French baguette is then split in two, slathered in mayonnaise, and packed with pickled vegetables and pork.
Grilled corn salad really has something of everything. Smoky flavors are combined with zingy cherry tomatoes, creamy avocado, fragrant basil, and a vibrant vinaigrette.
It tastes as bright and cheerful as a summer day, and is the perfect accompaniment to creamy sandwiches and wraps. It’s also dairy free and vegan, making it a real crowd pleaser.
Traditional Greek salad is one of the simplest salads around, but it delivers some of the biggest flavors.
The dressing is a super easy combination of red wine vinegar and olive oil, which is combined with the tangy feta cheese and salty Kalamata olives for a layered flavor.
The key is to invest in high quality extra virgin olive oil — it tastes luxurious, and really brings this salad to life.
Is there any food more suited for summer days than pesto? Something about the bright flavors are made to be enjoyed in the sunshine, and this pesto pasta salad is sure to be the star of your next picnic.
This pesto is made nut-free by using pepitas as the base, rather than pine nuts, but you can always mix it up to suit your tastes.
9. Potato Salad
Potato salad is so good for a picnic, but it can be a little heavy on a really hot day. That’s why we like this recipe.
The dressing is made from a mixture of Greek yogurt and mayonnaise, which makes it a little lighter, while no less creamy. Radish and red onions are used to add both crunch and color, along with celery that brings some savory layers.
Southwest quinoa salad is very easy to make, and can be prepared up to a day in advance. So, while this sits in the refrigerator staying delicious, you can get on with the rest of your picnic prep.
Quinoa can be intimidating if you’ve never made it before, but it’s a surprisingly easy grain to cook. And the nutty flavor and unusual texture is just right for a summer salad.
11. Macaroni Salad
Macaroni salad is another picnic classic, and we recommend making a big batch so that everyone can have as much as they like.
The key to this macaroni salad recipe is to cut all the mix-ins as small as possible. It allows all those different flavors to spread throughout the salad, without ever distracting from the macaroni and dressing combo.
Watermelon and feta is a combination that sounds unusual, and then you try it. The tangy and salty feta acts as the perfect complement to juicy and lightly sweetened watermelon.
With the addition of cucumber, this salad is extra refreshing for a warm day. Use a full sized watermelon, and reserve any spare slices for snacking.
Pad thai is a dish that works for pretty much any occasion, but it’s perhaps not best suited for picnic dishes (unless you’re very skilled with chopsticks). Instead, try these pad thai spring rolls.
The pad thai ingredients list is cut down to the bare essentials, wrapped in spring roll paper, and fried. Serve with a simple dipping sauce.
Perfect for a special summer celebration, these Vietnamese summer rolls are an unusual addition to the picnic.
uicy shrimp is quickly seared to retain texture while locking in flavor, and mixed with marinated vegetables for crunch and tang. Make sure to whip up a batch of the peanut sauce for dunking, and eat quickly after making.
Wraps are fantastic at a picnic because they’re easy to eat with your fingers, and don’t feel heavy.
Crunchy vegetables are layered on top of a thick spread of hummus, and finished with a sprinkle of parsley and a handful of hemp seeds.
The vegetables are chosen for their crisp finish, so the wrap won’t go damp. Kids will love these colorful and crunchy wraps.
16. Savory Hand Pies
Savory hand pies are similar to Cornish pasties and empanadas, packing flavored meat into a puff pastry wrapper. They’re good eaten warm, but they’re just as delicious when enjoyed cool, and add something different to the standard picnic spread.
Use store bought puff pastry sheets to save time, or make your own. The filling is adaptable, so if you’re heading to a big picnic, make a large batch with different fillings.
This cherry tomato pesto tart will be the centerpiece of your picnic, not only because it looks incredible, but because it tastes even better.
Each bite provides a mixture of creamy cheese and pesto, combined with sweet and tangy cherry tomatoes. The tart shell is easy for even novice bakers to put together.
A quiche is an excellent addition to a picnic. You can bring the entire tart and let people help themselves, or pre-slice before leaving to save time. We love this butternut squash quiche.
It combines traditional fall ingredients, for a fragrant tart with layers of flavor. Enjoy while wrapped up in a sweater on a sunny fall day.
It’s hard to go wrong with cold pizza, but these ham and cheese pizza rolls are an even better option for a picnic. A yeast dough is spread with pizza sauce, topped with ham, peppers, and cheese, and then rolled up.
Cut into pieces and baked like a cinnamon roll, these rolls are fun to eat, and can be customized with your favorite pizza toppings.
We love biscuits, but they can be a bit boring when eaten on their own. You need a good dip, and that’s hard to bring on a picnic! However, these Irish cheddar and stout biscuits are different.
They’re buttery, flaky, and loaded with flavors. You’ll want to eat them fresh from the oven, but try and save a few to pack on a picnic.
21. Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs are an excellent dish to prepare if you’re having a picnic potluck. Eggs are hard-boiled, peeled, halved, and then the yolk is scooped out and mashed with mayonnaise, mustard, and a splash of apple cider vinegar.
Pipe (or scoop) the yolks back into the whites, and finish with a sprinkle of paprika.
22. Caprese Skewers
Caprese salads combine layers of mozzarella with slices of tomatoes, sprinkled with balsamic vinegar. It’s delicious, but almost impossible to eat at a picnic.
While traditional caprese salads are best enjoyed in an Italian piazza, these skewers can be enjoyed anywhere! Using mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes, they’re the perfect size for adding a touch of Italy to your picnic.
Even the most boring sandwich can be given some added excitement with the addition of this pickled vegetable sandwich slaw.
This is a very adaptable recipe, as you can use whatever crispy vegetables you like best. And it doesn’t have to be made that far in advance. After an hour, the vegetables will be lightly pickled, and ready for sandwiches.
Store bought hummus might be delicious, but homemade hummus is even better — and it’s quite simple to put together. Blend up a batch, and bring to your next picnic with crunchy carrot sticks, salted tortilla chips, and a big spoon.
25. 7 Layer Dip Cups
7 layer dip is delicious, offering layers of classic Mexican flavors. It’s cooling and indulgent, while packing in a surprising amount of vegetables.
This recipe can be used to make 7 layer dip the traditional way, but we love the use of personal cups! It means you don’t have to carry a big bowl to your picnic, and everyone gets as much dip as they want.
Green goddess dip is delicious with pitas, chips, and crudités, but also amazing spread on sandwiches and wraps. This dip can be whipped in minutes, and can keep in the fridge for a couple of days.
Got any leftovers? If you’ve managed to resist licking the bowl, the dip can be thinned with water, and used as a salad dressing.
Guacamole is so good for picnics! It’s creamy while containing absolutely no cream, refreshing and zingy thanks to the addition of lime, and goes with almost anything you might have in your picnic spread.
The only downside is that it tends to go a little brown, but don’t worry, it’s still safe to eat.
Add some fresh fruit to your picnics with these colorful kabobs. They’re really easy to put together. Cut fresh fruit into bite-sized pieces, and thread onto wooden skewers.
And you’re done! For a picnic, either pre-prepare the skewers, or bring a selection of chopped fruit, and allow people to make their own.
Everyone loves banana bread. This moist and delicious loaf is the perfect end to a picnic. It’s also really easy to make, so you can whip up a loaf in less than an hour when you have a picnic planned.
It’s also good to freeze, so you can make a batch in advance. For a slightly more finger-friendly option, cook the batter in muffin tins.
Gooey and crunchy, rice krispie treats are a childhood favorite that are just as good for grown-ups. All you need is puffed rice cereal, butter, and marshmallows.
Melt together, lightly press into a pan, and leave to cool. They’re delicious as is, but you can add whatever mix-ins you have on hand.
You know that moment during a picnic when you thought you were full, but a few minutes have passed and now you realize you still have some room left?
That’s when you need these cookies. They’re chewy and tasty, but they aren’t heavy, and the oatmeal cookie base gives a warming flavor.
When the regular sandwiches are gone, break out a batch of these cookie dough pretzel sandwiches.
Layers of egg-free cookie dough are sandwiched between mini pretzels, and dipped in melted chocolate. This recipe uses dark chocolate for dipping, but you can switch to milk for younger taste buds.
All picnics need good drinks, to complement the awesome range of foods you’ve pulled together.
Lemonade is, of course, the classic choice, but watermelon pineapple lemonade is an even more refreshing option. It’s both tangy and sweet, and can be put together in no time at all.
It takes just 15 minutes and 4 ingredients to make this lemon ginger jasmine iced tea. Iced tea is perhaps the most refreshing thing you can enjoy on a warm day, so we suggest making up a massive batch, and keeping it refrigerated.
The combination of flavors are refreshing and energizing.
Cream soda might be a little old-fashioned, but the flavors are just as good as they ever were. Bring new life to a classic soda with this homemade variety, which uses just a few simple ingredients.
For a boozy picnic, there’s nothing better than sangria. This is a drink that was created to be enjoyed in the Spanish sunshine.
Red wine is mixed with orange juice and carbonated soda, plus a good glug of brandy, and plenty of chopped fruit. You can play with the levels depending on just how much alcohol you want with lunch.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Food Do You Bring To A Picnic?
The best picnic food is easy to eat with your hands, tastes refreshing in the sunshine, and doesn’t require any extra preparation effort. Sandwiches and wraps are excellent choices, or whip up a big batch of your favorite salad.
If you like to bake, try making some savory pies, or a plate of biscuits. For non cooks, make your favorite dip, and bring chips and crudités.
Otherwise, see if you can be in charge of drinks! It’s surprisingly easy to make a big batch of homemade lemonade, or whip up some ice teas.
How Can I Make My Picnic Special?
Good planning is the best way to make a picnic special. Plan what foods you want to bring, and consider everything from sides to desserts. Try and prepare a mixture of picnic classics, and some unusual flavors.
nvest in a good cooler, to ensure all your hard work isn’t ruined by the sun, and bring plenty of hand wipes. For big picnics, ask everyone to bring a dish. That way, no one will go hungry, and you get a better range of foods.
How Do I Make A Cheap Picnic?
Picnics don’t have to be expensive! A good way to plan a picnic that’s inexpensive but still delivers on flavors is to approach it like a charcuterie board.
Bring a range of different options so that everyone can create their own thing, and load up on fresh fruits and veggies. If children are coming, chocolate dipped pretzels and rice krispie treats will keep them satisfied, without breaking the bank.
Picnics are so fun, but planning a picnic can be stressful. But it shouldn’t be! Picnic food can be incredibly easy to make, while still packing in the flavors. We hope our guide has inspired you!