29+ Best Picnic Recipes for Eating Outside
I have a life motto that I constantly live by: "Picnics are always a good idea." No matter the circumstance, setting up a picnic and enjoying good food with friends is one of my favorite things to do. I'll set up picnics in my living room, in the trunk of a car, at the beach, or simply in my backyard. This is why I always have a plethora of picnic recipes I can rely on when it's time to plan my next adventure.
Plus, with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the nation and restaurants setting social distancing boundaries, dining out is quite difficult. With less room for customers to enjoy restaurant meals, people are starting to get creative with ways to enjoy a meal with friends and family, and picnics are an easy (and safe) alternative!
How to pick the right foods for a picnic
The key to having a good picnic is packing the right types of foods. While you technically could eat anything outside, when it comes to packing up a picnic and traveling a distance to your destination, you don't want to have to rely on foods that need to stay hot or super cold. For example, you're not exactly going to want to bring homemade fries or ice cream to your picnic…even if it is super tempting.
Instead, pack foods that are good with mild refrigeration. Think salads, pastries, hard-boiled eggs, pickles, cold dips, fresh-cut veggies, and more. Any snack foods that don't need a change in temperature (chips, crackers, nuts) are also perfect picnic foods as well.
So as you plan out the picnic recipes for your next adventure, be sure to keep that in mind. That way you don't have to worry if your food needs to be under extreme hot or cold temperatures, but can easily enjoy the food from a cooler at a slower, chill pace. Because why the rush to eat at a picnic when you have a sunny afternoon to truly enjoy yourself?
For more recipe ideas, be sure to sign up for our newsletter!
When it comes to having proper picnic recipes, you need to have the classics. Potato salad is certainly one of them, and our healthy version is going to be a hit at your next outdoor gathering.
Get our recipe for Potato Salad.
Butternut Squash Pasta Salad
Along with potato salad, pasta salad is also another picnicking favorite. This vegetarian pasta salad will appease to all different dietary restrictions, and if you're gluten-free, you can easily sub in gluten-free pasta instead.
Get our recipe for Butternut Squash Pasta Salad.
Every picnic needs a little dessert, and brownies are easy to whip together and pack up in your basket! We're always raving about these brownies at Eat This, Not That! and we have a feeling after that first bite, you'll be raving about them, too.
Get our recipe for Fudgy Brownies.
Grilled Chicken and Avocado Salad
Salads are the perfect picnic recipes to make! So having different variations of salads—like this grilled chicken and avocado salad—is an easy way to feed lots of people at a picnic.
Get our recipe for Grilled Chicken and Avocado Salad.
Trail Mix Popcorn
If you're simply gathering to hang out and not have a full meal, this trail mix popcorn is the perfect snack for a crowd. Bring some bowls so people can scoop out their own portion of trail mix, instead of having germy hands reach into the same bowl multiple times.
Get our recipe for Trail Mix Popcorn.
Banana bread is actually the perfect side for a simple picnic in the park! Bring some spreadable butter or simply have slices on its own as a side with your meal.
Get our recipe for Banana Bread.
Don't want to have to worry about meat going bad on the trip to your picnic? Skip the cold cuts and make this vegetarian Caprese sandwich instead. You can always toast the bread beforehand and assemble the sandwiches when you arrive at your location.
Get our recipe for Caprese Sandwiches.
When it comes to eating, dips are always great picnic recipes to whip up. Guacamole is easy to share with tortilla chips or fresh cut veggies. Just make sure to bring bowls so you can scoop out your own guacamole, in case you're hanging out with any double-dippers.
Get our recipe for Guacamole.
Chicken Salad Sandwich with Raisins and Curry Powder
Picnics work well when you have food that can be enjoyed cold, like this chicken salad sandwich. Bring all the fixings for these sandwiches and assemble them when you arrive at your designated picnic location.
Get our recipe for Chicken Salad Sandwich with Raisins and Curry Powder.
Bring some slices of deli meat and cheese, because these biscuits are great for assembling your own sandwiches! Or if you're enjoying some of your other favorite picnic recipes, these are great simply as a side to your main.
Get our recipe for Southern-Style Biscuits.
Smoky Deviled Eggs with Bacon
If your picnic is a fancier affair, deviled eggs are always great for serving as a snack. Especially if you bring one of these 12 clever deviled egg combinations.
Get our recipe for Smoky Deviled Eggs with Bacon.
Vegetarian Pesto Gnocchi with Green Beans and Tomatoes
Why have pasta salad when you can have gnocchi salad? This gnocchi salad pays homage to the classic Caprese, but with added pesto and fresh green beans.
Get our recipe for Vegetarian Pesto Gnocchi with Green Beans and Tomatoes.
If you're sticking to sandwiches at your picnic, a side of coleslaw is an easy way to get in vegetables without having to worry about your green salads wilting before getting to your picnic spot.
Get our recipe for Coleslaw.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
If you'd rather cookies over fudgy brownies, these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are always a crowd pleaser.
Get our recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Cinnamon-Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Wild Rice
Keep things less germy at your picnic and pack up individual salads for your guests! These sweet potato salads will tease you into thinking it's time for fall with flavors of cinnamon and wild rice.
Get our recipe for Cinnamon-Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Wild Rice.
Smoked Paprika Potato Chips
Why settle for sodium-packed potato chips when you can make your own? Cooking up your own potato chips is actually a lot easier than you think, and go great with any type of sandwich you settle on for your picnic.
Get our recipe for Smoked Paprika Potato Chips.
Mexican Quinoa and Chicken Salad
Salads don't have to always be filled with green leaves! Use quinoa as a base for this chicken salad, which you can separate out into mason jars for all of your friends.
Get our recipe for Mexican Quinoa and Chicken Salad.
Curried Egg Salad
Whether it's topped on a bed of greens or stuffed in pita, this curried egg salad is easy to throw together for a last-minute picnic with friends.
Get our recipe for Curried Egg Salad.
BBQ-Flavored Double Roasted Pistachios
Need a snack to get started at your picnic? These BBQ-flavored roasted pistachios are the perfect salty-sweet snack to enjoy as you're setting up the picnic outside.
Get our recipe for BBQ-Flavored Double Roasted Pistachios.
Bring lots of chips, crackers, and fresh-cut veggies to enjoy with this avocado salsa—packed with monosaturated fats and protein to keep you feeling full!
Get our recipe for Avocado Hummus.
Spinach-Pomegranate Salad with Roasted Turkey
This classic spinach-pomegranate salad has all kinds of refreshing summer flavors that are perfect for your picnics in the park.
Get our recipe for Spinach-Pomegranate Salad with Roasted Turkey.
Making restaurant-level salsa at home is much easier than you think! This one only requires five ingredients and goes great with all kinds of pickings you bring to the picnic.
Get our recipe for Homemade Salsa.
While cupcakes would be a great way to end a picnic in the park, you probably don't want to deal with messy frosting in your containers or your basket. Instead, these paleo muffins are sweet treats to enjoy as a dessert—no messy frosting required!
Get our recipe for Paleo Muffins.
Quick-Pickled Cucumber Salad
If you're looking for more sides to go with your sandwiches, this quick-pickled cucumber salad pairs well. Or better yet, but these pickled veggies in your sandwich for a unique twist on your usual sandwich combo.
Get our recipe for Quick-Pickled Cucumber Salad.
While this bruschetta recipe says to toast the bread and eat the bruschetta immediately, you could always toast the bread and bring it with you to your picnic, then assemble it on scene!
Get our recipe for Italian Bruschetta.
For an easy protein salad (that doesn't require you to grill up any meat), throw together this biltong salad. It's full of different summer flavors and packed with a fresh bed of greens.
Get our recipe for Biltong Salad.
Fruit and Granola Yogurt Parfaits
Looking for a decadent treat to finish off your meal? Pack up individual jars of these fruit and granola parfaits! Just make sure to wait when sprinkling the granola on top, you don't want to get soggy while it sits in your cooler before enjoying them.
Get our recipe for Fruit and Granola Yogurt Parfaits.
For a dessert that doesn't need any refrigeration, make this toffee popcorn. It satisfies that slight sweet tooth that you have at the end of your meal, without making you feel overstuffed.
Get our recipe for Toffee Popcorn.
For a unique dip to share with friends, try making this succotash. Serve with salty tortilla chips or crackers.
Get our recipe for Succotash.