Summer Picnic Recipes That Aren't Sandwiches
You love picnicking? So do we, and so does Martha! Food just tastes better when eaten outdoors. A sandwich is an easy option for a quick picnic, but when you feel like something different, you'll be glad to know that there are so many other options well-suited to open-air dining. When the weather is glorious and a trip to the beach or park beckons, make a day of it by packing an outdoor-friendly meal you can linger over for hours. Whether you're looking for a recipe for a refreshing Chilled Spanish-Style Tomato Soup, a roast chicken and bread salad, or a slaws or green salad that will stay fresh until its picnic time, you'll find ideas in the slides ahead. And don't be afraid to get creative and mix-and-match your menu: Our recipes are all worth spreading out your picnic blanket for.
Have you ever thought about serving a steak for your picnic main? Flank steak is an economical cut that's full of flavor. Bonus: Our picnic-friendly Skirt Steak and Corn with Chimichurri only takes 30 minutes to make, and the steak and the corn can be cooked a day ahead and packed into separate containers. Make the chimichurri on the day of the picnic and cover it with a layer of oil to prevent this zesty herb sauce from browning. Another unexpected but entirely delicious meal option for your picnic? Make the fried chicken that's seen here and build your picnic menu around it. Our recipe creates the crispiest chicken that stays crunchy all day long, which is exactly what you need when you're packing it for a picnic.
Other foods you might not have considered picnic fare that we advocate for? Coins of grilled corn, skinny sticks of watermelon—which are much easier to handle than a wedge—and refreshing slaws. We have two favorites: You can't go wrong with either our summer slaw, made with zucchini or yellow squash, carrots, bell pepper, and sweet onion, or this addictive slaw-potato salad hybrid. Whatever way you decide to go in terms of the savory options, don't forget to pack something for a sweet ending to the meal. We think that our Walnut-Brownie Cookie is a cookie with a brownie twist that provides the best of both worlds.
While crafting a great menu is important, don't forget to think about how you'll transport and serve each dish. Maybe you're hauling a robust wheelie cooler, or maybe putting that pretty wicker picnic basket to use. Either way, be sure to pack any necessary forks, knives, spoons, cups, plates, and napkins. Now, get out the picnic basket and start packing.
Chilled Spanish-Style Tomato Soup
Pack a flask of this easy, make-ahead soup and bring along a variety of toppings.
Skirt Steak and Corn with Chimichurri
Quick to make and very tasty, this Argentine-inspired main requires just a few ingredients and gives great results. For a picnic, make the chimichurri and put it in a lidded container with a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent oxidization.
Grilled Ratatouille and Bulgur Salad
This toss-together vegetarian salad is an easygoing dish. It can be made and refrigerated up to two days before using. Add the basil and croutons just before you set off on the picnic.
Roast Chicken with Broiled-Vegetable-and-Bread Salad
If you think fried chicken makes a picnic, try this delicious—and easier to make—option: a hearty salad inspired by the famous chicken and bread salad at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco.
Walnut Brownie Cookies
If you've always belonged to the camp that believes nothing finishes off a picnic like a brownie, it's time to meet this cookie with a brownie twist. You'll soon see that a dessert that offers the best of both worlds is exactly what your outdoor meal needs.
Pasta Salad with Chickpeas, Green Beans, and Basil
A crowd pleaser at picnics, this easy-going farfalle salad features chickpeas, crisp green beans, sharp red onion, and salty capers in a delicate, creamy mayo-based dressing with lemony undertones.
Herbed Celery-Potato Salad
Tossed with vinaigrette not mayo, this potato salad is light, transports well, and doesn't need refrigeration. We call that a winning picnic recipe.
Tortilla Espanola with Romesco Sauce
Cut thick wedges of this Spanish-style, potato-zucchini tortilla for a hearty vegetarian main. Bring a container of the rich romesco sauce in your picnic basket.
Chicken, Artichoke, and Orzo Lettuce Cups
Pack this chicken salad into a to-go container, wrap the romaine leaves separately, and you're ready to go. When it's time to eat, spoon some salad onto each leaf—but that spoon is the only utensil you'll need.
Summer Squash Slaw
Use zucchini or yellow squash—or both!—in this easy summery salad that also features carrots, bell peppers, and sweet Vidalia onion. It's a colorful addition to a picnic meal.
Rotelle with Onions, Cucumbers, and Herbs
Have to have a pasta salad? Try this light, herby recipe and you'll never go back to mayo-heavy dishes again.
Spinach-Feta Pizza Slab Pie
The Greek classic spanakopita—savory spinach and feta wrapped in phyllo—transforms nicely into a more portable slab pie. To keep things easy, we used store-bought pizza dough and added mozzarella to make the pie more substantial.
When potato salad met coleslaw: This tasty salad combines the best of these two popular summer sides. And it's a sturdy, fresh-tasting salad that will stand up to being taken on a picnic.
Butter-Waffle Cookies and Mascarpone
Are we cheating? We said this was a sandwich-free picnic spread! There's no bread here, and no ice cream either, in these inventive "ice cream" sandwiches that won't melt. Instead of the cold stuff, spread creamy mascarpone cheese between two cookies—we recommend Jules Destrooper butter waffles, which taste like sugar cones and get a little soft from the filling, just like the classic freezer-case version.