Perfect Picnic Recipes for Your Next Gathering in the Backyard or Park
As the weather heats up and the sun shines brighter every day, what's the best way to get outside and make the most of summer? We think long weekends and relaxing holidays are the perfect time to pack a picnic and head to the park. Before you plan the menu, make sure you have the essentials for al fresco dining. Summer picnics are a great way to curate a casual gathering with friends without the pressure to dress up or clean the house. Just head outside, spread out a blanket, and start the feast.
These easy picnic food recipes will inspire a beautiful spread. They're family-friendly and nearly all can be made in advance. While picnics tend to blur the lines of mains and sides, here we have gathered together recipes for traditional small dishes and bigger bites, plus something sweet at the end. Pack a pressed sandwich, a sandwich that gets better over time rather than soggy or limp as some other sandwiches do. No picnic would feel complete without pasta salad, and our Marinated Artichoke and Green-Bean Pasta Salad is a welcome refresh to the routine. Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Chickpeas is another stellar choice and a filling one, too. Other colorful and healthy summer recipes include Tropical-Fruit Juice Salad and Carrot Slaw with Caraway and Raisins. When it comes to dessert, we suggest serving something that's sweet and easy to transport like our Big-Batch Triple-Chocolate Brownie Bars.
Pressed Picnic Sandwich
You can't squash this hearty sandwich in your picnic basket! It actually tastes better when pressed as the vinaigrette permeates the cured meats, grilled peppers, marinated artichokes, and goat cheese in the filling.
Dill, Potato, and Egg Salad
No mayo here! This zesty potato salad travels well and the tangy dressing, made with plenty of fresh dill, means this is a refreshing side for a picnic.
Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Chickpeas
A favorite for potlucks, pasta salad also aces the picnic challenge. This hearty vegetarian recipe delights with both chickpeas and mozzarella for heft and plenty of zingy lemon vinaigrette to keep it lively.
Just right for a picnic, this colorful slaw tastes better after the flavors of the minty cider-vinaigrette have had time to mingle with the golden beets, celery, and fennel.
Grilled Balsamic Flank Steak With Peppers and Onions
If you've never had steak on a picnic before, give it a try. Flank steak cooks quickly and is an economical cut—plus, you can make this dish the day before the picnic. It's sliced thinly for serving, making it easier to handle on a picnic blanket. Pack it with the grilled peppers and onions for transporting.
Greek Taverna Salad
There's no lettuce to wilt in this colorful main dish salad and it can be made-ahead, so it's a great dish to tote on a picnic.
Marinated-Artichoke and Green-Bean Pasta Salad
Big-Batch Triple-Chocolate Brownie Bars
These elevated rice cereal bars have all the elements of a smoky-meets-sweet s'mores in one easy bite, no fire required.
Tropical-Fruit Juice Salad
Roasted-Garlic Toast with Tomato
This is not your usual picnic fare: The key to these tomato toasts is garlic confit, or slow-roasting garlic in olive oil. Once mashed, it turns into a rich, savory paste that holds the tomatoes and herbs together. Toast the bread and wrap in foil to keep warm, then assemble at your picnic spot.
These traditional French cookies are buttery just like classic shortbread and rich with chocolate flavor from both cocoa powder and chopped white chocolate. A sprinkle of good-quality flaky sea salt is a luxurious contrast to the rich dessert.
Pasta Salad with Peas and Summer Beans
Hearty as a main or side, this bright pasta salad is a summer picnic no-brainer. Lots of herbs and seasonal beans give it an appealing green color and crisp flavor.
Freezer Dill Pickles
There's no better picnic snack than these refreshing dill pickles that you can make days, or even weeks, in advance.
Snap-Pea and Melted-Leek Tartines
Make the most of spring snap peas while they're in season and whip up plenty of these garden-fresh open-faced sandwiches. Modify the recipe so it's picnic-ready by toasting the bread and sautéing the leeks in advance. Place everything in separate to-go containers, then assemble the tartines on-site.
This easy recipe for rich, chewy blondies makes 24 bars. Bring all of them on the picnic or save some of the caramel-flavored pecan-studded treats for later.
Carrot Slaw with Caraway and Raisins
We love a picnic side that can be made in advance and served at room temperature, and this carrot slaw is the perfect example. Don't buy pre-shredded carrots as their flavor is not nearly as crisp and fresh; instead, run whole carrots through a food processor or slice them on a mandoline set with a julienne blade.
Spoon it onto pita bread, pile it on fresh mozzarella, or just dig in with a toothpick. This blend of mixed olives, anchovies, and capers is the salty, savory bite that we just can't get enough of. Store the tapenade in an airtight container, which will transport seamlessly from fridge to field.
Raspberry Applesauce with Chia
For the picnic to end all picnics, pack up all the components for these luxurious sandwiches and tote them to backyard or park. Lay everything out on a big platter or leave it in containers, and let everyone build their own sandwich.