68 Picnic Food Ideas to Pack in Your Basket

·11 min read

When the weather is warm, there’s only one place we want to be: outside, in shorts, eating macaroni salad. Dust off your wicker basket and pack it with pinwheel sammies, rainbow collard wraps and brownie bites—or, well, any of these other picnic food ideas that are total crowd-pleasers. They’re all easy to transport, even easier to make and, most importantly, delicious.

RELATED: 17 Vegan Picnic Ideas Even Carnivores Will Love

1. Avocado Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is a classic picnic food, but we gave it a little upgrade: Creamy avocado, rice vinegar and lots of fresh dill make it taste modern but still familiar.

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2. Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Likewise, these chicken salad sammies are jazzed up with homemade tarragon mayonnaise (!) and quick-pickled onions. Don’t worry, everything’s super easy to make and assemble.

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3. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers

To make these cuties picnic-friendly, wait until you’ve staked out a spot and laid out your blanket to assemble everything. (Less mess in that basket, you know.)

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4. Five-Minute Bean Salad

What’s the secret to a portable salad that’s ready in practically no time? Canned beans, of course.

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5. Caesar Pasta Salad

When worlds collide—and by worlds, we mean two of our all-time favorite types of salad.

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6. Corn and Tomato Salad with Feta and Lime

Corn on the cob is a summer staple, but corn off the cob is a picnic must. This time, pair it with briny feta and sweet, ripe tomatoes (and serve it room temp or cold).

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7. Chilled Cucumber Salad

Soaring temperatures call for something crunchy and refreshing. This will do quite nicely.

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8. Melon Salad with Chili Powder, Mint, Lime and Flaky Sea Salt

We know fruit salad can be a bit of a snooze, but not when you sprinkle it with chili powder.

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9. Summer Millet Salad

Since they don’t necessarily need to be chilled, grain salads are a picnic basket no-brainer. This one is packed with feta and heirloom tomatoes, yum.

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10. Minty-Fresh Zucchini Salad with Marinated Feta

This is your sign to try raw zucchini. The summer squash soaks up the mint-infused olive oil in a way that’s kinda magical.

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11. Watermelon Salad with Almonds and Dill

We’ll never say no to a plain ol’ watermelon wedge, but when we’re hosting a pinkies-out picnic, this gussied up sweet-and-savory salad is more the vibe.

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12. Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Strawberries

Think of it as pasta salad with the volume turned up. Trust us on the strawberries: The way their sweetness offsets the salty miso dressing is divine.

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13. BLT Pasta Salad

Not to play favorites, but the BLT is one of our top sandwiches of all time. So duh, we made it into a pasta salad.

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14. Salami, Artichoke and Ricotta Pasta Salad

All the best items from an Italian deli got together and threw a pasta salad party.

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15. Roasted Broccoli and Bacon Pasta Salad

If your picnic involves little kids, watch out. They’ll gobble this one up before you even get a scoop.

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16. Brussels Sprout Sliders

Brussels sprouts as buns? Yeah, we went there.

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17. Kale and Brussels Sprout Caesar Slaw

An added benefit to the vegan dressing is that since it’s plant-based, it won’t get all weird as it sits outside. (No offense, mayo.)

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18. Light and Tangy Coleslaw

Alternatively, you can make this vinegar-based slaw, which is crunchy and tangy instead of creamy.

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19. Cuban Sliders for a Crowd

Make a batch ahead of time and you won’t even have to assemble sandwiches at your picnic.

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20. 15-Minute Buffalo Chicken Sliders

The trick is to use a store-bought rotisserie chicken instead of roasting your own. We won’t tell if you don’t.

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21. Chicken and Waffle Sandwiches

Fact: Cold fried chicken is the ultimate picnic food. Elevate it by turning it into a sandwich with waffles and the works.

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22. Chicken Pesto Focaccia Sandwiches

Is there anything pesto doesn’t improve?

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23. Italian Deli Pinwheel Sandwiches

They’re like the bite-size sandwiches we all know and love, but with kale and prosciutto for adults.

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24. The Ultimate Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Frizzled onions on top of everything!

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25. Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich

This version of the classic is just the right combo of creamy (oh hi, entire diced avocado) and tangy, thanks to Dijon mustard and capers.

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26. Watermelon-Feta Skewers

You can either grill them in advance or skip the step entirely. (They’ll still be the star of the picnic.)

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27. Lunch Kebabs with Mortadella, Artichoke and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

They’re almost too cute to eat, but that mortadella is calling our name.

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28. Watermelon Poke Bowls

You’re not sold on poke at a picnic; makes sense. But what if we told you there was no raw fish involved?

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29. Spring Roll Bowls

Pack all the toppings in separate Tupperware containers and assemble tableside—or blanket-side.

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30. Radish Barbecue Bowls with Tangy Honey-Mustard Dressing

Definitive proof that you don’t need meat to barbecue.

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31. Green Beans with Garlicky Pistachio Vinaigrette

If you’ve only served green beans hot, this is your chance to switch things up. They’re blanched but still crunchy, then chilled and served in a punchy dressing.

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32. Veggie Niçoise Salad with Red Curry Green Beans

Since all the elements are cooked separately, you can easily set them out in individual containers for a customizable salad bar.

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33. The Ultimate Party Sub

No picnic would be complete without a giant sandwich overflowing with cold cuts.

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34. Green Goddess Wraps

The green goddess dip is homemade, but you won’t believe how easy it is to whip up. Hint: It involves a blender.

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35. Rainbow Collard Wraps with Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce

The collard greens are hearty enough to withstand an afternoon of lawn games without going wilty on you.

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36. Beef Empanadas

FYI, these can be assembled and frozen months in advance. Better make room in your freezer.

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37. Cold Sesame Noodles

The tofu is optional, but it adds a welcome boost of protein.

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38. Skillet Blueberry Cornbread

Yes, this skillet is packed with almost two cups of blueberries—if you’re going to go in, go all in.

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39. Veggie Sushi

As much as we adore it, traditional sushi isn’t really a picnic-friendly option. This kind, however, is all veggies, so go ahead and pack it.

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40. Buffalo Cauliflower Nuggets

Don’t forget the toothpicks (and the napkins).

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41. Summer Rolls

You can make them up to three days ahead of your outdoor soirée.

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42. 15-Minute Mezze Plate with Toasted Za’atar Pita Bread

Picnic charcuterie? Sign us up ASAP.

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43. Scallion and Chive Flatbread

Behold the prettiest, easiest homemade bread you’ll ever make. The edible flower garnish is optional, but it adds an elegant touch.

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44. Classic Banana Bread

If banana bread isn’t a picnic staple yet, we’re making the case now. It’s simple to bake, easy to wrap up and always bowls over the crowd.

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45. Cast-Iron Cornbread

It’s important to have something to soak up all those vinegary coleslaw juices.

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46. Spicy Pineapple Prosciutto Tarts

These tiny tarts taste a lot like Hawaiian pizza…only better.

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47. Mini Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese and Honey

You can do a lot with in-season peaches and store-bought puff pastry.

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48. Asparagus, Pea and Ricotta Tarts

You get a little bit of spring’s star produce in every bite.

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49. Giant Brown-Sugar Snickerdoodles

We heard you wanted a bigger cookie, and we heeded that call. These are extra chewy, thanks to the addition of brown sugar.

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50. Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

Coffee lovers are going to have a field day with these babies. (The secret is instant espresso powder.)

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51. 3-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

No flour, no problem. In fact, you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now.

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52. Cheater’s Mini Rhubarb Galettes

Can you tell we love store-bought puff pastry? Because we really do. It’s the ingredient that makes these sweet-tart mini galettes such a breeze.

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53. Jammy Shortbread Bars

The buttercream frosting sets up firm, so these can be stacked and stored in a picnic basket without an issue.

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54. Peanut Butter and Jelly Blondies

Our inner fifth grader is so happy right now.

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55. Lemon-Raspberry Whoopie Pies

There’s something so satisfying about the way the frosting smooshes with the first bite.

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56. Black Sesame Shortbread

Attention bakers: These cookies don’t require an electric mixer. Sold yet?

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57. Chocolate-Stuffed Brownie Bites

When it comes to chocolate, more is more. These minis are stuffed with chunks of milk chocolate to contrast with the deep cocoa flavor of the brownie.

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58. Rocky Road Cookies

The crunchy marshmallow bits around the edge of each molten cookie make it practically impossible to have just one. We apologize in advance.

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59. Itty-Bitty Sandwich Cookies

They’re meant to be eaten by the handful, so go ahead and dig in.

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60. Big Raspberry-Rye Cookies

We love a surprise-and-delight moment, and this time it’s brought to you by freeze-dried raspberries.

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61. Blackberry Plum Upside-Down Cake

The beauty of an upside-down cake is that it decorates itself. (That, and the juicy, caramelized fruit, of course.)

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62. Texas Sheet Cake

It’ll look like too much cake, but we all know that’s not really a thing.

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63. Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

No one will realize they invited a professional baker to the picnic.

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64. Blackberry Jam Pie-Crust Straws

If you’re not up for assembling a full pie, these twists are the next best thing. Use any flavor of jam—you can’t go wrong.

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65. Cherry Slab Pie

A slab pie has a higher ratio of crust to filling, which is not only good news for crust-lovers, but for picnic-goers too.

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66. Mini Mason Jar Apple Pies

Portability is key when you’re cooking for a picnic.

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67. Cherry Pie Bars

They taste like pie, but it’s actually a simple pound cake that makes up the crust layers.

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68. No-Bake Chocolate Peanut-Butter Pretzel Bars

It’s summer. Skip the oven and get outside.

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RELATED: 40 Picnic Side Dishes That Are Easy and Portable