These picnic food ideas will be the talk of the party! Pick from irresistible salads, sandwiches, snacks, dips, cookies and more.
Headed on a picnic and need recipe ideas? Here are all the most fun and delicious picnic food ideas! The best foods for picnicking aren’t just tasty: they’re foods that are easy to make ahead, store, and transport to site. You’ll want fresh salads that do well in the refrigerator, and sandwiches that are portable and don’t get soggy. Accessorize with some dips and sweets, and everyone will be singing your praises. Every one of these recipes has been tasted and approved by real people (us!) for use at a picnic.
And now…the top picnic food ideas to try!
Here’s a pasta salad recipe that’s ultra versatile for picnic food, barbecues, and an easy lunch: this Tortellini Salad! The tang of the artichoke, chewy pillowy pasta, zippy tomatoes, and peppery basil come together into a symphony of flavor! Even better, it stores up to 4 days in the fridge, making it a perfect make-ahead idea.
What’s better picnic food than that classic combination of cucumber, dill and cream cheese? Turns out they’re a bit of a retro snack, served on those little cocktail rye breads. But they go back even further than that: cucumber sandwiches come from Britain and were served as tea sandwiches! They're the ideal finger food.
This nostalgic Tuna Pasta Salad is ideal picnic food! It’s creamy but not too rich, with a splash of white wine vinegar and a sprinkle of dried dill. It’s a seriously simple pantry meal that gives us cozy nostalgic vibes…and it works as a make-ahead lunch too.
Here’s a fresh spin on that classic Bean Salad! You know, the kind at picnics and potlucks long into the summer? This American classic has been gracing tables for generations, and everyone has their own take on it. This one is a fresh spin that’s as easy as dump and stir. It's great to make ahead: the flavors get even better over time.
This dill potato salad is a knock-out. Think: tangy potatoes, drenched in a naturally creamy sauce made with olive oil and vinegar, punchy fresh herbs, and savory capers to round it out. Like German potato salad, it has no dairy to speak of, making it a vegan and plant-based option too.
Here's a classic picnic food: the perfect Egg Salad Sandwich! It’s the best kind of basic. This is a sandwich you can sink your teeth into, that tastes like an elevated version of what you’re used to. It’s fresh and healthy, not the mayo-laden kind you can find at the store. Another secret? It’s stuffed with fresh herbs, to give you a beautiful pop of flavor.
Carrot salad might sound basic, but it’s anything but. Serve it to your friends and family, and they’ll be singing your praises! We know because after we made this at our house, it disappeared within minutes. It’s simple and refreshing, featuring strings of carrots doused in a a tangy Mediterranean-style vinaigrette.
This picnic sandwich is so irresistible, with one bite it will become part of your regular repertoire. Meet this Italian eggplant sandwich! This mighty sammie has all the best Mediterranean flavors: tender grilled or roasted eggplant, creamy fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, and a unique flavor maker: olive spread. Place it all on foccacia bread, and it’s the stuff summer dreams.
Here’s a fresh spin on the classic broccoli slaw! This recipe you can make with store-bought broccoli slaw bags or fresh broccoli and carrots. It’s got a creamy dressing that’s equal parts savory, tangy, and a little sweet. It works as a picnic food idea, or a side dish that works with…well, anything!
Here’s a healthy picnic food idea to spice up your routine: avocado tuna salad! This spin swaps out the classic mayonnaise for nutrient-rich avocado. The flavor is so fresh and delicious! It takes only a handful of ingredients and 10 minutes to put together.
Here’s a picnic food idea that’s full of big Italian flavors: antipasto salad! This combo between a pasta salad and Italian antipasti is loaded with zingy flavor: briny olives, tangy artichokes, and roasted peppers, contrasted with crunchy veggies and chewy pasta. Load it with fresh basil and there’s so much going on, you might not be able to stop eating it!
This Corn Salad one is all about fresh flavor: sweet bursts of corn, juicy tomatoes, and herbaceous basil pair with a tangy, light vinaigrette. If you’re like us…you won’t be able to stop eating it! Top with feta cheese crumbles if you like, or keep it as a plant based salad: it’s just as good either way.
This rainbow vegetable sandwich is a stunning make-ahead picnic sandwich! It’s full of flavor from an incredible herbed goat cheese spread and tangy pickled radishes. Add broiled colorful bell peppers to add a vibrant combination with the other veggies!
The ideal picnic food? This Chickpea Salad Sandwich! Essentially a vegetarian chicken salad sandwich using chickpeas, it features mashed chickpeas, celery, green onion, a little mayo, and a pop of lemon. Serve it with hummus spread on both sides of the bread to add an extra dimension. This one's a fan favorite!
Here’s a make-ahead picnic salad that’s beautifully fresh and saves well refrigerated: this kale quinoa salad! It’s full of healthy ingredients: quinoa, kale, peppers, carrots: and then covered in a delicious, ultra tangy dressing. It’s so flavorful and keeps that flavor 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
Lentils may just be the perfect food. They’re cheap, good for you, and packed with plant based protein. This fresh and healthy lentil salad is Mediterranean-style, mixed with fresh veggies, feta cheese and pistachios. It’s a delicious way to add protein to meatless meals, and ideal make-ahead food for picnics! The flavor just gets better over time.
Fancy food is nice, but what’s better than a delicious, simple sandwich recipe? Here the mix of the savory cream cheese, sweet pear, and crunchy nuts is a unique yet delicious flavor combination. Try it as a healthy picnic food idea or a snack on the run. Somehow all the ingredients meld together perfectly to make for a light yet filling cheese and fruit sandwich.
Deviled eggs are a totally classic picnic food and great for adding to meals. This recipe has a twist: adding Greek yogurt to the filling along with the mayo. Along with both yellow and Dijon mustard, it adds the perfect flavoring to these eggs without being overly rich! Garnish with dried dill or smoked paprika.
Here's a picnic salad that doubles as a dip: this ultra fast black bean and corn salad! Make it in just 5 minutes, no chopping required. Use canned corn, beans and purchased pico de gallo for the simplest stir-together salad. It's got big flavor: eat it as a salad or with tortilla chips.
This Avocado Club Sandwich is full of umami flavor and so satisfying. The combination of smoky, rich, hearty, crunchy and savory is so irresistible…you’ll want to eat it all over again once it’s gone. Picnic packing tip: To avoid soggy bread, keep a barrier like cheese or lettuce between the bread and any wet elements like avocado and tomato.
This easy chickpea salad takes 5 minutes to throw together and is packed with plant-based protein: the ideal component to fill out a picnic menu! This one pairs garbanzos with fresh bell pepper, cucumber, and a seasoning of olive oil, red wine vinegar, and smoked paprika.
Dips are ideal for picnic food, and this one is a favorite. Meet this 5-ingredient Cottage Cheese Dip! It tastes like that good old ranch dip (you know, sour cream and a seasoning packet?). But it’s made with this healthy low-calorie, high protein cheese! All you need are a few seasonings from your pantry to make this into a stellar picnic dip.
Here’s a tasty dip with a picnic vibe: Texas caviar! Cowboy caviar, as it’s also known, was invented in Texas and has now spread all over the US. This combo of black eyed peas, veggies and a vinaigrette dressing is equal parts zesty and comforting: and you can use it as a chip dip or healthy side dish. This recipe has loads of colorful veggies, cilantro and jalapenos, and a simple zingy dressing with the perfect flavor.
This cucumber salad with vinegar is everything summer and ideal for picnics. The thinly sliced cucumbers and onions are salty, tangy, and lightly sweet all at once, and totally addicting. It's easy to make ahead and the flavor gets better as it sits.
Here’s a tasty dip that will surprise you with its irresistibly creamy flavor: Black Bean Hummus! This spin on the traditional Mediterranean chickpea dip might sound fun, but here’s the thing. It tastes even better than it sounds! Black beans, lime, tahini and a bit of smoked paprika make creamy dip magic.
Need a snacky picnic item? Try Roasted Chickeas! These are crispy, crunchy, perfectly spiced, and they stay crunchy in the pantry for days. They're a naturally plant based and gluten free food, so they work for many different diets.
These pinwheels are full of Italian-style flavors: mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and a blend of spices. They look totally stunning at a picnic, and they're easy to make ahead. Here are all the tricks to making a beautiful roll up!
When you're not sure what to pair with other picnic foods, try this creamy coleslaw! It's got just the right amount of flavor and richness from the coleslaw dressing, but it still has a healthy spin. This recipe is totally balanced in sweet and savory flavors: with less mayo than most coleslaw recipes.
Want a fun healthy picnic treat? This peanut butter dip! It’s just 4 ingredients and surprisingly tastes like frosting. How is this so good, yet so simple? It works for any occasion: a quick snack for kids, a family party, or a big picnic. Serve with apple slices (spritz them with lemon juice beforehand to prevent browning).
Chocolate hummus? It’s a bit unexpected, but oh-so-delicious and a favorite snack for picnics and gatherings. Instead of vegetables like a traditional hummus, we treat it like a fruit dip and serve it with strawberries, pineapple, green apple slices, and salty pretzels.
Try this Watermelon Lemonade! When it comes to picnic drinks, there’s nothing better than a big pitcher of fresh squeezed lemonade. Grab a ripe, juicy melon and it’s absolute perfection paired with fresh citrus in this sweet and tangy drink.
Here’s a stunning drink recipe to make with fresh or dried lavender: Lavender Lemonade. This beautiful drink has a lovely light purple color and sweet tart flavor. Don’t worry: it doesn’t taste like a bar of Grandma’s soap! It’s got just the right subtle floral finish to each sip.
Here’s a delightful picnic drink…a pitcher of homemade Strawberry Lemonade! This drink is bright and beautiful, citrusy with a hit of berry on the finish. It tastes infinitely better made at home: the flavors are brilliantly fresh. This one has become a favorite over here as a summery drink (if we’re not making the shortcut pink lemonade, of course!).
These No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies are a step above the rest! These are rich and chocolaty, full of dark chocolate peanut butter flavor and sweetened just enough with sugar and maple syrup. They’re beautifully glossy in texture, and the flavor? When we serve them, they go fast.
Here’s a favorite trick for healthy picnic treats: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars! These are everything you want in a portable dessert: irresistible sweet peanut-y flavor, chewy texture, and a little drizzle of chocolate on top!
They’re fudgy, chewy, chocolaty, and one of the favorite things to come out of our kitchen to date. Try these Sweet Potato Brownies! These brownies could not be more thrilled by their sweet potato interior. It makes the best chewy texture and loads them with nutrients. They’re irresistibly delicious, with a rich nuance in flavor that makes them taste loads better than a standard brownie.
This genius combination of three ingredients makes for the most peanut butter-y, chewy, sweet and salty flourless cookies you’ll have. Really. It seems unbelievable, but it makes this recipe perfect for whipping up on moments notice.
These classic oatmeal cookies are full of texture and flavor. They’re gooey and chewy, loaded with dark chocolate and topped with sea salt. They’re just sweet enough, and filled with just the right amount of oats. The best part? They’re flavored with a hint of molasses, which makes them utterly irresistible.
This fruit puree makes for incredibly moist picnic cake: this one is scented with cinnamon and perfectly fluffy. It’s got a healthy spin with olive oil and Greek yogurt, and instead of calorie-rich icing there’s a sprinkle of powdered sugar. And the best part? It’s beyond easy: simply mix all the ingredients together in the baking pan. No mixing bowls required!
Last up in our picnic recipes: this Blueberry Cake! It’s fluffy, just sweet enough, and with a hint of lemon. It’s light and fresh, perfect for a light summer dessert, midday brunch, or of course: a picnic!
More recipe ideas
Need more fun and transportable food ideas? Here are a few more recipes with a light and summery vibe:
- Mix up a great Watermelon Salad with Mint
- Bring little jars of Classic Gazpacho
- Assemble Goat Cheese Crostini with summery fruits or vegetables onsite
- Make a no-cook Smoked Salmon Salad
- Go classic with everyone’s favorite Broccoli Salad
40 Fun Picnic Food Ideas: Tortellini Salad & More!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutese
- Total Time: 20 minute
- Yield: 6 to 8 as a side 1x
This tortellini salad is full of zingy flavor: delicious for picnics and cookouts! Leftovers last for days, so it’s ideal as an easy lunch.
- 18 ounces refrigerated cheese tortelloni*
- 2 ½ ounces (2 cups) baby spinach or chopped spinach
- 1 handful fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped (optional but recommended)
- 14 ounce can (8.5 ounce dry weight) quartered artichokes, roughly chopped
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar***
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon each dried dill and garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup neutral oil (like organic vegetable or grapeseed**)
- ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Start a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Boil the pasta until al dente according to the package instructions (usually around 2 minutes). Drain the pasta and run it cool water over it until it’s warm.
- Meanwhile while the pasta cooks, chop the spinach, basil and artichoke hearts, and slice the tomatoes. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, dried dill, garlic powder, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Then whisk in the olive oil and neutral oil.
- Once the pasta is done, add it to the large bowl of dressing and toss with the chopped vegetables. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Taste and add salt or more cheese to taste. Serve at room temperature or cold. Stores up to 4 days refrigerated (leftovers taste great and work well for lunches!).
*Tortelloni is large tortellini that you can find in the refrigerated section. It’s best for this salad because standard tortellini is too small.
**Using neutral oil in this pasta salad helps leftovers keep in the fridge: if you use only olive oil, it clumps up after about 1 day of storage. If you’re not planning to have leftovers, you can use 100% olive oil if you prefer.
***In a rush? Substitute ¾ cup Italian dressing or your purchased vinaigrette dressing of choice for the homemade dressing.
- Category: Salad
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
Keywords: Picnic food, picnic food ideas