50 Classic Picnic Food Ideas For Your Next Outdoor Gathering

Sunshine and picnic foods—some things just belong together.

Tuna Pasta Salad
Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Sunny days, blue skies, and a gentle breeze make for perfect picnic weather—there is nothing like a hike in the country and an outdoor meal of your favorite picnic foods. Ditch the dining room this season and take it outside. Our best food picnic ideas will help you enjoy every minute of these glorious days.

These easy and impressive picnic recipes, paired with a soft blanket and a patch of green grass, will liven any outdoor event. Like hosting a tailgate , a hostess needs to consider portability and casual charm for picnic food ideas . Try these delicious, make-ahead recipes to minimize pre-party prep and stress and maximize praise from your picnic guests. Check out thrift stores or antique shops for not-so-perfect wicker baskets, hand-me-down vintage blankets, and charming quilts to help you set up a perfect picnic. With these simple picnic recipes, you will create the perfect memorable and portable menu.

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Picnic Egg Salad

Picnic Egg Salad
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Cat Steele

It's all the name! This simple, old-school egg salad recipe will fit perfectly on your picnic spread, whether you put it between two slices of bread or spread it on toasted baguette slices. Minced radishes help elevate this dish.

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Smoky Snack Mix

Smoky Snack Mix
Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Go ahead and double this recipe because this smoky snack mix will be every guest's favorite. White cheddar cheese crackers add a buttery richness to this irresistible mixture. Store leftovers—if any—in an airtight container for up to five days.

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Spicy Pineapple Slaw

Spicy Pineapple Slaw
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Kellie Kelley; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

This vibrant slaw recipe will kick your picnic game way up. Total prep time is under 30 minutes, so add this recipe as your new go-to to accompany grilled meats, sandwiches, and finger foods. Before serving, whisk zest, lime and lemon juice, honey, and seasoning to coat the cabbage mixture.

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Blackberry-Peach Cobbler Bars

Blackberry-Peach Cobbler Bars
Hector Sanchez

This delicious recipe has everything you love about a summery fruit cobbler in a grab-and-go form perfect for picnics. In addition to the blackberry and peach filling, the toffee-glazed pecan pieces add a delicious crunch to the tops of these bars. Allow enough time for the bars to cool completely before slicing.

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Southern-Style Potato Salad

_Southern-Style Potato Salad
Southern Living

This Southern classic is always a welcome sight at a picnic. Assemble this recipe with sour cream, bacon, sweet pickle relish, and mayonnaise for this fan-favorite side dish. Achieve the perfect texture by cooling the potatoes entirely before adding them to the mayo mixture. Customize this dish with extra mustard, shallots, grape tomatoes, or other preferred ingredients.

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Mini Muffulettas

Mini Muffulettas
Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Amy Burke

Layers of cheese, cold cuts, and pickled vegetables stuff these slider sandwiches. Make this mini muffuletta sandwich a day before your picnic to save time. After preparing, store muffulettas in a plastic freezer bag and refrigerate them overnight.

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No-Bake Granola Bars

No-Bake Granola Bars
Photo: Linda Pugliese; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

These healthy homemade granola bars will keep everyone full throughout the day, and there are three flavor options to satisfy every family member's preferences. No-bake granola bars include rice cereal, oats, almond butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Upgrade with one of the following varieties: Tart Cherry-Pistachio, Apricot-Coconut-Cashew, or Chocolate Chip-Pecan-Sea Salt.

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Tomato Sandwiches

Tomato Tea Sandwiches
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Cat Steele

This new spin on a classic tomato sandwich features our all-time favorite Summer Sauce . Test Kitchen professionals describe Summer Sauce as a bright, fresh, loose pesto-like sauce, ideal for any summer dish. Prepare these sandwiches a day before the picnic.

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Field Pea and Pasta Salad

Field Pea and Pasta Salad
Photo: Kelsey Hansen; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Julia Levy

Mini glass jars make for easy and adorable toting for this summery pasta salad recipe. This Farfalle pasta salad, filled with fresh summer vegetables, is easier to assemble using a store-bought rotisserie chicken. The white wine vinegar and Dijon mustard dressing perfectly complement the other summer flavors.

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Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwiches

Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwiches
Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Torie Cox

This easy sandwich recipe makes the most of that rotisserie chicken you have in the fridge. This chicken salad mixture pairs well with fresh sandwich rolls and toasted baguettes, or you can even enjoy it on lettuce leaves.

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Classic Pimiento Cheese

Basic Pimiento Cheese
Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Throw a Tupperware container full of pimiento cheese and an assortment of crackers into your basket, and you're good to go. You could always make easy-to-tote sandwiches with this favorite spread, too.

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Fresh Fruit Salad

Fresh Fruit Salad
Jen Causey

Fresh fruit is always welcome at our picnics. Bring skewers or toothpicks for a utensil-free serving. Combine your favorite fruits with a honey and orange juice mixture.

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Crunchy Pecan Pie Bites

Crunchy Pecan Pie Bites
Jennifer Davick

To round out your picnic with a bite of something sweet, toss a few of these easy pecan pie bites into a Mason jar. Frozen mini-phyllo pastry shells are the perfect portable container for this glazed pecan filling.

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Lemonade Iced Tea

Lemonade Iced Tea
Jennifer Davick

Our riff on a classic Arnold Palmer is refreshing for hot summer days. Make this an adult-only beverage by adding bourbon or spiced dark rum. Garnish with fresh citrus slices.

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Turkey, Apple, and Brie Sandwich

Turkey, Apple, and Brie Sandwich
Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Lindsey Lower; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Crunchy apple and nutty, creamy brie are a perfect match with sliced turkey for a sandwich that's anything but boring. Wrap each sandwich in parchment paper to help keep them fresh until you are ready to eat.

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Egg Salad Sandwiches

Egg Salad Sandwiches
Jen Causey

Egg salad is a potluck favorite, so we made it picnic accessible in Masters-style tea sandwiches. Combine the classic ingredients—celery, pickle relish, and mayonnaise—with unique flavors, such as grated onion, dried salad seasoning, Dijon mustard, and sugar, for this picnic staple.

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Cheddar Cheese Straws

Cheddar Cheese Straws
Lee Harrelson

Cheese straws are an all-time favorite Southern snack for parties, hostess gifts, and any occasion that might arise because they're so easy to toss in a tin and take with you. This savory and rich snack has the perfect amount of peppery kick.

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Dianne's Southwestern Cornbread Salad

Dianne's Southwestern Cornbread Salad
Southern Living

Remember cold, layered salads? We always remembered them! These vintage recipes are so easy to package and take on a picnic. Cornbread elevates this recipe, but it is adaptable based on your available ingredients.

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Cheese Puffs with Ham Salad

Cheese Puffs with Ham Salad
Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: Torie Cox

This old-school recipe is delicious, nostalgic, and easy to pack and take in zip-top plastic bags for a satisfying lunch at the park. Make cheese puffs in advance and freeze them so you can prepare this recipe whenever you'd like. Pair these cheesy bites with a classic Southern Ham Salad .

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Chewy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bars

Chewy Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bars
Hector Manuel Sanchez

You can still enjoy a bite-size picnic dessert when it's too hot to turn the oven on. These no-bake bars fit the bill perfectly. Top the peanut butter base with chopped chocolate for this classic treat.

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Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet Potato Chips
Photo: Jennifer Davick

If you want to go all-out on homemade, try this simple chip recipe that's much better than bagged. The secret to perfectly crisp chips is frying them in small batches at a low temperature. Store them in an airtight container for up to two days.

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Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomato Bruschetta

Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomato Bruschetta
Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Anna Hampton; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch

This easy bruschetta recipe makes the most of the fresh summer cherry tomatoes. Softened goat cheese spread over toasted baguette slices pairs perfectly with tomatoes, oil, and basil leaves.

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Golden Corn Fritters

Golden Corn Fritters
Southern Living

These crispy poppers will be long gone before the picnic is over. Creating this hearty finger food takes only 30 minutes of hands-on time.

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Mini Tomato Sandwiches With Bacon Mayonnaise

Mini Tomato Sandwiches With Bacon Mayonnaise
Victor Protasio

This bite-size spin on a classic BLT will become a new favorite. Choose whatever tomatoes are ripest for this recipe, but a combination of red and yellow heirloom varieties makes an exciting color combination. Prepare this dish an hour in advance and refrigerate it until you are ready to eat.

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Permanent Slaw

Permanent Slaw
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell; Food Styling: Toni Brogan

Make this simple slaw recipe ahead of time so you only need to remember to pack it in your picnic basket when it's time to go. This tangy vinegar-based coleslaw combines finely shredded angel hair cabbage, carrot, bell pepper, sweet onions, and a sweet and sour apple cider vinegar dressing to make it incredibly flavorful.

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Oatmeal-Caramel Cream Pies

Oatmeal-Caramel Cream Pies Recipe
Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

This childhood favorite is perfect for carrying along on a breezy afternoon picnic. Upgrade this old-fashioned favorite with a salty-sweet caramel filling. Allow enough time to refrigerate the pies before packing them so the filling is firm.

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Muddy Buddy Mix

Muddy Buddy Mix
Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall Prop Stylist: Audrey Davis

Whip up this addicting snack in just a few minutes. Upgrade this classic treat by combining the cocoa powder with powdered sugar for an extra chocolate-flavored coating.

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Salmon Bagel Sandwiches

Salmon Bagel Sandwiches
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke

Use your slow cooker to help make the bright, tender salmon that is the star of this recipe. Season the cream cheese with chives, radishes, dill, lemon zest, and lemon juice before adding it to the everything bagel.

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Fire Crackers

Alabama Fire Cracker Saltines

Kate Robertson

This Southern favorite starts with a sleeve of saltines from the pantry. The best part about this recipe is that baking is optional. Use a Ziploc bag filled with garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, ranch dressing mix, red pepper flakes, and olive oil, and let it sit overnight.

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Bacon-Ranch Pasta Salad

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
Micah A. Leal

Bacon and ranch are a match made in side-dish heaven. Choose a pasta, like cavatappi or elbow pasta, to help the mixture cling to every curve. Fresh herbs, sliced cherry tomatoes, and shredded Parmesan cheese complete this flavor-filled dish.

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Apple Chips

Apple Chips
Micah A. Leal

You'll leave store-bought bags behind once you try these healthy homemade chips. With only two ingredients, there is no reason not to try this recipe for your next picnic.

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Greek Grilled Chicken Pita

Greek Grilled Chicken Pita
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

This easy and fresh pita recipe makes your picnic lunch more fun than usual turkey sandwiches. Marinate the chicken overnight in olive oil, garlic, lemon, salt, and pepper. After grilling the chicken, top it with a drizzle of lemon juice and fill a pita pocket with tzatziki, lettuce, tomatoes, and thinly sliced red onion.

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Blackberry-Oat Crumble Bars

Blackberry-Oat Crumble Bars
Photo: Helen Norman; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: Marian Cooper Cairns

If blackberry cobbler is your favorite Southern treat, make these portable bars. The light brown sugar, rolled oats, flour, and butter crust doubles as a toasty streusel topping.

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Chicken and Fontina Panini

Chicken and Fontina Panini
Greg DuPree

This simple but tasty sandwich makes the most of store-bought pesto and rotisserie chicken. Assemble this dish in 10 minutes with only a handful of ingredients. In addition to the pesto and chicken, add sliced tomatoes and fontina cheese to crispy ciabatta bread.

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Salted Caramel-Apple Hand Pies

Salted Caramel-Apple Hand Pies
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Katie Jacobs

These mini desserts let you enjoy your favorite apple pie to go. Cubed Granny Smith apples with sugar, seasonal spices, and caramel candy fill the refrigerated piecrust dough.

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Ranch Snacker Crackers

Ranch Snacker Crackers
Sheri Castle

If you can't get enough ranch dressing, this simple snack will be your new favorite. These oyster crackers are delicious as a snack, or you can add them to your favorite salad or soup.

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Red Potato Salad

Red Potato Salad
Antonis Achilleos

This potato salad is perfect for picnics because it tastes just as good at room temperature. To help the potatoes soak up the dressing and vinegar, toss them while they are still hot, according to the Test Kitchen. After, stir in dill, parsley, pepper, and salt to the potato mixture.

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Crispy Cheese Wafers

Crispy Cheese Wafers

Make your picnic a snack lunch featuring these homemade cheese crackers. These crackers are extra crunchy because of the rice cereal. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

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Raspberry Crumble Bars

Raspberry-Almond Crumble Bars
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Fresh or frozen raspberries will work for these gooey and crunchy bars. Add berries to the mixture for an extra-thick layer of fruit in this dessert. Refrigerator for up to two hours—or cool completely—so the bars cut into neat squares.

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Smoky Chicken Panini with Basil Mayo

Smoky Chicken Panini with Basil Mayo
Jennifer Davick

This panini recipe calls for freshly grilled chicken, but you could use the rotisserie chicken from the fridge to save time. To complete this panini, combine chicken with smoky Gouda, sun-dried tomatoes, and baby spinach. Add fresh Basil Mayo to the sourdough sandwich.

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Sweet and Salty Snack Mix

Sweet-and-Salty Snack Mix
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Katie Jacobs

Your family will beg you to make this snack mix all the time. The sweet and salty flavors make this a snack everyone will enjoy. Store in an airtight container until the picnic.

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Puppy Chow Snack Mix

Puppy Chow Snack Mix
bhofack2/Getty Images

This snack mix will be a forever favorite. Chocolate and peanut butter are a classic combination that everyone will enjoy. Make this snack mix in advance and store it in an airtight container.

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Bacon Bites

Bacon Bites
Oxmoor House

You can't stop returning for more once you try this three-ingredient snack. Coating it in a brown sugar glaze will be your new favorite way to eat bacon. Wrap the bacon around a breadstick for a unique portable treat.

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Dainty Cucumber Sandwiches

Dainty Cucumber Sandwich
Southern Living

Cucumber sandwiches are classic tea-time finger food. Picnics can enjoy the same casual elegance by adding this sandwich to the menu. Customize sandwiches with homemade mayo, pimiento cheese, and minced chicken.

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Classic Macaroni Salad with Ham

Classic Macaroni Salad with Ham
Jen Causey

This make-ahead dish is reminiscent of our childhoods' cold, layered pasta salads. Make things simpler by doing the prep work in advance and storing the ingredients in an airtight container until you are ready to assemble this salad.

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Chicken Pot Pie Hand Pies

Chicken Pot Pie Hand Pies
Skyler Burt

We love chicken pot pie so much that we found a way to make it portable. The Thyme-Cream Cheese Pastry uses cream cheese, butter, and cream in a food processor, added to flour and thyme to create the dough. Allow this handheld comfort food to cool for at least five minutes before serving.

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Turkey Salad

Turkey Salad
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Whether you make the classic version or try one of our twists—Golden Curry Turkey Salad, Pickle-and-Dill Turkey Salad, or Fruit-and-Nut Turkey Salad—a turkey sandwich will always be a favorite. Assemble this dish in 10 minutes.

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Fried Chicken Sliders with Pimiento Cheese

Fried Chicken Sliders with Pimiento Cheese
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Two Southern favorites—fried chicken and pimiento cheese—meet in these mini sandwiches that everyone will love. Layers of fried chicken, pickled okra pods, and pimiento cheese come together for this easy-to-assemble dish.

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Blueberry-Lavender Hand Pies

Blueberry-Lavender Hand Pies
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

A touch of lavender brings a floral note to these portable pies. The tender crust needs at least four hours to chill before handling—chill it for up to 24 hours to make handling easier. Berry compote fills these delicate pies.

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Tuna Pasta Salad

Tuna Pasta Salad
Caitlin Bensel

We gave vintage tuna pasta salad a modern makeover with this fresh recipe that's delicious, chilled, or at room temperature. Pack this tuna salad with fresh arugula, cherry tomatoes, and pickled peppers for some heat and color.

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