6 Picnic Menu Ideas for a Perfect Outdoor Feast

Whether you're hitting the backyard, the beach, or the park, these picnic food ideas are perfect for enjoying al fresco.

Zesty Chicken Salad

One of our favorite summer activities is going on a picnic. And while store-bought salads and snacks are great, we recommend splurging on a special themed picnic menu that'll take this fun outdoor event to the next level.

Whether you're on a picnic blanket enjoying an outdoor concert and fireworks, or spending the day at the beach with the kids, we have the perfect picnic food ideas for you. So, get ready to load up your best cooler! (And don't be afraid to mix and match dishes from these picnic menus to create your perfect meal!)

Tuscan-Style Picnic Menu

A rustic, Italian-style meal al fresco is heavy on fresh produce. You can also include an antipasto spread with meat, cheese, olives, and roasted veggies to snack on.

Chicken-Pesto Flatbread Sandwiches

Chicken-Pesto Flatbread Sandwiches
Caitlin Bensel

Want an easy way to do individual servings for your picnic? Try these hearty flatbreads with fresh mozzarella, baby arugula, and pesto-tossed rotisserie chicken nestled inside. Pair these sandwiches with any of your favorite veggies (or even some pasta salad) and you're good to go!

Get the recipe: Chicken-Pesto Flatbread Sandwiches

Eggplant Panzanella

Eggplant Panzanella Recipe
Andrew Purcell

Bread salad? Yes, please! This version has grilled bread, pieces of meaty eggplant, slices of Manchego cheese, and plenty of cherry tomatoes. It's all tied together courtesy of a bright, lemony vinaigrette.

Get the recipe: Eggplant Panzanella

Nectarine-and-Burrata Salad

Nectarine-and-Burrata Salad

This elevated take on a classic caprese salad swaps out tomatoes and mozzarella for nectarines and burrata, respectively. An easily pickled onion, fresh mint leaves, and salty Marcona almonds complete this colorful spread.

Get the recipe: Nectarine-and-Burrata Salad

Raspberry Crostata

Raspberry Crostata
David Meredith

Try a traditional Italian dessert with a tart, summer-perfect flavor profile—the crostata won't get too messy if you're picnicking on a warm day. If you're not a raspberry fan, use peach or blueberry jam instead.

Get the recipe: Raspberry Crostata

Nectarine Olive Oil Cake

Nectarine Olive Oil Cake Recipe
Greg DuPree

Splurge on high-quality olive oil and fresh-from-the-farm nectarines or peaches for this simply delicious picnic dessert.

Get the recipe: Nectarine Olive Oil Cake

Kid-Friendly Picnic Recipes

Many classic picnic recipes use the kinds of foods that kids really like. But if you have picky eaters at your picnic, opt for a grazing menu with kid-friendly options like cheese and crackers, fresh fruit, and other goodies they can pick and choose from. Sandwiches also make good kid-friendly picnic food—you can always leave off any ingredients that your little ones won't eat.

Tomato, Bacon, and Garlic Mayo Sandwich

Tomato, Bacon, and Garlic Mayo Sandwich
Danny Kim

Even the pickiest of eaters won't be able to resist the classic combo of crispy bacon, crunchy lettuce, and fresh tomato slices. This version of a BLT also calls for creamy avocado slices and savory garlic mayo, but you can easily omit any components that your kids don't like.

Get the recipe: Tomato, Bacon, and Garlic Mayo Sandwich

Pomegranate-Almond Toast

pomegranate and almond butter toast
Caitlin Bensel

Ditch the classic PB&J for this fun toast that's packed with bold colors and a variety of textures. While this might not be the easiest item to travel with, try wrapping it in tin foil or plastic wrap to keep all of the ingredients secure.

Get the recipe: Pomegranate-Almond Toast

Orzo Tomato Salad

Orzo Tomato Salad Recipe
Jennifer Causey

Cheese, tomatoes, pasta—this summery salad includes all the kid-favorite ingredients and has a mild honey mustard vinaigrette that adults will love.

Get the recipe: Orzo Tomato Salad

Hazelnut Swirl Blondies

Hazelnut Swirl Blondies cut into squares on a blue background
Greg DuPree

These easy-to-pack blondies look gorgeous and travel well, making them the perfect picnic treat. It certainly doesn't hurt that they're packed with Nutella.

Get the recipe: Hazelnut Swirl Blondies

Raspberry-Almond Crumb Bars

Raspberry Crumb Bars
Greg DuPree

A buttery almond crumb base and raspberry preserves come together to create a kid-approved dessert that isn't just pure sugar. The best part about these bars is that they require just 10 minutes of hands-on time.

Get the recipe: Raspberry-Almond Crumb Bars

French Picnic Menu Ideas

The French really know how to eat—and while a baguette, great cheese, and a bottle of wine may be all you need for a French-style picnic, these dishes will make for a festive fete.

Ham and Leek Quiche

Ham and leek quiche displayed on a white background.
Jennifer Causey

The classic dish can be served cold or at room temperature—and is a traditional picnic dish in France.

Get the recipe: Ham and Leek Quiche

Caramelized Onion Tarts With Apples

Caramelized Onion Tarts With Apples
Con Poulos

This classic French dish combines tart apples with caramelized onions on a frozen puff pastry base. Serve it as a meal or snack, depending on what else you include in your picnic spread.

Get the recipe: Caramelized Onion Tarts With Apples

Nicoise Summer Salad

Nicoise Inspired Summer Salad
Caitlin Bensel

A bright and flavorful salad, our tweak on Nicoise includes chickpeas, smoked trout, and sugar snap peas.

Get the recipe: Nicoise Summer Salad

Strawberry Clafoutis

Honey Whole Wheat Strawberry Clafoutis
Kelsey Hansen

This custardy cake is easy to pack along and can be made with your favorite fruit. (Cherry is traditional, but our recipe uses fresh strawberries in its place.)

Get the recipe: Strawberry Clafoutis

Asian-Inspired Picnic Recipes

Cold noodle salads, flavorful slaws, and other Asian-inspired dishes travel surprisingly well. Plus, many of these picnic options can be made without meat (or are meat-free to start with) which is ideal for vegetarians and vegans.

Speedy Pork Banh Mi Sandwiches

Speedy Pork Banh Mi Sandwich Recipe
Caitlin Bensel

This quick and easy take on the classic Vietnamese sandwich is super-easy to prepare. (Just leave the cilantro on the side if you have guests who aren't into it.)

Get the recipe: Speedy Pork Banh Mi Sandwiches

Peanut Noodles With Edamame

Peanut Noodles With Edamame
Marcus Nilsson

The classic cold noodle salad can be customized with your own favorite veggies—carrots, cucumbers, and peppers are also great if you're not feeling the cabbage or snow peas.

Get the recipe: Peanut Noodles With Edamame

Tropical Fruit Salad

Tropical Fruit Salad
Victor Protasio

A colorful fruit salad made with papaya, pineapple, mango, and kiwi, makes a fun picnic dessert that works for vegetarians. The dish also features toasted coconut flakes and a creamy coconut yogurt base.

Get the recipe: Tropical Fruit Salad

Coconut Pound Cake

Classic pound cake with coconut flavor
Kelsey Hansen

Pair a pretty cake with fresh fruit like mango or berries for a simple dessert.

Get the recipe: Coconut Pound Cake

Classic Picnic Menu

Sometimes you shouldn't mess with what works. This classic picnic menu includes all the essentials (hello, potato salad!).

Zesty Chicken Salad

Zesty Chicken Salad Recipe
Greg DuPree

Chicken salad is a picnic favorite. Chopped dill pickles and a shallot add a briny punch and a kick, respectively, while lemon juice adds some freshness. And while this recipe calls for you to cook chicken breasts, you can also use leftover rotisserie chicken if you want to save time.

Get the recipe: Zesty Chicken Salad

Creamy Potato Salad With Bacon

Creamy Potato Salad With Bacon
Con Poulos

Let's face it—a picnic isn't a picnic without a little potato salad on the side.

Get the recipe: Creamy Potato Salad With Bacon

Ginger-Lime Melon Salad

Ginger-Lime Melon Salad
Jennifer Causey

Watermelon is the it fruit of summer—here it's paired with cantaloupe, honeydew, lime zest, and fresh ginger for a vibrant yet simple picnic side.

Get the recipe: Ginger-Lime Melon Salad

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars
Victor Schrager

These sweet-tart treats add a fresh palate cleanser at the end of your meal.

Get the recipe: Lemon Bars

Chewy Brownies

Chewy Brownies
Caitlin Bensel

No picnic is complete without dessert, but sweet treats with frosting and/or a whipped topping aren't exactly picnic-friendly. Luckily, these fudgy brownies travel well.

Get the recipe: Chewy Brownies

Heat-Safe Picnic Menu

If you need picnic foods that can sit out for hours without spoiling, this picnic menu can take the heat and won't disappoint.

White Bean and Farro Salad

White bean and farro salad served in a white bowl.
Jennifer Causey

With an oil-and-vinegar-based dressing, this protein-packed salad can stand up to time on the picnic table.

Get the recipe: White Bean and Farro Salad

Spiced Carrot Salad

Garlicky, cumin-spiced oil enhances the flavor in this recipe for Spiced Carrot Salad.
Greg DuPree

This refreshing, healthy side provides plenty of vitamin A, and won't put you at risk of food poisoning.

Get the recipe: Spiced Carrot Salad

Crunchy Broccolini Salad With Lemon and Pecans

Crunchy Broccolini With Lemon and Pecans
Victor Protasio

This flavorful salad features grilled and fresh broccolini and tart lemons.

Get the recipe: Crunchy Broccolini Salad With Lemon and Pecans

Garlic and Herb Potato Salad

Garlic Herb Potato Salad in a yellow bowl with red speckled serving spoon.
Greg DuPree

Skip the mayo—but don't skip the classic picnic dish!

Get the recipe: Garlic and Herb Potato Salad

Moroccan Couscous Salad

Moroccan Couscous Salad
Greg DuPree

Roasted veggies, dried fruit, and spices make up a festive picnic salad.

Get the recipe: Moroccan Couscous Salad

Mango Pound Cake

mango pound cake
Victor Protasio

A tasty pound cake is an easy-to-share picnic dessert that won't disappoint.

Get the recipe: Mango Pound Cake

Peanut Blondies

Peanut Blondies Recipe
Antonis Achilleos

For a mess-free picnic dessert that won't melt in the sun, try these peanut butter-filled blondies.

Get the recipe: Peanut Blondies

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