Whether you're hitting the backyard, the beach, or the park, these picnic food ideas are perfect for enjoying al fresco.
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Zesty Chicken Salad
Credit: JENNIFER CAUSEY

Picnics are the perfect way to entertain during the summer—and while store-bought salads and snacks are great, you can always splurge on a special themed picnic menu that'll elevate your outdoor eating. Whether you're 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. (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
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Chicken-Pesto Flatbread Sandwiches

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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!

Eggplant Panzanella Recipe
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Eggplant Panzanella

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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.

Nectarine-and-Burrata Salad
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Nectarine-and-Burrata Salad

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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.

Raspberry Crostata
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Raspberry Crostata

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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.

Nectarine Olive Oil Cake Recipe
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Nectarine Olive Oil Cake

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

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
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Tomato, Bacon, and Garlic Mayo Sandwich

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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 a savory garlic mayo, but you can easily omit any components that your kids don't like.

pomegranate and almond butter toast
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Pomegranate-Almond Toast

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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. 

Orzo Tomato Salad Recipe
Credit: Jennifer Causey

Orzo Tomato Salad

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

Hazelnut Swirl Blondies
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Hazelnut Swirl Blondies

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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.

Raspberry Crumb Bars
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Raspberry-Almond Crumb Bars

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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.

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
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Ham and Leek Quiche

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

Caramelized Onion Tarts With Apples
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Caramelized Onion Tarts With Apples

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

Nicoise Inspired Summer Salad
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Nicoise Summer Salad

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

Honey Whole Wheat Strawberry Clafoutis
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Strawberry Clafoutis

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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.)

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 Sandwich Recipe
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Speedy Pork Banh Mi Sandwiches

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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.)

Peanut Noodles With Edamame
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Peanut Noodles With Edamame

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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.

Thai Cabbage Slaw
Credit: The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School by Alison Cayne (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photograph by Con Poulos

Thai Cabbage Slaw

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This Thai take on the classic picnic side dish includes a fish sauce vinaigrette, cilantro, scallions, and roasted peanuts. And don't worry about grilling the cabbage, thinly sliced raw cabbage works well too.

Tropical Fruit Salad
Credit: Victor Protasio

Tropical Fruit Salad

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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.

Coconut Pound Cake
Credit: Kelsey Hansen

Coconut Pound Cake

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

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 Recipe
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Zesty Chicken Salad

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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. Speaking of freshness, don't skimp on the fresh tarragon, which is a chicken salad staple. And while this recipe calls for you to cook chicken breasts, you can also use leftover rotisserie chicken if you want to save time. This dish also gets bonus points because it can be stored in the fridge for up to five days.

Creamy Potato Salad With Bacon
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Creamy Potato Salad With Bacon

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

Ginger-Lime Melon Salad
Credit: Jennifer Causey

Ginger-Lime Melon Salad

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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.

Lemon Bars
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Lemon Bars

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

Chewy Brownies
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Chewy Brownies

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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.

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.

Watercress and Bean Salad With Almonds and Ricotta Salata
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Watercress and Bean Salad With Almonds and Ricotta Salata

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A green salad that won't wilt? Start with hardy, flavorful watercress—ricotta salata, a harder cheese, can also stand up to time on the picnic table.

Healthy Superbowl Recipes: Spiced Carrot Salad
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Spiced Carrot Salad

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

Crunchy Broccolini With Lemon and Pecans
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Crunchy Broccolini Salad With Lemon and Pecans

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

Garlic Herb Potato Salad
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Garlic and Herb Potato Salad

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

Moroccan Couscous Salad
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Moroccan Couscous Salad

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

mango-pound-cake-0419foo
Credit: Victor Protasio

Mango Pound Cake

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

Peanut Blondies Recipe
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Peanut Blondies

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