Here are some of our favorite picnic food ideas for the perfect picnic. Break free from the PB & J mentality and try something new when planning your picnic food! Trust us, your family will thank you!
How to Plan the Perfect Picnic
Here are the steps:
1. Make food
2. Go outside
3. Eat food
Easy right? Food just tastes better when you have been playing outside in the sun! It doesn’t matter where you go. To the lake, or up on the mountain, or to the park, or even in your backyard. Here are some our delicious and best picnic food ideas (including a bonus sandwich recipe below) that you can whip up ahead of time to take on your outings that will get you out of the boring sandwich and chips rut, trust me, your family will thank you!
Sure, PB&J’s are easy to make, but why not kick it up a notch and try one of these sandwiches instead? Picnicking with a crowd? You can make any of these sandwiches on a large French bread and slice it into individual portions. To store your sandwiches, wrap them in reusable wax sandwich wraps or in plastic wrap. To keep sandwiches from getting soggy, keep all sauces and condiments in small individual containers until ready to serve!
- Chicken Salad Sandwiches – store the chicken salad in a separate container until ready to serve.
- Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwiches – smoked pork with pickled veggies on a loaf of French bread.
- Italian Sandwiches with Olive Tapenade – salami, mozzarella, and fresh veggies topped with olive tapenade.
- Bleubird Turkey and Brie Sandwich – turkey, brie cheese, and apples slices on artisan bread.
- Egg Salad Sandwiches – store the egg salad in a separate container until ready to serve.
- Turkey Over Italy Sandwiches – turkey, provolone, and pesto mayo on focaccia bread.
- Club Sandwich – layers of turkey, ham, bacon, cheese, lettuce, and tomato between toasted bread.
- Deli Roast Beef Sandwich – roast beef, bacon jam, blue cheese, and horseradish cream on sliced bread.
- Easy Cucumber Sandwiches – cucumber sandwiches are light, fresh, and crisp with a creamy, flavorful spread.
- Kalua Pulled Pork Sandwiches – shredded pork topped with crunchy slaw and bbq sauce on a soft bun.
- Cobb Salad Sandwich – everything you love about Cobb salad in sandwich form (see recipe below).
Wrap It Up
Wraps make the perfect picnic recipes, they are ideal for camping and hikes as well. They are easy to make at home, easy to pack, and easy to eat once you’ve made it to your destination. Wrap the sandwich filling in a tortilla or fill a pita.
- Zesty Italian Lunch Wrap – ham, salami, and pepperoni, lettuce, and banana peppers wrapped up in a tortilla.
- Chicken Salad Curry Wraps – everything you love in an Indian or Thai dish wrapped up in a tortilla.
- Spicy Chicken Peanut Wraps – chicken with peanuts, red peppers, and cabbage with a spicy creamy dressing.
- Ham and Pineapple Wraps – ham and pineapple wrapped up with cream cheese in a spinach wrap.
- Fresh Asian Lettuce Wraps – chicken, mushrooms, and water chestnuts wrapped up in butter lettuce.
- Chicken Caesar Wraps – all the flavors of Caesar salad wrapped up in a tortilla wrap.
Salads Perfect for a Picnic
My favorite salads for picnics are the ones that can’t get soggy! They are so easy to pack up and serve as a main picnic dish or as a side dish. To bulk up any of our savory salads or to make it more of a main course, add some grilled chicken strips or cubes. Our sweet salads can double as a dessert.
- German Potato Salad – red potatoes, bacon, and onions in a dijon mustard vinaigrette dressing.
- Mom’s Macaroni Salad – macaroni pasta loaded with ham, cheese, and veggies, in a creamy dressing.
- Layered Pasta Salad – layers of ham, lettuce, eggs, salami, veggies, cheese and dressing.
- Chopped Chicken and Cabbage Salad – chopped cabbage with grilled teriyaki chicken, almonds, sesame seeds, and crunchy noodles, and an easy homemade dressing.
- Italian Pasta Salad – tri-color noodles, mozzarella, and vibrant veggies tossed in tangy Italian dressing.
- Light Greek Pasta Salad – all your favorite greek flavors tossed in pasta and lemon dressing.
- Chopped Broccoli Salad – chopped fresh broccoli with crisp bacon, chewy craisins, and sweet dressing.
- Best Potato Salad – potatoes, dill pickles, and hard boiled eggs covered in a creamy dressing.
- Caprese Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil – only 3 ingredients and less then 5 minutes to make.
- Grilled Corn Salad – juicy corn, fresh veggies, and a little spice come together for this yummy dish.
- Cucumber Salad – sliced cucumbers marinated in a tangy vinegar dressing.
- Tuna Salad – albacore tuna, peas, hard-boiled egg, and tossed in a creamy mayo dressing.
- Hawaiian Mac Salad – a no frills creamy macaroni salad that is a Hawaiian favorite.
- Creamy Bacon and Ranch Pasta Salad – bacon, cheddar, tomatoes, and peas in a creamy ranch dressing.
- Pizza Pasta Salad – spiral noodles loaded with pepperoni, tomatoes, olives, mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
- Watermelon Feta Salad – this fresh salad has incredible fresh flavors and texture with watermelon, feta cheese, berries, and cucumbers.
- Ambrosia Salad – a classic sweet salad with fruit, marshmallows, and pecans in a creamy dressing.
- Snickers Salad – apples and snickers candy bars tossed in whipped cream.
- Blueberry Jello Salad – blueberries in jello with a sweet cream cheese topping.
- Strawberry Pretzel Salad – pretzel crust, strawberry filling, and creamy topping.
- Easy Fruit Salad – fresh fruit tossed in a creamy pudding dressing.
- Watergate Salad – pineapple, marshmallows, and pecans in tasty pistachio pudding.
- Grape Salad with Coconut Topping – red and green grapes tossed in a sweet cream cheese dressing and topped with a coconut crunchy topping.
Picnic Ideas for Dessert
And now, the best for last! Our best picnic food ideas when it comes to desserts are the ones that are easy to transport. Cookies, bars, brownies, and any kind of rice krispie treat works great! For cake, you can put a cover on the cake pan and pack the whole cake in your basket. Perfect for eating with your lunch or a snack for later. Don’t forget a plastic knife and plastic forks!
- Peanut Butter Cookies – soft chewy cookies loaded with peanut butter flavor.
- 7 Layer Magic Cookie Bars – layers of graham cracker crumbs, chocolate, coconut, and pecans.
- Microwave Rice Krispie Treats – these classic treats can be made in less than 5 minutes.
- Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats – take those Rice Krispies to the next level!
- Very Best Lemon Bars – a tangy lemon pastry square that is dusted with powdered sugar.
- Picnic Cake – easy to transport and loaded with oats and chocolate chips.
- Texas Sheet Cake – a thin chocolate cake that can feed a big group.
- Homemade Oreos – cream cheese filling sandwiched between soft chocolate cookies.
- The Best Homemade Brownies – chewy chocolate fudge brownies.
Must Have Picnic Gear
Now that we’ve discussed the most important part of the picnic – the picnic food ideas, we would love to share some of our favorite picnic gear with you. These are all of our favorite things to use whenever we plan a day-trip picnic. We hope you will like them too.
- Picnic Blanket: Needs to be BIG, waterproof/sandproof, and portable
- Cute Picnic Basket: Should be waterproof, insulated, strong, and easy to carry
- Picnic Food Covers: Keeps nasty bugs off of your food
- Bluetooth Speaker: This one is waterproof, durable, and portable
- Picnic Tablecloth: We like the reusable ones that are waterproof and durable
- Ladder Golf: We LOVE outdoor games for picnics! We have this exact ladder golf set and it is THE best. It’s not one of those flimsy plastic ones. It has lasted for years and we love it!
Cobb Salad Sandwich
- Spread mayonnaise evenly on each slice of bread.
- On bottom slice of bread, layer turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, egg, and blue cheese crumbles.
- Salt and pepper the sandwich toppings to taste.
- Lightly drizzle your favorite salad dressing over the toppings.
- Add top slice of bread. Cut the sandwich in half and serve.
*This post contains affiliate links. This means that we may get a small commission if you decide to buy any of the items that we recommend (at no cost to you).