Top Picnic Food Ideas and Advice

Making the Best Out of your Picnic:

The picnic has become the symbol of relaxing – a meal where you can just lie down, relax, and take in your surroundings. It’s almost the opposite of a sit-down, formal meal. However, just because it’s an informal meal with a good scenic view, it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the quality of what you’re eating. Indeed, a picnic can be the perfect time to stretch some culinary chops.

Here are some ideas that can help make your picnic – any picnic, in fact – more fun and memorable.

Potato Salad
potato salad

No picnic is complete without the homemade potato salad. For some people, they prefer to roast their potatoes, but if you want something different, boil the potato rather than roast it.

In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, mustard and milk to taste. The mix may be a bit thin, so don’t worry about adding too much milk. Salt and pepper should be added to taste, too. After that, you can add some onions and radishes for extra taste. If you want some more meat in the dressing, try shredded chicken breast, bacon bits, or mushroom slices. Chill the whole preparation for about two to three hours before going to the picnic. Remember to bring extra dressing, as potatoes tend to absorb moisture.

For presentation, you can line the container with some lettuce before putting the salad in it. Sliced hard-boiled eggs should be put on top for presentation, and you can add some croutons on top of it at the picnic itself.


Some picnics are the equivalent of dessert, but done outside. In such a case, the picnic basket should have little more than some cookies and milk – or orange juice to go with it. Chocolate chip cookies are a particularly good idea for picnics, as they are crispy when freshly baked, but still deliciously chewy if they’ve been stored for some time.

If you want some variety, you can mix have a mixed bag of chocolate chip, butter, and blueberry cookies all in one jar. Similarly, you can also opt for peanut butter cookies, which can work particularly well if coffee is a drink choice for the picnic. Just remember to bring a jar with a good seal, otherwise the other perennial picnic tradition, ants, will make an appearance.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

This is a popular “dad” food for picnics. Now, while an overstuffed pulled pork sandwich may be a joy to behold, when it comes to a picnic situation, people would usually prefer a bit more neatness and less worry about cleaning themselves up. When preparing a pulled pork sandwich for a picnic, don’t overload on the sauce – you can do that for the pulled pork itself, but keep the sauce to a minimum. If you want, bring an extra container of your pulled pork sauce with a serving spoon, for those who still wish to have a merry, messy old time.

Hummus and Finger Foods Tray

If you’re feeling adventurous, then a finger foods spread with hummus as the dip of choice can be one way to have a Mediterranean feel for your picnic. Hummus is versatile, as it mixes well with vegetables and meat. One way to serve barbecue, for example, would be to remove the barbecue strips from the stick, and then serve it with hummus on the side. After that, you can add carrot sticks, potatoes, and bread to the spread. For a lighter spread, you can also use hummus with tortilla chips or crackers. There is also a related dish, known as laban ma’ hummus, where Yogurt and butter replace tahini and olive oil in the original recipe. This is usually eaten with bread, and can be perfect for a light picnic meal.


The watermelon is a picnic classic. However, you can also spruce this up by making it into a salad. Mix lime juice, a little Cayenne pepper, salt and torn mint leaves to taste, then toss with watermelon slices to make a refreshing salad. You can also add a little rum if it’s an all-adult picnic. You can also add crumbled or sliced cheese to the preparation. You can serve it with the dressing chilled and bottled, to be applied before serving.

If you prefer your watermelon to be served as a juice, you can mix it with some vodka, lime juice, and ginger liqueur.


Lemonade’s secret, literally, is in how you add sugar to it – instead of adding sugar as is, do the following: Put sugar and water in a saucepan, and then heat until the sugar dissolves completely. You should be squeezing lemons while this is happening. After that, pour the juice and the simple sugar syrup into a pitcher. From there, add water to desired strength and taste. If the lemonade ends up being a bit too sweet, just add more lemon juice, rather than water. You can then chill the mixture for a few hours before serving, and serve with slices of lemon and ice cubes.


The main concern for bringing cheese to a picnic is how well it stands up to long hours of being unrefrigerated. There are two schools to this – one is to pack the cheese in its own container in icebox (if you’re bringing one; good idea for large family picnics), or choose hard cheeses that stand up well to heat. Cheeses such as Gruyere, Gouda and cheddar cheese are suggested for the hard cheeses, though it pays to have a cloth wrap for cheddar, as some cheddar cheeses can get oily under heat.

Cheeses can be paired with fruits and wines, which give it a reputation for more romantic picnics. It can also be paired with low-salt crackers breads. It’s a good idea to keep the cheese unsliced. Remember to bring a knife exclusively for cheese along. For some types of hard cheese, however, you may not need the knife, as you can pre-slice it into thick slabs that people can easily break bits off from.

Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob should be a no-brainer, right? However, there are ways that you can spice up corn for a picnic. With the classic grilled corn on the cob, you can use olive oil rather than butter when brushing the corn on the grill. You may wish to serve the corncobs whole, or cut them in half for children and for more manageability.

Alternatively, you can choose to prepare the corn at home by cutting it off from the cob after grilling, then mixing it with tomato slices and a pinch of pepper. You can add fruit like avocado to this mix – use vinaigrette of lime juice and olive oil to prevent the avocado from browning. Others may choose to add bacon or ham bits, or even go full veggie with cilantro or lettuce.


Chicken in all its preparations are a staple of picnics. But chicken, particularly fried preparations can get messy to eat, and while that may be part of the fun, it can be an issue when you only have paper towels with you. For picnics, chicken can be added to potato salads as a shredded add-on to the dressing. Otherwise, baked chicken is a better deal for ease and neatness. You can marinade the chicken pieces in honey and orange juice for a tangy flavor. If you prefer, you can simply combine crushed potato chips, flour, some pepper and paprika as a mixture to roll buttered chicken pieces in before going into the oven at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how large your pieces are.

Smoked Salmon

Add a touch of class to your picnic with smoked salmon slices. There are many ways to prepare salmon for a picnic, but here’s one of the easiest: for a smoked salmon sandwich, all you have to do is lay some slices of salmon, dill, and cucumber on a bed of cream cheese, then season liberally with pepper. Do remember to spread some cream cheese on the top slice of the sandwich as well.

Kitchen Advice:

As with all things, the best way to try out which combination work for you is to try them out first at home – invite some friends along for a backyard picnic, or even an informal “recipe test” picnic, so in the future, you can be sure that your picnic spreads will be the envy of many.