A picnic is one of the best ways to avoid cabin fever, get some fresh air and sunshine, and maybe some family bonding while you’re at it. Of course, not all picnics need to be outdoors, especially if the weather has taken a turn for the rainy. Sometimes you just need the right combination of family and food for a good time.
Picnic foods tend to be easy to pick up and eat, with a lot of overlapping between picnics and cookout foods or barbecues. The most common picnic foods are sandwiches or hot dogs, potato chips, and a few drinks, but picnic foods are a lot more diverse and complicated than those few foods.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at picnic food. There has to be more to it than just sandwiches and chips, right? Here are seventeen unexpected picnic food recipes.
17 Picnic Food Recipes
1. Honey Lime Fruit Salad
Fruit salads are common picnic foods since they’re easy to make and quick to eat. This salad puts lime juice and honey together with your favorite fruit for a different spin on the classic recipe.
Lime juice has a lot of vitamin C, and both it and honey contain antioxidants. The two ingredients make a healthy fruit salad even healthier, and it tastes good, too.
2. Pumpkin Banana Breakfast Bars
The easiest to-go food is a snack bar. It’s small enough to keep you going and easy to pack and travel with but packs a big energy punch.
Pumpkins and bananas are delicious, so it makes sense to put them together in a snack bar. Throw in chocolate chips and spices, and you’ll get a real hit.
3. Corn Maque Choux
Maque choux comes from Louisiana in the southern United States. The basic dish is corn with peppers, onions, and seasonings thickened with something like milk or oil.
This dish is an excellent side dish for your hamburgers and hot dogs. It’s also a cultural experience, as maque choux comes from Creole and Native American influences.
4. Bacon Cheddar Ranch Pinwheel
Picnics are a time to indulge in food, and here’s a dish for indulgence. Pinwheels are usually meat and cheese wrapped in a soft bread or tortilla so that it looks like a swirl or wheel.
Bacon cheddar ranch pinwheels combine crisp bacon and cheddar cheese with cream cheese, ranch dressing, and chives. This is all wrapped up in a tortilla for a superb treat.
5. Reuben Burger
Sandwiches and burgers are the main foods of a picnic, so why not combine them? Imagine the ingredients of a Reuben sandwich and a hamburger all on one bun.
If you have a grill, this is a good recipe for big eaters. Reuben burgers are stuffed with enough pastrami, sauerkraut, and bacon to please any sandwich fan.
6. Curried Potato Salad
Another big mainstay of picnics, potato salad is a side dish made from mashed potatoes, eggs, and mayonnaise mixed with vinegar and onions. So, why add curry powder to the mix?
Curry brings the taste of India to your picnic. It goes well with burgers and other meaty dishes, and it’s easy to add to your potato salad if you want to try something different.
7. Homemade Sweet Potato Chips
Homemade potato chips are healthier than the store-bought kind. There’s less salt, and it’s also more satisfying to smell as you pull them out of the oven or pour them into a bowl.
Sweet potatoes aren’t necessarily healthier than other potatoes, but they’re a tasty alternative. The healthiest way to make the chips is by baking them, rather than frying them.
8. Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies
Any good picnic needs a dessert, and these cookies fit the bill. This two-in-one combination of sweet and salty is the perfect way to close out the picnic.
The cookies are easy to make and ready in under half an hour, plus the recipe is flexible. It can be made gluten-free or vegan, for more people to enjoy.
9. Fried Chicken Tacos
Most picnic foods are easy to pick up and eat, and tacos are no exception to that rule. The chicken is put together with lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, and more in a crispy taco shell.
The tacos fit the theme of a Mexican or Tex-Mex picnic. They go together with guacamole, rice, or refried beans as sides for the best combination.
10. Maple Bacon Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs are a popular side dish for picnics because they’re easy to make and easier to pick up and eat. They don’t take very long to cook, and are ready in twenty minutes.
In this recipe, hard-boiled eggs are cut in half and topped with maple syrup or sugar and pieces of bacon. Add some mayonnaise and you get some delicious finger food.
11. Tortilla Hot Dog Wraps
Do you want to break out of the bun? This is a recipe for you! Basically, it’s a hot dog and cheese wrapped in a tortilla, then baked or fried. Easy as that.
The wraps are easy to make and it’s even easier to add toppings before you cook them. You can even cut them up as dipping foods.
Here’s a sandwich you might not have heard of. Smørrebrød is a Danish sandwich that’s traditionally made open-faced with buttered rye bread topped by meat or fish with cheese.
The beauty of smørrebrød is that it’s got so many potential toppings that you won’t need to worry about serving the same thing over and over again. Each sandwich is unique!
13. Tempeh Black Bean Burger
A healthy, vegan-friendly alternative to hamburgers, this burger gives you a full helping of vegetables, and more! Try putting it together with a side of homemade chips or French fries.
These burgers combine tempeh and black beans with garlic, onions, peppers, spices, and tomato paste. The end result is a yummy burger that won’t pack on the pounds.
14. Fruit Skewers
Also known as a fruit shish kebob, fruit skewers are pieces of fruit that are, well, skewered on a stick. They’re easy to make and don’t need cooking.
Fruit skewers can be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to eat them. Cold fruit is the best on a hot day!
15. Chocolate Pudding Pie
This quick, no-cook pie only has four ingredients: A pie crust, instant chocolate pudding, milk, and whipped cream. When people say “easy as pie,” this is probably what they mean.
Chocolate pudding pie is a great dessert to end your picnic on a high note. In fact, you’ll probably get many demands for an encore.
16. Dandelion Salad
Dandelions are considered a nuisance in the United States, but the leaves are edible. This doesn’t mean you should pick the dandelion leaves in your yard, but some supermarkets sell bunches of the leaves.
If you’ve never had dandelion greens, they taste a bit like arugula, but slightly spicier. Dandelions go well with shallots, garlic, and green onions in vinegar or a lemon vinaigrette.
17. Homemade Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
If you have an ice cream maker, you’re all set to make a nice, frozen treat. The recipe is best made right before you go to bed so that it freezes overnight, and in the morning it’s all ready.
Strawberry buttermilk ice cream is best served with another dessert, like a pie or cake. The chocolate pudding pie from earlier, for example, or a piece of strawberry shortcake.
And there you have it, seventeen unconventional dishes that put a new twist on a picnic. I hope you enjoyed reading these, and that you’ll give some of these recipes a try.
Whether they’re outside or inside, the best picnics are the ones with the happiest memories. They bring families together, even if it is only to get out of the house for a while.