Picnics conjure up thoughts of warm summer days, loved ones, and cozy shade to snuggle under. Having a picnic is about memories being made but it’s also about great food.
People all around the world picnic as a form of rest and relaxation. From parks to campgrounds to your backyard, picnics come in all shapes and sizes.
If you are planning one, you will need to first decide the type of picnic you are looking to have. Some are more casual than others and you’ll enjoy choosing the right picnic side dishes to suit your needs.
17 Picnic Side Dishes
There’s no lack of variety when it comes to picnic side dishes. Why? Because picnics are celebrated all over the world. We’ll take you on a journey of picnic sides, from fancy to classic, the rest is up to you.
1. Grilled Peach with Halloumi Salad with Pesto Dressing
Can you say mouth-watering? The thought of juicy grilled summer peach and nothing else really matters… until you add some Halloumi to it!
Halloumi is a mild, semi-hard cheese that tastes great when fried or grilled. Because it uses goat’s milk, it gives salad that extra special something that makes it all worthwhile.
2. Sun-dried Tomato and Artichoke Hummus
Hummus if you haven’t noticed, comes in a variety of flavors. From garlic to chocolate, hummus has become a staple dip in many homes.
Try this classy sun-dried tomato and artichoke hummus and impress your guests. The flavor and texture of the ingredients will keep them coming back for more.
3. Vietnamese Summer Rolls
This is not your traditional fried spring roll, instead, it is made with fresh ingredients like lettuce, carrots, and fresh herbs, all wrapped in rice paper.
Rice paper is sold in most supermarkets these days and looks like tortillas. That’s where the similarities end though. You will have to dunk the rice paper in some water to soften them before using them to wrap your filling. They may be a little difficult to roll at first but keep trying, it’s worth it!
4. Cherry Tomato Tulips
Bring a little more sunshine to your picnic and prepare a beautiful bouquet of tomato tulips for your next picnic.
Find the best cherry tomatoes you can, think farmers market fresh, and grab some feta cheese. To create these delectable tulips you’ll need to whip out some of your cutting and decorating skills.
5. Maple Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Carrots
Glazed carrots are sophisticated, healthy, and delicious. This side dish, which can be found in fine dining restaurants, can easily be imitated and brought to a summer picnic.
There are a variety of carrots out there so be creative and experiment. Try heirloom, kaleidoscope, and little fingers to start with.
6. Roasted Corn and Poblano Guacamole
Add a little Mexican flavor to your picnic and put this delicious roasted corn and poblano guacamole on the menu.
Poblano peppers are a mildly spicy green pepper that will give your guacamole just enough of a kick to get everyone feeling Caliente! The addition of corn gives the guacamole a bit of sweetness that will have everyone asking for more.
7. Soba Salad with Strawberries
The Japanese know what they’re doing when it comes to side dishes. From creamy potato salads to fruit plates, to this noodle creation, you’ll have no trouble finding the right side dish for your next picnic.
Soba is a wheat noodle that is best served cold. In this salad, it is topped with summer strawberries and a dressing that’s to die for.
8. Black Bean and Couscous Salad
Couscous is a popular North African dish that is versatile and soaks up flavor. Made of durum wheat powder, these tiny pearls make a great side dish when paired with black beans.
Add your favorite vegetables to this mixture (we recommend colorful peppers and red onion) and mix it all up with lime juice and olive oil. Simple, nutritious, and delicious.
9. Creamy Pea Salad
There’s something about sweet peas that screams summer. The way the peas burst in your mouth and the sweetness of them make for an easy-to-swallow side dish, not to mention a portable one.
Add crispy bacon and a homemade dressing to your peas and you have a delightful, light, and refreshing side dish for your next picnic.
10. Slow Cooker Baked Beans
Slow cooker beans are reminiscent of BBQ but did you know they are great for picnics too? Soft, creamy, and full of fiber and protein, beans are a fantastic side dish.
If you have a favorite bean, go for it! But if you don’t, be daring and try a variety of beans. The slow cooking will add flavor and texture to whatever type you choose.
11. Potato Salad
We told you we’d have some classics in here and this might be the most iconic of all, the classic potato salad.
You have probably had your share of potato salad, and there’s nothing like the original, but why not try some new flavors and additions to your potato salad like dill, corn, or bacon. Get your party guests excited with a little creativity.
12. Chips and homemade salsa
Nothing says picnic like a bag of chips. Make your picnic a little extra special though by throwing together a homemade salsa.
The simple ingredients somehow meld into a perfect dip for tortilla chips so spend the time making a homemade variety. If you’re in a crunch for time, go ahead and buy the store-bought stuff, either way, chips and salsa should be a staple at every picnic.
13. Dill cucumber boats
A decorative side dish to go with your bouquet of tomato tulips, these cucumber boats require a little chopping and slicing but are well worth the wait.
Fill your hollowed-out cucumbers with a dill cream cheese mixture that will have your guests eating up their vegetables. Cucumbers are cooling and a great way to start or finish your afternoon picnic.
14. Grilled pineapple
For me, grilled pineapple just says, Hawaii. But even if you’re not in the tropics you can pretend you are when you bring grilled pineapple to your next backyard gathering.
Glazed with honey and a touch of cinnamon, this sweet and tangy fruit is delectable when grilled. You can have it with ham, or other fruits, or simply have it on its own.
15. Wild watermelon
Watermelon truly is a staple of picnics. Adding a little spice to them makes them super special. If you’ve never tried it, you should. Throwing a bit of chili powder on your watermelon makes them juicier and sweeter in the most delightful way!
Another tip is to pre-cut and store your watermelon in an air-tight container. This will make the process of bringing watermelon to a picnic much easier.
16. Deviled eggs
Deviled eggs can be brought anywhere, and picnics are no exception. These days there are so many ways you can make your deviled egg filling so don’t hesitate to try a few new recipes.
For a classic deviled egg recipe, try the one below. Give your nice mustardy yolk filling a sprinkle of paprika for a bit of extra added tang.
17. Classic coleslaw
Cabbage is not usually a go-to vegetable but when it comes to coleslaw, it pretty much pairs perfectly with anything you have on your picnic menu.
Thinly sliced cabbage (green and purple) along with carrots and scallions tossed in creamy seasoned mayo, is as easy and delicious as it gets.
Enjoy a summer picnic with one of the mouth-watering recipes above. You won’t regret it!
Picnics should never be a drag. They’re a great time to rest and relax and enjoy some of your favorite foods.
Be savvy about what you bring by making sure you have fresh ingredients that don’t tend to spill, spoil or smush and you’ll be enjoying a meal in the park in no time.