Perfect Summer Picnic Food

Don't forget to pack these picnic favorites

A sunny weekend — or a Summer Friday — is the perfect excuse to pack up a picnic basket and enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you head down to a local park or embark on a long hike, you want your summer picnic food to arrive as perfect as it was when you loaded it in. From hearty salads, to classic cookies and brownies, and some of our favorite sandwiches, this collection features a summery array of dishes that won’t suffer from being jostled around, and are at their best eaten cold or at room temperature.

Fried Chicken

Simply seasoned and fried, with a thin, crisp coating and tender, juicy meat, the fried chicken at Martha Lou’s Kitchen is some of the best we’ve ever tasted.

Barbecue Potato Chips

Barbecue chips’ smoky, tangy flavors are easy to create at home with a simple mixture that combines classic barbecue sauce spices such as chile powder, garlic powder, and onion powder, with the added kick of cayenne pepper. The beauty of making barbecue chips yourself is that you can alter the amount of heat, spice, or saltiness depending on your preferences.

Knife-and-Fork Egg Salad Sandwiches with Chives

Molly Stevens often serves this egg salad on slices of brown bread made according to the classic recipe found in James Beard’s Beard on Bread (Knopf, 1973), though it’s equally delicious atop any bread or even eaten on its own.

Panes con Pavo (Salvadoran Turkey Sandwich)

Poultry features in the Panes con Pavo, from El Salvador, with its beer-braised turkey filling.

California Sandwich

A version of a California classic, this sandwich is a mix of vegetables, whole-grain bread, and Jack cheese, topped with ranch dressing.

Nick’s Supernatural Brownies

Fudgy brownies make an ideal base for a decadent ice cream sundae.

Watermelon, Feta, and Olive Salad »

In this summer salad, watermelon is a sweet counterpoint to the briny pungency of feta and olives. Get the recipe for Watermelon, Feta, and Olive Salad »

Ham and Hard-Boiled Egg Sandwich

Ham and eggs may be a breakfast classic, but they’re even better for lunch: try sliced or quartered hard-boiled eggs layered with a salty ham and a bit of mayo on a hearty white bread. Get the recipe for Ham and Hard-Boiled Egg Sandwich »

Moroccan Pasta Salad

The flavors of a richly spiced Moroccan tagine come together in a pasta salad accented with olive, lemon, and cinnamon.

Cowboy Cookies

Incorporating an interesting array of ingredients, such as rolled oats, chopped pecans and flaked coconut, this hearty recipe is a favorite of former first lady Laura Bush. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie fans, this one’s for you.

Frida Kahlo’s Zucchini Salad (Ensalada de Calabacín)

This simple Mexican salad consists of grilled zucchini, avocado, and salty, crumbled añejo cheese.

Bacon-and-Cheese Deviled Eggs

SAVEUR kitchen assistant Max Iattoni gave us the recipe for these eggs, which he based on his favorite breakfast sandwich.

Maple Squares with Walnuts

Serve these chewy dessert squares in shallow bowls, with a pitcher of cream to be poured over the top.

Roast Beef Sandwich with Walnut Romesco

Pro-tip for this brawny beast: “I like to toast the inside of the bread to ensure it doesn’t get soggy, even with a spread on it.”—Philip Pretty, Fundamental LA, Los Angeles, California. Get the recipe for Roast Beef Sandwich with Walnut Romesco »


Deli meats and cheese are elevated to greatness with an olive salad in this New Orleans classic.

Fromage Blanc, Banana, and Membrillo Sandwich

This sweet sandwich from Tartine Bakery & Café in San Francisco, is pressed and griddled to melt the creamy banana, cheese, and quince filling and toast the bread. Get the recipe for Fromage Blanc, Banana, and Membrillo Sandwich »

Edamame-Miso Tuna Sandwich

Edamame beans make this sandwich a protein-packed meal while sesame-chile oil gives it a kick.

Cucumber Salad

This crunchy salad is a cool complement to smoked meat.

Cipollini Onion Hummus

Gently browned cipollini onions add an unexpected hint of caramel sweetness to this hummus, deepening its earthy flavors.

Quinoa Salad with Frisee, Eggplant, and Corn

Quinoa Salad with Frisee, Eggplant, and Corn

Kale and Chicken Brown Rice Salad with Cherries

This summery salad, which pairs chicken with thin ribbons of raw kale and brown rice, offsets a garlicky pesto dressing with sweet red cherries. Get the recipe for Kale and Chicken Brown Rice Salad with Cherries »

Hawaiian-Style Sesame Cabbage Salad

The noodles in this recipe add crunch, texture, and sweetness to this terrifically versatile Hawaiian-style slaw. As the salad sits and the noodles soak up the intensely flavorful sesame dressing, they soften slightly, so be sure to serve this salad straightaway.

Shaved Cauliflower and Radicchio Salad

Aleppo pepper (a tangy Middle Eastern spice), raisins, and raw cauliflower marry in this simple yet unusual salad. Get the recipe for Shaved Cauliflower and Radicchio Salad »

Tomato Sandwich

Our idea of the perfect summer sandwich? Two thin slices of good toast, mayo, and a couple juicy slices of tomato.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad

Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad

Grilled Chicken with Red Onion Jam

A thick, sweet red onion jam makes for a great accompaniment to this herbaceous grilled chicken.

Cucumber Limeade

Mint and cucumber make this classic summertime drink extra refreshing.

Avocado-Mango Salad (Saladu Awooka ak Mango)

Creamy avocados and sweet mangoes are marinated in a citrus dressing, composing a bright and refreshing salad that’s the perfect counterpoint to rich and savory stews.

Black-Eyed-Pea Salad (Saladu Ñebbe)

Simple and satisfying, this chile-spiked black-eyed-pea salad dressed with fresh lime juice is a great side dish for grilled fish.

Angel Food Cupcakes with Lemon Mascarpone Frosting

These cupcakes are the perfect spring or summer treat–light and airy angel food cake is topped with a tangy lemon-mascarpone frosting and garnished with fresh berries. Get the recipe for Angel Food Cupcakes with Lemon Mascarpone Frosting »

Vodka Lavender Thyme Lemonade

Lemonade gains herbaceous depth from lavender and thyme, while vodka delivers a good, clean punch.

Lemon Mayonnaise Smashed Potato Salad

Homemade lemon mayonnaise adds zesty flavor to these tender, coarsely mashed potatoes. Get the recipe for Lemon Mayonnaise Smashed Potato Salad »

Green Bean and Peach Salad

Summer peaches pair remarkably well with sweet caramelized onions and crisp green beans in this salad from Deb Miller of Lawrence, Kansas.

Ruccolapesto med Cashewnötter (Arugula and Cashew Pesto Salad)

A chunky cashew pesto made with sharp, pungent Västerbotten cheese is tossed with chopped arugula to yield an unctuous salad with a robust umami flavor. Swedish home cook Asa Johanson prepared this nut-enriched side dish for her Midsummer celebration in Vickleby, Sweden. See the recipe for Ruccolapesto med Cashewnötter (Arugula and Cashew Pesto Salad) »

Seeded Crispbread (Knäckebröd med Frön)

This crackerlike Swedish bread made with sesame and sunflower seeds is a crunchy platform for gravadlax or pickled herring.