No picnic is complete without a final bite of dessert. Not just any dessert will do, though—you want something that you can make ahead of time, transport easily, and not have to serve warm. That eliminates a few options, but it’s still easy to find desserts that fit the bill. From cookies and brownies to pudding and ice cream, we’ve rounded up our favorite picnic-friendly dessert recipes.
Delicious at any temperature and super portable, cookies are perfect for picnics. When it comes to cookies, it doesn’t get much more classic than chocolate chip. Our basic recipe is like a classic Toll House cookie taken to the next level. Layering the chocolate in between sheets of dough means that every bite has a perfect balance. For something different, try sweetening you chocolate chip cookies woodsy, spicy honey or adding ground almonds to the dough.
On a hot summer day, a frozen treat is sure to be a hit. Popsicles are a crowd-pleaser—we have Mexican-inspired paletas flavored with tamarind, pineapple, and more, as well as yogurt pops rich with strawberry and rhubarb. Or go with ice cream. Plain vanilla is great, but also try coffee, beet, or—for the ultimate summer flavor—peach.
A big bowl of pudding is a retro treat. We love an old-school banana pudding layered with vanilla wafers and cookie salad updated with tangy buttermilk. For something that’s sure to transport you back to childhood, look to our rich, whipped cream-topped chocolate pudding pie.
Be the star of your next picnic with these dessert recipes.
The addition of buttermilk in this ultra-retro dessert keeps it from being too cloying and renders cookie salad totally appropriate for the adult palate.
Get the recipe for Buttermilk Cookie Salad »
These refreshing frozen treats come from pastry chef Jen Yee at New York City’s
Lafayette. Get the recipe Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Pops »
In these minty ice cream sandwiches, the chocolate mousse “ice cream” and cake are both sweetened with bittersweet chocolate, letting the chocolate’s richness—brightened by fresh spearmint—be the main flavor.
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
This basic ice cream recipe from pastry chef Tracy Obolsky of
North End Grill is endlessly customizable; turn it into anything from chocolate to rum-raisin to pistachio. Get the recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream »
We’ve found that rolling these cookies into bigger portions, then refrigerating them for at least 2 hours before slightly under-baking them at 350°, results in incredibly gooey, soft chocolate chip cookies.
Get the recipe for The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies »
Chocolate Chess Pie with Cornbread Crumble
Sweetened condensed milk and a touch of spice set this caffeinated treat apart from other coffee ice creams.
Get the recipe for Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream »
This vanilla cake is anything but basic—the tang of buttermilk adds interest, while brown sugar bumps the earthy vanilla notes. Christina Tosi uses it as the base for her towering, masterful Strawberry Lemon Layer Cake. Get the recipe for
When SAVEUR test kitchen assistant Jake Cohen stumbled upon an unusual, green-striped melon, he turned it into the perfect summer dessert. Here, bright santa claus melon curd fills an almond crust, topped with fresh slices of fruit.
A sweet-sour syrup dresses this refreshing mixed berry salad. Prepare the berries in the morning, and toss the salad with the vinegar and mint immediately before serving.
Get the recipe for Mixed Berries and Mint with Berry Shrub »
This rich, creamy chocolate pudding pie is pure nostalgia.
Sweet, pale orange ice cream flavored with ripe, juicy peaches simply screams summer.
Get the recipe for Peach Ice Cream »
A chocolate-, almond-, and coconut-enriched graham crust supports a dense layer of buttercream topped with a slick of semisweet chocolate.
Get the recipe for Nanaimo Bars »
The recipe for this indulgent layered cake with a bourbon-butter-raisin-coconut-pecan filling and billowy egg-white icing first appeared in Emma Rylander Lane’s self-published cookbook,
Some Good Things to Eat, in 1898.
As a kid, I wasn’t really into cooking or baking, preferring instead to be outside playing soccer. The one thing that I did enjoy helping my mom make, however, was her strawberry bread: packed with fresh strawberries, I loved to eat it hot out of the oven slathered in butter. It’s so fast and easy, I make it all the time now, with whatever fresh or frozen fruits I have lying around.
—Farideh Sadeghin, test kitchen director Get the recipe for Strawberry Loaf Bread »
Lemon bars are a light, brightly-flavored dessert, best served with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.
Get the recipe for Lemon Bars »
This version of the cake is a potluck and bake sale favorite; the addition of crushed pineapple helps to keep it sweet and moist.
Get the recipe for Classic Carrot Cake »
Custard, vanilla wafers, and bananas are layered and topped with whipped cream in our version of the classic Southern dessert.
Get the recipe for Banana Pudding »
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, OH, has some of the most amazing flavors around, but they all start with one simple base. In this recipe, the addition of roasted beets and poppy seeds lends the end product a festive hue and a bit of crunch.
Get the recipe for Beet Ice Cream with Mascarpone »
When Jon Rowley was a child, his grandmother used to make juice from fresh-picked blackberries. In it, he says, “you could taste and smell the briar.” In this recipe, Rowley’s wife, Kate McDermott, has combined that flavor from his youth with a tender, flaky pie crust to create an exemplar of the Pacific Northwest’s cuisine.
Get the recipe for Blackberry Pie »
A combination of all-purpose and potato flours gives this simple summer tart a delicate, crumbly crust. Plums, peaches, or berries can be substituted for apricots.
Made with only 4 ingredients, this summery treat is full of bright strawberry flavor.
With just two ingredients—puréed pineapple and sugar—these paletas are unbelievably simple to assemble.
Get the recipe for Pineapple Ice Pops (Paletas de Piña) »
Rice Pudding Ice Pops (Paletas de Arroz con Leche)
We love the combination of spicy ancho chile powder with sweet-sour tamarind.
Get the recipe for Tamarind-Chile Ice Pops (Paletas de Tamarindo y Chile) »
Yogurt adds a slight tartness to this cake from home cook Mária Keresztes Kovács. Our recipe calls for plums, but apricots, peaches, or any stone fruit works too.
Honey makes a great substitute for brown sugar. A deep, spicy honey like sourwood works best, though you can experiment with different single varietal honeys for extra flavor.
Get the recipe for Honey Chocolate-Chip Cookies »
For this striking two-toned dessert, alternating layers of snow-white and mahogany-brown spiced cakes are sandwiched with a rich, chocolate fudge icing and decorated with walnut halves.
Brown Butter Tart with Blackberries
Lemon infuses this layered masterpiece in three ways: zested into the batter, in a tart syrup that gets drizzled over the cakes, and in a thick lemon curd frosting.
TKOs (Chocolate Sandwich Cookies)
The recipe for this butter cake draped in caramel fudge icing is based on a cake originally made by Louise Hodges, a home cook from Carmack, Mississippi.
Fresh coconut and its sweet water are the keys to this cake, passed down from pastry chef Ben Mims’ grandmother, Jane Newson.
Instant espresso powder and chocolate-covered espresso beans gives SAVEUR staffer Krystal Stone’s iced brownies a concentrated flavor and a zingy, caffeinated boost.
See the recipe for Krystal’s Espresso Brownies
Copious amounts of crunchy, buttery macadamia nuts find their match in large, creamy white chocolate chunks in these classic American cookies.
Layers of sweet corn pastry cream alternate with an herb-infused blueberry compote and a buttery shortbread crumble in a summery spin on the classic trifle. Any other berry at its peak makes a delicious substitution; try layering the ingredients into mason jars for an easy-to-transport picnic dessert.
Chewy dates and chunky peach preserves form the filling for these cake-like bars. Make these ahead of your trip for a quick breakfast or, obviously, save them for dessert.
Get the recipe for Peach Date Bars »
Adapted from Patty Piner’s soul food cookbook
Sweets, these chewy chocolate cookies are made entirely on the stovetop. Get the recipe for No-Bake Chocolate Oat Cookies »
This rich olive oil pound cake is studded with soft peaches and plums.
The floral character of poppy seeds shines when paired with blueberries in this rich dessert. Store any unused seeds in the refrigerator or freezer.
Chewy Almond Macaroons
This simple sour cream cake is brightened by lemon zest and dotted with ripe apricot halves that cook down to intense tangy sweetness in the oven.
Like a brownie in shape and texture, blondies are packed with all the brown sugar and butterscotchy goodness of chocolate chip cookies, but are softer and more substantial.
Get the recipe for Classic Blondies »
A French version of the classic American cookie, this recipe adds ground almonds for a result that’s chubby and chewy and just a little soft at the center.
Get the recipe for Edouard’s Chocolate Chip Cookies »
—Sarah Copeland Get the recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies »