Picnic-Friendly Dessert Recipes

No picnic is complete without a final bite of dessert

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.

Buttermilk Cookie Salad
Buttermilk Cookie Salad
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.Matt Taylor-Gross
Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Pops
Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Pops
These refreshing frozen treats come from pastry chef Jen Yee at New York City's Lafayette. Get the recipe Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Pops »Christina Holmes
Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches
Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches
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.Farideh Sadeghin
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
These cookies test the limit of exactly how much chocolate you can possibly pack into one cookie. Made with cocoa powder and more than one type of chocolate chip, this cookie's soft dough benefits from at least 4 hours of refrigeration, allowing the disks to stay thick and chewy when cooked. Plus, the dough will keep frozen for several months, so stash a few in the freezer to throw in the oven whenever you're hit with a craving for chocolate. Test Kitchen Director Farideh Sadeghin developed this recipe based off New York City's famous Levain Bakery. Get the recipe for Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies »Farideh Sadeghin
Vanilla Ice Cream
Vanilla Ice Cream
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. While you can freeze is as soon as two hours after cooking the base, Obolsky recommends allowing the final mixture to rest in the fridge for 24 hours to let the flavors mellow and the proteins relax, which makes for a creamier final product.Farideh Sadeghin
The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
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.Farideh Sadeghin
Chocolate Chess Pie with Cornbread Crumble
Chocolate Chess Pie with Cornbread Crumble
Chef Scott Crawford of the forthcoming Nash Tavern in Raleigh updates the simple Southern custard pie by adding cacao nibs to the butter crust and sprinkling a nutty cornbread crumble on top.Joseph De Leo
Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream
Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream
Sweetened condensed milk and a touch of spice set this caffeinated treat apart from other coffee ice creams.Laura Sant
Strawberry Lemon Layer Cake
Strawberry Lemon Layer Cake
At New York's Milk Bar, Christina Tosi makes this towering cake every spring, when sweet and tiny tristar strawberries are in season. This is by no means an everyday cake, but it's worth the work that you'll put in, and worthy of a special occasion.Matt Taylor-Gross
Santa Claus Melon Tart
Santa Claus Melon Tart
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.Matt Taylor-Gross
Mixed Berries and Mint with Berry Shrub
Mixed Berries and Mint with Berry Shrub
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.Laura Sant
Chocolate Pudding Pie
Chocolate Pudding Pie
This rich, creamy chocolate pudding pie is pure nostalgia.Helen Rosner
Fresh Peach Ice Cream
Fresh Peach Ice Cream
This ice cream recipe is pure, simple, and flavored with the freshest peaches available. To us, it defines the summer season.Laura Sant
Nanaimo Bars
Nanaimo Bars
A chocolate-, almond-, and coconut-enriched graham crust supports a dense layer of buttercream topped with a slick of semisweet chocolate.Penny De Los Santos
Lane Cake
Lane Cake
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.Todd Coleman
Chocolate Sorbet
Chocolate Sorbet
The rich flavor of bittersweet chocolate takes center stage in this sorbet from pastry chef Tracy Obolsky of North End Grill. Because it is dairy-free, the chocolate flavor is much more intense than with an ice cream; keep it vegan, or serve it with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Get the recipe for Chocolate Sorbet »Matt Taylor-Gross
Strawberry Loaf Bread
Strawberry Loaf Bread
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 »Yossy Arefi
Lemon Bars
Lemon Bars
Lemon bars are a light, brightly-flavored dessert, best served with a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar.Noah Fecks
Classic Carrot Cake
Classic Carrot Cake
This version of the cake is a potluck and bake sale favorite; the addition of crushed pineapple helps to keep it sweet and moist.Todd Coleman
Banana Pudding
Banana Pudding
Custard, vanilla wafers, and bananas are layered and topped with whipped cream in our version of the classic Southern dessert.Todd Coleman
Beet Ice Cream with Mascarpone
Beet Ice Cream with Mascarpone
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.Todd Coleman
Blackberry Pie
Blackberry Pie
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.Nicole Franzen
Apricot Almond Tart
Apricot Almond Tart
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.Penny De Los Santos
Strawberries and Cream Ice Pops
Strawberries and Cream Ice Pops (Paletas de Fresas y Crema)
Made with only 4 ingredients, this summery treat is full of bright strawberry flavor.Michael Kraus
Pineapple Ice Pops (Paletas de Piña)
Pineapple Ice Pops (Paletas de Piña)
With just two ingredients—puréed pineapple and sugar—these paletas are unbelievably simple to assemble.Michael Kraus
Rice Pudding Ice Pops (Paletas de Arroz con Leche)
Rice Pudding Ice Pops (Paletas de Arroz con Leche)
Sweetened condensed milk, rice, vanilla, and cinnamon combine for this frozen take on rice pudding.Michael Kraus
Tamarind-Chile Ice Pops (Paletas de Tamarindo y Chile)
Tamarind-Chile Ice Pops (Paletas de Tamarindo y Chile)
We love the combination of spicy ancho chile powder with sweet-sour tamarind.Michael Kraus
Hungarian Plum Cake (Szilvás Pite)
Hungarian Plum Cake (Szilvás Pite)
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.Todd Coleman
Honey Chocolate-Chip Cookies
Honey Chocolate-Chip Cookies
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.Anna Stockwell
Walnut Spice Cake
Walnut Spice Cake
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.Todd Coleman
Brown Butter Tart with Blackberries
Brown Butter Tart with Blackberries
Melt butter in the oven for a fast, versatile tart crust with intense nutty flavor that pairs beautifully with pastry cream and fresh berries. For easy serving, prepare the tarts in individual aluminum cups.Ingalls Photography
Lemon Layer Cake
Lemon Layer Cake
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.Todd Coleman
TKOs (Chocolate Sandwich Cookies)
TKOs (Chocolate Sandwich Cookies)
This riff on an Oreo is filled with a creamy white chocolate ganache. Make sure to use white chocolate with at least 35 percent cocoa butter when making the filling to ensure ultra-smooth melting.Helen Rosner
Caramel Cake
Caramel Cake
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.Todd Coleman
Coconut Cake
Coconut Cake
Fresh coconut and its sweet water are the keys to this cake, passed down from pastry chef Ben Mims' grandmother, Jane Newson.Todd Coleman
Krystal’s Espresso Brownies
Krystal’s Espresso Brownies
Instant espresso powder and chocolate-covered espresso beans gives SAVEUR staffer Krystal Stone's iced brownies a concentrated flavor and a zingy, caffeinated boost.Helen Rosner
White Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Cookies
White Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Cookies
Copious amounts of crunchy, buttery macadamia nuts find their match in large, creamy white chocolate chunks in these classic American cookies.Todd Coleman
Sweet Corn and Blueberry Trifles
Sweet Corn and Blueberry Trifles
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.Laura Sant
Peach Date Bars
Peach Date Bars
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.James Roper
No-Bake Chocolate Oat Cookies
No-Bake Chocolate Oat Cookies
Adapted from Patty Piner's soul food cookbook Sweets, these chewy chocolate cookies are made entirely on the stovetop.Helen Rosner
Olive Oil Quatre Quarts with Chopped Fruit
Olive Oil Quatre Quarts with Chopped Fruit
This rich olive oil pound cake is studded with soft peaches and plums.Todd Coleman
Blueberry-Poppy Seed Squares (Borůvkový Koláč)
Blueberry-Poppy Seed Squares (Borůvkový Koláč)
The floral character of poppy seeds shines when paired with blueberries in this rich dessert. Store any unused seeds in the refrigerator or freezer.Maxime Iattoni
Chewy Almond Macaroons
Chewy Almond Macaroons
These intensely-flavored cookies have a crunchy caramelized exterior and a chewy, amaretto-flavored interior.Helen Rosner
Apricot Cake
Apricot Cake
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.Landon Nordeman
Classic Blondies
Classic Blondies
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.Todd Coleman
Edouard's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Edouard's Chocolate Chip Cookies
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 »Farideh Sadeghin
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
The beauty of making classic Toll House cookies is discovering how malleable the recipe can be. Once I'd learned that layering sheets of butter into dough makes puff pastry irresistibly flaky and rich, I resolved to create a chocolate chip cookie with equal textural appeal. I tried layering pieces of chocolate into cookie dough in a similar style, and I was delighted with the results: crisp around the edges, moist and tender inside, and so marbled that every bite contained the consummate balance of sweet dough, melting bittersweet chocolate, and crystalline salt. —Sarah CopelandTodd Coleman