Chocolate Chess Pie with Cornbread Crumble
Joseph De Leo

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

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 »

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 »

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.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

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. Get the recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream »

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

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 »

Vanilla Cake

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 Vanilla Cake

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.

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. Get the recipe for Mixed Berries and Mint with Berry Shrub »

Chocolate Pudding Pie

This rich, creamy chocolate pudding pie is pure nostalgia.

Fresh Peach Ice Cream

Sweet, pale orange ice cream flavored with ripe, juicy peaches simply screams summer. Get the recipe for Peach Ice Cream »

Nanaimo Bars

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 »

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.

Lemon Bars

Lemon bars are a light, brightly-flavored dessert, best served with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar. Get the recipe for Lemon Bars »

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. Get the recipe for Classic Carrot Cake »

Banana Pudding

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 »

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. Get the recipe for Beet Ice Cream with Mascarpone »

Get the recipe for 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. Get the recipe for Blackberry Pie »

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.

Strawberries and Cream Ice Pops (Paletas de Fresas y Crema)

Made with only 4 ingredients, this summery treat is full of bright strawberry flavor.

Pineapple Ice Pops (Paletas de Piña)

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) »

If You’re Already A Rice Pudding Expert, You’ve Got To Try Rice Pudding Ice Pops

Rice Pudding Ice Pops (Paletas de Arroz con Leche)

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.

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. Get the recipe for Honey Chocolate-Chip Cookies »

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.

Brown Butter Tart with Blackberries

Brown Butter Tart with Blackberries

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.

TKOs (Chocolate Sandwich Cookies)

TKOs (Chocolate Sandwich Cookies)

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.

Coconut Cake

Fresh coconut and its sweet water are the keys to this cake, passed down from pastry chef Ben Mims’ grandmother, Jane Newson.

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. See the recipe for Krystal’s Espresso Brownies

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.

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.

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. Get the recipe for Peach Date Bars »

No-Bake Chocolate Oat Cookies

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 »

Olive Oil Quatre Quarts with Chopped Fruit

This rich olive oil pound cake is studded with soft peaches and plums.

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.

Chewy Almond Macaroons

Chewy Almond Macaroons

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.

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. Get the recipe for Classic Blondies »

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 »
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 Copeland Get the recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies »