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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.