36 Pretty and Portable Picnic Recipes to Elevate Your Next Outdoor Dining Experience

Pack a basket or a cooler for a beautiful day at the park.

While picnic food should always be simple and fuss-free, it needn’t be boring. A combination of fresh salad recipes, easy appetizers, effortless sandwiches, portable desserts, and of course a few refreshing drinks can make for a memorable al fresco meal.

Pick up a pretty picnic basket or an insulated cooler and of course check the weather before you leave. For a hot spring or summer day, consider batching out your favorite cocktails—just be sure to pack ice separately to avoid watering down those perfectly mixed tipples. (In chillier weather, a thermos full of hot chocolate or mulled wine is a surefire way to keep cozy while dining outdoors.)

Whether you’re looking to picnic à la française, elevate your next camping trip with a spread of crispy Italian crostini, or pack up a batch of empanadas and tamales to enjoy in the open air, here are our best picnic recipes for eating outdoors.

Estela’s Tomato Toast

Tomato Toast
Get the recipe for Estela’s Tomato Toast. Marcus Nilsson

Salmon Rillettes

salmon rillettes
Get the recipe for Salmon rillettes. Christina Holmes

Kimbap

Kimbap
Korean kimbap is similar to Japanese sushi, but typically uses cooked or pickled ingredients. In this version, bulgogi (marinated beef) is paired with vegetables and egg. Get the recipe for Kimbap. Farideh Sadeghin

Farmer’s Salad with Beet Vinaigrette

Farmer's Salad with Beet Vinaigrette
This salad is topped with a bright thick sweet-tart pickled beet dressing. Get the recipe for Farmer’s Salad with Beet Vinaigrette. James Oseland

Curried Potato Salad

Curried Potato Salad
Get the recipes for Curried Potato Salad. James Oseland

Fava Bean, Herb, and Pomegranate Fattoush

Fava Bean, Herb, and Pomegranate Fattoush
Fava beans add protein to this take on the Levantine bread salad from Australia-based chef Matt Wilkinson. Get the recipe for Fava Bean, Herb, and Pomegranate Fattoush » André Baranowski

Pasta Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

William Hereford Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is a Virginia country-store staple, to which Mason Hereford applies his signature culinary move: elevating humble dishes without sacrificing their essence. Al dente penne gets decked out with lemony buttermilk dressing, sweet peppers, and crunchy seeds. Get the recipe for Pasta Salad with Buttermilk Dressing. William Hereford

Pork Rillettes

Rillettes de Porc
Get Camas Davis’ recipe for Gascon-style pork rillettes. Jessie Yuchen Studio

Cavolo Nero and Prosciutto Bruschetta

Kale and Prosciutto on Toast
Cavolo nero, also known as Tuscan kale, Lacinato kale, or Dinosaur kale, balances thinly sliced, salty prosciutto over toast. Get the recipe for Cavolo Nero and Prosciutto Bruschetta. Laura Sant

Salvadoran Turkey Sandwich (Panes con Pavo)

Salvadoran Turkey Sandwich (Panes con Pavo)
Turkeys were “thoroughly domesticated by the Aztecs and other Mexican and Central American races long before the arrival of Europeans”, according to A. Hyatt Verrill in Foods America Gave the World (L. C. Page, 1937). Proof positive: this gently spiced turkey sandwich, ubiquitous in El Salvador. Matt Taylor-Gross

Pimento Cheese Sandwich with Homemade Pickles

Pimento Cheese Sandwich with Homemade Pickles
Adding sriracha to the chunky pimento cheese recipe in this sandwich ups the spice factor and helps to offset the creaminess of the cheddar. Joseph De Leo

Canned Sardine, Tomato, and Caper Sandwiches

Pop a few cans of sardines in your backpack for a nourishing and delicious impromptu picnic.
Cherry tomatoes are tossed with canned sardines in this recipe from Elias Cairo. Fresh oregano, olives, capers, and a red wine vinaigrette lend brightness and salinity. The whole thing is layered with thin slices of heirloom tomato between slabs of focaccia. Kyle Johnson

Radish and Butter Sandwiches

Radish and Butter Sandwich
It’s très French to pair crisp, spicy radishes with softened, salted butter; a thin-sliced baguette is the perfect vehicle. Get the recipe for Radish and Butter Sandwich » Helen Rosner

Lemon Pepper Tuna Sandwiches

Lemon-Pepper Tuna Sandwich
Peppery arugula and zesty red onion are an ideal garnish for this flavorful, light, lemon-pepper tuna salad. Get the recipe here. André Baranowski

Burrata and Marinated Cherry Tomato Sandwiches

Burrata and Marinated Cherry Tomato Sandwiches
This juicy sandwich from Casa Del Vino in Florence is perfect for picnics. Michelle Heimerman

Italian Pecorino, Parsley, and Anchovy Sandwiches

Pecorino, Parsley, and Anchovy Sandwiches
Get the recipe for Pecorino, Parsley, and Anchovy Sandwiches. Michelle Heimerman

Porchetta Sandwiches with Marinated Onions and Salsa Verde

Porchetta Sandwiches with Marinated Onions and Salsa Verde
Get the recipe for Porchetta Sandwiches with Marinated Onions and Salsa Verde. Michelle Heimerman

Ham and Egg Sandwich

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. Helen Rosner

Roast Chicken Pan Bagnat

This iconic Provencal sandwich is perfect for a picnic.
This hearty twist on the classic Provençal pressed sandwich, pan bagnat combines black olive tapenade, goat cheese, roasted chicken, and thinly sliced vegetables. Make it at least two to three hours before you plan to serve it to let the flavors marry. Get the recipe for Roast Chicken Pan Bagnat with Olive Tapenade and Goat Cheese » Matt Taylor-Gross

Corn Tamales with Tomatillo Salsa

Tamales are the ideal portable snack for a road trips or a picnic.
Get the recipe for Corn Tamales with Tomatillo Salsa. Heami Lee

Shredded Beef Empanadas

Corn Masa Empanadas
These crunchy empanadas, featuring shells made with masa, lard, and salt, are filled with tender shredded beef tossed in a spicy salsa. You can prepare the masa and filling in advance, but don’t fill or fry the empanadas until shortly before eating. Get the recipe for Fried Shredded Beef Empanadas . Heami Lee

Beef Short Rib Empanadas

Beef Short Ribs Empanadas
In his version of Chilean empanadas, chef Rodolfo Guzmán of Boragó replaces lean ground chuck with rich beef short ribs, which make each bite tender. Get the recipe for Beef Short Ribs Empanadas. Justin Walker

Blueberry, Nectarine, and Shiso Salad

Blueberry, Nectarine and Shiso Salad
Bright shiso leaves and a touch of earthy sesame oil enhance this stone fruit and berry salad. Get the recipe for Blueberry, Nectarine and Shiso Salad. Helen Rosner

Peach and Plum Salad

Peach and Plum Salad
In this salad red wine vinegar balances the sweetness of ripe fruit, while cilantro and basil add a floral note. Get the recipe here. Marcus Nilsson

Cucumber Gin Cooler

Cucumber Gin Cooler
This refreshing update on the classic gin & tonic is an easy sipper, thanks to summery cucumber slices and plenty of lime juice. Get the recipe for Cucumber Gin Cooler. Helen Rosner

Refajo (Colombian Pitcher Cocktail)

Colombiana Pitcher Cocktail (Refajo)
Crisp and bittersweet, this Colombian lager-based cocktail is the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon around the grill. Get the recipe for Colombiana Pitcher Cocktail (Refajo). Helen Rosner

Agua de Jamaica (Sweet Hibiscus Drink)

Sweet Hibiscus Drink (Agua de Jamaica)
This sweet-tart drink is a popular Caribbean streetside cooler. Todd Coleman

Sparkling Lavender–Thyme Vodka Lemonade

Vodka Lavender Thyme Lemonade
Lemonade gains herbaceous depth from lavender and thyme, while vodka delivers a good, clean punch in this pretty summer sipper. Todd Coleman

Mixed Berries and Mint with Berry Shrub

Mixed Berries and Mint with Berry Shrub
A sweet-sour syrup dresses this mixed fruit salad. Get the recipe for Mixed Berries and Mint with Berry Shrub. Laura Sant

Raspberry Financiers

Bite-sized raspberry cakes are perfect for picnics.
These mini financiers make perfect portable treats for summer get-togethers. They’re best eaten the day they’re made, but if you want to start them ahead of time, make the batter the day before, refrigerate overnight, and bake in the morning. Get the recipe here. Matt Taylor-Gross

Graham and Brown Sugar Cookies with Hachiya Persimmons and Candied Ginger

Graham Cookies
Chewy cookies made with brown sugar and graham flour and strips of candied ginger play background roles in this simple dessert showcasing the Hachiya persimmon’s floral aroma and flavor. Matt Taylor-Gross

Dorie Greenspan’s Chocolate Chunker Cookies

Chocolate Chunker Cookies
You’ll need a lot of chocolate—more than a pound!—for this gooey cookie recipe. Get the recipe here. Davide Luciano

Fried Apple Pies

Picnic pies
Get the recipe for Fried Apple Pies. Thomas Payne

Rocky Road Brownies

Rocky Road Brownies
These cakey brownies are loaded with gooey caramel, marshmallows, crunchy nuts, and melty shards of chocolate. Get the recipe here. Noah Fecks

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies
Our gluten-free alternative to the classic actually gives the cookies a boost: subtracting flour highlights their pure peanut butter flavor and adds a wonderfully chewy texture. Get the recipe for Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies. Matt Taylor-Gross

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. Get the recipe for Classic Blondies. Todd Coleman