Picnic recipes to prepare for your next outdoor meal


For most of my life, I have been fortunate to live near parks and bodies of water, and therefore within reach of a vibrant picnic culture. When the sun breaks through the clouds, I head to San Francisco’s Mission Dolores Park or Boston’s glittering Charles River Esplanade to chat with friends and take in the gorgeous views, while munching on picnic snacks. Now in Washington, DC, I’m looking for an idyllic, shady picnic spot to continue this outdoor ritual. If you have a favorite picnic spot or way to picnic, share it in the comments.

There are several reasons why I would gladly choose a picnic over a dinner or restaurant meal. Picnics are spontaneous and can bring together strangers, old friends and family. Picnics offer shared meals without the tedious cleanup of a dinner party or a hefty restaurant dinner bill. And at any picnic there is always an abundance of delicious food.

Here are some of our favorite picnic recipes – fries and dip, savory sandwiches and gooey cookies – to whip up at home and impress your friends. Need more inspiration? Head over to our recipe finder for more picnic-friendly recipes.

How to make a snackle box, the nomadic cousin of the charcuterie board

Carrot Harissa Roasted Bean Dip, above. You’ll find yourself dipping everything – chips, a piece of celery, your finger – into this fiery bean dip. With many possible substitutions, this dip snack is a snap to make and will last a week in the fridge if made ahead. For more picnic-friendly dips, try our White Bean Dip with Pesto and Crudités or Blister Eggplant Dip.

Chicken satay sandwiches. Nothing beats taking your favorite appetizer, like a creamy chicken satay, and sandwiching it between two fluffy slices of bread. Plant-based tofu or chicken works well as a vegetarian substitute.

Classic egg salad. The mark of a good egg salad is one that can be eaten by the spoonful and made more delicious on a slice of fresh bread. If a classic egg salad isn’t for you, add chili oil, crispy bacon or sweet pickles and dill for a different flavor profile.

How to improve your favorite sandwich

Rosemary lemonade. To combat the summer heat, sip this refreshing lemonade with tangy and woody notes. Lemon mint soda and blueberry lemonade with ginger and basil are more reliable lemony favorites.

Banana and caramelized chocolate chip cookies. You might find yourself reaching for those gooey, banana-filled cookies before digging into the tasty bites. And who cares? At your picnic, it’s your rules! Make the dough ahead of time to save time since you can store rolled cookie dough in the fridge or freezer.

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