Picnic Food Ideas
and Recipes

picnic food

Picnic food is not complicated. But sometimes inspiration is needed!

It’s true. A simple packed meal can usually be put together in a few minutes from what you have in your fridge and/or larder.

If you are planning an alfresco meal, most of the time you will be looking for summer picnic recipes.

However, even if you need warm food for a chilly day, it’s not really difficult to conjure up something tasty to eat out.

Picnics are usually light-hearted, fun-packed affairs and should be as interesting to prepare as they are to eat.

Because they are so informal, if you make a mistake with a recipe, it’s unlikely anyone will notice!

So don’t worry too much - but do try and aim for something a little bit more imaginative and memorable than a plain cheese sandwich!


Sandwiches are easy but can also be made to be inspirational! You'll find lots of ideas under the "Make it Easy" tab on the left.

You’re sure to find something that makes your mouth water - but just in case, here is even more variety:

Picnic sandwiches - the ultimate fast food for eating outdoors

Specific chicken salad sandwich recipe ideas

Wrap recipes - fill and roll a tortilla with more tasty fillings

The sandwich - take a look at how far it's come!

As far as possible you want picnic food that you don’t need cutlery for – at least no more than a fork.

If you have to have something that requires a proper knife and fork, then make sure you have melamine plates or similar and not flimsy paper ones which buckle up in your lap!



going for a picnic

Salads are great for the keep-it-simple philosophy too.

A salad or two, some quality bread and you have the basis of a lovely outdoor meal.

The best salads for traveling are those which can be mixed or tossed before you leave home.  However, some fare better being dressed at the last minute and in this case I advise carrying the dressing separately.

Most of my suggested picnic salads can be used to make up a simple meal and some are also ideal as part of an outdoor party feast or buffet.

Salad recipes for picnics is a good starting point.

Make sure you check out these too:

Cold pasta salad recipes

Chicken salad recipes

Tuscan tuna salad

Broad bean salad

- and this Greek one, which I believe is the ultimate picnic salad!

I also suggest you try special dishes like

Couscous salad and spicy noodle salad - if you haven’t already!

In this site you'll also find recipes for picnics like yummy tomato salads  and colourful suggestions using carrotbroccoli beetroot  and  fennel, as well as traditional cabbage and jewel-like pomegranate seeds.


pea soup

Soups go really well with sandwiches and salad and make great food ideas for a picnic.

Choose an iced soup in the summer and obviously a hot one to warm you up on a cooler day.

Cold soup recipes - so refreshing on a hot day

Soup recipes - which are nicer hot and steamy!

and more picnic food . . .


Don’t forget to check out my suggestions for a picnic menu as well, especially if you have to cater for a crowd.

If you want something more, then one or two of these recipes would be simple to serve with a salad or two:

Cheese pie
Sausage turnover

Picnic ham

Chicken recipes for picnics

Scotch eggs


Baked frittata



If you want separate courses, to include an appetizer, forget designer canapés and opt for small vegetables such as baby carrots, mini courgettes (zuchinni), strips of red, yellow and green pepper, asparagus tips, celery sticks, radishes and cherry tomatoes, all of which add a bit of crunch and colour to the picnic food.

You can display them around a healthy dip or two.

However, if so many veggies is not your scene, serve the creamy hummus or spicy tapenade with crunchy crostini or salty tortilla chips.

Served with dry toast or crackers, kipper or smoked mackerel pate makes a healthy starter or even the major part of a light picnic lunch, as does a crab dip.

Something sweet

cakes in tin

Then also in the hamper should be something sweet, to satisfy healthy outdoor appetites

  -   such as some variety of picnic cake or a suitable dessert recipe.


Remember too that as well as room enough for the main meal, every basket needs a treat or two tucked inside, just in case you need to have a nibble before the main picnic food itself – or after it!

In the summer you might fancy a little extra something when your alfresco lunch has drifted into a siesta and it’s still too sunny and warm to return home to the chores. In the winter, an extra treat or two will comfort you and keep you cosy!

A few sticks of beef or ostrich (low fat) biltong are great to chew on while laying out the meal. Or open up your hamper and take out some homemade cheese straws, a few salted almonds, juicy stuffed olives or wasabi rice crackers.

Later on, when the sun is sinking, some sugar-coated almonds might have the edge over salted ones, or, if it’s chocolate you crave, then surely it’d be a treat to find some crazy chocolate cookies tucked up in the corner of the hamper?

Try them with a handful of fat, black cherries or a luscious ripe fig.

Then lay back and relax on your blanket and cushions for a few more minutes!

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