As far as I’m concerned, September is the perfect time for a picnic. It’s still warm out—but not too muggy—and the crowds at local parks and beaches have died down a bit. But while chillin’ out in nature with food sounds like the ideal recreational activity, it’s often the preparing the food part that deters us from picnicking (and, you know, seasonal allergies). But lucky for you, we’re here with some easy picnic recipes you can whip up in a jiff—whether it’s for a romantic park date or a picnic potluck with friends.
No doubt, you have your summer food favorites. Easy picnic recipes can be anything from sandwiches to pasta salads to vegetable skewers—and frankly, the only rule is that whatever you make can’t be too sensitive to temperature (hot food won’t stay hot, and cold food won’t stay cold). But if you’re looking for more classics to add to your picnic repertoire, then we’ve got you covered.
Take a look through the list of easy picnic food ideas below and bookmark whichever one(s) speak to you.
Party-Size Italian Melt
This meat- and cheese-filled sandwich is great at room temperature because the cheese will still be soft but things won’t be too hot.
Antipasto Mozzarella Sandwich With Lemony Basil Pesto
This tangy vegetarian sandwich won’t leave anybody missing meat.
On a hot day, nothing is more refreshing than a delicious sandwich packed with salty cold cuts and briny olives.
Vegan Eggplant Sandwiches
Vegan “bacon” may not taste like the real thing, but this meatless sandwich proves that it’s delicious in its own right.
15-Minute BLT Pasta Salad
This BLT salad swaps bread for pasta, but still packs all the good stuff.
Tuscan Tortellini Salad
A great way to add flavor to pasta salad without buying tons of ingredients? Opt for filled tortellini as your pasta base.
Caprese Pasta Salad
Nothing says summer like the combination of peak-season tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and earthy basil. Turn it into a pasta salad and you have a full meal.
Antipasto Panzanella Salad
Panzanella salad is made by tearing pieces of stale bread and using them to soak up dressing and act as a salad base alongside veggies. If you’ve never tried one, this antipasto panzanella is a great place to start.
Roasted Tomato Panzanella
Another great panzanella mix-in? Soft, sweet roasted tomatoes.
Avocado Cucumber Salad
If you want a filling green side dish that won’t wilt, this avocado-cucumber number is a great choice.
Grape and Feta Kale Salad
When it comes to leafy greens and picnics, you’ll want to choose kale—it’s fibrous and fairly tough, so it’ll actually get tastier as it sits in dressing, instead of getting wilted. This grape and feta kale salad is the perfect example.
Mojito Fruit Salad
Yes, there’s a trace amount of white rum in this minty fruit salad.
No-Mayo Potato Salad
Everybody loves potato salad, but it’s not the best idea to let a mayo-based one sit out at a picnic for hours. Instead, opt for this refreshing, herb-filled, vinegar-based version.
For a crunchy side dish that feels satisfying but light, go for a no-mayo slaw.
Bacon Jalapeño Corn Salad
This smoky-spicy corn salad tastes good hot, cold or at room temperature. Because frankly, bacon tastes good however you serve it.
The Best Quinoa Salad
The combination of crunchy raw vegetables and soft chickpeas make this quinoa salad interesting.
No forks? No problem. Serve your caprese salad on a stick!