47 Cold Picnic Foods That Don’t Need to Be Heated Up

Updated: Jun. 07, 2024

From salads to sandwiches and wraps, these cold picnic foods don't require any heating before serving. That's one less thing to worry about!

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Ambrosia Salad

Because it’s so simple to make, this tropical fruit medley is great as a last-minute menu addition. Plus, this ambrosia salad requires just five ingredients. —Judi Bringegar, Liberty, North Carolina

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Focaccia Sandwiches

Slices of this pretty sandwich make any casual get-together more special. Add or change ingredients to your taste. —Peggy Woodward, Shullsburg, Wisconsin

Check out our easy methods for keeping food cold.

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Fresh Veggie Pockets

One summer I worked at a health food store that sold sandwiches. We were close to a college campus, so I made lots of these fresh-filled pitas for the students. Crunchy with crisp vegetables and nutty sunflower kernels, they're a fast-to-fix lunch when you're on the go. -Linda Reeves, Cloverdale, Indiana
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Fried Ice Cream Dessert Bars

Fried ice cream is such a delicious treat, but it can be a hassle to make individual servings. This recipe gives you the same fabulous flavor in an easy and convenient bar form. —Andrea Price, Grafton, Wisconsin

Check out our tips for planning the best picnic.

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Corn Tomato Salad

I always make this for family events and parties. It reminds me of all the fun barbecues and picnics over the years. Fresh corn and basil make a huge difference in this recipe. —Jessica Kleinbaum, Plant City, Florida

These picnic salad ideas are also a great option.

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Hummus & Veggie Wrap-Up

I had a vegan wrap that was similar to this once when I stopped at a diner while on a long and arduous walk. I enjoyed it so much that I modified it to my own taste and now have it for lunch on a regular basis. Everyone at work wants to know how to make it. —Michael Steffens, Indianapolis, Indiana
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Roasted Strawberry Sheet Cake

My Grandma Gigi loved summer berry cakes. Almost any time I’d call her during the warmer months, she’d invite me over to taste her latest masterpiece. This cake is a tribute to her. —Kristin Bowers, Rancho Palos Verdes, California
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Ginger Green Beans

The bright gingery sauce on these green beans is delicious and so simple to whip up. It's perfection on either hot or cold beans, but I also really love it tossed with cooked shrimp. —Marina Castle Kelley, Canyon Country, California

Try these other delicious picnic side dishes, too.

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Flat Iron Steak Salad

My steak salad with avocado and radishes is a big plate of summer deliciousness. I sometimes add dried cranberries and cherry tomatoes, but you can customize it to suit your tastes. —Marla Clark, Albuquerque, New Mexico
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Crunchy Lemon-Pesto Garden Salad

I love using fresh vegetables straight from the garden to prepare this salad. If I pick the squash and cucumbers early enough, their skins are so tender that there's no need to remove them! Best yet, the salad is easily adaptable—any fresh veggie from the garden can be put in with delicious results. —Carmell Childs, Orangeville, Utah
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South-of-the-Border Citrus Salad

Orange, grapefruit and jicama add color and texture to this out-of-the-ordinary fruit salad. Sometimes I'll toss in slices of mango and cucumber for extra fun. —Mary Fuller, SeaTac, Washington
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Green Bean Pasta Salad

I like to prepare this special green bean pasta salad with fresh green beans and homegrown dill. Serve chilled or at room temperature. —Chris Snyder, Boulder, Colorado
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Pear Waldorf Pitas

Here's a guaranteed table brightener for a shower, luncheon or party. Just stand back and watch these sandwiches vanish. For an eye-catching presentation, I tuck each one into a colorful folded napkin. —Roxann Parker, Dover, Delaware
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Favorite Fruit Salad

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, especially when our four children and nine grandchildren come to visit. They always ask for this salad when they're here for dinner. —Doris Dion, Lake Ozark, Missouri
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Chicken Fajita Salad

This recipe came from Texas, which is famous for its Mexican food. I love to cook, even though it's just for me and my husband now. I invite our grown kids over a lot, and they just love this chicken fajita salad. I'm happy to share it! —Lois Proudfit, Eugene, Oregon
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Overnight Slaw

Think of slaw as a side for all seasons—but especially summer—and for all entrees. Fix this recipe ahead, and don’t forget to use your food processor for even easier prep. —Nancy Brown, Janesville, Wisconsin
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Blackberry Apple Pie

My mother made this pie so often, she could do it with her eyes closed! We picked the berries ourselves, and the apples came from the trees in our orchard. I can still taste the delicious combination of fruits encased in Mother's flaky pie crust. —Fran Stanfield, Wilmington , Ohio
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Kansas Cucumber Salad

Cucumbers are my very favorite garden vegetable, so I use this recipe often. I got it from a friend years ago. I've heard this refreshing dish keeps very well in the refrigerator, but it goes so fast around our house, I've never found out for myself. —Karen Ann Bland, Gove, Kansas
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Creamy Red Potato Salad

We love red potatoes for color and shape in a perfect combo with radishes, green onions and a touch of vinegar. —Betsy King, Duluth, Minnesota
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Potluck Antipasto Pasta Salad

I love trying new recipes, and this one for Italian pasta salad tops all other varieties I've tried. With beans, cheese, sausage and vegetables, it's a hearty complement to any meal. —Bernadette Nelson, Arcadia, California
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Three-Green Salad

For a crisp, refreshing side dish, this tasty salad can't be beat. It's the perfect salad to go with lasagna. —Gina Squires, Salem, Oregon
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Zesty Steak Salad

Stir-fried steak and veggies give this hearty salad a cozy kick. Add any of your favorite salad ingredients like shredded cheese, croutons, mushrooms or cucumber. —Leah Carrell, Quitman, Texas
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Swift Strawberry Salad

A simple blend of syrup, orange juice and caramel topping forms the light dressing for the fresh berries and the crunchy cashews found in this sensational salad. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Frozen Cherry Salad

Pretty slices of this refreshing salad are dotted with colorful cherries for a festive look. The flavor is pleasant and not overly sweet like some frozen cherry recipes. Prepared in advance and frozen, it's a treat that fits into many different menus. I serve it throughout the year.  —Gail Sykora, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
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Israeli Pepper Tomato Salad

This Israeli salad, which is traditionally eaten at breakfast, lends itself to endless variety. You can add foods like olives, beets or potatoes. —Sandy Long, Lee's Summit, Missouri
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Lavender Lemon Bars

Hints of lavender and lemon zest in the crust make these treats a favorite. —Judith Hilinski, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
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Honey Poppy Seed Fruit Salad

This colorful fruit salad with poppy seed dressing pairs well with any morning entree and takes just 10 minutes to prepare. The subtle honey sauce in this salad steals the show. —Dorothy Dinnean, Harrison, Arkansas
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Tomato Feta Salad

One summer I combined my love for onions with a bumper crop of tomatoes and a homemade balsamic dressing. The result was this salad that receives thumbs-up approval whenever it's served. —Robert Golus, Greer, South Carolina
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Grilled Steak and Mushroom Salad

My husband loves this salad, especially during summer. He says he feels as if he’s eating a healthy salad and getting his steak, too! I always serve it with some fresh homemade bread. —Julie Cashion, Sanford, Florida
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Watermelon Tomato Salad

Watermelon and tomatoes may seem an unlikely pair, but they team up to make a winning combination in this eye-catching salad. —Matthew Denton, Seattle, Washington
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Spicy Buffalo Chicken Wraps

This recipe has a real kick, and it's one of my husband’s favorites. Ready in a flash, it's easily doubled and the closest thing to restaurant Buffalo wings I’ve ever tasted in a light version. —Jennifer Beck, Rio Rancho, New Mexico
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Basil-Tomato Grilled Cheese

The tastes of summer abound in this easy Italian-style grilled cheese sandwich. Not only is it delicious, it's super-fast, so you can get back to those summer outdoor activities. —Sylvia Schmitt, Sun City, Arizona
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Fast Macaroni Salad

Chopped veggies provide crunch, and cherry tomatoes add vibrant color to this refreshing and creamy pasta salad. —Frankiee Bush, Freedom, Indiana
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Meatless Taco Salad

This colorful entree combines popular taco ingredients—minus the ground beef. And you won't miss the meat at all! I top each serving with a creamy guacamole dressing, crunchy corn chips and cheese. —Kimberly Dray, Pflugerville, Texas
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Chinese Spinach-Almond Salad

This recipe combines power-packed spinach, a good source of vitamins A and K, with other veggies, lean meat and crunchy, heart-healthy almonds. Reduced-fat dressing adds a light Asian flavor and touch to each hearty serving. Mary Ann Kieffer - Lawrence, Kansas
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Chicken Caesar Wrap

This classic handheld with tender chicken, Parmesan cheese and chopped Caesar croutons features the perfect amount of dressing for a tasty meal any night. Nancy Pratt - Longview, TX
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Rotisserie Chicken Panini

This ooey-gooey, melty delight is packed with bacon, chicken, cheese and just enough lemon to tickle your taste buds. Other chicken panini recipes don't compare!—Terri McCarty, Oro Grande, California
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Smoked Salmon Egg Salad

Served on croissants, these grown-up sandwiches offer a great way to use leftover Easter eggs. Salmon adds smoky flavor. —Cathy Tang, Redmond, Washington
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Watermelon-Blueberry Salad

People love the unique combination of flavors in the dressing that tops the fresh fruit in this salad. It's so refreshing on a hot summer evening. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Kale Quinoa Salad

Here's a holiday side dish you can feel good about serving. Kale packs a mighty punch of vitamins, while quinoa delivers a hearty serving of protein. Best of all, the flavor of this kale quinoa salad can't be beat! —Lisa Warren, Washington, DC
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Nutella Hand Pies

These pint-sized Nutella hand pies made with puff pastry are too good to keep to yourself! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Summer Orzo Salad

I’m always looking for fun ways to use the fresh veggies that come in my Community Supported Agriculture box, and this summer orzo salad is one of my favorite creations. I like to improvise with whatever I have on hand, so feel free to do the same here! —Shayna Marmar, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Kale Slaw Spring Salad

My parents and in-laws are retired and like to spend winters in Florida. This tangy spring salad welcomes the snowbirds back for our Easter celebration! —Jennifer Gilbert, Brighton, Michigan
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Mango Almond Icebox Cake

This recipe was inspired by my friend who asked me to make a mango cake. It's easy to prepare, refreshing, light, and tastes absolutely fantastic. Strawberries can be used as well. —Rachel Simoneau, Danbury, Connecticut
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Sicilian Potato Salad

Fresh basil is the star of this mayo-free, Italian-inspired take on potato salad. —Sue Falk, Warren, Michigan

Hungry for more? Check out our collection of the best picnic salads.

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Copycat Berger Cookies

After a friend who had recently traveled to Baltimore sent me a package of Berger cookies, I was hooked. They disappeared so quickly that I decided to try and re-create them at home. After many tests and tweaks, my husband and I gained 6 pounds between the two of us, but it was worth it—I landed on a reproduction of the famous cookie I'm so proud of. —Marina Castle-Kelley, Canyon Country, California
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Blackberry Balsamic Spinach Salad

Blackberries are a great super food, and there are plenty of them in this juicy, colorful salad. —Mary Lou Timpson, Colorado City, Arizona