75 Picnic Food Ideas to Pack in Your Basket

Updated: Jun. 14, 2024

Head to the nearest park and bring your brightest blanket. These picnic food ideas pack up perfectly and just taste better in the sunshine.

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BLT Macaroni Salad

A friend served this BLT pasta salad, and I just had to get the recipe. My husband loves BLT sandwiches, so this has become a favorite of his. It’s nice to serve on hot and humid days, which we frequently get during summer here in Virginia. —Mrs. Hamilton Myers Jr., Charlottesville, Virginia

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Don’t miss our guide on how to plan the perfect picnic!

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Barbecued Chicken Salad Sandwiches

An impromptu picnic inspired this BBQ chicken salad sandwich. An instant summertime favorite, these dressed-up sandwiches have become a mainstay at our house. —Linda Orme, Battleground, Washington
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Rainbow Gelatin Cubes

These layered jello cubes are fun to serve and to eat! I vary the colors to match the occasion. Kids of all ages snatch them up. —Deanna Pietrowicz, Bridgeport, Connecticut

Discover even more delightful picnic side dishes.

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Tomato-Melon Chicken Salad

Nothing says summer like picking watermelon, tomatoes and raspberries, then tossing them together in a salad. The addition of grilled chicken makes it a satisfying yet still summery meal. —Betsy Hite, Wilton, California
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Turkey, Gouda & Apple Tea Sandwiches

Cut into triangles or quarters, these fun mini sandwiches are a tasty addition to an afternoon tea gathering. The cranberry mayo lends an original flavor twist, and the apples give them a sweet-tart crunch. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Confetti Snack Mix

I’ve made this party mix for many years and I usually double the recipe. It makes a wonderful gift, and everyone always wants the recipe. —Jane Bray, Temple Terrace, Florida
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Frosted Lemon-Ricotta Cookies

I work for a Special Education school and our students run their own catering business. Every time they make this for a catering event, they get raves. The students chose the Lemon Ricotta Cookies to submit as their favorite cookie recipe. They say they are the “yummiest and chewiest cookies ever!”—Renee Phillips, Owosso, Michigan
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Creamy Coleslaw

For me, this is the best coleslaw recipe because a package of shredded cabbage and carrots really cuts down on prep time. This coleslaw recipe is great for potlucks or to serve to your family on a busy weeknight. —Renee Endress, Galva, Illinois
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Classic Macaroni Salad

This classic macaroni salad recipe is a refreshingly light take on an all-time favorite. It’s perfect for a fast weeknight dinner or festive weekend barbecue. —Dorothy Bayes, Sardis, Ohio
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Grilled Lemon Chicken

My chicken gets its subtle pucker from lemonade concentrate. So simple, so sweet! —Linda Nilsen, Anoka, Minnesota
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Herbed Feta Dip

Guests can’t get enough of this thick, zesty dip that bursts with fresh Mediterranean flavor. The feta cheese and fresh mint complement each other beautifully, creating the perfect sidekick for crunchy carrots, toasted pita chips, sliced baguettes or any other dipper you fancy.—Rebecca Ray, Chicago, Illinois
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Focaccia Sandwiches

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

This pink cooler is deliciously thirst-quenching on a warm day. Seeing its color, folks guess it might be pink lemonade. They're pleasantly surprised to discover the bubbly blend includes cranberry, pineapple, orange and lemon juices. —Marion Lowery, Medford, Oregon
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Lime-Honey Fruit Salad

Nothing is more refreshing to me than a seasonal fruit salad enhanced with this simple honey-lime dressing. —Victoria Shevlin, Cape Coral, Florida
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Cucumber Coleslaw

I created this cucumber coleslaw recipe so I could use a julienne peeler I received as a gift. I had leftover sparkling wine, so I thought I’d try to use it over julienned cucumbers to make this refreshing slaw. It’s a nice way to round out a brunch or picnic. —Merry Graham, Newhall, California
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PBJ on a Stick

Take the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the go with these skewers. They also make easy snacks. —Sara Martin, Brookfield, Wisconsin
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Salami Roll-Ups

These bite-size appetizers are a cinch to make with just four ingredients—even your kids can help you with them! —Jean Baffuto, Apache Junction, Arizona
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Puppy Chow

This snack mix is perfect for a late-night treat or a pick-me-up any time of the day. I sometimes take a batch to work, and it’s always eaten up quickly. It’s a slightly different cereal snack because of the chocolate and peanut butter. —Mary Obeilin, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
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Chicken Caesar Pitas

Hand-held and picnic friendly, these chicken-stuffed pockets pack a double dose of whole grains from brown rice and whole wheat pitas. The chicken can be made up to 2 days in advance for a fast-fix lunch. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Pasta Salad in a Jar

If you're planning a picnic, make this pasta a day ahead. For my husband's lunch at work, I sometimes tie a plastic fork on the jar. —Pat Neiheisel, Leetonia, Ohio
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Southwest Hummus Dip

Not your ordinary hummus, this dip is a combination of two things I love—chick peas and Southwestern flavors. You can substitute 3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed, for the grilled corn. —Cheray Buckalew, Cumberland, Maryland
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Avocado Fruit Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette

On long summer days when we just want to relax, I make a cool salad with avocado, berries and mint. The tangerine dressing is refreshingly different. —Carole Resnick, Cleveland, Ohio
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Grandma’s Potato Salad

Our Fourth of July feast wouldn’t be complete without this chilled old-fashioned potato salad. It’s my grandma’s treasured recipe. —Sue Gronholz, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
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Strawberry Watermelon Lemonade

The nutrition department at my local hospital inspired me to create this refreshing summer sipper. I tweaked their recipe slightly to create this drink full of sweet-tart flavor. —Dawn Lowenstein, Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania
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Dill Garden Salad

I love to cut up whatever fresh vegetables I have on hand and toss them with this delicious dressing and fresh dill. This salad shows up on our table regularly during the summer. —Bethany Martin, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
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S'mookies

S'mores are one of my favorite desserts. I wanted to create a cookie to replace the graham cracker—that's when my s'mookie was born. Just as delicious as the classic.—Maria Davis, Hermosa Beach, California
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Tuna Artichoke Melts

After sampling a similar open-faced sandwich at a restaurant, I created my own version of lemon-seasoned tuna salad with artichoke hearts. I like to serve it for lunch with a friend on the patio.
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Dilly Chicken Sandwiches

A creamy lemon-dill spread adds summery flavor to tender chicken served between slices of grilled French bread with slices of lettuce and tomato. Serve it for lunch, or for a light and breezy dinner on the patio. —Orien Major, Hinton, Alberta
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Three-Pepper Coleslaw

There are never any leftovers when I make this dish for a picnic, barbecue or any social gathering. —Priscilla Gilbert, Indian Harbour Beach, Florida
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Mango Salad with Mint Yogurt Dressing

An abundant planter full of mint inspired me to create this summery salad. The flavors pair together so well, and really let the freshness of the mint shine. —Natalie Klein, Albuquerque, New Mexico
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Italian Submarine

My Italian husband grew up eating this flavorful sandwich, which his mother used to make it after Saturday chores were finished. Put the sub together a few hours ahead and refrigerate, then serve with chips, veggies and dip for a delicious meal. —Christine Lupella, Fifty Lakes, Minnesota
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Root Beer Cookies

When it’s too difficult to take along root beer floats on a picnic, take these cookies instead! I’ve found the flavor is even better the next day. The hard part is convincing my family to wait that long before sampling them.—Violette Bawden, West Valley City, Utah
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Iced Raspberry Tea

Frozen raspberries lend fruity flavor and lovely color to this pretty iced tea that's good throughout the year. The recipe calls for just a few common ingredients and offers make-ahead convenience. —Lois McGrady, Hillsville, Virginia
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Yellow Summer Squash Relish

My friends can barely wait for the growing season to arrive so I can make this incredible squash relish. The color really dresses up a hot dog. —Ruth Hawkins, Jackson, Mississippi
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Prosciutto Pinwheels

Fancy-looking and filling, these sensational appetizers are a lot easier to make than they look. With just a few ingredients and our easy directions, it'll be a snap! —Kaitlyn Benito, Everett, Washington
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Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

As a mother of three sons, sweets are a staple in my kitchen! I buy ripe fruit on sale and freeze it to make this cake. My banana cake with cream cheese frosting is a favorite among loved ones at my family picnics and dinners. —Bonnie Krause, Irvona, Pennsylvania
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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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Margarita Cupcakes

These margarita cupcakes are my most requested recipe. If you are unable to find Key lime juice, you can use regular lime juice. —Kerri McMillan, Sylvester, Georgia
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Refrigerator Garden Pickles

Canning isn't necessary for these crisp-tender, tangy pickles. Keep them in the fridge and eat them up within a month. —Linda Chapman, Meriden, Iowa
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Club Roll-Ups

Packed with meat, cheese and olives, these roll-ups are always a hit at parties.
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Quick & Easy Honey Mustard

This fast, easy mustard with rice vinegar and honey has more flavor than any other honey mustard dressing I've ever tried. —Sharon Rehm, New Blaine, Arkansas
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Raspberry-Rhubarb Slab Pie

Slab pie is a pastry baked in a jelly-roll pan and cut into slabs like a bar cookie—or a pie bar, if you will. My grandfather was a professional baker and served pieces of slab pie to his customers back in the day. Here is my spin, featuring rhubarb and gorgeous red raspberries. —Jeanne Ambrose, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Strawberry, Cucumber & Honeydew Salad

Strawberries and cucumbers together—I just love this combination! We used to eat a lot of cucumbers growing up in upstate New York. We'd get them, along with strawberries and melons, from fruit and veggie stands to make this sweet and tangy salad. —Melissa Mccabe, Long Beach, California
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Cherry Tomato Corn Salad

Brighten a picnic lunch or backyard barbecue with this cheerful, fresh-tasting salad. If you use want to use sweet corn off the cob, saute the corn for 5 minutes in a skillet before adding to the salad. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Fruit Salad with Apricot Dressing

When I serve this lovely refreshing salad for picnics and holidays, the bowl empties fast. —Carol Lambert, El Dorado, Arkansas
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Fruity Peanut Butter Pitas

My kids ask for these pita sandwiches all the time. They haven’t noticed that as good as the pitas taste, they’re good for them too.—Kim Holmes, Emerald Park, Saskatchewan
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Picnic Bars

You’ll score points with your pals when you stir together these delicious fudge-like treats. They’re very moist and rich. The chocolate chips and walnuts make a pretty topping. —Frank Bee, Eugene, Oregon
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Turkey-Jalapeno Sandwiches

When a turkey sandwich meets modern Thai, it’s a fun mix of classic and trendy food. I love it when my mixing and matching turns out so tasty. —Stacy Mullens, Gresham, Oregon
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Hearty Muffuletta

Famous in Louisiana, muffulettas are cold cuts, cheese and olive salad layered into an Italian bread shell. I was happy when a friend and co-worker gave me this recipe so I could make them myself. More than a meal, it’s a dining experience! —Ruth Hayward, Lake Charles, Louisiana
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Chicken Strawberry Spinach Salad

This pretty spinach salad, topped with grilled chicken, strawberries and almonds, features a delectably sweet poppy seed dressing. Made in moments, it’s a refreshing lunch or light supper for two. —Ginger Ellsworth, Caldwell, Idaho
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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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Olive-Stuffed Celery

My grandmother taught both me and my mom this appetizer recipe for stuffed celery. We always serve it at Christmas and Thanksgiving. The stuffing is so yummy that even if you don’t normally care for the ingredients on their own, you’ll love the end result. —Stacy Powell, Santa Fe, Texas
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Southern Potato Salad

This potato salad with a southern twist is perfect for a summer picnic. The pickles add extra sweetness. —Gene Pitts, Wilsonville, Alabama
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Roasted Curry Chickpeas

We coated chickpeas with simple seasonings to make a low-fat snacking sensation. This chickpea recipe rivals calorie-laden varieties sold in stores. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

Flaky salmon and creamy sauce go so well over hard-boiled eggs. Drizzle the sauce or serve it on the side; it's great either way. —Marinela Dragan, Portland, Oregon
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Mexican Roasted Potato Salad

My husband is the No. 1 fan of this south-of-the-border potato salad. The leftovers make an awesome late-night snack, straight from the fridge. —Elisabeth Larsen, Pleasant Grove, Utah
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Slow-Cooker Party Mix

This mildly seasoned snack mix is always a party favorite. Served warm from a slow cooker, the munchable mixture is very satisfying. —Dana Hughes, Gresham, Oregon
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Veggie Brown Rice Wraps

Salsa gives a bit of zip to the brown rice and bean filling in the meatless tortilla wraps. —Lisa Sullivan, St. Marys, Ohio
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Chipotle BLT Wraps

BLT sandwiches are so good, but they can make a lot of messy crumbs from the toasted bread. Since we also love wraps, I decided to make BLTs using tortillas instead. Warming the tortillas a little makes them easy to work with. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, Oregon
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Fruit Salad in a Pineapple Boat

A sweet, summery treat that looks as good as it tastes! No one, young or old, will be able to resist this healthy fruit salad. —Amy Short, Lesage, West Virginia
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Effortless Guacamole

Here’s one delicious, extra-easy classic you’ll turn to again and again. I’ve been making this recipe since I started cooking, and that was a long time ago. —DeAnn Lokvam, Tijeras, New Mexico
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Salami & Provolone Pasta Salad

Everyone needs a perfect pasta salad that’s easy to make, especially on busy nights when your family wants a dish that’s fast, light and cool. This is just the thing. —Jill Donley, Warsaw, Indiana
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Campers' Coleslaw

Crispy and crunchy, this old family slaw recipe makes a refreshing side dish for picnics and parties. —Kimberly Wallace, Dennison, Ohio
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Crispy Snack Mix

This recipe proves you can make just about anything in a slow cooker, even a delightfully crispy snack mix. —Jane Sims, De Leon, Texas
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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

My son taught me how to make hummus, which is a tasty and healthy alternative to calorie-filled dips. Fresh roasted red bell peppers make it special. —Nancy Watson-Pistole, Shawnee, Kansas
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Sage & Prosciutto Pinwheels

I love, love, love to make appetizers and I especially like this recipe because I can make the rolls ahead, freeze them, and then slice and bake when needed. —Kate Dampier, Quail Valley, California
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Lavender Shortbread

Lavender flowers can be used fresh or dried in cooking. The flowers have an intense flavor, so they are best used sparingly.—Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Greendale, Wisconsin
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Broccoli Slaw

Here's my favorite twist on broccoli salad. It's so easy to make and has an irresistible tangy crunch. —Konny Thomas, Citrus Heights, California
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Stromboli Sandwich

I've made this Stromboli sandwich many times for parties, and it gets great reviews. You can add ingredients and spices to suit your taste. The recipe is so good I just had to share it with you! —Leigh Lauer, Hummelstown, Pennsylvania
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Spicy Chunky Salsa

Vinegar adds a refreshing tang to this sweet tomato salsa. It's wonderful as is, but for more heat, leave in some hot pepper seeds. —Donna Goutermont, Sequim, Washington
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Buffalo Chicken Wraps

Blue cheese dressing and hot pepper sauce enhance these yummy tortilla wraps. Filled with chicken, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, these buffalo chicken wraps are colorful, fun to eat...and tote-able, too! —Athena Russell, Florence, South Carolina
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Contest-Winning Grilled Mushrooms

Mushrooms cooked over hot coals always taste good, but this easy recipe makes them taste fantastic. As a mother of two children, I love to cook entire meals on the grill. It's fun spending time outdoors with the kids. —Melanie Knoll, Marshalltown, Iowa
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Easy Cheese-Stuffed Jalapenos

A few years ago, I saw a man in the grocery store buying a big bag of jalapeno peppers. I asked him what he intended to do with them, and right there in the store he gave me this fabulous recipe for stuffed jalapenos! —Janice Montiverdi, Sugar Land, Texas
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Pineapple Chicken Salad Sandwiches

These sandwiches are always welcome at lunchtime around our house. Sweet pineapple and crunchy pecans are nice additions to ordinary chicken salad. —Carol Alexander, Midland, Michigan
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Avocado & Artichoke Pasta Salad

A squeeze of lime, a sprinkle of cilantro and a little avocado make this a creamy and zingy pasta salad. —Carrie Farias, Oak Ridge, New Jersey