Close-up of a red bell pepper strip dipped into a bowl of split pea hummus on a party platter.

A picnic is a great way to spend a summer day outside with friends, family, and food. See our suggestions for fun, delicious, and easy picnic food ideas here.

A picnic is an affordable, easy, and fun way to spend some time outside with the family. Packing a picnic lunch just takes a few minutes, and with our guidance, we can make sure you pack the best foods for your al fresco meal! Let’s get packing.

Collage of nine recipes perfect for your next picnic. A text overlay reads, "35 Summer Picnic Ideas."

What are the best picnic foods?

The best picnic foods are, in our opinion, foods that don’t require forks or other utensils. It just makes packing a picnic so much simpler and saves a lot of space in the cooler. 

However, we won’t deny that we love a good pasta salad. Just remember to pack small dishes and utensils to serve up whatever might need them. Or, pack individual servings in small mason jars. Then, all you have to do is pop off the lids and grab a fork or spoon!

How to Pack an Awesome Picnic

What should I not bring on a picnic?

In general, you don’t want to pack anything that requires a lot of assembly, like tacos, or that needs to be served hot, like tuna casserole. Super messy dishes aren’t ideal, either. 

If you are packing in a cooler or insulated basket, you have a lot of flexibility with what you pack. But if your picnic basket isn’t insulated, avoid foods that will melt in the heat (like chocolate) or that could become unsafe if they get too warm too fast (looking at you, egg salad).

How to Pack an Awesome Picnic

How to pack a perfect picnic

Skip the basket.

Picnic baskets look adorable, but they do nothing for keeping your food cold. Plus, they can be clunky and unorganized. Instead, try a basket-style cooler. We use one that is insulated, easy to carry, and collapses flat when not in use. 

Keep it clean.

Nobody wants to eat directly off the ground, so remember to bring a picnic blanket to lay out the food spread and to sit on. If you know that picnic tables will be available, you may want to pack a waterproof tablecloth.

Keep it simple.

You don’t need to pack anything fancy for a picnic. Simple finger foods and snacks combine to make a perfectly satisfying and tasty picnic. But if you want to bring plates and utensils, we have ideas for pasta salads and other fork-requiring foods below too!

Don’t forget the drinks!

Whether you just want to grab a water bottle for each person, or step it up with something fancier, don’t forget to bring something to drink.

Clean up.

Don’t forget to pick up after yourself at the end! Pack a small plastic grocery bag to gather wrappers, napkins, and other trash when you’re done, in case there isn’t a trash can around.

What are some good picnic food ideas?

Best Picnic Food Ideas

A picnic is a great way to spend a summer day outside with friends, family, and food. See our suggestions of fun, delicious, and easy picnic food ideas here.

Finger Foods, Dips, and Sandwiches

Utensils Recommended


Something Sweet

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