06 April 2021 (updated)

Perfect Picnic Food: Packing Summer Flavor

This summer, pack picnic food for lunch or dinner.  Read on for delicious recipes you can use to create on-the-go meal plans, feeding happy people, and keeping the kitchen clean.

It's summertime. That means eating outside, and while watermelon and snacks go a long way, sometimes you still need a meal. Picnic recipes need to be crowd-pleasing and easy to grill or pack. I also require quick prep for my picnic menu because when six people need sunscreen applied, my cooking time is limited.

Read on for some easy picnic food ideas for the pool, beach, park, or even backyard.

Picnic Food: Salads

Salads are easy to prep and transport. The right salad can even give be the main course, loaded with tasty vegetables and proteins. Here are two of my picnic favorites.

Shauna Niequist Summer Salad

Shauna posted about this easy-to-make recipe on her Facebook page years ago, and it's been a favorite of mine ever since. Raw corn! Finally! Here's all you need: 6 ears of raw corn cut off the cob, halved grape tomatoes, crumbled feta, cut cucumber, minced red onion, salt, and pepper.

Yes. That's IT: perfect picnic menu item, make-ahead, family-friendly, and a colorful crowd-pleaser. You didn't even have to cook the corn.

Picnic Pasta Salad

This picnic pasta salad does double-time as the main dish, as it includes everything you could need for any meal, ever. Use this picnic idea for the kid who just wants to load up on cheese balls. Eat this first, and then let him loose. It's summer!

Picnic Pasta Salad

This is a yummy and light recipe that can be easily modified for picky eaters!

4.34 from 6 votes


30 mins


a few seconds


3 hrs






10 people


370.0 kcal


  • 1


    macaroni (or pasta of choice) (cooked according to package directions and cooled)

    16 oz.

  • 1


    sharp cheddar cheese


  • 1


    diced salami

  • 1


    thawed frozen peas

  • 1

    6-ounce can

    pitted black olives

  • 1




  • 1/2


    red onion


  • 1/2


    diced dill pickle

  • 1



  • 2


    dry mustard

  • salt and pepper (to taste)


  • Picnic Pasta Salad

    1. Combine.

      Combine pasta, cheese, salami, peas, olives, celery, onion, and pickles in a large bowl.

    2. Stir.

      In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, dry mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir into pasta mixture, then cover.

    3. Chill.

      Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until served.



370.0 kcal


52.0 g


13.0 g


5.0 g


9.0 g

Serving Amount:


Serving Unit:



155.0 mg


6.0 g

Grilled Picnic Food You Haven't Thought of

Want to grill but tired of burgers? Kabobs are easy to prep and pack. Wholesome Foodie Mom on the Street Amy Rains recently posted a new twist on classic kabobs, using the delightful summertime taste blend of pineapple and shrimp.

And wait - what's this? Is this even possible? These Loaded Picnic Waffle Fries could be enough to bring all the joy to Summer 2020. You cook this miracle on a grill in an aluminum pan. Once the pan is licked clean, you toss it. Dinner and clean-up done. Happiness achieved.

Wrapped Picnic Main Courses

But if you want to arrive at the picnic or pool with grab-and-go finger food, try a wrap or sandwich recipe. This cobb salad wrap sandwich is a winner for all the picnic food groups.

Chicken avocado roll-ups use a mayo-free chicken salad for a pre-made, pre-wrapped, one-handed dinner.

But if your dinner crew is one of the highest culinary tastes...give them homemade uncrustablesPeanut butter and jelly hits the spot in the summer, and you can do your own ahead of time, freeze, and with less sugar. So they are primed for the popsicles.

Picnic Food: Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and Veggies are a must for every meal. So how do we make them more festive for an outside event? One magic word: dip. As in this Farm Stand Fruit Dip, gluten-free, made with cream cheese and marshmallow cream. Keep the fruit coming!

Looking for a friend for your veggies? Make use of my favorite Trader Joe's seasoning and make this Everything but the Bagel dip and watch even the celery disappear.

Win Dessert at the Pool or Picnic

Dessert outside in the summer can be as easy as fudge pops. (And really, what is better?) But if you want to make a sweet-it's-summer statement, go for the Dirt Cake. People just don't make this enough. And it's so thrilling when it appears. Let's, together, make More Dirt Cake a goal.

Poolside Party Fluff had me at the name. There are a million ways you can vary this recipe to please your Fluff Eaters, i.e., more chocolate, less coconut, all the fun.

Picnic Friendly Is Summer Friendly

Summertime is time to be out - out of the kitchen, house, and out of the water just long enough to grab some yummy food. Hot dogs and potato salad are only the beginning. Get creative with what you pack in the cooler! Enjoy the flavors of pools and summer picnics all season long.

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