5 Perfect Picnic Menus

Here's what you need to know to create the perfect outdoor meal
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5 Perfect Picnic Menus

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Packing a picnic takes planning. Here are 5 menus that make the perfect outdoor meal even easier.

Appetizer: Caprese Bites

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These simple one-bite appetizers are the perfect way to start any picnic. They can be assembled ahead of time and, if you’re trying to save space in your picnic basket, you can skip the oil and vinegar; the skewers will still have lots of flavor.
 

Salad: Panzanella

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Take advantage of summer produce with this delicious and colorful salad; it’s loaded with tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, and fresh basil.

Main: Roasted Chicken

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Whole roasted chicken is a wonderful choice for a picnic because it’s still flavorful and delicious at room temperature. This roast chicken is stuffed with lemon, garlic, and herbs for lots of flavor.

Dessert: Lemon Bars

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These sweet and refreshing dessert bars taste just like lemonade — the perfect finish to any picnic.

Appetizer: Fava and Fresh Ricotta Crostini

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This is one instance where it’s worth it to pack a few extra containers in your picnic basket. Keep each component of this elegant appetizer separate and then let your picnic guests assemble their own crostini while you open a bottle of wine.

Salad: Mediterranean Crunch Salad

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This quick and easy vegetable salad is simple to make. Just combine all of the delicious ingredients in a large bowl and letting the salad chill before serving.

Main: Bacon Quiche

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Serve this quiche at room temperature for a rich and flavorful main dish. The saltiness of the bacon is a nice accompaniment to the Mediterranean salad that you’re serving alongside it.

Dessert: Lemon Shortbread Cookies

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What could be more picnic-perfect than cookies? These buttery shortbread cookies have a hint of bright, fresh lemon flavor.

Appetizer: Pickled Deviled Eggs

Aurelie Jouan

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t love deviled eggs. Take yours up a notch by pickling the eggs in beet juice and apple cider vinegar; it adds a delicious flavor and makes for a beautiful presentation.

Salad: Cucumber Melon Salad

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Light, refreshing, and delicious, this salad strikes the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors. Top it with crumbled goat cheese for a tangy twist.

Main: Fried Chicken

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You have two options when you’re making fried chicken for a picnic: Fry it just before you head to the picnic or make it in advance and serve it at room temperature. Either way, it will be flavorful and delicious.

Dessert: Raspberry Buttermilk Tart

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This rich, creamy tart is like a French clafoutis; fresh, ripe fruit (in this case, raspberries) is baked in a sweet custard for an irresistible treat.

Appetizer: Homemade Chips and Dip

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For a casual picnic menu, start with homemade chips and dip. Just be sure to let your homemade potato chips cool completely before you pack them, otherwise they could get soggy.

Salad: Crunchy Coleslaw

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The perfect companion for any sandwich, this crunchy, creamy coleslaw uses tangy Greek yogurt to cut down on the amount of mayonnaise in the recipe.

Main: Cuban-Style Pressed Sandwiches

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The trick to packing paninis for a picnic is to choose sandwiches that will still taste great at room temperature. Then, allow the pressed sandwich to cool completely before wrapping it in parchment paper; if you don’t, the steam will soften the otherwise crispy, crunchy bread.

Dessert: Spiked Watermelon Balls

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This picnic menu calls for a light and refreshing dessert like rum-soaked watermelon balls. Add some freshly zested lime for even more flavor.

Appetizer: Simple Cheese Plate

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When fresh figs come into season, try this easy-to-make cheese plate. It’s an elegant, yet easy, way to start any picnic.

Salad: Barley Salad with Grapes and Pecans

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The great thing about this salad is that it can be tossed in the dressing several hours before it’s served, eliminating the need to pack a bottle of salad dressing in your picnic basket.

Main: Grilled Vegetable Pitas

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Grilled vegetables with a little bit of char (like mushrooms, zucchini, and peppers) taste wonderful even after they’ve cooled to room temperature. Grill the vegetables for these pita pockets before your picnic and then let your guests assemble their sandwiches to their liking.

Dessert: S’mores Pudding in a Jar

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No outdoor eating experience would be complete without the flavors of a toasty chocolate and marshmallow s’more. Layer Graham cracker crumbs, chocolate pudding, and marshmallow fluff in miniature mason jars for an easy (and addicting) dessert.