The Most Classic Summer Picnic Recipes Because: Nostalgia

Jess Richardson | Apr 30, 2019 Food & Party
The Most Classic Summer Picnic Recipes Because: Nostalgia
Image: iStock

Picnic spread
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When summer comes around, we get so excited for picnics. They're a fun, inexpensive way to catch up with friends, entertain family, and create ties to our communities. For families new to an area, hosting a picnic in the local park -- and posting to a Facebook mom group announcing that everyone in the group is welcome, and to please bring a dish or two with them -- is a great way to meet folks and make friends (for the grown-ups and kiddos alike)! 

Just bring a dish or two and a blanket, and that's all that's really needed. In fact, picnics are also a great use of leftovers -- make  some shish kabobs the night before, and then serve over a bed of greens or cold, spiced quinoa the next day as a great summertime picnic treat that perfectly uses up food from the fridge.

Anyone looking for the most traditional picnic concepts also positively has to check out vintage picnic gear. We're talking classic, red-checked gingham tablecloths and wicker baskets that are absolutely ideal for hosting an old-school picnic. However, it's fun to mix the old and the new! For summertime picnic inspiration beyond the super-traditional, check out some of the prettiest picnics on Instagram or get ideas to create a stunning picnic. And don't forget ways to make sure the kiddos have an absolute blast during the picnic with some creative games. Many of them require only a little equipment -- easy to bring along!

  • Cold Buttermilk Fried Chicken

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    Cold Buttermilk Fried Chicken
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    What in this world is better than eating cold fried chicken outdoors? There really isn't an answer to this because nothing, absolutely nothing, is better than a picnic basket full of cold buttermilk fried chicken.

  • Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

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    Old Fashioned Potato Salad
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    A picnic without an old-fashioned potato salad is barely a picnic at all, right? We love that this recipe leaves the skin on while cooking -- it makes the skins come off much more easily! Alternatively, leave the skins on for added vitamins and texture. 

  • Fruit Salad

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    Fruit Salad
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    A simple fruit salad is perfect for a picnic. Keep it super simple with a recipe like this one, or switch up the flavors a little bit for some fun variations, like honey-lime. For spicy-loving families, a little cayenne is great, too!

  • Easy Coleslaw

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    Easy Coleslaw
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    We love the simplicity of a traditional, easy coleslaw recipe. Cool, creamy, and ideal for dining al fresco all summer long, coleslaw is the perfect side to go with any picnic main. The best part: Make it the day ahead -- it tastes even better when it's been marinating in the fridge for a day.

  • Homemade Lemonade

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    Homemade Lemonade
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    Homemade lemonade is so simple to make, and way healthier (and much, much cheaper) than the kind found at the store. It's totally worth the modest effort -- and it's a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen!

  • Perfect Deviled Eggs

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    Perfect Deviled Eggs
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    These should be kept in the cooler and/or eaten first so they don't sit out for hours, but perfect deviled eggs are among our favorite summertime recipes -- so cool, so yummy, so protein-packed. Love them for a picnic!

  • Watermelon Feta Salad With Mint

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    Watermelon Feta Salad with Mint
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    So refreshing and cool, watermelon in any capacity is a classic summer picnic treat, but we love the salty-sweet combination of this watermelon feta salad with mint, which is so simple and easy to make, especially with precut watermelon.

  •  The Bleubird’s Turkey & Brie Sandwich Copycat

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    The Bleubird’s Turkey and Brie Sandwich Copycat
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    Y'all, this sandwich is luxurious tasting. The Bleubird’s turkey and brie sandwich copycat is made with deli turkey, crisp green apple, and brie cheese, and it's amazing. Honey mustard is a great addition for those who like it, or just a little mayo. 

  • Homemade Barbecue Potato Chips

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    Homemade BBQ Potato Chips
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    We're not gonna lie, it's rare that we have time to do things like make homemade chips. But goodness gracious, is it worth it when that time does happen! We love these homemade barbecue potato chips, and they're perfectly picnic-ready. 

  • Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

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    Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
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    Cucumber tea sandwiches are a fantastic traditional English sandwich for teas and picnics. Use an English cucumber for added fanciness! The simplest recipe is just cucumber, cream cheese, and whatever seasonings, but this one is a little more elevated. 

  • Easy Egg Salad

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    Easy Egg Salad
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    This easy egg salad recipe produces the classic picnic treat. Pro tip: Use eggs that are a little older (although not expired!) because older eggs are easier to peel. While there are a lot of spice variations lots of folks enjoy, this is one of the most classic!

  • Easy Tuna Niçoise Salad

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    Easy Tuna Nicoise Salad
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    This easy tuna niçoise salad is as healthful and protein-packed as it is full of beautifully seasoned veggies. For anyone on a Mediterranean diet who still wants to join in the picnic fun, this is an absolutely perfect fit! 

  • Italian Pasta Salad 

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    Italian Pasta Salad
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    This cold Italian pasta salad is always a family favorite. It keeps well, it works as a hearty side, and it's full of bright, simple flavors everyone in the family loves. Ease up on the pepperoncini for kids with sensitive palates, of course. 

  • Pesto Pasta Salad

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    Pesto Pasta Salad
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    We can't get enough pesto in the summertime. This pesto pasta salad is packed full of the summertime flavors we crave -- it's almost like a pasta salad version of a Caprese, which is exactly what we want in the summer months. 

  • Vegetable Platter With Greek Yogurt Ranch

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    Vegetable Platter With Greek Yogurt Ranch
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    OK, we'll admit that this is a healthyish modern twist on a sour cream-based classic. We love this vegetable platter with greek yogurt ranch because it packs all the traditional flavor without as much saturated fat. 

  • Black Bean Dip & Tortilla Chips

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    Black Bean Dip and Tortilla Chips
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    Make a really simple, DIY black bean dip and tortilla chips (although we don't recommend DIYing the tortilla chips unless there are a ton of free hours in the day)! The bean dip just takes a couple minutes to throw together, and it's perfect for picnic time!

  • A Perfect Cheese Plate

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    A Perfect Cheese Plate
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    Cheese plates are perfect for picnics, but they're also harder than they seem! A perfect cheese plate is about balancing textures and flavors. Just follow this great guide to a cheese plate structure that's perfection itself!

  • Coronation Chicken Salad

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    Coronation Chicken Salad
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    Coronation chicken salad, as the name might suggest, is traditional in England, and is a great sweet-and-savory picnic menu item. For anyone who loves curry, this salad is a smart use of leftover roast chicken and comes together in a snap! 

  • The Best Ham Sandwich You’ll Ever Eat

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    The Best Ham Sandwich You’ll Ever Eat
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    Aside from cold fried chicken, we can't think of a more classic picnic main dish than a ham sandwich -- but The Best Ham Sandwich You’ll Ever Eat is an incredible play on this picnic classic, and we love it. 

  • The Best Brownie Recipe Ever

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    The Best Brownie Recipe Ever
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    Every picnic needs a dessert, after all, and what's more traditional than a container full of brownies? It's the only form of truly chocolate-y chocolate we can think of that doesn't melt in the heat, and for that, we are grateful. Check out what claims to be the Best Brownie Recipe Ever!

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