Few things scream summer more than eating outside, especially with plenty of friends and a checkered blanket. The trickiest part is finding snacks and drinks that travel well, so we did the work for you. Celebrate National Picnic Month in style with these 21 healthy, portable recipes.
1. The Ultimate Veggie Sandwich
If you didn’t tear up at the beauty of this sandwich, you might want to get your eyes checked. Packed with sliced cucumber, carrot, tomato, and avocado, plus a pile of shredded cabbage and sprouts, this makes for one pretty meal. The only question is how to wrap your mouth around the whole thing for one monster bite.
2. Vegetarian Muffuletta
This spin on a New Orleans classic is no low-key sandwich. A mixed olive salad is livened up with layers of colorful eggplant, peppers, artichokes, and Swiss chard. Slices of smoked provolone are optional, but we think a little cheese adds just the right amount of creaminess. Be forewarned: It’s considered blasphemous to toast or otherwise heat a muffuletta.
3. Chicken and Veggie Pinwheels
Say it with us: Bite-size pinwheels are a picnic’s best friend. They’re easy to store, totally shareable, and you can fill them with just about anything. These mini wraps are packed with red and yellow bell peppers, baby spinach, purple cabbage, shredded cooked chicken (hello, last night’s leftovers!), and a sprinkle of dry ranch powder for a little punch.
4. Smoked Salmon Lavash Wrap
Swap that boring wrap for whole-wheat lavash, a thin Middle Eastern flatbread (available near the deli section of most grocery stores), and fill the inside with arugula, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, and a few slices of smoked salmon for protein. We love just a bit of the lemon-dill spread in this dish, but if you’re avoiding cream cheese and mayo, use Greek yogurt.
5. Herby Potato Salad
This potato salad calls for a bright onion and herb vinaigrette instead of thick mayo. Plus you get added crunch from chopped apples and a bit of nutty flavor (and protein!) from chickpeas in every bite.
6. Lentil Cauliflower Salad
Lentils are a fantastic meat-free source of protein and, when paired with cauliflower, make a filling, healthy salad perfect for carrying to a picnic in the park. The salad is tossed with turmeric, cilantro, and coriander for added flavor.
7. Shaved Beet, Carrot, and Radish Salad
Thinly sliced raw carrots, beets, and radishes create a crunchy, fresh-tasting salad that’s packed with antioxidants. The dressing—flavored with apple cider vinegar, Dijon, and coriander—is just the right balance of acidic and spicy.
8. Black Rice With Mango and Cashews
Pro tip: Black rice, also known as “forbidden rice,” is a stunning swap to its white or brown counterparts. Pair it with sweet mango and toasted cashews for flavor and texture; jalapeño for heat; and a fresh, lime-based dressing.
9. Spiralized Carrot Salad
Crunchy, spiralized carrots are the star of this simple salad (though you can also just shave the veggies with a peeler). Toss with a tart lemony-ginger dressing and sprinkle in some parsley to cut the acid. We think a handful of crumbled feta would be well received here too.
10. Melon, Prosciutto, and Mozzarella Skewers
Sweet cantaloupe and salty prosciutto complement each other perfectly in these Italian-inspired skewers. Mozzarella adds a creamy, fresh flavor to the mix, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction brings in a touch of acidity.
11. Avocado Mango Brown Rice Sushi
Letting raw-fish sushi hang out in the sun for the afternoon isn’t a good idea. Vegetable-based sushi, on the other hand, is a great idea. Roasted sweet potato, avocado, cucumber, and carrots all make great fillings, but if you’re feeling something a bit sweeter, try filling the rolls with fresh mango, like in this recipe.
12. Caprese Fruit Skewers
You may have tried the classic tomato-mozzarella-basil combo, but what about adding some fruit to the mix? These caprese salad-inspired skewers are filled with chunks of watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew alongside the traditional fresh mozzarella and basil leaves. Add some prosciutto for good luck!
13. Mojito Fruit Salad
Use whatever fruit is in season for this colorful salad. Stone fruit such as nectarines, plums, and peaches pair well with the slightly sour lime dressing. Mix in berries, kiwi, grapes, and melon for a bit of extra sweetness. This recipe is nonalcoholic, but you could add a splash of rum to the lime juice if you’re in the mood for a more adult fruit salad.
14. Banana Cream Pie Jar Parfaits
For a portable, personal dessert that tastes just like banana cream pie, try this: Layer coconut sugar-sweetened vanilla pudding mixed with yogurt between sliced bananas and granola. Top with a handful of chocolate chips to please chocoholics.
15. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Fuse two classic cookies and give them a healthy spin. Mix quick-cooking oats with whole-wheat flour and honey (plus a generous scoop of dark chocolate chips) for a cookie that’s packed with texture and flavor. We recommend bringing along a thermos of milk for dunking!
16. Mango Fruit Roll-Ups
Relive the picnics of your childhood with a healthier spin. These fruit roll-ups contain nothing but fresh mango. Simply blend and bake at a low heat for several hours. Your picnic friends won’t believe you made them yourself, so go ahead and pat yourself on the back.
17. Strawberry Basil Watermelon Aqua Fresca
You may not believe it, but basil and fruit make a delicious pairing. This simple juice can be made ahead of time and poured into thermoses for optimal picnic sipping. Just be sure to give it a good shake before serving to distribute the frothy watermelon purée.
18. Meyer Lemon and Jasmine Iced Tea
Mild Jasmine tea and tart lemon juice make an incredibly refreshing drink—perfect for hot evenings spent picnicking in the park. You don’t have to bring ice, but the tea is best served super cold.
19. Strawberry Lemonade
This honey-sweetened strawberry lemonade is essentially just fancy pink lemonade—but it’s way tastier. Pack servings in individual jars or in one big thermos.
20. Raspberry Peach Iced Tea
The base for this beverage is plain old black tea. But when combined with a fresh peach and raspberry purée (strained to remove any seeds and pulp), you get a naturally flavored and perfectly sweet liquid treat.
21. Basil Cucumber Gin Cooler
Cucumber alone is hydrating and refreshing. Now imagine it combined with basil, gin, lemon, and sparkling water—we think it might be the ultimate summer picnic cocktail.
Originally posted August 2014. Updated July 2016.