When you’re sitting under glorious sunshine on a spring or summer day, surrounded by the beauty of nature and in the company of good friends, almost any food tastes just that much better. But not every food is suitable for a picnic. Planning an al fresco feast, in reality, means considering whether recipes keep well, if they travel well, are pack-up-able, are easy to eat away from home and if they taste great cold or at room temperature. You’ll also need to choose recipes that fit the parameters of your own particular picnic. Does the food need to stay fresh all day or just for an hour or two? Will you dine at a picnic table with plates and forks, lay out on a blanket on the beach or grab a park bench? With a little planning and some great, picnic-friendly recipes (such as the 10 that follow), you’ll create an unforgettable outdoor dining experience that’s tasty and healthy too.
1. The Original Gourmet PB&J Sandwich
Your typical, old-school PB&J might seem to be an unimaginative choice for a picnic. Consider instead Betsy’s Original Gourmet PB&J Sandwich, which elevates the childhood classic with upgraded ingredients to suit even the most discerning of adult palates (kids love them too!). Start with quality whole-grain bread – a hearty loaf will hold up better than a lighter, airier one – and spread one slice with your favorite Betsy’s Best gourmet nut and seed butter and another with strawberry jam, or any jam of your choice. You could certainly finish the sandwich at this stage, but sliced fresh strawberries and a sprinkle of both cacao nibs and granola inside the PB&J turns it into something really special.
2. Salad with Honey Mustard Cashew Butter Dressing
Any salad you could think of is wonderfully jazzed-up by Betsy’s Honey Mustard Cashew Butter Dressing. When you’re preparing salad for a picnic, choose sturdier greens like arugula, kale or romaine, plus ingredients that hold up over time, such as cherry tomatoes and bell pepper slices. Keep the dressing separately in a small screw-top jar and add it to the salad just before you eat. Speaking of dressings, this homemade honey mustard cashew butter concoction is so delicious you’ll want to whip up a whole batch to keep in the fridge. With cashew butter, canned pumpkin, apple cider vinegar and vegan mayo among its ingredients, this dressing is healthier than store-bought options, and much tastier too.
3. Cinnamon Almond Butter Banana Bread
No picnic spread is complete without something sweet, and this Cinnamon Almond Butter Banana Bread showcases the natural sweetness of bananas. Oats, almond butter and coconut oil amp up the banana bread’s impressive nutrient profile, while an ample dose of cinnamon boosts its beautiful flavors. You’ll need to bake this in advance, but banana bread is one of few dessert-type dishes that improves after sitting for a day or two. It also travels really well, whether you wrap up a whole loaf or individual slices, staying moist and holding its shape perfectly even after getting packed into a picnic basket.
4. Betsy’s Cinnamon Peanut Butter Dip
Betsy’s Cinnamon Peanut Butter Dip is a wonderful picnic recipe due to its versatility. Blending white beans, cinnamon peanut butter, a few dates and a little miso for a boost of umami, this dip spans the sweet-salty spectrum while packing in a major dose of plant-based protein and fiber. As a dip, it’s a perfect complement to crunchy veggies such as mini bell peppers, mini cucumbers and celery sticks, all of which hold their crunch nicely even after hours in a cooler. You could also enjoy it with bread sticks or crackers, smear it on a bagel or use it as a spread in sandwiches or wraps. We told you it’s versatile.
5. Simple Asian Slaw
In the wide world of salads, slaws stand alone in their longevity, staying crunchy and tasty – possibly even getting more delicious – even after a few days in the fridge. This makes them the perfect type of salad to bring along for a picnic, and you don’t even need to keep the dressing on the side. Slaws also lend themselves to a wide range of flavor profiles, although we especially love the Asian-inspired ingredients that augment Betsy’s Simple Asian Slaw. It really is simple, too. Shred carrots and purple cabbage on a box grater, in a food processor of using a sharp knife, and chop scallions and cilantro. The dressing comprises cinnamon almond butter, red-wine vinegar, oil and a little sugar and salt – that’s it! Toss it all together and transfer the slaw to seal-able containers (Tupperware and Mason jars both work) before packing into your cooler pre-picnic.
6. Almond Flour Pumpkin Muffins
Gluten-free and rich in protein, these Almond Flour Pumpkin Muffins taste like a treat but are actually very good for you. In addition to almond flour, the muffins include other nutritious ingredients like pumpkin puree, Betsy’s Best Cinnamon Almond Butter and eggs. Spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and gloves gives them a craveably delicious flavor profile. These muffins are also great for a picnic, if you can resist the urge to eat them when they’re still warm from the oven.
7. Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes
Betsy’s Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes seem like a special picnic dish that takes a bit of effort, but they’re really quite simple. They’re a great alternative to the usual sandwich as a vehicle for a tasty, healthy version of a classic chicken salad, which uses Greek yogurt and pinto beans instead of the usual mayo. A few choice spices add great flavor. We suggest you use slightly less-ripe tomatoes when making this recipe for a picnic, as they will hold up better than soft ripe ones. Wrap each stuffed tomato tightly in plastic wrap before packing them into a container ready for the cooler. Note: You can make a vegetarian version of this dish using hard-boiled eggs or tofu instead of chicken. It’s nice with tuna too.
8. Peanut Butter Coconut Crisps
Every picnic basket needs a few snacky items, and these Peanut Butter Coconut Crisps are a perfect option. If anyone gets peckish before it’s time to sit down and eat your picnic, a handful of these sweet, salty, crunchy chips will definitely satisfy them until it’s picnic time. They include cacao or cocoa powder for a hint of chocolate, plus cinnamon peanut butter for some delicious plant-based protein. The chips are quite simple to prepare as well, but we suggest making a large batch as they tend to disappear quickly.
9. Smokin’ Peanut Butter Chipotle BBQ Sauce
Find a place in your picnic for Betsy’s amazing Smokin’ Peanut Butter Chipotle BBQ Sauce, whether it’s as a spread for chicken or veggie sandwiches or sauce for cold roast chicken. With its bold smoky and spicy flavors, along with the richness of cinnamon peanut butter, this sauce brings the taste of a BBQ to any picnic. And if you do have access to a grill during your outdoor experience, all the better! Spread the sauce over burgers, grilled chicken or grilled portobello mushrooms, among other options.
10. Homemade Trail Mix
Another perfect picnic snack is Betsy’s Homemade Trail Mix, which puts a nutrageous twist on the classic combination of nuts and dried fruit with the addition of white chocolate chips, cinnamon almond butter and pumpkin pie spice. This recipe uses pecans, cashews, peanuts and dried cranberries, but feel free to switch these up with any other nuts, dried fruits and other tasty treats you have on hand. You might also use different spices and other kinds of chocolate. Consider dried apricots, dried mango, cacao nibs, sunflower seeds and walnuts, among countless options. Think of it as a “choose your own adventure” kind of picnic snack.
Ready to Pack Your Picnic?
Betsy’s Best nut and seed butters make wonderful ingredients for picnic fare, as they’re nutritious, satisfying and above all delicious. Browse through these recipes and more and you’re sure to get inspired to prepare a picnic, gather your friends and head outdoors for a great meal.