Picnics are the new dinner parties. These days, eating outside with friends and loved ones from afar has become our new go-to activity. But instead of going with the usual picnic fare like cold salads and sandwiches, shake up your spread with some creative twists to take your al fresco dining experience to the next level, just in time for the long weekend.
1. Replace veggies and ranch with fun and flavorful dips
Don’t get us wrong—vegetables with ranch dressing dip is always a great idea, but it’s predictable! Swap in MVP whipped feta dip, which is thick and creamy, and its tartness is toned down by the sweetness of the honey. Balance it out with vegan edamame hummus, which is light and bright and has a silky smooth texture perfect for crunchy spiced pita chips.
If you prefer dips with tons of texture, look no further than smoked gouda dip. It’s super cheesy and has nice pops of flavor from sweet sun-dried tomatoes to counter the smokiness. Chunky, creamy, savory artichoke-olive dip also comes together super fast and will knock you over with briny goodness.
Note: If you have a cooler, tuck any foods containing dairy away with an ice pack since they are more perishable than the rest of the ingredients.
2. Skip the cold cuts and opt for flavorful veggies
There’s nothing worse than soggy sandwiches and room temperature cold cuts. Try revamping your typical picnic sandwich with grilled, flavorful veggie options, like these smoky eggplant sandwiches and cauliflower flatbreads. Both can hang out at room temperature for longer than meats and can be easily assembled in the moment.
Pro tip: Prepare the labneh and sun-dried tomato toppings for the eggplant, as well as the cauliflower mixture for the flatbread in advance and apply once you arrive—this will preserve the crunch of the bread.
3. Freshen up your snacks
Picnics don’t necessarily mean carb-loaded bites. These Chinese chicken salad summer rolls make a great alternative to sandwiches and wraps, only have a thin layer of rice paper, and are packed with the crunch and sweet-and-tangy flavor of Chrissy’s signature salad.
Tip: If you plan on traveling with the summer rolls, dress the filling lightly (or bring the dressing on the side!) so they don’t get soggy.
4. Get creative when it comes to beverages
A signature cocktail is a simple way to liven up any meal and makes a picnic feel instantly more fancy. While a spicy jalapeño margarita is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, you can also make things more festive with a refreshing and summery vodka watermelon slushie.
Take some frozen watermelon cubes, chilled vodka, and simply blend it all up into an icy adult treat. (Skip the alcohol so your kids can enjoy it too, and feel free to replace vodka with your alcohol of choice!) Then pour in an insulated bottle and it’ll stay cold all picnic long.
5. Don’t get lazy when it comes to dessert!
When it comes to picnicking, dessert tends to be an afterthought. Sweets are arguably the easiest item to transport—most of them are baked as individual-sized bites and can sit out at room temp for extended periods of time.
Even though brittle is normally a holiday thing, our salted pistachio brittle can and should be enjoyed year-’round. It doesn’t get as squished in a container as easily as say, cookies or cake, and won’t instantly melt in the hot sun. If you’re looking for more of a classic sweet treat, lean into the meltiness of chocolate pecan brownies that get suuuper fudgy. Pack them at the very top of your bag to avoid them being squished!
With all of these creative ideas, we gotta say: Hey now, you’re a picnic all-star. Get your basket out, go play! (We didn’t have to say it… but now the song is stuck in your head, too. Sorry!)