Nothing satisfies me more than a picnic with lots of flavorful side dishes. Sometimes, I even leave out all the main courses and just spend all the time eating those side ones.
That’s why I often make them in both sweet and savory styles to save my palate from being tired from eating the same flavor over and over again.
Also, it’s an excellent choice to use different kinds of cooking: Some salads, some dips, some grilled dishes,…, you’ll never get bored of side dishes.
Table of Contents
These Side Dishes Are Enough For Your Picnic Meal Already
True to their category, these picnic side dishes are super easy to make. Not to mention, they are tasty no matter if you reheat them or serve them completely cold.
Savory Dishes For Meat Lovers
- Chicken Waldorf Salad
- Chicken Tenders
- Jalapeno Poppers
- Cuban Sliders
Savory Dishes For Vegetarians
- Tomato Cucumber Salad
- Cornbread Salad
- Texas Caviar
- Pico De Gallo (Fresh Tomato Salsa)
- Beet Hummus
- Cherry Tomato Tulips
- Avocado Deviled Eggs
- Green Bean Tempura
- Zucchini Fritters
- Fried Okra
- Cheese Stuffed Baby Peppers
- Grilled Asparagus
- Elote (Mexican Street Corn)
- Cauliflower Nuggets
- Pan Con Tomate (Spanish Tomato Bread)
- Fire Crackers
- Pimento Cheese
- Ambrosia Salad
- Strawberry Pretzel Salad
- Watermelon Salsa
- Strawberry Butter
- Fruit Tarts
- Strawberry Slush
Are you ready for your dream-like picnic side dishes?
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These Savory Side Dishes Will Liven Up Your Picnic Meal
No matter how delicious these sweet recipes are, there should always be some savory side dishes to balance the flavor. And if you are tired of all those regular ones, my ideas will surprise you for sure!
You Want Some Meat? These Side Dishes Are Just What You’re Looking For!
Though I tend to leave the meat to the main course, I understand that sometimes you just crave a table full of meat, no matter if it’s a main dish or a side dish. So, here are four side dishes that’ll make your meat dream come true!
People will never get tired of salads for their side dishes. So this time, I’ll use a classic Waldorf salad and twist things up for a bit with chicken.
Classic Waldorf salad contains fresh apples, celery, walnuts, and grapes. All are mixed with mayonnaise, then served with lettuce.
As for the chicken, feel free to buy a rotisserie or a canned one. You can even make use of your leftover chicken from the last dinner.
This chicken waldorf salad is one of the best salads I’ve ever tasted! Check out this video to know:
Why bother buying those ready-made fast food when you can make them yourself? Let’s talk about the main ingredient first. The best choice would be the pre-cut tenderloin from chicken breast. But if you can’t find them, slice your chicken breast into strips and use them instead.
Then, all that’s left is coating them with breadcrumbs and deep-frying them. Baking is also a fantastic option, especially when you want to keep these chicken tenders as healthy as possible.
Just like stuffed baby peppers, these poppers make a great side dish with all the cheese and spices stuffed into jalapeno peppers. Sometimes, ground meat or diced bacon are added to the filling. And these peppers often come with bacon wrapping around them.
However, some don’t like the idea of having bacon around jalapeno peppers much since they can be messy after baking. Also, instead of baking, you can coat these poppers with bread crumbs and deep-fry them.
Cuban sandwiches with all the ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and salami are a perfect recipe for your picnic meal. However, if you want to serve them as a side dish, use Hawaiian sweet rolls to make Cuban sliders.
The rest of the ingredients stay the same, but with this replacement, all portions are small, thus more suitable for a side dish. And what’s better is that these sliders still taste delicious even when served cold.
You can make these Cuban sliders in just a few minutes! Check out this video to know:
Here Are 17 Luscious Side Dishes For Vegetarians
Let me guess: You’re thinking about salads, are you? I don’t deny that salads are my favorite side dishes, but vegetarian foods mean much more than that. So let’s find out now!
Hardly any salad can beat this tomato cucumber salad in terms of freshness. Simple as its name, this salad contains just ripe tomatoes and sliced cucumbers mixed together. If you want some saltiness, feel free to add various chunks of feta cheese to it.
For this recipe, I tend to use small, bite-sized tomatoes like cherry ones. But you can pick ones with larger sizes and cut them into small pieces. This salad tastes the best when served cold, so you should make it the night before and refrigerate it.
Bring spring to your meal with this tomato cucumber salad! Check out this video to know:
This cornbread salad is a sight to behold itself. With all the pretty layers, it looks like you take hours to make this dish when you actually don’t. You just need to chop some tomatoes, bell pepper, red onions and place them with other ingredients. That’s it!
There are no fixed recipes for this salad. You can use whatever you want or it is in season. But that’s the fun of making a salad, right? While cornbread salad looks beautiful all layered perfectly, it tastes the best when mixing them together.
Also known as cowboy caviar, this salad is a traditional dish on New Year’s Eve in Texas. No one knows why it has that role, but that might be the reason why it’s named caviar, a high-priced appetizer.
Another explanation for that name is that all ingredients are chopped to the same size as the caviar. All in all, despite its fancy name, this is a rustic salad suitable for your BBQ party. Or you can enjoy it as a dip for tortilla chips or toasted pita bread.
If you want a bit more freshness in your picnic meal, make some pico de gallo to complement your main course. While many people mistake it for a salad, this is indeed a salsa, a Mexican sauce used with tacos and burritos.
Classic pico de gallo often includes different ingredients, among which you mustn’t forget Mexican green peppers and lime juice. But as time passes, people start making more variants of this dish by adding chili powder or seasonal fruits.
I believe this is one of the most authentic pico de gallo recipes. You can see this video to know:
While they have a stunning color, beets tend to turn people off with their earthy flavor. However, all beet non-lovers out there, here is a chance for you to change your mind with this hummus version.
While still retaining the beet’s earthy taste subtly, this hummus also has sweetness from chickpeas and sesame paste. Pair it with roasted beef, and you’ll have an elegant and delicious dish.
This dish looks like a beautiful tulip bouquet. It often takes lots of my courage to start eating these tulips because they are just so pretty. Sometimes, I even want to preserve them in my flower vase, which is totally impossible.
Despite its gorgeous appearance, this dish is not so hard to make. Just fill your cherry tomatoes with your favorite cheese and cream cheese. Then, poke a hole at these tomatoes’ base with a wooden skewer and insert chives into their holes. There are your tulips!
If you want to make some twists to your regular deviled eggs, try adding avocado to the mixture. The richness of avocado perfectly complements this simple egg dish and brings it to a new high.
As for the seasoning, just keep it to the standard one with salt, pepper, and paprika. This is an ideal side dish for a spring or summer picnic meal. Everyone can enjoy these eggs with a cup of lime juice.
Do you know Japanese restaurants often serve vegetable tempura as a side dish? You can copy their way and make green bean tempura for your family picnic.
Frying tempura is the art of controlling hot and cold: You need oil boiling at high temperature and a cold batter. As for the batter, the Japanese tend to keep it cold by adding some ice or putting the batter bowl inside a larger bowl with ice cubes in it.
And after coating your green beans with batter, quickly deep-fry them in the piping hot oil.
If Japanese people have their tempura, Western cuisine creates infamous fritters with different meat, seafood, fruits, or vegetables. And these zucchini fritters make a perfect side dish with baked chicken and steaks.
It’s no challenge making these fritters. Just grate zucchinis and mix them with eggs and flour. Then, fry them like pancakes. However, make sure to squeeze every last drop of zucchini liquid. Or else, your fritters will turn soggy on the inside.
With this recipe, you’ll want to make zucchini fritters right away!
These fried okra are like vegetarian popcorn to me. I know this comparison sounds strange, but its crunchiness just reminds my mind of that snack. If you don’t like okra’s slimy texture after cooking, you sure will love this one since the old texture is long gone.
Some people like to keep these okras whole, but I always cut them into bite-sized pieces, well, to make them more similar to popcorn. This dish goes best with any Southern recipe, so you can make yourself an entire Southern party with it.
If stuffed bell peppers are perfect for a light dinner meal, then these baby ones are just what you’re looking for as a picnic side dish.
You may wonder why baby peppers? . It’s because this recipe doesn’t require baking. Thus, bell peppers, which have a more robust flavor, are not suitable for it. Not to mention, this way, all the nutrients in peppers remain.
For the filling, aside from the cream cheese, you can add bacon, shredded cheese, or Greek yogurt for more flavors.
These cheese stuffed baby peppers seem easy but do you know these tips?
If you intend to have a BBQ party at your family picnic, don’t forget to make grilled asparagus to go with it.
For this dish, you don’t need to worry too much about the seasoning part. Just some salt and pepper is enough. And finish it with some sprinkled parmesan cheese or a squeeze of lemon juice.
Don’t worry if you make too many. You can save the leftovers for your sandwiches, frittatas, or salads.
Originating in Mexico, elote is famous street food for its salty and sweet flavor, especially when it has just been taken off the grill. Those corn ears are often bathed in a cheese sauce made of queso fresco and cotija cheese with a Mexican spice mix called Tajin seasoning.
If you can’t find these two cheese types, you can replace them with other cheese with a similar crumble, tangy texture like feta cheese. After grilling, you can eat elote as it is or mix them with scrambled eggs or into some salads.
This Mexican street corn will knock everyone down with its flavor! Let’s see this video:
Fast-food chicken nuggets start losing their place in my house after I make this cauliflower version. This has a crispy exterior and is soft on the outside, just what you expect from a nugget dish. And it’s also packed with all the nutrients.
Not to mention, these cauliflower nuggets are pretty easy to make. You just need to coat your vegetable with panko crumbs and various seasonings like salt, pepper, and paprika. Then, you can bake or fry them until golden brown.
Have some extra Mediterranean flavor in your picnic meal with this tomato bread. While you may not be used to this dish now, it’s not a complex dish at all. Just some toasted bread topped with tomatoes, olive oil, and salt.
Humble as it is, this recipe has all you need for a summer side dish: Crunchy bread, fresh ripe tomatoes, and saltiness. If you want it more satisfying, feel free to add cheese, ham, or sausages.
What’s better than learning how to make this pan con tomate with a Spanish chef? Let’s see this video:
These firecrackers can even set fire to your party! Just kidding! But they are actually so delicious that people may fight over for the last few bites. And guess what? They are made from your regular saltine crackers.
Yes, with only some seasonings and red pepper flakes, you have transformed your saltines into a mouthwatering side dish to use with any soup or stew. You can bake them for more crispness or just dress the spices over the crackers.
Coming from South America, pimento cheese is considered “the caviar of the South.” That speaks to how delicious this spread is. Original recipes are really simple with just a few ingredients, like sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and pimentos.
However, as time passes, this dish gets polished into numerous variants. Some even say each Southern cook has their own recipe.
No matter what version, this pimento cheese makes an excellent dip for bread, crackers, and vegetables. You can also serve it with grilled burgers.
Your Picnic Side Dishes Can Be Sweet! Can You Believe It?
When it comes to sweets, most people would think of desserts and snacks. But not many would say side dishes, right? However, these recipes are exactly what you expect of sweet side dishes.
In Greek legend, ambrosia was the food granting immortality to the gods. While this salad can’t make you stop aging, it’s still delicious enough for you to feel like a god.
Combining pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges, marshmallows, and coconut, ambrosia salad is a perfect recipe for those with a sweet tooth.
You can consider adding nuts to this dish for extra crunchiness. And if you want to make it in winter, when fresh fruits are hard to find, feel free to replace them with canned ones.
I didn’t believe this was a salad the first time I saw it. It looks more like a lovely dessert with a pretzel crust, cream cheese in the center, and strawberry jello with fresh strawberries on top. And it does taste sweet, with a mix of saltiness just enough to be a side dish.
Also, the crunchy crust and soft, spongy jelly part make an exciting texture for those who try it for the first time. And of course, besides a side dish, you can serve it as a dessert as well. I’ve tried it, and no one complained about anything!
No one can beat you with this strawberry pretzel salad! Check out this video to know:
Summer comes, and that means it’s time to dive yourself into the plump, ripe, and fresh watermelon. Nothing excites me more than a huge bite into the juicy watermelon flesh. And now I can even enjoy this fruit right in my meal with this salsa version.
Diced watermelon and cucumber combine with chopped red onion, minced jalapeno pepper, and fresh mint, making a sweet salsa. This recipe only needs a light dressing with honey, lime zest, and lime juice to go with grilled white fish or chicken.
A little sweet is always the best combination with savory foods. And this strawberry butter is your typical butter but on a different level.
Made by blending strawberries with butter, this spread retains the butter’s richness and creaminess but tastes sweeter and more refreshing, thanks to the fruits. Not to mention, it’s so lovely to look at, whether in a jar or spread on bread, muffins, scones, or other pastries.
This sweet and sour strawberry butter is an exciting element for your picnic. Check out this video to know:
Fruit tarts are no longer a strange dish to sweet lovers. Simply put, this sweet treat contains a pastry base topped with vanilla cream and sliced fruits. Traditional tarts require all fruits placed in a concentric concept. But today, it’s only a choice among thousands.
You can make your own fruit combination, like mangoes, bananas, berries, kiwis, and many more. Just stay away from those that will change color after baking, like apples, pears, or peaches.
On a summer day, when enjoying a picnic meal with your family or your friends, you can feel thirsty out of nowhere. And at that time, what could be a better hero than this strawberry slush? Traditionally made of flavored ice and a drink, this drink can soothe your throat in an instant.
And making a picnic version of slush is easy. Just blend the ice cubes, strawberries, sugar, and other ingredients like lemon juice, vodka in a blender. And that’s it. You can garnish it with some strawberries or lemons for an artistic appearance.
Have You Made Up Your Mind?
Knowing all these fantastic side dishes at once may confuse you a bit. But don’t worry, you don’t have to try making them all for your next picnic. Just pick some recipes you are the most comfortable with and save the rest for later tries.
Also, you can share this article with your mates so that they can give you a hand. It’s better and more fun to cook with your loved ones, right? And if you have other ideas for picnic side dishes, feel free to write them down in the comment section below.