12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers

12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers

Illustration for article titled 12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers
Photo: Allison Robicelli

The problem: Memorial Day weekend is nearly here, but you’re already sick of the standard coleslaw/hot dog/melon/dry chocolate chip cookie combo that everyone always brings to outdoor gatherings. The solution: our favorite picnic-friendly recipes, rounded up nice and tidy for the pickin’ (er, picnickin’). Dust off that red-checked blanket, load up your most charming wicker basket, and head to the nearest park, beach, backyard, or scenic rooftop. From zesty salads to unexpected sweet treats, these picnic recipes are anything but passé.

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Chex Mex

Chex Mex

Illustration for article titled 12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers
Photo: Kate Bernot

The appeal of Chex Mix is the combination of its seasoning and the array of textures, and this recipe for Tex-Mex-inspired “Chex Mex” nails both. Tostadas, pepitas, chile-limon chips, and chicharrones are mixed with traditional Corn and Wheat Chex cereal to provide a wide range of flavor and crunch. Bring a big bagful to your next gathering—just don’t crush it under any cold ones. Get the recipe here.

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Bottom of the Bag Granola

Bottom of the Bag Granola

Illustration for article titled 12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers
Photo: Stacey Ballis

Maybe you’re the type of person who nearly finishes off a bag of chips, then leaves behind a little tiny bit that hangs out in the bottom of the bag for weeks afterward. Or you find yourself with not quite a bowl’s worth of every type of breakfast cereal in the house. In those cases, make granola.You can granolafy almost anything. Since salty and sweet is such a boss combination, adding leftover snack bits and cereal pieces into your granola recipe makes for a delicious and unexpected version that’s great for sharing. Get the recipe here.

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Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

Pimento Cheese Sandwich sitting on green wrapper on the grass
Photo: Jamie Squire/ (Getty Images)

Eating a pimento cheese sandwich is an experience. When you take a bite of the soft, sugary bread combined with the creamy pimento cheese, it sticks to the roof of your mouth much like a PB&J. It’s an eccentric, childlike, rambunctious little sandwich, and it’s a great cold option to tote to any picnic. Get the recipe here.

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Coronation Chicken Salad

Coronation Chicken Salad

Illustration for article titled 12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers
Photo: Kevin Pang

Class up your picnickery with Coronation Chicken, a curry chicken salad created in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s crowning in 1953 and originally served at her coronation luncheon. This variation on the classic boasts a vibrant curry flavor, tangy fruit undertones, thick creamy sauce, and tender chicken. It’s perfect for picnics because you don’t have to serve it right away—in fact, you’ll want to chill it for at least an hour to let all the flavors meld. Eat it on its own, on a sandwich, or over greens. Get the recipe here.

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Perfect Pasta Salad

Perfect Pasta Salad

Illustration for article titled 12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers
Photo: Danny Palumbo

Buckle up: this isn’t your grandma’s pasta salad. Or, who knows, maybe it is. This pasta salad recipe relies on Salad Supreme, a spice blend containing Romano cheese, paprika, poppy seed, celery seed, black pepper, red pepper, garlic, salt, and a number of other ingredients. Its paprika-laden dark orange hue coats noodles with tasty morsels of subtle spice, offering a summery flavor that pairs well with the outdoors. Get the recipe here.

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Ramen Noodle Salad

Ramen Noodle Salad

Illustration for article titled 12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers
Photo: Marnie Shure

Ramen Noodle Salad is strictly a backyard dish: a summertime salad that consists of cabbage, slivered almonds, sunflower nuts (aka sunflower seeds without the shell), mandarin oranges, and occasionally chicken, tossed in a tangy dressing of oil, vinegar, and a bit of sugar. A package of uncooked Top Ramen noodles is then crushed into crouton-sized crunchy bundles and tossed into the salad to soak up the vinaigrette. It’s a Midwestern classic for a reason. Get the recipe here.

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Garlicky Lemon Herb Macaroni Salad

Garlicky Lemon Herb Macaroni Salad

Illustration for article titled 12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Macaroni salad can be polarizing, especially among pasta purists who prefer to stay far away from mayo-covered noodles. But this spin on macaroni salad relies on curly parsley for punchy flavor, incredible texture, and enough zing to convert even the most fervent macaroni salad haters. It tastes more like a fresh burst of citrus than a mouthful of mayo, we promise. Get the recipe here.

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Salty Honey Butter Corn Muffins

Salty Honey Butter Corn Muffins

Illustration for article titled 12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Barbecue, hot dogs, burgers, salads—these fluffy honey butter corn muffins are the perfect match for every single dish at your next picnic. Plus, they’re easy: just put stuff in a bowl, mix, let it sit, then bake in muffin tins. No stand mixer. No fancy equipment. No non-regulation muffin cups. You can even make the batter the night before and then bake them up fresh in the morning for top-notch picnic fare. Get the recipe here.

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Taffy Grapes

Taffy Grapes

Illustration for article titled 12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers
Photo: Marnie Shure

Chicagoland loves its Taffy Grapes—grapes dipped in white chocolate and rolled in peanuts to imitate the flavors of a taffy apple—and the best thing about this ridiculously easy dessert is the fact that you make it in large quantities to feed a crowd. In 15 minutes (or less, if you have a partner to help you dip), you’ll have a snack stockpile that will hit the spot for even the hungriest picnic-goers. Get the recipe here.

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Potato Chip Cookies

Potato Chip Cookies

Illustration for article titled 12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers
Photo: Kate Bernot

People who have not ever had a Potato Chip Cookie tend to ask what exactly they taste like. In testing and tasting this recipe (featured in The Belt Cookie Table Cookbook, shared with permission from Belt Publishing), we determined that it’s sort of like the country cousin to a traditional wedding cookie, with a bit more texture (from the potato chips, of course) and in a more casual drop cookie format than rolled into a ball. It’s a savory-sweet, bite-size picnic dessert for every outdoor occasion. Get the recipe here.

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Rhubarb Cobbler

Rhubarb Cobbler

Illustration for article titled 12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Few baked goods are more forgiving than cobbler. You don’t need a mixer, it’s not supposed to be pretty, and it’s hard to mess up. It’s also the perfect vehicle for fresh summer produce, including mouth-puckering rhubarb. Sweet enough to stand alone if you don’t want to mess with ice cream, this cobbler can be served warm, room temp, or cold, and it’ll be delicious no matter what. Make sure to bring the cobbler to the barbecue pre-sliced for easy serving—you could even pack slices in individual containers for each reveler in attendance. Get the recipe here.

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Strawberry-Pretzel Salad

Strawberry-Pretzel Salad

Illustration for article titled 12 picnic foods to dazzle your fellow Memorial Day revelers
Photo: DarcyMaulsby (iStock by Getty Images)

The strawberry-pretzel salad has three specific layers: a crushed pretzel crust formed with butter and sugar, a filling of cream cheese and Cool Whip, and strawberries suspended in strawberry Jell-O on the top. The cheesecakey middle and hint of “healthiness” thanks to the summery fruit (either fresh or frozen) make for an extremely palatable mid-day snack, or something that will get destroyed within seconds at your next neighborhood potluck. Get the recipe here.

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