Our best picnic food ideas cover the gamut of picnic staples, including picnic dips, crackers, breads, frittatas, salads, fried and roast chicken. We’ve also got homemade condiments and pickles, easy picnic ideas such as soups, finger food and savoury pastries, along with Southeast Asian style spring rolls, Vietnamese banh mi, and pies and sausage rolls with a twist.

I have to confess that there are few things I love more than a picnic in a park by the water with dear friends. We enjoyed picnics so regularly when we were young and lived in Sydney they were almost a ritual. We don’t picnic nearly enough these days and yet I’ve certainly upped my picnic game.

When we were young we’d buy rotisserie chickens from the nearest take-away, make a salad or two, hit a deli or supermarket for dips and cold cuts, and the bakery for a few baguettes. Our picnics were more about catching up with friends rather than eating good food. But they can be both.

Given the chance these days, I’d happily spend a day cooking up a storm for a spring picnic or autumn or fall picnic, and below are some of the things I’d make. Good food for people who love food. These are my best picnic food ideas for picnic lovers who are also food lovers. I’d love to know what you think.

 

When it comes to keeping your picnic food and drinks cold, this Coleman portable cooler is the best and it’s massive. I’m also a big fan of these picnic backpacks which come with silverware, wine glasses, napkins, plates, bottle opener, salt and pepper shakers, an insulated section to keep stuff cool, and a detachable wine cooler and picnic blanket.

This picnic backpack also has a bread board and cheese knife, and an extra wine holder instead of a picnic blanket. In that case, I recommend this smart striped picnic blanket, which can easily fit 4-6 people and is made of soft acrylic so it’s comfy and cleans easily.

If you prefer romantic picnics for two, then this mini picnic bag has two stemless, non-breakable wine glasses, bottle stopper, corkscrew, and – most impressive of all – a cute portable, acacia wood table with folding legs. Now before you scroll down to my best picnic food ideas, I have a favour to ask. 

 

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You can also support our work by using links on the site to book accommodation, rent a caror hire a motorhome or campervan,purchase travel insurance, or book a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide; shopping our Grantourismo online store (we have fun gifts for foodies designed with Terence’s images); or buying something on Amazon, such as these award-winning cookbooks, cookbooks by Australian chefs, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, cookbooks for culinary travellers, travel books to inspire wanderlust, and gifts for Asian food lovers. Now let me tell you about my best picnic food ideas.

Best Picnic Food Ideas from Frittatas and Fried Chicken to Chilled Soups and Spring Rolls

Picnic Dips and Relishes

Homemade Traditional Hummus

This easy authentic hummus recipe makes a homemade traditional creamy hummus that a Lebanese friend taught Terence when we lived in Abu Dhabi in the late Nineties. We make this classic hummus recipe whenever we have cravings for Arabic food or are missing the Middle East. If you have a can of chick peas in the cupboard, hummus is one of the best picnic food ideas. So easy to make and so delicious.

 

Sichuan-Inspired Eggplant Dip

This delicious eggplant dip recipe takes a classic Sichuanese braised eggplant dish and transforms it into an amazing dip to serve as a starter before settling down to a full Sichuanese feast or to snack on with our spicy Sichuan flavoured sourdough crackers (below), which were literally made for this dip.

 

Russian Eggplant Caviar Called Ikra

Our easy Russian eggplant caviar recipe makes ikra, known as the ‘poor man’s caviar’ during the Soviet period. This is a deliciously-rich version of this traditional Russian dip, spread or side dish that’s somewhere in between the ikra my baboushka made that was sumptuous and velvety and the ikra popularised during the Soviet era that more closely resembled a diced salad. It can be made a couple of days ahead and eaten with baguette slices, it’s another of our best picnic food ideas. 

 

Authentic Mexican Guacamole

This authentic Mexican guacamole recipe makes a genuine Mexican guacamole that’s made table-side at good restaurants in Mexico. It’s all about the creamy luscious texture, bright green colour and full flavour of perfectly ripe avocados. Make it just before you leave home. Serve with homemade tortilla chips or store-bought corn chips for one of the easiest and best picnic food ideas.

 

Easy Mexican Tomato Salsa

This easy red tomato salsa recipe makes a spicy Mexican salsa that we’ve been perfecting since we returned from our first big trip to Mexico and the USA way back when we first began travelling. Like the guacamole, it’s perfect for tortilla chips or corn chips.

 

Chilli Con Carne Dip

While this chilli con carne recipe makes a good old bowl of chilli for those who like their chilli hot and smoky, this chilli con carne is also terrific eaten cold as a dip with homemade tortilla chips or corn chips. You’ll need to put this on the stove the the day before your picnic, as it takes a few hours, but not a lot of work, to make, and is another of our best picnic food ideas.

 

Cambodian Coconut Minced Pork Dip

Cambodia’s delicious prahok k’tis dip is eaten with a combination of crunchy raw vegetables and blanched or steamed vegetables. If you’re not a fan of funky flavours like fish sauce and shrimp paste, you might want to leave the prahok (fermented fish) out. If you do want to try the prahok, head to your nearest Asian supermarket. If using this ingredient for the first time, perhaps reduce the amount of prahok.

 

Cambodian Pork Coconut and Peanut Dip with Crispy Rice Cakes

This recipe for natang makes a Cambodian dip of minced pork, coconut cream and peanuts that’s made to be eaten with homemade crispy rice cakes, which in turn are intended to use up the rice that sticks to the bottom of a pot or any leftover rice, however, you can use store-bought rice cakes. Similar dips are found in Cambodia and Thailand and they are easily another of the best picnic food ideas for those of you who want to serve something a little different.

 

Thai Rice Cakes with Chilli Prawn and Pork Dip

This Thai khao tang na tang rice cakes with chilli prawn and pork dip recipe makes a popular Thai dish of homemade crispy rice crackers used to scoop up this creamy, slightly sweet, a little salty, and gently-spiced dip. A cousin of the Cambodian dip, above, served with rice crackers, these are another fantastic picnic idea.

 

Thai Nam Prik Ong

This Thai nam prik ong recipe makes a spicy pork and tomato dip from Northern Thailand. Served with fresh or steamed vegetables or sticky rice, which you dip into the bowl, nam prik ong is the most approachable of the Thai relishes and dips, not being as pungent or fiery as some.

 

Thai Nam Prik Num

This Thai nam prik num recipe makes a smoky green chilli dip that’s one of the best known Northern Thai specialties – so much so that it’s often called Chiang Mai chilli relish. Made from local chillies, it’s grilled on a barbecue with garlic and shallots and typically served with crunchy pork crackling and sticky rice.

 

Picnic Crackers and Bread

Sourdough Crackers

This sourdough starter discard crackers recipe makes a crispy cracker that’s a little salty, a tad spicy, a tiny bit tangy, and utterly addictive, and it’s another of our best picnic food ideas. Triangular in shape, they’re perfect for scooping up dips and they’re probably the easiest crackers you’ll ever make, so should inspire you to test out more sourdough starter discard recipes.

 

Spicy Sichuan Inspired Sourdough Crackers

This spicy Sichuan sourdough crackers recipe made with sourdough starter discard and Sichuan peppers makes a cracker that’s delightfully hot and numbing and incredibly moreish. Roughly shaped like a homemade corn chip, these crackers are perfect for eggplant dips such as baba ghanouj and mutabal, as well as hummus or muhammara.

 

Homemade Sourdough Bread Loaf

There are few things better in life than a homemade sourdough bread loaf, still warm from the oven, and there’s nothing like sharing a loaf or two with friends. This simple sourdough bread recipe is essentially a beginner’s guide to baking sourdough bread. If you don’t have a sourdough starter ready to bake, you’ll also find a simple sourdough starter recipe in the post.

 

Simple Sourdough Batard for the Baguette’s Lesser Known Cousin

This simple sourdough batard recipe makes the French baguette’s lesser known cousin, the bâtard. This oval-shaped loaf is not as long or as narrow as a baguette but it’s longer than a round sourdough boule and is therefore infinitely more practical for making sandwiches with less bread going to waste.

 

Olive Sourdough Bread with Rosemary, Thyme and Sweet Red Capsicum

This olive sourdough bread recipe with Kalamáta olives, rosemary, thyme, and sweet fire-roasted capsicum makes a deliciously moist sourdough bread that is fantastic for sandwiches or toasted and spread with toppings such as ’nduja or just dipped into virgin olive oil and sea salt, and it’s another of our best picnic food ideas. Bake a few loaves if you can and everybody will be very happy.

 

Picnic Condiments

There’s nothing like a quality mayo, sauce or relish to brighten a filled baguette, sandwich or burger or dip a sausage roll or spring roll into and it’s hard to be a homemade Sriracha or chilli sauce.

Sriracha Sauce Recipe

This authentic homemade Sriracha sauce recipe makes the real thing – the Thai hot sauce that tastes just like it does in its place of origin, the coastal city of Sri Racha, Thailand. This spicy sauce is far simpler to make than you might imagine and you can tailor it to suit your own taste!

 

Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce

This homemade Thai sweet chilli sauce recipe makes the most balanced sweet Thai chilli sauce you’ll taste. While most sweet chilli sauces are sickly sweet and are stingy on the chillies – and any chilli heat – this sauce is chilli-rich, not overly hot, and has a great balance between sweet and acidic. You won’t buy a sweet chilli sauce from the supermarket again.

 

Picnic Pickles

Pickles are another of our best picnic ideas. Few things brighten a dish more than a scoop of pickles on the side or pickles plopped onto a num pang or banh mi. Transfer your pickles to plastic containers the night before your picnic and keep them in the fridge until you’re about to leave.

Mexican Quick Pickled Pink Onions

This easy, Mexican quick pickled onions recipe makes a zingy refrigerator pickle in the style of Mexico’s Yucatan pink onion pickles. These delightfully zesty refrigerator pickles are the perfect topping for tacos, a bright filling for burgers or a tangy accompaniment to sandwiches and filled baguettes, and they are another of our best picnic food ideas. They’re also very versatile: use red onions or purple shallots and adapt the seasoning to your taste.

 

Quick Pickled Red Cabbage Recipe

This easy quick pickled red cabbage recipe makes piquant purple pickles to pep up any meal – especially a picnic! Whether you use this red cabbage quick pickle as a side, garnish or condiment, like the pickled onions, it’s also very versatile and you can easily adapt the flavour to your palate.

 

Finger Food and Hand Pies

It’s hard to beat finger food and hand pies for picnics. They transport well and no cutlery needed to wash up afterwards. Just don’t forget the hand sanitiser, napkins and ‘Wet Ones’.

Thai Miang Kham

This Thai miang kham recipe makes the bite-sized wraps that are Thailand in a mouthful, an explosion of quintessential Southeast Asian flavours – sour lime, zingy ginger, crunchy peanuts, crispy shallots, smoky roasted coconut, savoury dried prawns, a kick of chilli, and a sweet yet funky caramelised sauce – wrapped in a wild piper or wild betel leaf. While you could make these ahead, it’s much more fun to transport the components and let people assemble their own miang kham.

 

Cambodian Pomelo Salad with Prawns

This Cambodian pomelo salad with prawns recipe makes a traditional dish that we’ve presented here in a more contemporary style as finger food. You could do this for a picnic also, transporting them in a plastic container or you could make a more traditional tossed salad. The pomelo is the largest citrus fruit here in Cambodia and is native to Southeast Asia. Similar to grapefruit, it’s less sour and firmer.

 

Russian Devilled Eggs

My Russian devilled eggs recipe makes very moreish Russian stuffed eggs with a creamy filling of the yolks of hard-boiled eggs mashed with mayonnaise, mustard, paprika, dill pickles, purple shallots, and perfumed dill. They may have been a feature on the zakuski buffets before the elaborate banquets of Russian emperors but they’ll travel well in a plastic container to your picnic.

 

Blini with Smoked Salmon, Dill and Sour Cream

This Russian buckwheat pancakes recipe makes blini with smoked salmon, dill, sour cream, and a ‘caviar’ of gherkin and radish. These are cocktail size blini that are perfect for snacking and entertaining, and while this is a savoury topping you could also spread these little pancakes with jam and cream. For picnics, we recommend transporting the components in separate containers and assembling on the picnic blanket.

 

Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This spicy chicken lettuce wraps recipe makes a Southeast Asian take on the Chinese lettuce cups from Southern China and Hong Kong, popularised in Chinese-Australian restaurants. Our minced chicken lettuce cups take inspiration from northern Southeast Asia, from both savoury larbs (minced meat salads) and the local custom of wrapping street food snacks in lettuce. This is perfect picnic food and another of our best picnic food ideas.

 

Thai Corn Fritters

Our Thai corn fritters recipe makes tod man khao pod in Thai – crunchy, chewy corn fritters that we gently spice with a little chilli paste. Eaten as a snack in Thailand and neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, you could serve these Thai corn fritters as finger food or as an appetiser. They’re fantastic dipped into our homemade Thai sweet chilli sauce.

 

Traditional Scotch Eggs with a Thai Twist

This traditional Scotch eggs recipe for the classic British picnic snack has a Thai-influenced twist inspired by the Thai stir-fry favourite, pad kra pao or pad gaprao. Scotch eggs are traditionally made with a boiled egg wrapped in seasoned sausage meat, which is crumbed and deep-fried. Here, Terence has given the minced pork a pad kra pao flavour. These are a perfect picnic basket filler.

 

Russian Piroshki Minced Meat-Filled Hand Pies

This Russian piroshki recipe makes perfect savoury minced meat-filled pastries, also known as Russian hand pies. Eaten as a snack or with borscht, my baboushka also served piroshki as one of an array of Russian dishes for family gatherings. While we preferred deep-fried piroshki, these can also be baked. They’re another of our best picnic food ideas because they taste even better the next day.

 

Chili Con Carne and Cheese Quesadillas

Like cold pizza, these chilli con carne and cheese quesadillas taste just as delicious cold or even luke warm, if you keep them warm until you’re ready to eat. And they’re super easy to make after you’ve done all the hard work preparing the chilli con carne and our red tomato salsa recipe (recipes for both above).

 

Spring Rolls – Fresh and Fried

Vietnamese Fresh Prawn and Pork Spring Rolls

This Vietnamese fresh prawn and pork spring rolls recipe is a classic recipe for traditional gỏi cuốn – which is a cold spring roll of cold cooked prawns, unseasoned pork belly, cold vermicelli noodles, and fresh aromatic herbs, wrapped in damp dry rice paper sheets. They’re light, zingy and refreshing and are perfect for picnics.

 

Vietnamese Fresh Rice Noodle Rolls

This Vietnamese fresh rice noodle rolls recipe makes Hanoi style phở cuốn. These filling rolls can be eaten as appetisers before a main or served alongside other Vietnamese dishes sharing-style or family-style as we eat here in Southeast Asia, and they also make fantastic picnic basket snacks. Making the Vietnamese fresh rice noodle sheets or wraps isn’t all that hard to do once you get the hang of it. See this recipe for making the fresh rice noodle sheets, which we learnt in Vietnam.

 

Vietnamese Pineapple Omelette and Prawn Summer Rolls

This Vietnamese pineapple omelette and prawn summer rolls recipe makes the fresh spring rolls found in tropical Southern Vietnam, the Mekong Delta and Southern Cambodia that can be served as a healthy snack, light appetiser, part of a shared family-style meal or as finger food for a Southeast Asian feast, barbecue or picnic.

 

Cambodian Fried Spring Rolls

This classic Cambodian fried spring rolls recipe makes a crunchy deep-fried egg roll filled with minced pork, dried shrimp, carrot, garlic, and daikon radish or taro, seasoned with fish sauce, Kampot pepper, sea salt, and palm sugar. We also have a Cambodian fried spring roll dipping sauce recipe to go with it, below.

 

Cambodian Fried Spring Roll Dipping Sauce

This Cambodian fried spring roll dipping sauce recipe makes the quintessential condiment for the classic Cambodian fried spring rolls with pork and shrimp called teuk trei pa’em in Khmer. This sweet fish sauce-based dipping sauce is made with fish sauce, vinegar, palm sugar, shallots, garlic and carrot and it is an absolute cinch to make. It travels well in a plastic container or glass jar.

 

Vietnamese Deep Fried Spring Rolls

Our Vietnamese deep fried spring rolls recipe for nem ran as they’re known in Hanoi and Northern Vietnam is a classic and it’s easy to make. Crunchy and chewy with a bubbly surface, these Hanoi-style fried spring rolls are eaten with bun cha or wrapped in lettuce and fresh herbs.

 

Picnic Sandwiches and Filled Baguettes

Traditional picnic basket fillers have long included picnic sandwiches, but don’t limit yourself to bread, pack baguettes. Up your picnic game by packing Cambodian and Vietnamese baguette sandwiches – num pang and banh mi respectively – along with plenty of fruit. This is not only one of our best picnic food ideas, but one of our easiest picnic ideas. How hard is it to butter and fill a baguette when you have recipes?

Cambodian Num Pang with Meatballs

Num pang is Cambodia’s less-famous but equally delicious cousin to Vietnam’s bánh mì and is a popular Cambodian street food snack. French-style baguettes are filled with all sorts of deliciousness. In this case, it’s juicy fragrant pork meatballs, a quick pickle of carrot and daikon, salad, and fresh herbs. You’ll need our juicy pork meatballs recipe for the key ingredient of your filling.

 

Cambodian Pork Meatballs for Wraps, Rolls and Sandwiches

This Cambodian pork meatballs recipe makes a juicy meatball that’s flavourful and fragrant from some of the quintessential Cambodian ingredients used in a Khmer kroeung or herb and spice paste: shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and kaffir lime. Small in size, they’re perfect for wraps and rolls, soups, salads, and sandwiches, in the form of num pang, Cambodia’s baguette.

 

Cambodian Num Pang Pâté

Our num pang pâté recipe makes a baguette filled with a thick spread of rustic French country-style pâté, generous layers of cold cuts, crunchy cucumber, fresh aromatic herbs, and creamy French mayonnaise (our favourite store-bought mayo here if we’re not making our own). If you want to make your own French pâté or terrine, then we highly recommend reading Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s excellent book Charcuterie, The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.

 

Cambodian Num Pang Barang with Turkey Leftovers

Our Cambodian num pang recipe makes what I have called num pang barang – ‘barang’ means ‘foreigner’ in Khmer. Cambodia’s num pang is similar to Vietnamese banh mi — a Vietnamese sandwich or technically a baguette packed with pork, pate and salad. Our num pang barang makes use of turkey leftovers – whether it’s your thanksgiving turkey or Christmas turkey. Our’s was invented purely to use the remaining turkey leftovers from Neil Perry’s wonderful Butterflied roast turkey with stuffing recipe with Terence made one Christmas Eve.

 

Cambodian Vegetarian Num Pang with Herb Frittata

This Cambodian vegetarian num pang recipe makes a Cambodian baguette sandwich, slathered in mayonnaise and filled with a quick pickle of grated carrot and daikon, fresh crunchy salad ingredients, aromatic herbs such as coriander, mint and basil, slices of a fragrant herb frittata (recipe below), and a generous squirt of homemade chilli sauce.

 

Classic Vietnamese Bánh Mì

This classic Vietnamese bánh mì recipe comes straight from the source, Bánh Mì Phuong in Hoi An, Central Vietnam, where for three months we strolled around the corner for lunch a few times a week and watched this amazing Vietnamese style baguette get filled with porky delights, pâté and tart pickles. Phuong’s sister-in-law prepared the homemade pork liver pâté, however, you can use store-bought, and we have a recipe right here for you for char siu pork. Try to get hold of some Hoi An chilli sauce if you can.

 

Hoi An Style Bánh Mì with Omelette

This bánh mì ốp la recipe makes a Vietnamese baguette sandwich stuffed with an omelette, inspired by that of the legendary Madame Khanh in Hoi An, nicknamed the Bánh Mì Queen by our friend Neville Dean of the Last Great Taste of Hoi An street food tour. If we weren’t buying our bánh mì from Bánh Mì Phuong, we were buying them from the Queen. If you have a fair way to travel, then keep the omelettes in a separate container and add them to the baguettes when you arrive so they don’t go soggy.

 

Frittatas and Tortillas

Frittata with Chorizo and Caramelised Onions

This frittata recipe with chorizo and caramelised onions makes a fantastic picnic basket filler. Your guests can eat it on its own, with a salad, or with a crunchy baguette.

Spanish Tortilla de Cebolla

This tortilla de cebolla recipe makes the best Spanish potato omelette with onions, which, like the frittata above, is delicious eaten on its own or with a salad or in a baguette, and is another perfect dish for the picnic basket.

 

Mexican Migas Tortilla

This Mexican migas recipe with a twist makes a ‘Migas tortilla’ made with homemade crispy tortilla chips. In Mexico, migas is a scrambled eggs dish that uses up stale corn tortilla or wheat flour tortillas made into crispy tortilla chips. We created a migas tortilla inspired by the Spanish tortilla and, it’s fab for picnics.

 

Cambodian Herb Frittata

This Cambodian climbing wattle frittata recipe for pong moan chien saom – or sa’om or sa-om, which is climbing wattle – makes a popular Cambodian market snack that’s also cooked at home. Made with duck eggs (pong tia) or chicken eggs (pong moan), it’s typically translated into English as ‘climbing wattle cake’ though it’s definitely in the frittata family, it’s absolutely delicious (and will keep your vegetarian friends happy) and is perfect for the picnic basket.

 

Meat Pies and Sausage Rolls

Packing an assortment of homemade meat pies and sausage rolls in the picnic basket is another of our best picnic food ideas. Sausage rolls are super easy to make and pies aren’t that much harder, and it’s hard to be a homemade pie or sausage roll, especially if it’s an autumn or fall picnic.

Traditional Australian Sausage Roll

It’s hard to beat homemade traditional Aussie sausage rolls. These are adapted from a recipe by our friend Jane Lawson, from her wonderful nostalgic cookbook Milkbar Memories.

 

Homemade Sausage Rolls Recipe with Smoky Eggplant and Pork

This eggplant and pork sausage roll recipetakes its inspiration from a classic Cambodian dish of char-grilled eggplant and minced pork. It consists of char-grilled eggplant with a wonderful smoky flavour and minced pork that’s been stir-fried with fermented soybeans. The dish is typically found on the menus at traditional Cambodian restaurants such as The Sugar Palm, one of the best Cambodian restaurants in Siem Reap.

 

Curry Beef Pie Recipe Made With Cambodian Saraman Curry

This Cambodian-inspired curry beef pie recipe is filled with a Cambodian Saraman curry, the richest and most complex of Cambodian curries and one of the few that uses beef as the base protein in a country that loves its pork, chicken, fish, and seafood.

 

Curried Beef Sausage Rolls Recipe Made With Cambodian Saraman Curry

This homemade curried beef sausage roll is made with the same Cambodian Saraman curry, above, and the puff pastry of a normal sausage roll, but instead of the traditional sausage roll spices, we’ve used Cambodian Saraman curry paste to flavour the beef.

 

Homemade Chicken Curry Pie Recipe Made with Cambodian Chicken Curry

This chicken curry pie recipe uses the classic Cambodian chicken curry to make a flavourful spicy chicken pie. Unlike the classic curried chicken pie which uses curry powder to flavour the chicken filling, this recipe uses the classic Cambodian chicken curry with potatoes, long beans and Asian eggplants, which we’ve included to create a really hearty chicken pie.

 

Pepper Steak Pie Recipe for a Cambodian Beef Lok Lak Meat Pie

This pepper steak pie recipe makes a Cambodian beef lok lak meat pie inspired by one of Cambodia’s most popular street food-style dishes. This pepper steak pie recipe is authentic in essence, making a very traditional beef lok lak that’s been tweaked to serve as a hearty meat pie filling. While you could use any pepper, try to get your hands on Cambodia’s excellent Kampot Pepper, available online on Amazon for authentic Cambodian flavours.

 

Spicy Pork Mince Pie Recipe Made with Cambodian Prahok Ktis

Our spicy pork mince pie recipe made with Cambodian prahok k’tis (link under Picnic Dips and Relishes) is a marriage of Australian and Cambodian food made in heaven – an iconic Australian meat pie filled with Cambodia’s deliciously spicy dip of minced pork, coconut cream, pea eggplants, prahok(fermented fish paste), and yellow kroeung (a kroeung is a Cambodian herb and spice paste).

 

Fried Chicken and Roast Chicken

Southern Fried Chicken

This Southern fried chicken recipe by Belles Hot Chicken’s chef Morgan McGlone makes some of the best fried chicken in the spicy Nashville-style of chicken outside of the USA. Australian chef Morgy McGlone learnt to make it during his time in the South, where he immersed himself in learning how to make and perfect the South’s famous hot chicken. It’s fantastic warm or cold.

 

Best Burmese Fried Chicken

This Burmese fried chicken recipe makes the gently spiced fried chicken drumsticks, which are a popular street food snack in Myanmar. The finger-licking fried chicken pieces are sold at roadside stalls to take away or eat at plastic tables set up around the stall, we make these finger-licking fried chicken pieces at home and dip them into homemade sweet chilli sauce.

 

Roast Chicken with Aromatic Cambodian Herb Butter and Stuffing

Sure, you could pick up some rotisserie roast chickens from the takeway en route to the park, but our roast chicken recipe makes a fragrant, flavoursome and moist roast chicken thanks to a Cambodian inspired herb butter and a stuffing made with yellow kroeung, an aromatic Khmer herb and spice paste pounded from fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime zest, galangal, turmeric, garlic, and shallots. We recommend roasting your chook on the morning of your picnic or the day before and carving it before you pack it.

 

Picnic Soups

Picnic soups are one of my best picnic food ideas. I just adore them. Cold soups will keep you cool on a sultry day and are fantastic for summer and spring picnics while hot soups will warm everyone up on autumn and fall picnics. You can transport the hot soups to your picnic location in a large thermos flask or three packed into an insulated carry bag and keep your cold soups chilled on ice with your cold drinks. Don’t even think about bowls and spools. Pour the soups into picnic mugs.

Andalusian Style Gazpacho from Southern Spain

Our traditional Andalusian style gazpacho recipe from southern Spain makes a chilled vibrant orange gazpacho that tastes even better the next day, so you can make this a day before your picnic if you’re going all out and keep it in the fridge in a jug or bottle.

 

Mango Gazpacho Recipe for Gazpacho de Mango

This mango gazpacho recipe, called gazpacho de mango in Spain where it originates, comes from a family of chilled soups that are typically consumed on sizzling summer days. In fact, for most Spaniards and Catalans, gazpacho is a cold drink not a soup and has historically been served in a cup or glass rather than a bowl.

 

Chilled Pea, Cucumber and Mint Soup

This chilled pea and mint soup recipe makes an easy no-cook cold summer soup. Fresh, fragrant and cooling thanks to the cucumber, mint and basil, this healthy vegetarian soup can be transformed into a vegan soup if you skip the sour cream. Dilute the soup with water, puree it and you can drink it out of a glass. Peel the cucumbers and strain for a lighter, more refined soup and add coriander and dill.

 

Russian Okroshka Soup

Russians love their soups and there are soups for every season and occasion. Our Russian okroshka soup is made with kefir, potato, cucumber, and radish, and boiled eggs if you like. Fresh fragrant dill is essential, and scallions and mint make this soup for me.

 

Russian Cold Beetroot Soup

This Russian chilled beetroot soup recipe makes holodnik, which literally translates to ‘cold soup’. It’s sometimes called ‘summer borscht’, although that would actually be svekolnik, however, it does share a key ingredient in beetroot. Do as the Russians do and add a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle on even more fresh fragrant dill.

 

Sweet Corn Soup With Ginger, Turmeric and Chilli

This recipe for sweet corn soup with ginger, garlic, turmeric, and chilli oil was concocted by Terence and it’s a terrific cold weather soup that’s perfect for cool weather picnics in fall or autumn and winter. As it’s basically liquid, this can easily be poured into a large thermos of two.

 

Moroccan Chickpea Soup

This authentic Moroccan chickpea soup recipe is easily one of the best winter and autumn or fall soups. It’s a fantastic picnic soup, eaten with sourdough, but the chickpeas make it quite chunky, so it’s best transported in a container rather than a thermos.

 

Picnic Salads

Easy Cherry Tomato Salad

This easy cherry tomato salad recipe is the best tomato salad recipe for a taste of the Mediterranean. It’s super quick and easy to make. The key to making this salad taste great is fresh, flavourful produce and top quality ingredients: extra virgin olive oil from Valencia, capers from Pantelleria, Ortiz salted anchovies from Spain, the juiciest olives from Kalamata and so on.

 

Shan Tomato Salad

This Shan tomato salad recipe with shallots, sesame and coriander will make you a sweet tomato salad textured with crunchy purple onions, sesame seeds and crispy fried shallots and garlic, and fragrant fresh coriander. Mostly made with green tomatoes, it’s typically eaten as a refreshing accompaniment to rich curries but can also be enjoyed on a picnic with a roast chicken or Burmese fried chicken pieces.

 

Burmese Raw Cabbage Salad

This easy Burmese raw cabbage salad recipe makes a refreshing salad that is delightfully crunchy and slightly tangy. Mostly made with white cabbage, for colour we’ve used purple cabbage or red cabbage, which is incredibly healthy. This ‘Burmese coleslaw’ should definitely be packed in your picnic basket.

 

Yum Chee Fresh Herb Salad

This fresh herb salad recipe makes a big fragrant bowl of yum chee from chef Chalee Kader’s100 Mahasethrestaurant, a casual Isaan region-focused nose-to-tail eatery in Bangkok‘s hip Charenkroeung neighbourhood that is one of the Thai capital’s most sustainable restaurants. This East-West fusion of a salad is fantastic and refreshing and goes with anything.

 

Cambodian Green Papaya Salad

Our Cambodian green papaya salad recipe makes bok lahong or nhoam lahong, a fresh, aromatic, crunchy papaya salad that is a little funky, a little spicy, a little sour, a little salty, and a little sweet. When pounded in a mortar and pestleit’s called a ‘bok’, and when tossed, it’s a ‘nhoam’. It’s a well-balanced salad, and this is arguably what sets it apart from its bolder cousins in neighbouring countries.

 

Long Bean Salad with Smoked Fish

This Cambodian long bean salad with smoked fish recipe makes bok sondek trey cha-er and for me it’s the Cambodian equivalent of a European green salad. The inclusion of ‘bok’ in the title tells you that this is a pounded or partly-pounded salad and should be made in a big wooden mortar and pestle. If you’ve never used a mortar and pestle before, we have some tips.

 

Classic Russian Garden Salad

My classic Russian garden salad recipe makes a simple tossed green salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and onion that my baboushka served with every family meal when I was growing up in Sydney in the Seventies. The addition of fresh dill and pink radishes add fragrance and crunch, setting it apart from other classic European garden salads.

 

Russian Potato Salad

This Russian potato salad recipe for the Olivier Salad makes an old Russian salad that was popularised in the 20th century during the Soviet period, and would then go on to travel the world, becoming known as ensalada Rusa everywhere from Madrid to Mexico, Barcelona to Buenos Aires. The typical Soviet-era Russian potato salad ingredients list included potatoes, carrots, onion, peas, gherkins, and mayonnaise.

Russian Beet Potato Salad

This Russian beetroot potato salad recipe makes vinegret, a creamy pink potato and beetroot salad that is fragrant with dill and delightfully tangy, thanks to the gherkins and capers. Based on my baboushka’s recipe, it was a staple at family meals, holiday feasts, Sunday lunches. and spring and summer picnics. It can be a pale pink like the salad below or a deep dark ruby-pink in this photo. Fresh beetroots always result in a more vibrant colour than tinned beetroots.

 

Cambodian Pork Salad with Yam Beans

Our easy Cambodian pork salad recipe with yam beans is packed with aromatic Southeast Asian herbs and peanuts. It’s a light, refreshing dish with fragrance, texture, crunch, and spicy pork flavours. It’s made with yam beans or jicama, but you could use julienned green apple. It’s fantastic eaten on its own or part of a picnic feast.

 

Thai Som Tam

This classic Thai som tam recipe makes the popular Thai green papaya salad that you’ll eat on the streets of Bangkok. The spicy salad hails from Thailand’s northeastern Isaan region, but now you’ll find this street food favourite all over Thailand, and right across northern Southeast Asia. Use a good quality Thai fish sauce, such as Megachef. It’s a wet salad so it travels well, although for a bit of fun you could lug your mortar and pestle to the park and pound the salad there.

 

Thai Corn Salad

Our Thai corn salad recipe makes a simple tossed corn salad that’s inspired by a popular som tam style salad that’s pounded in a mortar and pestle. While we do love a good classic Thai som tam (recipe above), for us this salad works best as a tossed salad. For those nice char marks and smoky aroma, we do the corn cobs on a griddle pan or a stovetop Korean BBQ grill pan if we’re cooking inside or grill it over a traditional clay brazier if we’re cooking out.

 

Mexican Grilled Corn Salad

This Mexican grilled corn salad recipe makes a terrific salad for spring picnics or summer barbecues. You can serve it as a traditional tossed salad in a big bowl or you can serve it individually. See the next entry for our best picnic food ideas.

 

Mexican Street Corn in a Cup

Our Mexican street corn in a cup recipe for Mexico’s esquites or elote en vaso, which means ‘corn in a cup’, makes a Mexican street food snack or antojitos, meaning ‘little cravings’, that we became addicted to on our first trip to Mexico many years ago. It’s also super easy to make, especially if you have leftover corn on the cob and it’s fantastic for picnics as you can transport it as a salad and dish it up on the blanket.

 

Grilled Corn Salad With Lime, Chilli, Lemongrass Mayo and Sourdough Croutons

If you enjoyed the Mexican grilled corn salad, you will love my grilled corn salad with lime, chilli, lemongrass mayonnaise, and sourdough croutons, which is one of my all-time favourite salads and definitely one of our best picnic food ideas. Terence makes the croutons with the crunchy end of near-stale sourdough.

 

Classic Banana Flower Salad

This recipe for a banana flower salad – also called a banana blossom salad – makes the Cambodian banana flower salad called gnoam trayong chek in Khmer. It’s made with shredded poached chicken but you could make a vegetarian version. It’s super-easy, you just need to work fast when making it so your banana flower doesn’t brown. Store it in a sealed container and will be just fine.

 

Green Mango Salad and Smoked Fish

Our green mango salad with smoked fish recipe makes Cambodia’s nhoam svay trei chhae, an aromatic salad full of texture and flavour, thanks to the raw fruit and vegetables, crispy smoked fish, dried shrimp, crunchy peanuts, and a classic Cambodian dressing of fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, birds eye chillies, and palm sugar. It’s easily another of our best picnic food ideas.

 

Cambodian Pork Larb

Our Cambodian pork larb recipe makes laab sach chrouk, a stir-fried minced pork salad that’s combined with fresh fragrant herbs, infused with the delightfully funky flavour of fish sauce, dusted with toasted rice powder, and served with crunchy vegetables. We like to stir-fry our larbs in a round bottomed wok. The larb – or larp, laab, laap, lab, and lap – is found right across Southeast Asia but likely originated in Cambodia.

 

Thai Chicken Larb for Larb Gai

This Thai larb gai recipe makes a classic spicy minced chicken salad from Thailand that is super easy to cook, comes together in minutes, and is very versatile. Adapted from chef David Thompson’s chicken larb recipe from his Thai Street Food cookbook, this is a gently-spiced ground chicken salad, however, you can easily heat things up with more chilli flakes which you can take along in a shaker. Make sure to sprinkle on some toasted rice powder or ground roasted rice called khao khua.

 

Cambodian Grilled Beef Salad

This Cambodian grilled beef salad recipe makes nhoam sach ko, a simple but refreshing salad made with lightly grilled marinated beef, infused with fresh fragrant herbs, in a classic Cambodian dressing of lime juice, fish sauce and garlic.

Cambodian Cucumber Salad

Our Cambodian cucumber salad recipe for nhoam trasak – also spelt gnoam trasak or gnoam tra-sakk – makes a fantastic filling salad. Keep your cucumbers refrigerated until you’re ready to use them, as thanks to their high water content, they’ll remain crunchy and cold for quite a while. Hence the expression “cool as a cucumber”. The addition of fried bacon, smoked dried fish and dried shrimp are what make this salad so filling.

We’d love to know what you think of our best picnic food ideas. Please do let us know in the comments below if you make any of these and we’d love to hear your ideas also.

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