However, being on the beach is a little unusual. Not only will it often be very hot and sunny, but you also have the sand to contend with. To make the event work, you’re going to need to plan your beach picnic foods carefully.
You’re going to want food that’s easy to eat and that survives in the heat well. Having a variety of styles helps as well, including sweet, savory, salty, and creamy options.
Beyond all of this, you’ll probably want some interesting dishes, right? After all, picnic foods are often predictable and can easily get boring. Why not find some new options, ones that will get everyone excited?
Best Picnic Foods For The Beach
Breakfast burritos are the perfect way to get breakfast flavors any time of the day. Many versions can even be prepared ahead and brought with you on your picnic.
The burritos have plenty going for them. Not only do you have delicious flavors, but you can also customize the recipe to suit any flavor preferences.
So, if the traditional bacon and eggs style doesn’t appeal to you, why not experiment with something else? Avocados are always delicious and pair well with many other ingredients.
Mason Jar Salads
Have you tried building a salad in a mason jar? Doing so was all the rage for a while, partly because you can layer the ingredients so that your salad never goes soggy.
The jars are also perfect for picnicking, as you don’t need to deal with salad in a bowl. Instead, everyone gets their own jar to enjoy.
It’s also much easier to keep sand out of a mason jar than out of a bowl, so that’s a bonus.
While fried chicken certainly isn’t healthy, it is an amazing treat. It also provides you with a decent hit of protein, which helps to keep everyone satisfied. You could make a healthier version too, by baking your chicken rather than frying it.
Chicken drumsticks can be a particularly good choice, as they have their own handle. This means there are no utensils to worry about. Just be sure to bring some wet wipes to clean everyone up afterward.
One thing though – be very careful with the temperature of your chicken. Either buy it from a fast food store and eat it as soon as you get to the beach or prepare it ahead of time and keep it cold.
If you can’t do either of those things, then it may be safer to skip the chicken. Don’t worry, there are plenty of other tasty treats you can serve instead.
Pesto Pasta Salad
Pasta salads are another popular choice that can easily get boring. Why not mix things up a bit with a pesto pasta salad?
The pesto adds an entirely new dimension of flavor to your salad and brings the whole thing to life. You don’t need to stick with regular pesto either. There are many delicious ways to vary pesto, like changing the greens you use, choosing a different type of nut, or even dropping out the parmesan to create a vegan version.
The pictured salad keeps with the green theme by using asparagus, parsley, and green beans as other ingredients. That’s just one approach, though. You can easily use your own combination of flavors. The dish is certain to taste exceptional regardless.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
You’re going to need something sweet for your picnic too. Cookies are superb, as there are so many different types and they’re incredibly resilient. You don’t need to worry about keeping them cool either, as most types will survive outside of fridge for days (if not weeks!).
Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are a fun style to try. Not only are they popular and tasty, but you’re also getting plenty of benefits from the oats.
Now, we’re not saying that these cookies are healthy. They’re still a sweet treat to eat in moderation. But, they may just be healthier than many other options.
Brownies, Cupcakes, and Muffins
While we’re on the topic of sweet treats, what about brownies and muffins? These are softer than cookies, but they’re pretty resilient if you pack them well.
You can play around with the flavors too, like making pumpkin muffins, apple cinnamon muffins, bran muffins, or even carrot, apple, and ricotta muffins. You can even make savory ones, which tend to be healthier and more filling than the sweet versions.
Using icing and decorations can make your treats even more special. You’ll need to be cautious here though, as iced treats are less resilient and don’t do well in the heat. They’ll only be a good choice if you know they won’t get banged around too much.
Sliced Meat And Soft Cheese
Cold cut meat and soft cheese feature at most picnics, often as part of a charcuterie board. Adding some crackers, chutneys, and fruit to the board makes it even more interesting.
The idea is popular partly because it works so well. Guests also get the chance to mix and match flavors.
However, this is an addition you need to think carefully about.
One problem is the temperature. Soft cheese and meat can spoil and lead to food poisoning. That’s not an outcome anyone wants.
There’s also the sand. On a calm day, having various ingredients spread across your picnic blanket shouldn’t be a big deal. The approach won’t work so well if the wind has picked up.
Hearty Smoked Turkey Sandwiches
Sandwiches are one of the classic picnic go-tos. How could they not be? Not only are sandwiches delicious, but they also give you the chance to pack plenty of delicious and filling ingredients together.
Sandwiches are particularly good for a beach picnic, as you can completely prep them beforehand. There’s nothing to assemble when you’re on the beach, which decreases the chance of sand getting in your food.
However, there is an art to making picnic sandwiches. First, you need to make them attractive. Sandwiches are incredibly common for lunch, so they get boring fast.
To keep people engaged, your picnic sandwiches are going to need to be more exciting than normal. Smoked turkey sandwiches are a perfect example, especially if you make them on hearty bread with plenty of fresh vegetables. What about using ciabatta rolls? These always go down a treat.
You’ll need to pay attention to the layers too. Keep any moist ingredients near the middle of the sandwich, so that the bread doesn’t get soggy. And, if you’re going to use tomatoes, add them during the picnic itself.
Finally, don’t forget about food safety. Beach picnics get hot fast, so you’ll need a reliable cooler to keep your sandwiches at a suitable temperature. If this isn’t feasible, then you might need to make a vegetable-based sandwich instead, one that relies on ingredients that don’t need refrigeration.
Fresh Seasonal Fruit
Fruit is another picnic classic. It’s an exceptional choice for the beach too, as fruit is always refreshing. You’ll get a little hydration from the fruit at the same time – perfect when it’s sweltering out.
Whole fruit is the simplest option, like bowls of fresh berries, whole apples, and a watermelon. You could try making a fruit salad too. Just make sure you choose a dressing that can withstand the heat.
Alternatively, what about fruit skewers? These are easy for guests to simply pick up and eat. You could add some meat and cheese as well, to help vary the flavors and textures.
A Delicious Nut Mix
Nuts are the perfect snack for almost any situation. How could they not be? They’re packed with protein and healthy fats, don’t need to be refrigerated, and can be flavored in countless ways.
Did I mention that they’re also delicious?
A good nut mix can easily take the edge of people’s appetites during a picnic. This is helpful when you’re setting everything up and people are starting to get a bit antsy.
If nuts feel too boring on their own, why not add some dried fruit, chocolate pieces, or even some popcorn into the mix? Doing so introduces some variation in texture and flavor, giving you a delicious trail mix.
Messy desserts don’t work well on beach picnics. You could stick to more resilient options, like cookies and brownies, but these get a bit boring. Why not try dessert jars instead?
The idea here is simple, you make your desserts in jars, so that people just need a spoon to eat them. There are plenty of jar-based desserts to try. Some of them don’t even need to be baked.
For example, you might make a layered chocolate cheesecake in a jar. Or, you might go with something simpler, like chocolate mousse. You’re only limited by your imagination, so why not experiment to see what you can come up with?
Veggie Pita Pockets
Want easy sandwiches? Look no further than pita pockets.
You just need to stuff your ingredients into them. Pita pockets are easier to eat than regular sandwiches too, as the ingredients aren’t going to fall out the bottom.
As for ingredients, well, anything goes. You can make your pita pockets as simple or as complex as you like.
Veggie-focused versions are great for a picnic. These tend to be refreshing and you don’t need to stress about keeping them cool.
But, if you have a reliable chiller, you might add some more heat-sensitive ingredients, like feta cheese and meat. As always, you’ll need to tweak based on your needs. That’s half the fun though.
A Bag Of Jerky
Have you ever brought jerky to a picnic? It works incredibly well, as you’re getting a salty protein-packed snack that doesn’t need to be chilled at all.
This is ideal for the times when you’re really struggling to keep your picnic food cool.
To make things even more interesting, why not try a jerky of the month club? These often focus on small-batch jerky from artisan suppliers, so the jerky is usually higher quality than anything you find in your local store.
You may come across some remarkable flavors as well.
Protein balls, bars, and bites are another way to get extra protein on your picnic. You can easily buy these in a local store or make your own versions.
Homemade ones are particularly good, as you get to choose all the ingredients. This gives you complete control over the taste, texture, and nutritional profile. There are also plenty of fantastic recipes out there, so there are certain to be at least a few that you love.
Have you ever tried frozen grapes? Their sugar content means that the grapes don’t fully freeze. Instead, they end up with a sorbet-like texture. This makes them a delicious treat, one that’s also very easy to make.
The grapes aren’t likely to stay frozen during your picnic. Even if you keep them in a chiller, they’re going to defrost as the day goes on. This isn’t a problem though, as the grapes taste amazing during every step of defrosting.
They’ll help to keep your other food cold too. How’s that for a win/win?
Chips are fantastic if you want something simple that everyone will love. Seriously. You just need to pick up a bag from the local store and you’re done.
There’s plenty of variety here too. You could even turn to veggie chips or go the extra mile to make homemade kale chips.
Most chips are processed and certainly aren’t nutritious, so they won’t always be the best choice. Still, what’s wrong with having a few treat foods on your picnic?
Fruit And Cheese On A Stick
You know what’s even better than fresh fruit on a picnic? Fruit on a stick!
Somehow simply threading fruit chunks onto a kebab stick makes fruit much more exciting. You also get to play around with ingredients. The best versions contain a selection of fruit and cheese chunks. You might even add some meat in there as well.
The kebabs are ideal because people have something to hold onto. This is much easier than having to constantly come back to the shared plate and grab another piece of fruit.
Having individual kebabs is more hygienic too. That’s a very helpful feature these days.
Plus, combining fruit, cheese, and possibly meat gives you a fantastic variety of flavors and textures. You’ll get sweetness from the fruit, creaminess from the cheese, and saltiness from the meat. What could be better?
How To Make Your Picnic A Success
Beach picnics involve a little more planning and forethought than normal. Do it right, though, and you can have a wonderful experience.
Watch Out For Sunburn
First of all, the sun! No one wants to look like a lobster the day after a picnic, so bring plenty of sunscreen and don’t forget hats.
That’s the bare minimum. Ideally, you want to be picnicking under some source of shade. This could involve looking for an overhanging tree or bringing a large beach umbrella.
Have A Large Blanket (Or Two!)
Large blankets are crucial to your success. Sure, you can lay your picnic out on a towel, but towels don’t fare so well when the wind starts to kick up. They’ll often start blowing around and showering sand all over your food.
Most blankets are heavier than towels, so they should stay in place better (especially if you also weigh down the corners). Using a blanket also reduces the risk that anyone will kick sand over the food as they shift positions.
Prep Your Food
Food prep is extremely important for beach picnics. The more prep you’re doing during the event itself, the greater the risk that you’ll get sand in your food.
At home prep work includes cutting up any fruits and vegetables, mixing your salads ahead of time, and even making full sandwiches. You can still add dressings and spreads during the event, but you certainly don’t want to try and build a full salad on the beach.
Watch Out For Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is always a risk at picnics. It’s even more concerning when you’re at the beach, as it’s typically very hot and you might be in the sun for hours.
To have a good picnic, you’ll need to be extremely cautious with any foods that spoil easily, including mayo-heavy potato salads and sandwiches, chicken, and fish.
If you don’t want to skip these foods entirely, you’ll need to bring a reliable cooler – one that you know will actually keep things cold. It also helps to eat the risky foods first. Don’t leave them for hours then hope that they’ll be okay when it’s time to eat.
Use Frozen Water Bottles
Freezing your water bottles is a great trick, as it takes them hours to fully defrost, so they’ll give you cold water throughout your entire picnic.
That’s not all, the water bottles also double as ice packs and help to keep your food cold. This is much better than trying to fit food, drinks, and ice packs in the same cooler.