Perfect picnic

There are very few things more fitting than a really good picnic as spring turns to summer. Warmth, good food, and the great outdoors – what could be better?

A picnic done well can be pure bliss, but no-one enjoys a limp, half-baked, or poorly catered one! The keys to picnic perfection are simple: avoid store-bought stuff, and be well prepared.

It’s all in the food itself, really. Although it’s so easy to fall back on cheap supermarket versions of classics such as Scotch eggs and sausage rolls, it’s well worth the effort of making your own.

So, to get you inspired, we’ve picked out a bunch of brilliant food-and-drink combos that are guaranteed to inspire you to get out there this summer. Then, once you’ve picked your perfect menu, get prepping, and make sure you read our food team’s top tips for a great picnic before setting off.

Classic British

There’s no denying it: as a general rule, we’re good – no, great – at making picnics happen. Perhaps it’s just down to really appreciating the sun when we (finally!) get it, but when given the opportunity to get outside with a big basketful of goodies, we know exactly what we’re doing in terms of organisation. The only trick is picking the right recipes – and here are our ultimate classics for a British-style picnic.

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  1. Scotch eggs
  2. Sausage rollsAgain, have a go at making these yourself; you never know what’s in supermarket ones, and the difference in taste is astonishing.
  3. Salads & jam jar dressingsPut these in any container with a good, safe lid, then shake up before drizzling over your salads once you’re out there.
  4. Pâté
    A great trick with pâtés or preserves is to store them in little Kilner jars once they’re made, and drizzle a little olive oil over the top to keep fresh. With this mackerel one, you can use pretty much any smoked fish you fancy, such as trout or haddock.

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  5. Jerky ham hockThis is unreal once it’s gone cold. Shred onto a big chunk of bread or a lovely dressed salad.
  6. Quiche or frittata
  7. Eton messThis trick will make you a legend among picnickers: bring a whole meringue and all the other bits you can, and smush it into plastic cups to serve.
  8. Elderflower & cucumber G&Ts

A good tipple at a picnic is totally worth the effort of bringing all the necessary bits – and with this recipe, it’s just gin, tonic, and whatever lovely flavours you want to add. An ice box is invaluable for the ice cubes.

American

Using those basic dishes from the British menu as a guide, you can go full-blown with your picnic by looking to recipes from across the pond for inspiration. You may need to lie in the sun for quite some time after this kind of feast, but you’ll love every minute.

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  1. Hush puppies
  2. Blackened chicken
  3. Broccoli salad
  4. Chilli cheese cornbread
  5. BBQ baked beans
  6. Meat loaf

Another meaty dish that’s all the more special served cold. Fantastic with those BBQ beans and a big helping of salad.

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  1. Veggie tart
  2. Bourbon pecan tart
  3. Easy peasy ginger beer

Homemade ginger beer is almost unrecognisable in comparison to what you get in supermarkets. It’s not over-sweet and is just the right level of firey – and the best bit is that grown-ups can mix in a splash of spiced rum to take it to the next level.

Meat-free

A picnic with no meat involved can be colourful, exciting, and bursting with all the great seasonal ingredients of spring and summer. Utilise what’s on offer and even guests who wouldn’t ordinarily eat a meat-free meal will be satisfied.

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  1. Vegan mushroom rolls
  2. Superfood salad
  3. The best pasta salad
  4. Tear ‘n’ share garlic bread
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  5. The ultimate spring quiche
  6. Falafel wrapsThe falafel from this recipe is what you really want to focus on, as they make lovely finger food, but if you properly utilise tupperware and bring a few tortillas, you can easily build these beautiful wraps on your picnic blanket.
  7. PanzanellaThis classic Italian salad just gets better with age – trust us. You’ll never throw away stale bread again.
  8. Rainbow jam tarts

Family

You may think that a picnic needs to be toned down when it comes to bringing kids along, but you can still choose to prepare recipes that are big enough on flavour for everyone, and durable enough to survive the journey.

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  1. Quick & easy flavoured water
  2. Minty yoghurt dip
  3. Broad bean fritters
  4. Kerryann’s couscous salad in tupperware
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  5. New potatoes & trout
  6. Salmon fish cakes
  7. Quesadillas with guacamole
  8. Michela’s kale, ricotta & squash omelette

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  9. Chargrilled chicken kebab
  10. Moshi Monsters’ butternut squash muffins

For some more ideas for kid-friendly snacks, check out our guide to healthy snacking from the Happy Pear, or for more picnic ideas in general, have a browse through all our picnic recipes! Let us know in the comments or via Twitter @JamieOliver on what your perfect picnic looks like.