May 22, 2021

Summer Picnic Recipes

Summer Picnic Recipes

Picnics are synonymous with Minnesota summers. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there’s nothing better than a picnic in a park, on a boat, or in your own backyard. Here are my go-to picnic recipes, from sides and salads to fried chicken, and you can’t forget the drinks and dessert.

Summer Picnic Recipes

Macaroni Salad

A good macaroni salad is pretty much required for every summer gathering. Whether it’s a small picnic with the family or a large Memorial Day weekend get-together, everyone wants macaroni salad on the menu. This creamy dill version is a classic.  Get the recipe.

Potato Salad

Here is another must-have for summer feasts. As long as you have the potato salad on the sides table, you’ll have plenty of (literal?) happy campers. This recipe is a classic from my mother-in-law, Janice. It’s legendary in our family and accompanies so many of our summer meals. It is a traditional recipe, but is much lighter and creamier than others I’ve had.  Get the recipe.

Build-Your-Own Salad

How do you make a summer salad? Put together your favorite greens, some nuts and seeds, a little cheese, and your favorite vinaigrette. That’s really all you need, and you can customize the salad any way you want. I put together a little guide to summer salads that shows off all the ways you can mix and match ingredients to make salads to please every palate. Get the recipe.

A plate of fried chicken | Summer Picnic Recipes | Stephanie's Dish by Stephanie Hansen

Fried Chicken

There are a lot of ways to do main dishes for summer gatherings and picnics. Grilling or smoking meats is one of my favorites, but don’t overlook fried chicken. There’s a reason this recipe is called “picnic chicken,” after all. Fried chicken must be crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, and this recipe checks both boxes while being surprisingly easy to make. Get the recipe.

Smoked Whitefish Spread

Every summer we visit our friends in Wisconsin, and we always stop at Halvorson’s Fish Market. Their seafood is fresh and tasty, and I created this whitefish spread that is a perfect appetizer for summer afternoons from a recipe on their menu. A little cream cheese and sour cream gives this recipe the summer salad vibes we all want from a summer spread. Get the recipe.

Sliced Cucumber | Summer Picnic Recipes | Stephanie's Dish by Stephanie Hansen

Cucumber Salad

If you remember this recipe from my Christmas recipes, don’t be alarmed. It’s a light cucumber salad that we use to brighten up winter meals because it tastes so much like summer. A fresh cucumber from the garden is hard to beat, and summer calls for as many cucumber dishes as possible. This recipe is simple and goes with pretty much anything. Get the recipe.


Whether you make it for a pre-meal snack or include it with the main course, hummus is a great summer food. I make this version with a ton of lemon to give it a little summer zing, and the protein in chickpeas makes it a hearty enough dish to give it great flexibility. Get the recipe.

Juneberry Syrup Martini

A nice drink to sip on is a must for a summer get-together. I made this martini recipe from the juneberry syrup I make during the summer months. Martinis make for great summer drinks because they are simple, delicious and you can add great summer fruits. I also like this one because the juneberry syrup is great in non-alcoholic drinks, too. Get the recipe.

Atlantic Beach Pie

How do you finish off the perfect summer meal? With a slice of pie, of course. This recipe is similar to key lime pie, but includes both lemon and lime for extra citrus flavor. The crust is buttery with a great hit of salt, and the whole thing comes together with a little whipped cream on top. Get the recipe.