easy 5 ingredient picnic recipe ideas
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If you’re planning an afternoon outside, these easy 5-ingredient picnic recipes are the perfect things to pack.

This is sure to be a picnic season unlike any other. As quarantine restrictions continue to be relaxed, there’s no doubt that there will be a strong urge to reconnect with the outdoors, particularly when it comes to dining (while engaging in safe social distancing, of course). 

Though crowding your blanket with people is ill-advised, packing your cooler to capacity is strongly encouraged. A sumptuous spread is the key to a perfect picnic, but preparing a multi-course meal can become overwhelming. 

That’s why we’re highlighting some picnic favorites that are prepared with only five (or fewer) ingredients so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time eating al fresco. These portable potables and eats will make your next exterior excursion not only delicious, but easy breezy.

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Starters

Grilled Summer Squash with Feta and Mint

Grilled Summer Squash with Feta and Mint

Chowhound

Next time you spark up the grill, keep this seasonal side in mind. Mix things up with a melange of summer squash (zucchini, crookneck, and pattypan make for an excellent trio) and don’t skimp on the mint and feta. Get our Grilled Summer Squash with Feta and Mint recipe.

Related Reading: 7 Ways to Get Grilled Flavor without a Grill

Chèvre-Olive-Parsley Spread

easy 5 ingredient picnic recipe ideas

Chowhound

If you’re a stickler, this is technically six ingredients, but if you give salt and pepper a pass, there are only four things that go into this simple spread: soft goat cheese, fresh lemon zest, black olives, and parsley. Spread it on crackers, baguette slices, or fresh veggies for a light, bright bite. Get our Chèvre-Olive-Parsley Spread recipe.

Caprese Salad

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When tomatoes are at their summer peak there’s no better pairing than slabs of fresh mozzarella. Use this Italian classic as an excuse to start growing your own basil (or heirlooms for that matter). Get our Caprese Salad recipe.

Easy Quinoa Salad

Basic Quinoa Salad

Chowhound

Simple to prepare. Travels well. Tastes delicious. What more can you want from this vibrant quinoa salad that benefits from sweet tomatoes, briny olives, and a citrus kick courtesy of a lemon spritz. Get our Easy Quinoa Salad.

Related Reading: Easy 3-Ingredient Recipes You Can Pull Off No Matter How Exhausted You Are

Snacks

Tangy Cucumber Pickles

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Also known as ah-jaht, these Thai chili-infused pickles are sure to bring the heat. Enjoy as a solo snack at your next picnic, but also keep a couple of extra jars in your fridge to top your burger or go traditional and pair them with grilled chicken satay. Get our Tangy Cucumber Pickles recipe.

Roasted Rosemary Walnuts

Roasted Rosemary Walnuts recipe

Chowhound

It only takes a few minutes in the oven to convert plain old walnuts into these snackable showstoppers which are gently coated with olive oil, minced rosemary, sugar, salt, and pepper. Go nuts! Get our Roasted Rosemary Walnuts recipe.

Related Reading: The Best Gluten-Free Snacks to Buy Online

Sweet Potato Chips

Homemade Sweet Potato Crisps with Smoked Paprika (Barbecue Sweet Potato Chips)

Chowhound

These healthy (they’re baked, not fried) homemade chips pack plenty of crunch. A hit of acidic vinegar offers the contrast to the sweetness of the taters. Get our Sweet Potato Chips recipe.

Related Reading: 7 Clever Ways to Use Sweet Potatoes

Benedictine Dip

Benedictine Dip recipe

Chowhound

This no-frills, versatile Southern cream cheese-based dip is a tasty addition for everything from chips (see directly above) to crudités. You can also set some aside to use as a creamy sandwich spread. Get our Benedictine Dip recipe.

Related Reading: Our 15 Favorite Cream Cheese Recipes

Mains

Molly Ringwald’s Whole Roasted Chicken

Chowhound

Just like “The Breakfast Club,” this recipe from ‘80s icon Molly Ringwald has featured players (chicken, onion, lemon, herbs, and dry vermouth) with a couple of background extras (salt and pepper). Pink may be pretty, but make sure your bird is cooked all the way through. Get Molly Ringwald’s Whole Roasted Chicken recipe.

Tuna Salad

That can of tuna mixed with just the right amount of shelf-stable sauces, spices, and relish is a time-honored sandwich filler for a reason. If you’re mayo-averse, this recipe from Kristine’s Kitchen offers you flexibility to switch over to Greek yogurt for an egg-less alternative. Get the Tuna Salad recipe

Related Reading: How to Make Easy Aioli & Take Your Tuna Salad to the Next Level

Garlic Lovers Roast Beef

Roast beef slathered with plenty of garlic and rosemary  is the gift that just keeps on giving. Have it hot and fresh for dinner, then carve up some slices for a satisfying midday repast on a not-too-distant future day. Get the Garlic Lovers Roast Beef recipe.

Beverages

Fresh Mango Lemonade

Chowhound

Sugar. Water. Lemons. That’s all it takes to make a refreshing batch of fresh lemonade. But with two more spots open to reach our five-ingredient max, why not add ripe mango and Angostura bitters for a tropical spin on the classic summer thirst quencher? Get our Fresh Mango Lemonade recipe.

Related Reading: 11 Cocktails That Bring the Lemonade Stand to the Bar

Peach Shrub

peach shrub drink recipe

Chowhound

Vinegar-based shrubs are an excellent way to prevent a large amount of ripe fruit from going to waste. This particular recipe blends peaches with a copious amount of fresh basil. The ideal way to consume a shrub drink is to dilute it with ice and a bit with seltzer water (and perhaps add some vodka if you’re over 21). Get our Peach Shrub recipe.

Dessert

Chocolate-Toffee–Pumpkin Seed Bark

Chowhound

Cayenne you handle it? This chocolate bark makes for a delicious bite with an ample dose of toffee bits, pepitas, and the aforementioned pepper spice. Get our Chocolate-Toffee–Pumpkin Seed Bark recipe.

Pineapple and Grape Kebabs

Chowhound

You don’t have to be a Lakers fan to enjoy this refreshing purple and yellow skewer. The easy-to-assemble grape and pineapple combo offers plenty of vitamins and fiber along with a gentle hit of all-natural sugar to round out the perfect picnic. Get our Pineapple and Grape Kebabs recipe.

COVID-19 Precautions

How to Picnic During a Pandemic: What Is & Isn't Safe

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David is a food and culture writer based in Los Angeles by way of New York City. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, CBS Local, Mashable, and Gawker.
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