30+ Picnic-Friendly Easter Recipes
Weather permitting, there's no reason you can't host Easter lunch or dinner in your back or front yard. All you have to do is prepare ahead of time, and pick the right dishes. Green salads, pasta salads without a mayonnaise base, and homemade breads are all suited for eating outdoors. A few of these recipes do contain mayonnaise or dairy, so be sure to keep them cool until you're absolutely ready to eat them.
Ham Pasta Salad
Our Ham Pasta Salad is a great way to use leftover glazed ham—the lemon dressing brightens it up for Easter and offsets the ham’s sweetness, while the fresh parsley adds sprigs of color. The secret to the sauce is using the pasta water, so remember to keep it—if you do dump it out on accident, you can just use chicken stock. This is best served at room temperature. It’s still good after it’s been refrigerated, but the pasta will soak up some of the dressing. There’s also room for flavor variations based on your preferences: You could substitute fresh broccoli for broccoli rabe, add in even more ham, or incorporate lemon zest for a tangier salad.
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
Chef Jonathan Waxman taught me how to make this fall salad many years ago. Riff with the ingredients to find the flavor balance you prefer.
Crunchy Zucchini Chips
Ann's kids fell in love with these chips, and you will, too. Besides the savory seasoning, the crispy zucchini rounds have a secret whole-grain weapon: amaranth in the breading. It makes them amazingly crunchy without overpowering the vegetable. Serve them with burgers, sandwiches, or grilled chicken.
Classic Tangy Lemon Bars
These lemon bars are straight-up puckery perfection. We mix the filling together just before the crust comes out of the oven and then pour it onto the hot crust so that it sets quickly.
Tuscan Pignoli-Orange Zucchini Bread
Got a boatload of zucchini? A loaf of so-simple quick bread is a delightful, kid-friendly way to put it to use. With bright citrusy notes, toasty pine nuts, and a delightful texture delivered by the blend of semolina and almond flours, this Italian-inspired uptake on your typical zucchini bread is sure to impress.
Veggie Potato Salad
Grown-Up Pasta Salad
You know that pasta salad from childhood (you know the one—rotini, canned olives, underripe grape tomatoes, cubed cheese)? It showed up at cookouts, sleepovers and every occasion in between, and it holds a special place in hearts a plenty—or at least it does around our office. So, we made a few swaps to create a fully grown uptake that still hits all the nostalgic notes we crave. Think a more sophisticated nood (we went orecchiette, but you can go with whatever you like!), buttery Castelvatrano olives (i.e. the best olives), juicy-sweet heirloom cherry tomatoes for dynamic color, hunks of savory salami, rich and creamy mozzarella pearls, radishes for fresh crunch, and an easy, from-scratch Italian dressing. Sure, it may require a trip to the grocery store’s olive bar, but trust us, it’s so worth it.
Ham and Cheese Sliders
These Ham and Cheese Sliders were such a hit in our test kitchen they were gone in 10 minutes. They’re a crowd-pleaser for a reason: Sweet, savory, tangy, and cheesy flavors combine to make a modern dish that still feels nostalgic. Kings Hawaiian rolls now come in a 24-ct. Party Pack, so you’ll only have to grab one bag. You can use ham straight for the deli or go for a pre-sliced deli option, like Hillshire Farms. Or, you can use any deli meat or melting cheese of your choosing. For easier assembly, don’t separate the rolls before splitting them—just cut through them horizontally in one big slab. You can definitely assemble them ahead of time, and then butter and bake right before serving. Bring them to a potluck or party, or just make them for a fun spin on a weeknight dinner.
Three-Bean Pasta Salad
We combined two potluck classics—pasta salad and three-bean salad—to make one tasty new side dish. Blanched celery is the unexpected star in this side dish; it has a tender-crisp texture and bright green color. Swap out the canned beans for your favorite cooked field peas.
Black-eyed Pea Hummus
You can find this hummus in my fridge 24/7—it takes just five minutes to make. Once you’ve done it, you’ll forget about buying those pricey small containers at the store. Instead of chickpeas, I like subbing a classic Southern ingredient, black-eyed peas, which yields a hummus that is a bit darker in color and also nuttier in taste—both of which I find to be incredibly delicious.
For the health-conscious among your guests, you can serve this alongside some cut up carrots, celery, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes. It’s also nice to indulge with whole-grain crackers or some warmed toasted pita bread, sliced into triangles for dipping.
All the Green Things Salad
This salad is absolutely chock-full of lovely green spring produce, with textures ranging from crunchy to creamy. You can make the zippy lemon dressing and blanch, drain, and chill the peas and asparagus up to 2 days ahead, but combine all the elements shortly before serving to preserve the color of the avocado and the crunch of the greens. Delicate pea tendrils or shoots would be spectacular here, but watercress makes a delicious peppery substitute. Though you may be tempted to use only one herb, we urge you to use both: The parsley adds a burst of freshness, and the mint contributes deep herbal goodness.
Sunflower Butter Cookies
Our test kitchen described these sunflower butter cookies as “absolutely delightful!” And given their toasty-sweet flavor combined with their soft and chewy texture, it’s not hard to see why. Sunflower butter—also called sunflower seed butter or “SunButter”—offers a rich flavor that’s unique from peanut butter or almond butter (it’s also a more allergy-friendly option) and can be found shelved with other nut butters in most grocery stores. We stirred in some candy-coated sunflower seeds for a playful pop of color, but you could swap the seeds out for chocolate chips or skip the mix-ins altogether if you prefer.
Classic Focaccia Bread
Our classic, standard focaccia recipe yields an oily (but not overpowering!) and flavorful loaf that’s super crisp on the bottom, just like a really good pizza crust. If you have the right tools, focaccia isn’t difficult. Letting the dough sit overnight helps it relax and will make a better bread. This bread also pairs fantastically with marinara, so feel free to chop it up like breadsticks and dip to your heart’s content.
White Beans with Sorrel Pesto
Fresh sorrel, a hardy, leafy green perennial, gives simple white beans a zap of color and a lemony tang. Farmers' markets often carry it from spring into early fall, depending on where you live. If you can't find it, swap in basil. This recipe comes from Erin Scott, creator of the blog (and cookbook) Yummy Supper.
BLT Pasta Salad
If you’re looking for a foolproof side to take to your next barbecue or potluck, you’ve come to the right place. This BLT Pasta Salad is essentially a BLT in a bowl, and who could turn that down? It’s creamy and crunchy, just like the sandwich, and packs a delicious punch, especially with the use of fresh tomatoes and lettuce. If you have access to heirloom cherry tomatoes, feel free to use those instead. You could also use baby arugula instead of lettuce for a peppery zing. You can prepare this ahead of time, but don’t dress until immediately before serving—otherwise, the lettuce will wilt and lose its crisp.
Farro Salad with Peas, Pancetta, and Radishes
Toss farro with a radish mixture, peas, pancetta, arugula, and more to make this salad.
Lemon-Basil Orzo with Parmesan
Just 6 ingredients are all you need to make this fresh pasta side. The lemon and basil brighten the dish making it perfect for a spring gathering. Add cooked shrimp or chicken for a hearty lunch or light supper.
Ham and Manchego Sandwiches with Tomato Jam
Notes: Manchego is a firm Spanish sheep's-milk cheese. Make and wrap sandwiches just before packing.
Easy Everything Dinner Rolls
To make your own everything bagel seasoning mix for this recipe, combine 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, 1 tablespoon dried minced onion, 2 teaspoons dried minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon coarse salt in a small bowl.
Roasted Baby Beet Salad
Trim the tops, but leave part of the stems to ensure the colorful pigment remains inside the beet during roasting.
Ambrosia Fruit Salad
Whether you consider it a salad, side dish, or dessert, ambrosia is a holiday classic. It's quick and easy to make and can sit overnight if you like.
Hawaiian Ham Sandwiches
With the perfect combination of sweet and salty flavors, these Hawaiian Ham Sandwiches are sure to be crowd-pleasers. Serve them during the holidays or during a football party–they are great for any occasion.
Braided Lemon Bread
The perfect recipe for spring. This slightly sweet, lemony, and tender braided bread lands somewhere between brioche and challah. Serve the impressive poppy seed-studded loaf with dinner, use it to for sandwiches, or make an unconventional French toast.
For the perfect, all-purpose macaroni salad, look no further than this easy recipe. Our version of the staple summertime side dish delivers everything you love about a classic, creamy pasta salad, but with an extra touch of vibrancy. Chopped bell peppers deliver colorful, sweet crunch while cream cheese provides a tangy depth, and fresh dill lends a flavorful kick of freshness. Whether you’re heading to a picnic or potluck-style barbecue, a large bowl of this macaroni salad will always be more than welcome.
Superfast Farro and Chickpea Salad
Here’s a great dinner template to keep in your back pocket when you get to the end of the week and you don’t think you have anything stocked for dinner. A couple pantry staples, a little cooked whole grain, some bold-flavored condiments, a few crunchy veggies and you’re done. Here, we get inspiration from Thai flavors for the dressing—cilantro, lime juice, and garlic—but feel free to riff on it with whatever you might have on hand.
Pesto Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Mozzarella
This bright and fresh Caprese-inspired pasta toss is the ultimate summer main for a busy weeknight, outdoor picnic, or lunch on the go. With just two steps, it couldn't be easier.
Buffalo Chicken Salad
When you need an instant party, tailgate, or even a basic weekday meal prep winner, this Buffalo Chicken Salad has your back. It couldn’t be easier to mix up, and you’ll love the bright tang that Buffalo sauce, a squeeze of lemon, and crumbles of blue cheese add to creamy chicken salad. We love serving this Buffalo Chicken Salad on slider buns for easy entertaining, but you could just easily serve as lettuce wraps or with sturdy crackers.
Copycat Texas Roadhouse Rolls with Cinnamon-Honey Butter
Texas Roadhouse’s buttery-sweet rolls are cherished far and wide for good reason—they’re delicious. And now, you can enjoy a fresh, warm batch at home, anytime you please.
Dill pickles, along with a splash of pickle juice, provide a delectable, briny tang that will set this slaw apart from the pack. Fair warning, if you bring this Pickle Coleslaw to a potluck situation, you’re more than likely signing up to be the official coleslaw provider for all future gatherings.
Grilled Corn Pasta Salad
This vibrant, flavor-packed summer side dish combines a bounty of favorite seasonal flavors into a single, epic pasta salad. The recipe comes from our friends The Food Gays, and they developed this colorful grilled corn dish as a fresher, brighter alternative to the typical mayo-based pasta salads that often show up a summer parties. Packed with fresh produce and dressed in a light and zippy lemon-mustard vinaigrette, this grilled corn pasta salad is anything but boring. Give it a try at your next summer cookout and enjoy as the compliments pour in.
Ham-and-Fontina Sourdough Sandwiches
Bring life back into your lunch with Ham-and-Fontina Sourdough Sandwiches. Deli ham gets dressed up with a pesto-mayonnaise mixture, fontina cheese, and basil leaves.