The Best Recipes For A Socially Distanced Picnic

For any picnic, you're going to want recipes that are snack-able, transportable, and easy to make. But for a socially distanced picnic, you're also going to want to make recipes that can be shared safely –– preferably without communal serving utensils. These pandemic-friendly picnic recipes check off all the boxes. They come in big enough pieces that you can grab with your own fork, toothpick, or clean hands without contaminating the whole dish. And if you do need a serving utensil, you can always assign someone to be the sole scooper, or just get everyone to manage the distribution of their own dish.

While snacks like hummus and salsa become tricky in a pandemic, if you do want to bring dips, think about making smaller servings in individual containers or ramekins so everyone can have their own dish in which they can dunk to their heart's content. While you're at it, how about snack-sized bags of chips so no one's reaching into a communal bag?

If that all sounds like a lot of work (yeah, we hear you!), the recipes below will keep things simple. Because a picnic should be fun, socially distanced or not.

From biscuits to whoopee pies, here are the best recipes for a socially distanced picnic.

5-ingredient garlic cheddar biscuits

Who doesn't love a good biscuit? And while many require butter or another topping, these 5-ingredient garlic cheddar biscuits are picnic-friendly in that they come pre-seasoned with garlic and cheddar. Everyone can grab their own without any contamination of butter forks, jams or knives. They're also ready in less than 20 minutes. And while they don't have the puff of a British scone, they're pure cheesy comfort, which is really what we need for a pandemic picnic.

Garlic bread

There's nothing simpler than taking some bread or baguette, smearing it with garlic butter, and broiling it until the herbaceous compound butter melts into the fluffy loaf. The downside of taking this garlic bread to a picnic is that they might not still be warm by the time they arrive, but the more you chew, the more the salty, buttery flavor comes out. But if it's a sunny day, that butter might re-melt a little, anyway. Just in case, you're completely allowed to eat a piece straight out of the oven to appreciate it at its best.


Cornbread usually requires some cutting, and you know someone's going to want a bigger piece or a smaller piece, but if you cut the pieces in advance and to a smaller size, people can safely take their own piece or pieces. 

This recipe is pretty beginner-friendly, essentially fancy-ing up a cornbread mix with creamed corn, eggs, and sour cream. You'll end up with a fluffy, buttery result that doesn't require extra buttering come picnic time. It also serves a very hungry 12 people, which would be a lot for a socially distanced picnic, so it's a great excuse to leave some at home for breakfast the next day.

Egg muffins

These savory, bite-sized egg muffins are perfectly shareable. They're also keto-friendly, and you can use egg whites instead of egg yolks to reduce the calories, notes recipe author Maren Epstein. They bake in muffin tins, so you don't need fancy equipment, and you can experiment with fillings, from fresh herbs to cherry tomatoes to different kinds of cheeses. The best part might be, though, that they're ready in 17 minutes. You know, for those last-minute picnics.

Roasted cauliflower

Our roasted cauliflower recipe is a big step up gastronomically from raw crudités. Each guest can grab a floret with a toothpick without touching any others, so a thumbs-up for a socially distanced, pandemic-friendly picnic.

This recipe is so easy. You just roast the cauliflower and then toss it with some butter and/or hot sauce, or the sauce of your choice, really. If you need some inspiration, you can also check out our wings recipes, which range from fiery to sweet barbecue-flavored.


As recipe author Keith Kamikawa notes, these Cornish pasties are pronounced "PASS-tees" and shouldn't be confused with tasseled undergarments. They're essentially a savory single-serve pie, where the pastry dough is filled with beef and root vegetables. They're delicious dipped in gravy or ketchup, which is where those individual packets of fast-food ketchup come in handy for a socially distanced picnic.


Calzones are the Italian version of Cornish pasties (or maybe it's the other way around?), just with tomato sauce for dipping and pizza-like fillings instead. There's a whole lot of cheese in these, including cream cheese, which pairs surprisingly well with the Italian sausage called for by recipe author Stephanie Rapone. Don't forget to pack up little containers of pizza dipping sauce, and definitely bring a bottle of red wine to wash these delights down.


These Japanese stuffed rice triangles called onigiri are the perfect healthy snack or light lunch. If you're going to have them outside for more than a few hours, you might want to stick with the vegetarian umeboshi (salted plum) stuffing instead of the salmon version. You'll love this recipe, and so will your picnic friends. Plus, they're not messy to eat, thanks to a strip of nori sticking to each one, so it's a really solid choice to prepare.

Pigs in a blanket

The classic snack food is an easy sharer. Pigs in a blanket are cheap and tasty, especially if you buy your own crescent rolls pastry to wrap around the hot dogs (which will make everyone think you made them yourself). Laura Sampson's recipe comes together in just 20 minutes and serves eight, making for a savory addition to any picnic, socially distanced or not. You can also cut the dogs in two to make them even more snack-sized for anyone who doesn't want a whole dog. Or, try veggie dogs instead, if your crowd is vegetarian.

Collard wraps

The polar opposite of pigs in a blanket is probably a collard wrap. These healthy ones are made with baked falafel, bell peppers, and hummus for a savory, rich, and filling picnic-able snack. And all the ingredients are inside the wrap, including the tzatziki sauce, so you don't need to bring any extra containers for people to get the whole flavor experience. There are a lot of ingredients, but don't be scared off by that. Most just get thrown into the blender.

Whoopie pies

This recipe for chocolate and vanilla whoopee pies squishes vanilla marshmallow fluff between two chocolate cookies that veer toward cake territory in texture. They're easily transportable (way better than frosted cupcakes, because the frosting is in the middle) and almost too pretty to eat. They're also easy to share, so they make an incredibly perfect dessert for a socially distanced picnic. And who doesn't like that iconic chocolate and vanilla combo? Trust us — it will be a picnic winner.

Starbucks copycat cake pops

These Starbucks copycat cake pops might be the ultimate socially distanced picnic treat, because you never need to touch the food and you don't need any utensils to pick them up. To prepare this dessert, you'll need funfetti cake mix, candy melts to coat the cake pops, and basic ingredients you probably already have in the house. These are sure to be a big hit and the sweetest guests on your picnic table.

Copycat Hostess cupcakes

These copycat Hostess cupcakes are just too darn cute. They'll have you practicing your piping skills to make those adorable and iconic squiggles, and everyone at your picnic is going to be so happy that you brought cream-filled chocolate cupcakes. The other fun parts of making these cupcakes is essentially injecting the chocolate cupcakes with cream and then dipping them into molten chocolate ganache. No one would blame you if you somehow ended up with only 11 ganache-d cupcakes and a big smear of chocolate on your face from licking the bowl. And if they do, well, so be it.

Berry margarita cupcakes

These berry margarita cupcakes are boozy in name but less so in flavor. There are just two tablespoons of tequila in the frosting for 12 cupcakes, so you're probably not going to get too tipsy. These can very easily be paired with margaritas for your picnic, though, and probably should be. 

The recipe is very simple and comes together in 35 minutes. Once you mix the batter, you will juice fresh limes to give your cupcakes that punchy floral sour taste to balance out all the sugar. (Keep in mind that you may want to squeeze extra limes for your margaritas.) This will be a really pretty presentation with some margarita glasses on the side.

Strawberry shortcakes

Like whoopee pies, strawberry shortcakes are perfect for picnics because they're essentially sandwich cakes. There's a biscuit slice on the top and the bottom, with cream in the middle, which makes transporting and eating it much less messy. The fresh strawberries take a bit more time to prep, but they're worth it, especially if you can find local ones. And if you get through making the biscuits and feel like bailing on the cream filling, that's fine, too, because as you can see above, biscuits are also totally acceptable picnic fare all on their own.

No-bake energy bites

These no-bake energy balls are so simple and tasty that you're going to want to double the batch and freeze some to have extras on hand. They're sweetened with dates, which means the only refined sugar in this recipe is from the dark chocolate chips, maybe the peanut butter (depending on your brand), and perhaps the almond milk (if you use the sweetened version). And all you have to do is toss everything in the blender, roll them into balls, and then dip them in melted chocolate. Quick, easy, grain-free, gluten-free, vegan (as long as your dark chocolate is vegan), and keto-friendly!

Peanut butter cookies

Peanut butter cookies might seem like a risky thing to bring to a picnic in a world where food allergies are common, but the nice thing about a socially distanced picnic is that it tends to be fairly small. So these are wonderful cookies to make, assuming that you know everyone coming to the picnic and no one's allergic to peanuts. Why are they worth it, instead of a chocolate chip cookie? Because the peanut butter stays chewy in the middle, with a delicious nuttiness from the peanuts and a caramelized flavor from brown sugar. A chocolate chip cookie just isn't the same.


This light and flaky deep-fried pastry is coated in cinnamon sugar and dipped in honey (or caramel or chocolate). If you don't feel like giving everyone their own serving of honey, these sopapillas are still good without the dipping sauce (who doesn't like cinnamon sugar fried dough?), but this might be an instance where it's worth giving people their own ramekins for dunking. If you do, these crispy and sweet treats will definitely be a picnic showstopper.

Copycat Pop-Tarts

There aren't a lot of desserts where the more neon pink the icing, the better. But Pop-Tarts are most definitely one of them. 

These copycat Pop-Tarts with cherry pie filling are pure nostalgia. Recipe author Molly Allen says you can add the food coloring to give these treats a vibrant color. Or, you can simply leave the food coloring out and just decorate your white iced Pop-Tarts with sprinkles. Everyone will love these homemade Pop-Tarts for dessert.

Copycat Chick-fil-A lemonade

What's a picnic without lemonade? There's no better choice than our copycat Chick-fil-A lemonade. Mixing up a good batch is all about the ratio of fresh lemon juice to sugar and water. It's also important to let it refrigerate for an hour before drinking, but also to drink it within 24 hours, writes recipe author Lindsay D. Mattison. Her ultimate tip, though, might be to make a frozen version by blending in a few cups of vanilla ice cream.