Perfect Picnic Side Dishes

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Our picnic side dishes are perfect to serve at your next outdoor gathering!! We’ve got recipes for warm and cold picnic food that is scrumptious with sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and other grilled foods. 

Late spring and early summer typically have the best weather for an outdoor gathering. WOW, this year is moving so fast!! Believe it or not, June starts next week!!

If you ask me, a picnic is the perfect way to get together with friends and family. If you’re planning some fun in the sun and good conversation, you need a good BBQ picnic menu, and I’ve got you covered, friends!

titled collage of picnic side dishes

Perfect Picnic Side Dishes

You may already have your main dish and desserts planned, but if you don’t, I have some fabulously easy recipes to help with that, too! I have great ideas for the best burgers, sensational smoking recipes, easy no bake desserts, and refreshing cocktails, too!

To round out your menu, all you need now are a few easy picnic side dishes, and here they are!!!

Scroll down to check out the scrumptiousness!!

When you find something drool-worthy, click on the title and you’ll be taken to the recipe post.


Cold Picnic Sides


Take along a chest cooler packed with a few bags of ice. You can use one or two for drinks, and the rest can be left in the cooler. The ice will help keep your refrigerated side dishes cool.

creamy cucumber salad picnic sides

Creamy Cucumber Salad

This simple side dish comes together in less than 10 minutes. With a combination of fresh cucumbers, red onions and a spectacular creamy dressing, this fresh salad is perfect for summer picnics and potlucks.

hawaiian tortellini salad picnic side dish

Hawaiian Tortellini Pasta Salad

This Hawaiian pasta salad tastes like a party in your mouth!! It’s a blend of your favorite island flavors with tender tortellini in an outstanding pineapple-ginger dressing.

ranch mashed potato salad in white bowl

Ranch Potato Salad

This the perfect picnic food next to your hamburgers and hot dogs! A delicious twist on traditional potato salad, and with a huge time-saving shortcut! Kids go crazy for the ranch flavor!

simple macaroni salad recipe in floral serving bowl

Southern Macaroni Salad

If you ask me, you can’t have a picnic without a few easy pasta salads on the menu. This one has a creamy dressing and a nice crunch from crisp celery. You can bulk it up by adding tuna and hard boiled eggs.

southern potato salad picnic side dish

Best Ever Southern Potato Salad

Honestly, are there any easy picnic side dishes that are more requested than potato salad? Not in my world!! 🙂 This is my Nana’s recipe – You and your picnic partners will love the classic southern flavors!

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Perfect Side Dishes for Hamburgers and Hot Dogs

Ask a kid (of any age!) what their favorite food is, and you’ll hear plenty of shout-outs for burgers and dogs. Here are some of my all-time favorite picnic side dishes for hamburgers and hot dogs.

air fryer potato chips in basket

Air Fryer Potato Chips

Toss out the greasy fried potato chips and get into air frying mode! It only takes 15 minutes to make this healthier option. There’s nothing in the chip aisle that’s tastier than these perfectly light, crispy and crunchy homemade chips!

Crockpot Corn on the Cob

There isn’t a better picnic food that I can think of than roasted corn on the cob slathered with butter. But if you don’t want to haul a grill out to your picnic, you can’t beat using a slow cooker!

PRO TIP for Picnic Ready Corn ????

Use a thermal crockpot tote, or wrap the ears of cooked corn in heavy-duty foil to keep them warm for transporting.

crockpot corn on the cob for a picnic

Baked Beans with Bacon

My oven baked beans include a trio of tender beans swimming in a scrumptious BBQ sauce made with brown sugar, molasses, and crispy bacon. This is classic BBQ picnic food!

baked beans with bacon on serving spoon

Deep Fried Pickles

This southern snacking favorite was made famous by Hooters restaurant. While it is definitely a great appetizer, wait until you try them in place of traditional dill chips on hamburgers! You will flip out at how delicious they taste!!

dunking deep fried pickles in hot sauce

No Bake Side Dishes

When you’re in a hurry to get into the sunshine, cooking up your picnic food shouldn’t have to hold you back. These no bake sides will have you picnic-bound in no time.

picnic side dish with cucumbers onion and cherry tomatoes

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Crisp cucumbers and luscious tomatoes tossed in a bright lemon poppy seed dressing. This is my newest obsession, and a must-make for your BBQ picnic menu.

bowl of watergate salad topped with whipped cream and cherries

Pistachio Fluff aka Watergate Salad

This cold picnic salad is one of my favorite and most requested no bake side dishes! The base is pistachio pudding, so it couldn’t be simpler to make. There’s a bit of creamy, crunchy, and fluffy goodness in every bite!

bowl of hawaiian cheesecake salad

Hawaiian Cheesecake Salad

While cheesecake salads technically fall into the dessert category, this scrumptious salad is creamy, fluffy, and packed with the perfect picnic side dish – fresh fruit! Fair warning – this is so sinfully delicious, you may not want to eat anything else. 😉

I hope this collection of easy picnic side dishes helps you to find ways to get out and enjoy the warm weather this year!


With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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pinterest collage of picnic sides

Originally published August 2012. Updated with new content, May 2022.

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  1. Woo hoo! Figured it out for now. I still can't comment while using Firefox, but IE is working fine. Weird computers… This round up is fantastic, Donna! You really were a grilling machine this summer. Chad, (as always) the photos are stunning.

  2. This is an excellent post, lots of information in one spot. I will probably pull one or two things off here for the weekend. Thank you.

  3. Thanks for some great new ideas for this weekend! However,the link to #49, Easier Than Caramelized Onions doesn't open, nor am I able to access by searching your site. Help pls?

  4. I just pinned like a gajillion recipes to my Slow Roasted Italian board on Pinterest. Love, love, love your recipes. Seriously my go-to site for drink and meal inspiration. Thank you for the time you put in to provide us with these delicious recipes 🙂

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