Brilliantly British picnic recipe ideas

Karen Booth

Just the word ‘picnic’ conjures up visions of peaceful, pastoral countryside, with outdoor games, bottles of pop and fresh sandwiches made with crusty bread, crisp mixed salads and cold cooked chicken served with glossy mayonnaise. But, so often the reality doesn’t quite live up to expectations and soggy sandwiches, limp lettuce, and warm fizzy drinks are all that’s on offer, served with a flask of cold tea.

It doesn’t have to be that way, however, and with a little preparation the night (or morning) before, a picnic can be a culinary triumph and an event that will be remembered for weeks to come.

The picnic food list could include crusty bread with cheese, spicy wraps, fluffy cakes, jam and cream filled scones, muffins, homemade pies, tarts and flans, with artisan fruit cordials and a bottle of fizz included for a refreshing and frivolous libation.

I’m sharing some fabulously tempting and easy to prepare recipes for the perfect picnic, with some top tips on how to make it a fun family activity, no matter what the weather and no matter where you lay your picnic rug and wicker hamper.

Top picnic tips:

  1. Prepare for all eventualities. Pack a brolly or two, with raincoats as well as suncream and insect repellent—you never know what the British weather will throw at you.
  2. Make the sandwich fillings the night before, but to avoid soggy sarnies, put them together on the day of the picnic.
  3. Pack salad dressing separately in an old jam jar, as to avoid the salad becoming limp before you eat it.
  4. It’s always nice to add a flask of soup, tea or coffee; make sure the flask is warmed before adding the liquids, by adding boiling water and screwing the lid for a few minutes.
  5. Pre-cut pies, tarts and flans beforehand, but keep them in their baking containers for ease of travel.

Ten winning picnic recipes:

Quick coronation chicken sandwich


Image via Pod

Coronation chicken is a classic sandwich, and even better, it can be created using your roast chicken leftovers. Delicious!

Get the coronation chicken recipe from Delicious Magazine

Egg and cress sandwiches


Image via Lavender and Lovage

It just isn't a traditional English tea without a good old egg and cress sarnie. The watercress provides a much needed peppery kick against the creaminess of the egg.

The key is a good, artisan bread for a delicious, traditional snack. 

Individual sausage and egg pies


Image via Good Housekeeping

Another quintessentially British snack, individual pies are a great option because they're easy to transport and eat with the hands—no fiddly cutting required. 

Cheese, onion and potato pasties


Image via Lavender and Lovage

A childhood favourite, these little pies are made with mashed potatoes, onions, cheddar and a pinch of mustard powder, and they look delightful.

They can even be frozen before or after baking for a delicious picnic snack whenever the mood strikes you.

Get the cheese, onion and potato pasties recipe from Lavender and Lovage

Classic buttermilk fried chicken


Image via Country Living

Another finger-food favourite, why not pack pots of dipping sauce to complete this delicious buttermilk fried chicken recipe? 

They're surprisingly quick to make and are great for feeding large groups. Delicious!

Get the buttermilk fried chicken recipe from Country Living

Green garden salad


Image via Good Housekeeping

This is the ultimate British salad, including delicious avocado, lettuce, courgettes, watercress, spinach or rocket and mustard cress. 

A great choice if you're preparing your salad in advance as it will last chilled for up to two days. 

Get the green salad recipe from Good Housekeeping

English salad in a jar


Image via Lavender and Lovage

This salad is not only easy to transport, it also looks lovely displayed in clear jars—a real picnic winner.

Another one that can be made the night before, just remember not to dress it until the picnic itself, to avoid soggy salad. 

Get the English salad in a jar recipe from Lavender and Lovage

Victoria sponge


Image via Laura Ashley

Victoria sponge cake is the centrepiece of any British summer. Fluffy and light, there's a reason this delicious dessert is one of Britain's best-loved cakes. 

Get the Victoria sponge recipe from Good Housekeeping

Warming ginger soda


Image via Good Housekeeping

This Victorian drink is perfect for sipping during long summer nights in the sun, and it looks beautiful too. 

Get the recipe for warming ginger soda from Good Housekeeping

Pimm’s jelly jars


Image via The Crispy Crouton

A fun, fruity twist on an English classic. Every good picnic needs a good boozy dessert and this is just the trick. 

Get the Pimm's jelly jars recipe from Good Food

Karen Burns-Booth is a freelance Recipe Developer, Food and Travel Writer and is a member if the Guild of Food Writers. She writes for her own blog Lavender and Lovage.

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