There’s a time and a place for cold fried chicken—and your next picnic shouldn’t be it. From the snacks to the dessert, some extra prep and a few creative ingredients can totally upgrade your spread. Opt for an insulated cooler rather than the traditional basket (Meijer has solid options for parties from two to twelve), because you’ll want to these dishes to arrive to the party in perfect form.
Bacon and Cheese Deviled Eggs
There’s nothing wrong with classic deviled eggs, but there’s just so much right about this jazzed-up version with crisp bacon and cheddar cheese. Load them up in a molded egg holder for extra protection during transport to your picnic site. Full recipe here.
Chicken and Rice Salad with Pine Nuts and Lemon
Packing a traditional salad with greens is always a gamble: Will it survive the car ride? Will it wilt as you enjoy your appetizer? Whip up this Mediterranean-inspired dish the night before and refrigerate overnight, then serve slightly chilled. Full recipe here.
Beef Tenderloin Sliders
Easily assemble these mini sandwiches before you head out the door: bun, meat, horseradish sauce—that’s it. Slice the beef tenderloin thinly, since everything’s on a smaller scale here. Full recipe here.
Dark Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry Goat Cheese Swirl
These brownies feature a sturdy base—it’s thick and fudgy rather than crumbly—making them the perfect treat to take on the go. And the creamy raspberry topping makes them healthy, right? Full recipe here.
The most fitting way to wash down all of that delicious food is with an equally delicious drink. Fill a plastic bottle or Thermos with a batch of this refreshing Pineapple Cooler, which also incorporates lavender and lemon verbena. Add a splash of rum if you’re feeling saucy.
Photo Credits (Clockwise from top left): CountryLiving.com, AddaPinch.com, FoodandWine.com, thekitchn.com, BHG.com