Weekend Entertaining: Summer Picnic

Entertain, Menu Ideas

Weekend Entertaining: Summer Picnic

Pack a picnic, head to the park or beach, and bask in the summer sun over a leisurely lunch with friends. Designed for portability, our do-ahead menu includes fried chicken sandwiches, salads and picnic-perfect desserts. Spread out a blanket and get started — here’s how to pull it off.




Weekend Entertaining: Summer PicnicFried chicken was made for picnic tables and summer lunches. Our fried chicken sandwiches are tender and crispy, with soft toasted buns and crunchy, tangy coleslaw inside. Serve the sandwiches with a couple of make-ahead salads, like an old-fashioned creamy potato salad and a vibrant green bean salad tossed with a sweet and sour mustard vinaigrette. Don’t forget simple bread and butter pickles for snacking.


Two desserts make the occasion even sweeter — and give everyone the excuse to linger. Bake a latticed cherry pie for a nostalgic taste of summer, and pack easy-to-eat individual blueberry-lemon cakes (they’re baked and served in Weck jars for a charming touch).


Party Planner


  • 2 weeks ahead: Make the pickles and process jars t0 seal.
  • 1 to 2 days ahead: Make the coleslaw for the chicken sandwiches. Brine the chicken (it needs to brine for 6 hours, so that can be done overnight or the day of). Bake the pie (the crust may be mixed a day ahead).
  • Day of: Make the potato salad and refrigerate. Make the green bean salad. Bake the blueberry-lemon cakes.
  • Just before packing: Assemble the sandwiches.


Weekend Entertaining: Summer PicnicWrap sandwiches in parchment paper tied with butcher’s twine for a presentation that’s pretty and practical. You can use Weck jars for the salads in addition to the desserts — they’re perfect for individual portions.


If you like, you can dress up the sandwich with new flavors to make it your own. Here are a few of our favorite combinations:

  • Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich: Combine gochuchang (a spicy red pepper paste) with mayonnaise and spread on the bread. Top the fried chicken with kimchi.
  • Cordon Bleu Fried Chicken Sandwich: Spread Dijon mustard on the bread. Top the fried chicken with thinly sliced ham and melted Gruyère cheese.
  • California Fried Chicken Sandwich: Top the fried chicken with slices of crispy bacon, tomato, lettuce and avocado.


Bring along rustic wooden boards for slicing sandwiches and cutting fruit for a crowd. Melamine plates look beautiful, but they’re also incredibly durable, so you don’t have to worry about shattering if kids are running around or frisbees are being thrown.


A picnic basket is essential for toting along all of your food and utensils, but don’t forget about beverages, too. This bottle caddy makes it easy to pack bottles of water and wine for the occasion — we recommend a soft, medium full-bodied white wine from our wine shop.

One comment about “Weekend Entertaining: Summer Picnic

  1. Shanna

    What a beautiful spread! Nothing says summer like food eaten outside. My husband and I were just staying this last week when we hauled a bag of food and blankets to a vineyard south of Nashville. One of the season’s best gifts.


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