As the warm weather begins to beckon us outside and into the sunshine, it’s a perfect time to grab a picnic basket and pack it full of these deliciously portable Vegan Picnic Ideas that include sandwiches, sides, snacks, and even desserts!
Whether you are headed for a day at the lake, park, mountains, or beach, these vegan-style healthy picnic foods will help you be prepared to enjoy the great outdoors whatever the terrain.
During the spring and summer, we spend a lot of time at the lake on our boat. Over the years, we’ve learned to keep it simple and healthy without having to skimp on taste. I kind of feel like we’ve turned this picnic-thing into an art.
To share some of our favorite picnic foods with you, I’ve broken these recipes down into categories–sandwiches, sides, snacks, and desserts–to make it simple for you to pick and choose a few to give a try.
Picnic Pro Tips
We learned a great deal about packing food for picnics over the years because we spend so much time on the lakes here in the Carolinas. Though we aren’t experts, these are some of our top tips.
Keep food that would normally be refrigerated in a cooler with ice packs. Picnic baskets are fine for crackers, bread, plates, utensils, and such. However, if your picnic dishes would be in the refrigerator at home, then they should be kept cool.
Try to find a shaded area to put your cooler to help control the temperature well. If a cooler is left out in the sun, it heats up quickly.
Stick to foods that don’t necessarily need to be heated. Our favorites are sandwiches, beans salads, hummus, slaw, potato salad, etc.
Finger foods are really your best bet and foods that aren’t saucy and messy.
Don’t forget to pack some wet wipes because it’s often difficult or impossible to find a sink in some locations.
Remember to take a trash bag to clean up after yourself. Our rule of thumb is to leave the area better than we found it. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve taken off liter that other folks left behind. Not cool people!
Sandwiches are the easiest main dish to pack for traveling. They are hand-held and don't require a spoon or fork which makes them much less messy. These are some of our favorite picnic sandwiches. Click on each of the photos, recipe titles, or 'Get the Recipe' buttons to see full recipes with ingredients, measurements, instructions, and a print button.
Move over B.L.T.! It's time for a new, heart-friendly smoked tempeh TLT sandwich that is slightly crunchy, yet sometimes chewy, smokey, and hearty. So easy and flavorful! This sandwich will surprise you with how delicious it is!
I know, this mayo isn't a sandwich, but it goes on every sandwich I ever eat so I want to share it with you. I am from the Carolinas where potato salad, coleslaw, and tomato sandwiches are necessary meal staples. So, here ya go!
Easy Picnic Sides
The best side dishes for a picnic are the simple ones that can be made in minutes and aren't too messy for travel. These delicious sides definitely fit the bill! Click on each of the photos, recipe titles, or 'Get the Recipe' buttons to see full recipes with ingredients, measurements, instructions, and a print button.
This raw vegan broccoli salad is so creamy and light, even broccoli haters will like it. Broccoli slaw salad lovers will never realize it has a fraction of the fat and calories of the traditional recipe they are used to.
This Kale Quinoa Salad with Orange Miso Dressing is crazy delicious and so easy to make. An amazing nutrition powerhouse salad of kale, quinoa, mandarin oranges, and so much more!
Perfectly Sweet Finger Desserts for Picnics
We all like a little something sweet to quit off on, and these are the ultimate travel desserts because they're sweet and travel-worthy. They will finish off your picnic by tantalizing your taste buds. Click on each of the photos, recipe titles, or 'Get the Recipe' buttons to see full recipes with ingredients, measurements, instructions, and a print button.
Remember the chocolate oatmeal cookies you used to eat as a kid? Sometime back, I decided to play around in the kitchen a bit. These chocolate oatmeal cookies are what I came up with as a much healthier version.
Sometimes you just need something a little sweet that doesn’t require a lot of effort. Whether you’re making a snack for yourself or for a crowd, these easy stuffed dates are the perfect healthy dessert or snack.
Homemade Tootsie Rolls require no baking and only 5 ingredients. The flavor experience is a mix between a tootsie roll and rich fudge. While candy-making can seem like an intimidating task, following this homemade tootsie roll recipe is actually surprisingly easy.
All the taste of Grandma's cookies, but none of the fat! These little vegan oatmeal raisin cookies are oil-free, dairy-free, and egg-free, with only 88 calories and 1 gram of fat per cookie! This recipe makes a whopping 42 cookies, so you may want to cut the recipe in half unless taking to a function.
Fluffy and moist sweet potato batter swirled with apple sauce, raisins and cinnamon makes a dozen muffins that are packed with beta carotene and fiber. These vegan Sweet Potato Muffins are a welcome addition to any breakfast! Make ahead of time and freeze for quick breakfasts on the go!
Healthy Picnic Snacks
When it's not a meal but a snack you need for the beach or lake, these tasty savory dishes are great for dipping and smearing on crackers or crusty bread.
This low-fat Italian Vegan Hummus is delicious on sandwiches, in wraps, or served with fresh vegetables and pita bread. It's completely oil and tahini-free, so the calories and fat per serving are very low.
Potato chips CAN be healthy! This wonderful little potato chip maker comes with a potato slicer and costs less than $10. I never would have believed it, until I tried it for myself. It's true! We eat delicious, oil-free chips on our healthy diet all the time, and it only takes about 7-8 minutes in the microwave!
This oil-free hummus with roasted red pepper requires only a handful of ingredients and a few minutes to make. If you have 10 minutes and a blender or food processor, you've got a delicious healthy snack.
Just in time - headed on a two day road trip to see my parents and will take some of these on the road! Thank you - so many good choices here!
Wednesday 21st of April 2021
I'm so grateful that you put this post together! This is exactly what I need to get the rest of my family on board. Thank you for taking the time to create these recipes, love it!
Wednesday 21st of April 2021
Hi Alayna- I am glad to hear that this list is helpful. Hopefully, you'll find some new family favorites. Good luck with getting them all onboard!
Wednesday 21st of April 2021
This is great since we r currently traveling down to fla with our camper. Love all these ideas and will be trying them on this trip. These are substitutes for the unhealthy foods we ate all our lives and love but need healthier ideas for them now that we r trying to eat the plant based ones. Thank you!