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!
If it’s not picnicking but traveling you’re doing, these Healthy Road Trip Snacks can help a lot.
For those of you new to the whole food plant-based lifestyle, we’ve created a FREE 7-Day Plant-Based Menu Planner to help you get started!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.
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.
Tired? Don't feel like cooking? This chickpea vegan salad with avocado takes less than 10 minutes and only requires a bowl and fork to prepare. No kidding! Protein-packed and delicious!
I make this delicious Avocado Sandwich frequently when time is rushed and we need a quick healthy meal. It's made with fresh avocado, juicy tomato, crunchy purple onion, flavorful spices, and my homemade vegan spicy mayo (aka special sauce) all piled high on toasted sourdough bread.
Healthy meals just don’t get any easier than with these easy veggie wraps layered with hummus or mayo and piled high with fresh veggies like lettuce, spinach, carrots, cucumbers, and anything else you can think of.
Tired of a boring sandwich? Let me help you fix that with this Ultimate Veggie & Hummus Sandwich that is piled high with crunchy vegetables and creamy hummus and can be ready in 15 minutes or less.
Cucumber Sandwiches are perfect for appetizers, luncheons, bridal or baby showers, picnics, and even just for a healthy meal. They are fresh, light, and so delicious!
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!
This Vegan Egg Salad spread is one that I get asked about a lot. I have taken it to some of my cooking & nutrition classes to sample, and students rave. They even take it to potlucks themselves.
This fabulous Chickpea Tuna Salad recipe is from Straight Up Food's very own Cathy Fisher. Made with chickpeas, fresh vegetables, and seasonings, this vegan tuna is going to delight your taste buds!
These bite-sized colorful sandwich pinwheels make terrific little appetizers or a quick tasty lunch, and they are very kid-friendly!
This vegan black bean burger is packed with protein and fiber and is terrific partnered with my low-fat Chipotle Ranch Sauce (included in this recipe)!
This delicious Chickpea Burger is hearty and packed with flavor. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a dollop of my homemade vegan mayo.
Easy, filling, and inexpensive, these veggie Lentil Sloppy Joes are a quick meal that keeps you full for hours and reheats well for lunch the next day.
This sweet and tangy crockpot vegan bbq is out-of-this-world! Perfect for summer outdoor gatherings or any time of the year. Serve with slaw, corn on the cob, or air fried potato wedges.
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 is a delicious classic! But with no dairy, and a fraction of the fat. Colorful, crunchy, creamy. No one will ever realize it's actually healthy!
This classic mixed bean salad a perfect side dish for picnics and social gatherings. It's so versatile, it can be made with just about any type of beans you have on-hand.
This quinoa chickpea salad is made with simple, wholesome ingredients that make it only delicious but also beautiful and filling.
I live in North Carolina where cole slaw is a staple. This recipe is not our traditional creamy cole slaw, but boast a sweet and sour vinegary flavor with a punch of heat.
This vegan potato salad is excellent for family gatherings and picnics. No one will ever realize it's a low-fat, healthier vegan version. I promise, if my family can't tell, yours won't either.
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.
Cucumber tomato salad is one of the most popular summer salads, and with good reason. It's light, refreshing, and the perfect side dish for any meal.
These savory vegan baked beans are the perfect blend of sweet and smoky flavors. They make the perfect side dish and are great for taking to barbecues.
When I need a quick crowd-pleasing dish that doesn't require any cooking, my first go-to is this simple Black Bean and Corn Salad recipe.
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.
These colorful fruit skewers are made with fresh fruit and lime sauce and are perfect for a healthy dessert or an impressive party appetizer.
These black bean brownies are fudgy delicious and can be ready in only about 30 minutes!
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!
These quick and easy air fryer chickpeas are absolutely delicious and completely oil-free. Choose from this tasty assortment of flavors!
This vegan spinach artichoke dip is sure to be a hit at any pot-luck or game night! The recipe is so versatile, it can be made with white beans or cashews.
This easy, oil-free, vegan hummus takes only about 10-minutes to make and requires absolutely no cooking. It also happens to be gluten-free.
No kidding! This healthy chocolate hummus is so easy to make. If you've got 5-minutes and a blender, you've got a delicious easy dessert.
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.
This beautifully vibrant green edamame hummus recipe is bursting with flavor! It makes a delicious dip for veggies or even a spread for sandwiches and wraps.
About Terri Edwards
Hi guys! I am the content creator behind EatPlant-Based and a licensed Food for Life instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I am passionate about sharing healthy recipes and tips to empower others to get healthy. I’m so glad you’re here! Read More…
Monday 26th of April 2021
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!