The Best Picnic Foods (BBQ Chicken recipe)

There’s something so nostalgic about spreading a blanket and opening a picnic basket. Perhaps because it signals a pause in the day; an opportunity to both feast and feel the breeze on our faces.

Experience has taught me that nearly any element of a picnic can go awry – but if there is excellent food to pass around, most anything – from wind to bugs – can be all but ignored. Which is why I plan on the best picnic foods I possibly can and then hope the weather cooperates.

Today I’m sharing a round-up of picnic eats from snacks to salads, as well as our new favourite cold picnic chicken recipe. Grab a pen and paper and plan your menu for this weekend. Summer is in full swing and the Great Outdoors is calling.

The Best Picnic Foods :: Simple Bites

The Best Picnic Foods

The elements of a great picnic should include: gorgeous seasonal produce, a special drink, really good cheese, a substantial main dish and a decadent sweet treat. You don’t always have to pack every element all at once, though. Sometimes a picnic is simply a basket of fresh-picked apples, a hunk of aged cheddar cheese and a thermos of hot spiced cider.

Picnic food should not be complicated; however, there’s something about eating out of doors that stimulates the appetite, so it’s important that the contents of the picnic basket be substantial, nourishing and plentiful. My kids can testify that this is of the utmost importance; we seldom return home with any leftovers after our beach excursions.

Picnic food is also incredibly nostalgic. If you grew up on your grandmother’s potato salad, then all the trendy grain bowls aren’t going to do a thing for you. A summer picnic is time to embrace your inner child and revisit those childhood favourites like macaroni salad and peanut butter cookies. If there’s mayo in that salad, however, you may want to read Simple Tips for Keeping Your Picnic Food Safe.

Plan, Prep, Picnic. Like any meal, a successful picnic starts with a menu plan and a bit of meal prep. Even if it’s a short list on your phone and a quick chop of veggies the night before, every bit of organization helps you get out the door faster. And don’t forget to review the best cooler hacks for a picnic at the beach.

The Best Picnic Foods: MAIN DISH & SALADS

The Best Picnic Foods: SNACKS & DESSERTS

This summer I’ve been making one cold picnic chicken recipe on repeat at the request of my kids. The recipe is from The Prairie Table: Suppers, Potlucks & Socials: Crowd-Pleasing Recipes to Bring People Together and it is just one of many great picnic recipes from author Karlynn Johnston.

Thanks to my friends at the books publisher, Appetite, I’ve got the recipe here to share with you. Once you have these in the cooler, just shake up a jar of Honey-Sweetened Peach Lemonade, whip up a salad, grab a jar of pickles and hit the road. Happy Picnics!

Grandma Ellen’s Cold Picnic Barbecue Chicken

Perfectly portable picnic chicken. Baked, not fried, and even better on the second day.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Essential Ingredient: Chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Chilling: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 806kcal
Author: Karlynn Johnston


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups barbecue potato chips crushed
  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter


  • Grease a rimmed baking tray large enough to hold 8 pieces of chicken in a single layer and set aside.
  • Beat the eggs in a bowl just large enough to hold the largest piece of chicken. Place the flour and crushed chips in 2 separate bowls.
  • Line up your bowls and your baking tray in this order from left to right: flour, eggs, crushed chips, baking tray.
  • First, dip your chicken into the flour mixture and cover it completely and evenly. Shake off any excess flour.
  • Dip it into the egg mixture, shaking off any excess, and then into the crushed chips, rolling it around to cover it completely. Place the piece of chicken on the baking tray, and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  • Place in the fridge for 30 minutes minimum and up to 1 hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Melt the unsalted butter and drizzle it evenly over the chicken pieces.
  • Bake uncovered for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 180°F. Check periodically to make sure that the butter is not smoking; if it is, turn down the oven temperature slightly.
  • Cool chicken , then refrigerate immediately.


Calories: 806kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 48g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 303mg | Sodium: 411mg | Potassium: 1126mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 720IU | Vitamin C: 7.9mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 4.2mg

Oh and hey, if you’re camping, don’t miss my post on The Best Camping Foods.

Excerpted from The Prairie Table by Karlynn Johnston. Copyright © 2019 Karlynn Johnston. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. great picnic inspiration and love these recipes, the cold chicken recipe is my idea of a perfect picnic, but so many others to choose from, thank you

  2. Margaret K Bowyer says

    Can’t wait to try the chicken recipe. I have always used corn flakes. Why did I never think to try potato chips. Yum!

  3. This isn’t directly related to this post, and I tried emailing you but I couldn’t get the “I’m not a robot” to verify for some reason. I am searching for a simple homemade puff pastry recipe. Puff pastry is rather expensive at the store, and it would be nice to have a homemade, cheaper option. You have so many recipes that include puff pastry in your blog. Would you consider doing a puff pastry tutorial? I know I can trust your recipes to be tasty. I love your blog!

    • Hi Clarice,

      So sorry the email didn’t work for you. So…I don’t have a homemade puff recipe. My motto has always been simple recipes, and having made puff pastry on my own a few times, I always felt like it was a tad too complicated for this audience.

      Try this recipe from my friend Janice:

      She’s very reliable! Happy Baking and thanks for being here.

  4. Hi! We enjoyed a great beach picnic today. I enjoy reading your blog as I’m from PEI and like the tips on whats seasonal in our area. Trying out the Chicken Peach Kebabs tomorrow if I can find some good peaches. Can’t wait!

    • Corrine! That makes me so happy! Love that you’re picnicing, and local, too. So far I’ve been disappointed with the peaches this summer…good ones are coming. 🙂

  5. Amazing blog , kudos to you for running such blog and what i like most about it is that nutrition chart at the end of recipe. 🙂

  6. I have a little lake by my house that I love to have picnic near it’s like the world is on hold when I’m with my family they are like my treasure and I love cooking for them and this BBQ chicken was a hit at today’s picnic.

  7. Hi,
    I just came across this recipe as I was looking for something to make for a picnic this Saturday. Can I make them a few days ahead??

  8. Thanks for sharing these best picnic foods.

    Sandwiches, pies, Scotch eggs, sausage rolls and chicken drumsticks are considered classic picnic treats for a reason – they’re all finger foods that travel well.

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