Food For Thought

what to bring to your fall picnic

Fall picnics can be even more enjoyable than summer gatherings. As the weather cools and leaves change color, a picnic can be a perfect opportunity to savor the season with family and friends. Start planning an outdoor festivity by considering a few fall picnic food ideas that can inspire you to switch out traditional summer fare for autumnal options. From snacks and sides to hearty main courses, here are a few picnic menu ideas perfect for an outdoor meal.

Autumn Slaw

Update summer slaw recipes with robust greens and ripe fall fruits. Try substituting shredded Brussels sprouts for cabbage or combine them with standard slaw mix for a boost of nutrition and flavor. Mix up maple-cider vinaigrette in place of mayonnaise-based dressing and add a taste of the season with slices of crisp, fresh apple and a sprinkle of dried cranberries.

Pasta Salad with Roasted Seasonal Vegetables

Roast squash or pumpkin in the oven or on the grill. You can also add other vegetables like Swiss chard or kale; just cut out the center stalks, slice the leaves into ribbons, and cook with a bit of oil until wilted and tender. Choose pasta that has the appearance and texture you prefer. You might consider farfalle, rotini, or even orzo. Make a simple dressing out of a tablespoon or two of olive oil, chopped or dried herbs, salt, and pepper. Toss the cooked pasta and vegetables together, add enough dressing to coat, and top with toasted nuts and parmesan cheese right before serving.

Black Forest Turkey Wraps

Wrap up slices of Bar-S Black Forest Turkey Breast in tortillas spread with mayonnaise and mustard or any condiments you prefer. Include lettuce or spinach and sliced tomato to vary the texture and offer a burst of freshness. You might also want to include a slice or two of bacon. Serve these surprisingly filling wraps whole, sliced in half, or cut into bite-sized rounds. Picnic guests may find that wraps are easier to enjoy than sandwiches while participating in outdoor activities.

Oktoberfest Sausages

Smoked sausages are tried-and-true picnic standbys that are never out of season. Bar-S Classic Smoked Sausages are perfect for serving on a bun. You can also slice a looped sausage, available in Classic Smoked or Polska Kielbasa varieties. Top sausages with mustard, grilled onions, traditional cabbage sauerkraut, or a seasonal kraut made with bacon and apples.


A thermos full of hot chili can be a fantastic addition to a picnic in cooler weather. Everyone has their own favorite recipe. Whether you prefer all meat, meat and beans, or any other combination, make sure to bring disposable bowls or cups to serve the guests attending your picnic. You might also want to bring a bag of shredded cheese or containers filled with all of your favorite toppings like chopped onions, tomatoes, or jalapenos.

Pumpkin Soup

Another hot option for a picnic on a fall day is pumpkin soup. Roast whole or halved sugar pumpkins – the smaller variety – puree, and simmer with broth and spices. Finish with a little cream or coconut milk to make this soup full-bodied and delicious. A thermos full of this soup can capture one of the most characteristic flavors of the season and warm up guests at an outdoor fall feast.

Apple Pie Bars

Pieces of apple pie can get messy during a picnic, but these bars are easy to slice, share, and eat. Line the bottom of a baking dish with pastry dough and fill with a mixture of peeled and chopped apples, seasonal spices, and your preferred sweetener and thickener. Roll another sheet of pastry out over the top and cut slits to allow for venting while baking. Cook these bars in advance so that the filling can cool and thicken before you slice them into squares to serve for dessert.

Don’t forget to pack the utensils and containers you’ll need to enjoy all of the food at your picnic, including disposable cutlery, plates, bowls or cups, and napkins. Our fall picnic food ideas are meant to inspire you to plan a memorable event to celebrate the changing season and the bounty of fall harvests. No matter what food you bring and which activities you plan, you can find many ways to make fall picnics a tradition.