Make Ahead Picnic Recipes

Everyone enjoys a picnic. Recipes that can be prepared in advance reduce the last minute panic of not knowing what to put in the picnic basket. These can either be made the previous day, or made and frozen ready for the next sunny, summer's day.

In addition to the easy picnic recipes below, you might also like my quiche lorraine recipe page.

Cornish Pasties

Traditionally, Cornish Pasties were a picnic food for farmers in the south west of England. They were easily transported in their pockets (!!!) which helped keep the farmer warm, and could be eaten with the hands.

Strictly speaking, they should only be known as Cornish Pasties if they are made in Cornwall, but the principle of making them is the same wherever you live.

If you want to keep to the traditional recipe, the filling ingredients are given below, but I find that my basic mince mix from the once a month cooking page also works well, and helps ring the changes even if you are not packing a picnic meal.

A variation on the basic pasty is to put the meat mixture at one end and a dessert filling, such as apple, at the other. These fillings are separated by a "hinged" piece of pastry. It is a good idea to add a pastry decoration on top of the sweet end before cooking to ensure the right end is eaten first!

Ingredients for making cornish pasties from scratch

  • Shortcrust pastry or "ready to roll" pastry 
  • Beef - either minced or cut into small chunks
  • Onion - peeled and diced
  • Potato - peeled and diced
  • Swede - peeled and diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Beaten egg or milk

How to pack your Cornish pasties

The best way to carry these with you as picnic food, is to wrap them in a double layer of foil. They can be frozen this way and thawed in a refrigerator for 24 hours before consumption.

I haven't given quantities as it will depend on how many pasties you are making, and your budget. If you are trying to keep costs low, then you can get away with less meat and more vegetables.

Mix together the meat and vegetables, in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Next roll out your pastry, not too thinly! Use a plate or a bowl to cut around, to make approximately 7 inch (18cm) circles.

Pile the filling onto one half of the circle, brush the edge with water, and then fold the other half over to form a semi-circle. Pinch the edges together to seal the pasty all around.

Place on a baking tray, and then brush the surface of the pasty with a little beaten egg or milk to give a golden sheen when cooked.

Bake at 200 degrees C or 400 degrees F for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 180 C or 350 F and continue cooking until they have had 1 hour in total. If you are using your cooked, basic mince mix then they will not need as long in the oven - about 30 minutes will be sufficient.

More Picnic recipes for you

Sausage Rolls

  • Pork Sausage-meat
  • Dried sage
  • salt and pepper
  • Shortcrust or Flaky pastry
  • Beaten egg - to seal and glaze

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C or 400 degrees F.

Either make your own pastry or use the ready to roll bought version. Roll it out into a long thin rectangle, about 4-5 inches wide.

Add the dried sage to the sausage-meat, then roll it into a tubular shape, about the width of two fingers. Place the sausage-meat, in a line just in from the long edge nearest to you. 

Brush the edge furthest away from you with beaten egg and then roll the pastry over the filling with your hands, sealing it by pressing on the wet edge. Using a knife you can press the blade into the sealed edge to roughen it up if you are using flaky pastry.

Cut the long roll into shorter lengths and place them on a greased pastry tray.

Using a knife make short diagonal slits in the top of the sausage rolls for decoration then brush the remaining beaten egg (or milk) over the top.

Cook for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack.

How to pack your sausage rolls

These can be packed in a rectangular plastic food container, with greaseproof paper between the layers, to take on your picnic.

Freezing notes

If you are using fresh sausage-meat then you can freeze these before cooking them. It is not safe to do so, however, if you are using sausage-meat that has previously been frozen. If this is the case, they would need to be cooked before freezing them.

Scotch Eggs

Another way to use sausage-meat is to make Scotch Eggs. 

This has to be one of the easiest make ahead picnic recipes ever! For three hard boiled (hard cooked) eggs you will need half a pound of sausage-meat.

  • Hard boiled eggs in their shell
  • Sausage-meat
  • 1 uncooked egg
  • breadcrumbs (golden ones purchased from grocery store)
  • Oil for frying

How to pack your Scotch Eggs

Cut each egg in half for serving. Cool, then pack in your picnic box or wrap in foil. 

Scotch Eggs can also be eaten hot, at home.

To help avoid the dark ring that can form around hard boiled eggs,plunge them in cold water as soon as you take them out of the pan. When you are ready to make your Scotch Eggs, tap the egg to crack the shell and then peel it off by rubbing with your fingers.

Take a portion of the sausage-meat and mould it around an egg, ensuring all of the egg is covered. If you wish you can add finely chopped onions or herbs to the sausage-meat for extra flavour.

Dip each egg in beaten raw egg and then into the breadcrumbs. Roll to cover the sausage-meat in crumbs.

Fry in hot fat until nicely browned.

Economical variation

If funds are tight you can mash hard boiled eggs and mix with a stuffing mix. This mixture is then formed into balls and wrapped with the sausage-meat. Tasty budget option.

More picnic recipes...

I hope these picnic recipes help you when you are planning to eat al fresco.

To finish off the feast you might like to try my carrot cake recipe.

I will be adding more ideas for picnic food to the site soon, and will link to them from this page so you may like to bookmark this page or sign up to the RSS feed so you are alerted at once when new pages are added.