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50 Easy Picnic Side Dishes to Make This Summer

Looking for the perfect summer recipe? Here's a host of picnic side dishes that are just right for the season. And trust us—they won't take a back seat to what's on the grill!

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Jalapeno Popper Mexican Street Corn

One of the best things about summer is fresh sweet corn, and this recipe is a definite standout. We love its creamy dressing, crunchy panko coating and spicy jalapeno kick. If you’re really feeling wild, sprinkle these with a bit of cooked and crumbled bacon! —Crystal Schlueter, Northglenn, Colorado

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Pack these other picnic recipes in your basket, too.

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Grilled Romaine Salad Exps Tohjj21 39316 E02 05 4b 3

Grilled Romaine Salad

For a great tasting salad, try this recipe on the grill! Add any dressing of your choice to complete the dish.—Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Summer Zucchini Pasta

I’m always experimenting when my garden is cranking out zucchini and summer squash. This simple and healthy summer zucchini pasta is one of my latest wins. It’s meatless, but you can add shredded chicken or grilled salmon for a heartier dish. —Beth Berlin, Oak Creek, Wisconsin

Craving more? Dig in to these other summer salad recipes.

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Cucumbers with Dill

Sprinkling cucumber slices with salt and letting them stand in a colander draws out excess water so they stay crisp when set on a barbecue buffet. Try this cucumber dill salad alongside any grilled entree. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
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Tangy Baked Beans Exps Cf2bz20 32478 E11 15 6b 3

Tangy Baked Beans

Different, delicious and sized exactly right for two people, this easy, breezy home-style side dish is sure to please!—Dean Copeland, Ochlocknee, Georgia
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Special Fruit Salad Exps Cf2bz20 31587 B11 15 5b 4

Special Fruit Salad

Dress up a sweet fruit salad with this drizzle of citrusy flavor.—Alice Orton in Big Bear Lake, California.

These cold picnic recipes don’t need to be heated!

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Oven Fries Exps Ft20 39966 F 0609 1 Home 13

Oven Fries

I jazz up these baked french fries with paprika and garlic powder. Something about the combination of spices packs a punch. The leftovers are even good cold! —Heather Byers, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Caprese Salad Exps Ft20 50347 F 0610 1 Home

Caprese Salad

My husband and I love Caprese salad, but not the high prices we pay for it in restaurants. Here, we created our own version which tastes incredibly close, if not better, than any restaurant version we’ve tried. —Melissa Pearson, Sandy, Utah
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Cheesy Zucchini Casserole Exps Ft21 8816 F 0427 1

Cheesy Zucchini Casserole

Tender zucchini gets pleasant flavor from a cheesy sauce and cracker-crumb topping. This cheesy zucchini casserole is a great way to use up bumper crop. —Kathi Grenier, Auburn, Maine
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Italian Spaghetti Salad Recipe Exps Ft20 10512 F 0804 1 1

Italian Spaghetti Salad

This attractive, fresh-tasting spaghetti salad can conveniently be made the night before. It makes enough for a crowd! —Lucia Johnson, Massena, New York
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Fiesta Red Potatoes

My son-in-law, who is very creative, came up with these potatoes. Use only one jalapeno or serve these fiery potatoes with sour cream to cool them off a bit. —Pat Pennell, El Dorado Springs, Missouri
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Black Eyed Peas With Bacon Exps Ciwmz19 64 B09 04 2b

Black-Eyed Peas with Bacon

A real Southern favorite, black-eyed peas are traditionally served on New Year’s Day to bring good luck. The bacon and thyme in my mom’s recipe make them extra special. —Ruby Williams, Bogalusa, Louisiana

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Grilled Mediterranean Zucchini Salad Exps Ft20 251835 F 0722 1 6

Grilled Zucchini Salad with Mediterranean Dressing

This grilled zucchini salad with Mediterranean salad dressing is the perfect side dish. I also like to add summer squash, when it’s in season, for a variation, or crumbled goat cheese when I want creaminess. —Rashanda Cobbins, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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Quick Macaroni Salad Exps Cf2bz20 40520 B11 15 4b 6

Quick Macaroni Salad

You can’t go wrong with this time-tested winner. Here it is pared down for two.—Carma Blosser, Livermore, Colorado
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Marinated Broccoli

This festive side dish couldn’t be easier to throw together. But because it’s so pretty, it’s perfect for special occasions. —Edna Hoffman, Hebron, Indiana
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Easy Grilled Squash Exps Sdon18 132599 C06 14 2b 3

Easy Grilled Squash

This is grilled butternut squash recipe is one of my favorite ways to cook with fresh produce. I usually make it when I am grilling steak or chicken. —Esther Horst, Monterey, Tennessee
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Strawberry Arugula Salad With Feta Exps Cwam19 49059 B01 04 8b

Strawberry Arugula Salad with Feta

The combination of peppery arugula, sweet strawberries and robust feta cheese may sound unusual, but one bite wins over taste buds.—Carala Horne, Meridian, Mississippi
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Creamy Jalapeno Corn Exps Scbz18 49990 B07 25 1b

Creamy Jalapeno Corn

This comforting and creamy corn side dish is appealing to almost everyone. It gets its spicy kick from jalapeno peppers.—Judy Carty, Wichita, Kansas
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Candy Bar Apple Salad Exps Hplbz18 36667 C05 17 6b 10

Candy Bar Apple Salad

This creamy, sweet snickers salad with crisp apple crunch is a real people-pleaser. It makes a lot, which is good, because it will go fast! —Cyndi Fynaardt, Oskaloosa, Iowa
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Pesto Pasta & Potatoes

Although this healthy pasta dish is pretty simple to begin with, it's made even easier because you can throw the green beans and pasta into one big pot to cook. —Laura Flowers, Moscow, Idaho
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Baked Beans with Pineapple

This marvelous recipe is a staple at our neighborhood's annual barbecue. —J. Hindson, Victoria, British Columbia
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Green Bean-Cherry Tomato Salad

My grandmother made a cold green bean salad with potatoes for every family barbecue. Now I bring my own version of the recipe to parties. With added color and taste from the cherry tomatoes, this classic favorite is even better. —Angela Lemoine, Howell, New Jersey
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Contest Winning Grilled Corn Salsa Exps Fttmzj21 39985 E03 03 5b 1

Contest-Winning Grilled Corn Salsa

Nothing beats the flavor of grilled vegetables, and this is a super way to use your garden bounty. I grill the veggies anytime I'm grilling something else, then whip up the salad and put it in the fridge to marinate. It's even better the next day. —Teri Kman Laporte, Colorado
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Nutty Broccoli Slaw

My daughter gave me the recipe for this delightful salad. The sweet dressing nicely coats a crisp blend of broccoli slaw mix, onions, almonds and sunflower kernels. Crushed ramen noodles provide even more crunch. It's a smash hit wherever I take it. —Dora Mae Clapsaddle, Kensington, Ohio
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Summertime Tomato Salad

My crazy good salad has cherry tomatoes, squash and blueberries together in one bowl. Then I layer on the flavor with fresh corn, red onion and mint. —Thomas Faglon, Somerset, New Jersey
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Parmesan Snap Pea Pasta Exps Fttmz18 192175 B11 17 4b

Parmesan Snap Pea Pasta

My family loves pasta! This simple dish is always a hit, especially during the spring when sugar snap peas are the sweetest. To keep us from getting in a rut, I change up the flavors. —Crystal Jo Bruns, Iliff, Colorado
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Melon with Serrano-Mint Syrup

This is just one of the recipes I developed to take advantage of the fresh mint I grow nearly year-round. The serrano pepper is a nice contrast to the sweetness of the syrup and salad. —Jennifer Fisher, Austin, Texas
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Deluxe German Potato Salad

I make this salad for all occasions—it goes well with any kind of meat. I often take this salad to potlucks, and there's never any left over. The celery, carrots and dry mustard are a special touch not usually found in traditional German potato salad. —Betty Perkins, Hot Springs, Arkansas
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Crunchy Ramen Salad

For potlucks and picnics, this ramen noodle salad is a knockout. I tote the veggies in a bowl, dressing in a jar and noodles in a bag. Then I shake them up together when it's time to eat. —LJ Porter, Bauxite, Arkansas
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Fourth of July Bean Casserole

The outstanding barbecue taste of these beans makes them a favorite for cookouts all summer and into the fall. It's a popular dish, even with kids. The beef makes it so much better than plain pork and beans. —Donna Fancher, Lawrence, Indiana
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Summer Orzo

Summer Orzo

I’m always looking for fun ways to use the fresh veggies that come in my Community Supported Agriculture box, and this salad is one of my favorite creations. I like to improvise with whatever I have on hand, feel free to do the same here! —Shayna Marmar, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Khmer Pickled Vegetable Salad Exps Sdjj17 200450 B02 16 3b 9

Khmer Pickled Vegetable Salad

I grew up as a missionary kid in Cambodia, and most of my favorite foods have a Southeast Asian background. Locals love eating this pickled salad for breakfast, but I like it as a side for lunch or dinner, especially with chicken satay. —Hannah Heavener, Belton, Texas
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Garlic Sesame Green Beans Exps149486 Thca143053c08 22 12bc Rms 1

Garlic-Sesame Green Beans

Sauteed bits of garlic and shallot, with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, turn ordinary beans into something special. Keep the recipe in mind for your garden crop in summer. —Deirdre Cox, Kansas City, Missouri
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Caribbean Mango Slaw Exps Thso17 200095 B04 21 3b 26

Island Mango Slaw

The cooling effect of mango and Greek yogurt meets jalapeno spice in this snappy take on a slaw. To ensure ripeness, you may want to buy your mango a day or two ahead. —Jenn Hall, Collingswood, New Jersey
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Grilled Firecracker Potato Salad

I can eat potato salad like crazy. A little spice is nice, so I use cayenne and paprika in this grilled salad that comes with its own fireworks. —Ashley Armstrong, Kingsland, Georgia
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No Fuss Avocado Onion Salad Exps50848 Sd143205c01 30 2b Rms 2

No-Fuss Avocado Onion Salad

My mother, Nena, grew up in Cuba and learned many styles of cooking. She had a knack for making something incredibly simple taste amazing. This salad is proof. By itself, the dressing is really tart, but add the avocados and onions and it's the perfect complement. —Marina Castle Kelley, Canyon Country, California
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Summertime Slaw

As a change from mayonnaise-laden slaw, I created this refreshing alternative. It uses many of the garden vegetables I grow, so it's also economical. I serve it at our family reunion each Fourth of July, and it's always a big hit at get-togethers. —Sharon Payne, Mayfield, Kentucky
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Summer Squash Salad Exps Ftmz21 712 B03 10 4b

Summer Squash Salad

Packing a perfect crunch, this salad is a tasty alternative to coleslaw. Like most gardeners, we usually have an abundance of squash and zucchini in summer, so this dish is an amazing way to use our fresh produce. —Diane Hixon, Niceville, Florida
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Black-Eyed Pea Tomato Salad

Spending time in the kitchen with my late aunt was so much fun because she was an amazing cook and teacher. This black-eyed pea salad was one of her specialties. It's easy to make and is a nice alternative to pasta or potato salad. Add cooked cubed chicken breast to make it a meal on its own. —Patricia Ness, La Mesa, California
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Veggie Macaroni & Cheese

This creamy mac and cheese definitely doesn't come from a box! Fresh veggies add crunch and color and will leave everyone saying, "More, please!" —Marsha Morril, Harrisburg, Oregon
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Tzatziki Potato Salad

My son has an egg allergy, so this potato salad is perfect for him. For extra color, add radishes, apple and garlic dill pickles. —Cindy Romberg, Mississauga, Ontario
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Slow Cooker Potluck Beans Exps Sdjj17 201052 D02 17 2b 2

Slow-Cooker Potluck Beans

It was the morning of our family potluck, and I still needed something to take. I threw together this recipe while drinking my morning coffee. By the end of the gathering, the beans were all gone and someone had even washed the crock for me! —Mary Anne Thygesen, Portland, Oregon
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Refreshing Tropical Fruit Salad

Want a family-friendly side dish? This colorful medley is kid-pleasing and a great way to encourage healthy eating. —Sharon Ricci, Spooner, Wisconsin
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Caraway Coleslaw With Citrus Mayonnaise Exps144492 Sd132778c04 09 4bc Rms 4

Caraway Coleslaw with Citrus Mayonnaise

The combination of caraway and orange keeps this slaw from being anything but run-of-the-mill. I always get requests to bring a big batch to potlucks; proof positive that it's a keeper! I also like to make it a day ahead so the flavors can truly blend. —Lily Julow, Lawrenceville, Georgia
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Cheesy Slow-Cooked Corn

My family really likes this creamy, cheesy side dish—and it's so easy to make. Even those who usually don't eat much corn often ask for a second helping. —Mary Ann Truitt, Wichita, Kansas
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Layered Cornbread Salad

When the garden comes in, we harvest the veggies and layer them with cornbread and sweet relish for this snappy salad. Everyone wants seconds. —Rebecca Clark, Warrior, Alabama
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Beans, Bacon & Tomato Bake

Bacon, tomatoes and lima beans combine for a nutrient-packed side dish that makes the perfect accompaniment to turkey. —Karen Kumpulainen, Forest City, North Carolina
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Two-Bean Tomato Bake

Parmesan cheese, basil and garlic spice up this mouthwatering medley of beans, mushrooms, onion and tomato. It's even more flavorful when you use your garden harvest. We love the crumb topping because it adds a fantastic crunch.—Dorothy Rieke, Julian, Nebraska
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Bacon and Broccoli Salad

You'll want to serve this family-friendly broccoli salad with bacon year-round. The broccoli gets a big-time flavor boost from bacon, toasted pecans, dried berries and a mayo dressing. —Cindi Read, Hendersonville, Tennessee
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Pennsylvania Dutch Coleslaw

My mother used to make this salad on holidays. With all the cabbage that is grown here in the Northwest, the recipe is a real natural for us! —Deb Darr, Falls City, Oregon

Hazel Wheaton
Hazel is a writer and editor who has worked in the publishing industry for over 25 years in the fields of travel, jewelry arts and food. As the editor of the Taste of Home Christmas Annual (among other titles), she's in the holiday spirit all year round. An enthusiastic baker, she's known for her cookies, cakes and other baked goods. And she still wishes she could cook like her mother.

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