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The Fall Picnic Ideas To Help Plan The Perfect Outdoor Meal

The Fall Picnic Ideas To Help Plan The Perfect Outdoor Meal

Savor the season in California with these fall picnic essentials and easy autumn picnic recipes. Trust us, time to plan the perfect picnic.


6 min read

October 27, 2021

The arrival of the fall breeze and autumn colors means one thing: ‘Tis the season of pumpkin spice, apple pie, sweater weather, and crunchy leaves—need we say more? It’s almost impossible not to like autumn. Whether you enjoy the fall season because of Halloween or Thanksgiving, this time of year shows us how beautiful and picturesque transformation truly is. 

During this time of seasonal metamorphosis, nothing sounds more satisfying than a good old-fashioned fall picnic. California's unlimited opportunities for viewing the state’s autumn foliage make picnics an absolute must when it comes to spicing things up this season. If you need help coming up with awesome fall picnic ideas, we’ve compiled a list of picnic essentials and autumn picnic recipes that’ll make your outing even better.

Fall Picnic Essentials

Start your fall season off right with your better half. Plan a wonderful picnic and enjoy the colors of the season.

1. Ditch the basic plaid picnic blanket, and purchase a linen knit throw from Caron’s Beach House ($67).

2. Bring a colorful and durable tote from Pacific Tote Company ($120–$150) to carry your fall picnic items.

3. Buy elegant and matching paper plates, napkins, and utensils from Harlow and Grey ($4–$15 per packaged item). 

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4.  Pick up a spiced pumpkin candle from P.F. Candle Co. ($20) to create a magical ambiance.

5. Don’t forget a solar-powered Bluetooth speaker from Lemon California ($250) to play your favorite fall tunes.

6. Put on cool shades from Blenders Eyewear ($38–$58) to finish off your autumn look. 

Fall Picnic Menu

Light on calories, loaded with taste. Here’s the golden rule for salads: “Don’t forget the dressing and you'll be totally fine.”

1. Vegan Quinoa Salad

A make-ahead picnic highlight, this vegan salad from Detoxinista is your dairy-free fall best friend. Combined with an assortment of fresh herbs, quality olive oil, and chopped veggies, this salad is practically bursting with flavor.

2 cups dry quinoa, rinsed
4 cups water
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 large cucumber, chopped
½ red onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
10 olives, sliced
Fine sea salt
Fresh black pepper

2. Vegan Street Corn Pasta Salad 

Now that fall season is in full effect, a hearty vegan street corn pasta salad from Sweet Simple Vegan is exactly what you need. Extremely easy to make and ready within 15 minutes, this autumn picnic food is packed with healthy and affordable ingredients.

16 ounces fusilli pasta
2 ½ cups corn kernels, roasted
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
¼ red onion, diced
½ cup vegan mayonnaise
½ cup plain unsweetened vegan yogurt
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons vegan Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon chili powder
⅛ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, diced

Pack up your picnic baskets and find a blanket; this recipe for Vietnamese spring rolls with nuoc cham for dipping was made for outdoor eating.

3. Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Nuoc Cham

Since autumn is an explosion of red, orange, and yellow, it's only appropriate to prepare a fall picnic side dish that compliments the vibe. We just can't get enough of these spring rolls from Culinary Hill, especially since it brings together our favorite fall vegetables in one meal.

Spring rolls
8 12-inch rice-paper rounds
8 red-leaf lettuce leaves, stems removed
2 ounces cellophane noodles soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and drained
1 carrot peeled and finely shredded
½ small cucumber peeled and seeded, then finely shredded
½ pound block extra firm tofu cut into 16 slices, each 4 inches long and ¼ inch thick
½ cup mung beans sprouts
1 bunch fresh mint leaves only
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves 

Nuoc cham
3 cloves garlic minced
1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce 
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 serrano chile seeded and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 tablespoon carrot grated
1 tablespoon daikon grated

Fall Picnic Dessert Recipes

4. Dulce De Leche Cheesecake Cookie Bars 

Deliciously rich and easily transportable, this fall picnic recipe should definitely be on your list. The delicious dulce de leche is an explosion of flavors in your mouth that’s easily enjoyed with almost anything. Just follow the basic steps by A Cozy Kitchen and you'll be set for an unforgettable time.

Dulce de leche
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Cookie base
¾ cup unsalted butter melted
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Cheesecake topping
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup white sugar
1 large egg
Pinch of salt
Sea salt for topping 

Layers of an Oreo crust, fresh strawberries, and whipped topping make this refreshing and light a hit.

5. Strawberry Lasagna 

Deliciously layered and bound to make any autumn outing sweeter, this strawberry lasagna from I Heart Nap Time is our favorite this year. With Oreo crust, fresh strawberries, and whipped topping, this refreshing dessert is a fall picnic food sent straight from heaven.

36 golden Oreo's
6 tablespoons butter, melted

First layer
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces cool whip, thawed
1–2 tablespoons cold milk, if needed

Second layer
3 ounces strawberry flavored gelatin, 1 box of Jello
½ cup boiling water
½ cup cold water
8 ounces cool whip, thawed

8 ounces fresh whipped cream or cool whip
16 ounces fresh strawberries, sliced

Move over, Cinderella, because you won't be the only one who's living your best life with help from a magical pumpkin.

6. Ginger Snap Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwich 

If you’re all about sweets during your autumn picnics, the gingersnap pumpkin ice sandwich from Say Yes is all you’re going to need. Filled with the quintessential fall ingredient— pumpkin—these frozen sweets will become your happy place.

¾ cup shortening 
¾ cup butter
2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
½ cup molasses
4 cups flour
2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoon baking soda

Smooth, thick, airy, and creamy is how we like our mousse. Any kind of peanut butter and chocolate concoction is our jam.

7. Peanut Butter Mousse with Chocolate Cookie Crumble

Chocolate and peanut butter is always a match made in heaven. This dessert from the Little Kitchen celebrates these rich and delicious flavors by bringing them together in a fall picnic treat you won't be able to resist.

Chocolate cookie crumble
17 chocolate sandwich cookies 
3 tablespoons butter

Peanut Butter Mousse
¾ cup heavy cream
¼ cup, plus 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
4 ounces cream cheese
½ cup natural peanut butter 
2 tablespoons milk 
½ teaspoon vanilla

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