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Carrot Soup

The crackle of leaves. The chill in the air. The smoky sizzle of bonfires.

All of the signs of fall will be here before you know it. (Personally, I can’t wait for sweater weather and pumpkin everything.) But this year, maybe more than ever before, I think we all want to make the most of the last days of summer and those early evenings of autumn.

So whether you’re bringing a picnic to the park or camping out in the backyard, here are 12 delicious ways to take it outside!

1. Honey Mustard Chicken Salad Sandwiches. Not sure what to pack for your picnic? Try these quick and easy sandwiches, loaded with tender chicken, crunchy celery, and the sweet tanginess of honey mustard.

Chicken Salad Sandwich | Tastefully Simple

Tip: Use a hearty bread or crusty baguette that isn’t likely to get squished. Wrapping sandwiches with parchment or waxed paper instead of plastic wrap will help avoid sogginess, too.

2. Autumn Carrot Ginger Soup. Grab a thermos, and fill it with this creamy soup, brimming with autumn veggies and the bright flavors of fresh citrus and ginger – all drizzled with a rich splash of coconut milk.

12 Picks for Perfect Fall Picnics blog post | Tastefully Simple

Fill mugs or small bowls, and you won’t even need utensils. Perfect around the campfire, too!

3. Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps. For a perfectly packable lunch, wrap up this fresh and light combination of shredded chicken, cucumbers, Thai peanut sauce and red peppers.

Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps | Tastefully Simple

4. Fall Apple Salad. Fun fact: this is my favorite salad of all time. Filled with juicy chopped apples, crumbled blue cheese, and crunchy walnuts, it’s such a delicious mix of fall flavors. (Use Honeycrisp or Gala apples if you can!)

Fall Apple Salad Recipe | Tastefully Simple

By the way, it also pairs perfectly as a side with grilled chicken or chops.

5. Charcuterie Board. Don’t feel like cooking? Keep it simple with sliced salami, cheeses like Brie and provolone, fresh fruit and a couple delicious dipping sauces. Add crackers, pickles and Coconut Praline Pecans for a little crunch, and you’ll have a picnic-perfect charcuterie board.

Charcuterie Board Recipe | Tastefully Simple

Grab a blanket and bottle of wine for a great date night idea, too – even in quarantine.

6. Wahoo! White Chicken Chili. Quick and easy, this creamy white chili is simmered with hearty chicken, mild chiles, sour cream, Cheddar and fresh cilantro.

Wahoo White Chili Recipe | Tastefully Simple

Cook it in a Dutch kettle over the campfire, and if you’re headed to a park, use a slow cooker or big thermos to keep it warm. Pack some corn muffins or tortilla chips to enjoy on the side.

7. Smoky Bacon Campfire Beans. Great for outdoor BBQs! If you’re grilling burgers or roasting hot dogs over the fire, these hearty beans – baked with salty-smoky bacon, spices and brown sugar – make a perfect side dish.

Smoky Bacon Campfire Beansto]

Chicken Bowtie Salad. For a tangy twist on traditional pasta salad, try this creamy bowtie pasta tossed with grilled chicken, walnuts, grapes and honey mustard.

Chicken Bowtie Salad

9. Smoky Bacon BBQ Pork. Have any pint-sized picky eaters? Shredded BBQ pork is always kid-approved. I love to cook a pork shoulder, low and slow for 6 hours in the slow cooker, then shred and mix with a bottle of Smoky Bacon BBQ Sauce. Voila!

12 Picks for Perfect Fall Picnics blog post | Tastefully Simple

Pack some slaw, buns, and fresh fruit, and you’ll have a complete lunch or dinner.

10. Pumpkin Streusel Muffins with Maple Glaze. If you’re planning a morning hike or camping overnight, bring along a batch of these luscious little pumpkin muffins, complete with a sweet and crumbly streusel topping.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins with Maple Glaze Recipe

11. Apple Bourbon Hot Toddies. Cooking out in the backyard? Chase the chill away with this fall twist on a hot toddy, swirling with apple, spices and a splash of bourbon. Keep it in a big thermos, and pour cups for the grown-ups around the campfire.

Cider | Tastefully Simple

12. Peanut Butter Chip CookiesAnd don’t forget dessert! Dotted with white chocolate and peanut butter chips, these chocolatey cookies will be a hit with all ages.

Peanut Butter Chip Cookies | Tastefully Simple

Plus, they travel beautifully without melting, making them perfect for picnics.

Your turn! What are some of your favorite picnic and outdoor recipes? Tell us in the comments below, or share your ideas with us on Facebook. We’d love to hear from you! Happy fall, friends!

– Jen