‘How to’ Gluten Free Picnic – The ULTIMATE GUIDE to gluten free picnic eating, recipes, supermarket buys and essential equipment… Wherever you want to enjoy the outdoors. #EatWithoutLimits
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A gluten free picnic
It’s gluten free picnic time! The sun’s out, the kids are off school and we’re more than ready for some freedom and outdoor time. Never more so than now… With the health risks inherent in crowded places, we need time with family and friends surrounded by space and clean air.
For the gluten free amongst us however, picnics need extra thought. Usual supermarket ‘grab and go’ picnic options are off limits… Safe pastries, pies and sandwiches, pizza, cakes and cookies are harder to come by for Coeliacs and gluten-avoiders. But it doesn’t have to be hard work… Read on for great ideas on ‘how to’ gluten free picnic.
Whether you’re a baker or a buyer, we’ve got lots of amazing recipes that are gluten free picnic-perfect… Plus the heads up on some of the easiest and best supermarket picnic options… And equipment to transport the feast.
How to choose picnic food… Six essential requirements
Picnic food doesn’t have to be ‘posh’ to be perfect. The internet is full of fancy bowls of delicious-looking food which elevates picnics to the status of ‘fine-dining’. But frankly… the internet can keep it. In my world, the joy of a picnic is often its simplicity. The food may be carefully considered, planned and executed in the kitchen, but eating on a rug should be flexible and straight forward.
Food for a picnic needs to be :
- Portable – whether by car, on foot or by bike.
- Easy to eat – by hand or picnic plate, with minimal effort or mess…
- Whilst sitting on the grass, a rock/log or the beach… And if it rains, in the car.
- Easily shareable – picnics are social affairs and eating food together helps us to stay close.
- Delicious cold and at air temperature.
- Unlikely to melt in the hand… Fancy frostings and chocolate are out.
The best equipment for a gluten free picnic (or any picnic for that matter)
A good picnic, wherever it’s eaten, needs some basic equipment. Here’s my top tips on how to choose the best kit which will (hopefully) also go some way to avoiding extra waste.
Kit to carry food in
Whether trekking miles, heading to the beach, or simply spending time with the kids in the park, the food needs to be carried from A to B. That may just be using a sturdy bag, but most food needs to be kept cool. And cool requires a carrier that is fit for purpose.
When heading to a picnic spot by car, or when there’s only a short distance to walk, a cool box/bag or hamper is fine. Traditional hampers exude sophistication (whatever you’re eating), but try and get one with an in-built insulated cool section. We have a Yellowstone wicker basket (above) which comes with cutlery, cups and plates.
If you’re planning on walking or cycling a longer distance to your chosen picnic spot however, you’ll need something more versatile.
A while back, I got gifted an Estarer Cooler Back Pack. I’d never seen one before, but it is such a genius bit of kit and we use it so often, I thought you might want to know about it too. Completely and very effectively insulated, it keeps cold a mountain of food (more than enough for the average family). And it has ample pockets and straps to hold utensils, drinks, a blanket and any other stuff you want to take. It even has an integrated bottle opener… Simply brilliant! All in all, it’s roomy, well-made, effective and easy to carry, leaving you free to venture as far as you want. It genuinely gets a 10/10 from me!
It’s always a good idea to have an ice pack or two to help keep things cold. I love these Thermos Freeze Boards because they are so thin… leaving more room for gluten free picnic food.
TOP TIP : It’s also handy to throw a couple of small containers with ice cubes into the insulated bag too. They’ll help keep the food cold on the way out… AND you get ice cubes for drinks when you’re there.
Containers for the food
How you pack your food matters. Key considerations are 1) weight (particularly if walking or cycling). 2) making sure the food arrives intact and contained. 3) Is it reusable?
I’m an airtight container girl. They seal well, don’t break easily (meaning less spills), come in all shapes and sizes and are light. Importantly, ‘tuppaware’ is also reusable for years… making it relatively eco-friendly.
We’ve covered the basics. But when packing for your gluten free picnic, you also need to factor in cutlery, plates, cups, and a bottle opener or corkscrew. Keep it lightweight and reusable!
And don’t forget the picnic blanket… Choose one you love, but make sure it’s easy to carry and washable… It’s guaranteed that someone is going to spill something!
Food for your gluten free picnic
You’ve sorted the equipment… now you need amazing gluten free food for your picnic. Because picnics should be relaxed affairs, it’s always good to make some AND buy some food to take.
Here’s our favourite recipes from Gluten Free Alchemist and from around the web… And our favourite picnic finds to buy.
Gluten free picnic RECIPES
Hand-Held Savoury Stuff:
Picnics are perfect for ‘finger food’. Anything that can be hand-held because it is made for one or as a distinct slice is ideal. So what does that include?
Pie & Pastry Recipes
We’re talking quiches and small or sliceable pies that can be eaten cold…
- Mini Quiche
- Quiche Lorraine
- Goat Cheese Quiche with Caramelised Onion
- Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Tart
- Vegetarian Sausage Rolls
- Homity Pies
- Salmon Pie with Mushrooms
- Cornish Pasties
- Cold Mince Beef Pie
- Little Picnic Pies
- Sausage Pasties
- Sundried Tomato, Parmesan & Walnut Puff Pastry Swirls
- Cold Pastry Pizza
- Gluten Free Gougères (Choux Pastry Cheese Puffs)
- Check out the Gluten Free Alchemist Savoury Pastry Index too
Savoury Bakes & Biscuits
Savoury bakes are always easy to carry and are just as tasty as pies…
- Summer Savoury Upside Down Cake
- Cheese Scones
- Stilton and Asparagus Scones
- Pizza Muffins
- Gluten Free Cheese Crackers and Mini Cheddars
Eggs, Meat, Fish and Protein Recipes
- Gluten free Scotch Eggs
- Roasted Pepper Tortilla
- Hard Boiled Eggs (simply boil before you head out)
- Egg Free Scotch Eggs from Glutarama
- Chicken Satay Skewers (use GF Satay Sauce) from Feast Glorious Feast
- Coronation Chicken from Apply To Face Blog
- Salmon Maki Sushi Rolls from Feast Glorious Feast
- Homemade Falafel from Tin & Thyme
- Cold meats (pre-roasted chicken legs/thighs/pieces are fab)
- Cocktail Sausages – lots are now GF to cook easily at home
Gluten Free Breads
Just because it’s a gluten free picnic, doesn’t mean missing out on delicious sandwiches and breads. Yes, you can buy them from the supermarket, but if you want really good bread, why not make some at home? Both our Gluten Free Artisan Bread (Vegan) and Gluten Free Wholemeal Bread recipes are perfect sliced for sandwiches and can be made into individual rolls too. The Roti Flatbreads are brilliant for making wraps and our Gluten Free Baguette will rival any glutenous version.
Dips are always welcome at a gluten free picnic and are easily transportable in an airtight container. Take some gluten free bread sticks or tortilla chips to dunk. Or go extra healthy with veg sticks (carrot/cucumber/celery/pepper) and you’re all set. Our favourite dip ideas :
Salads & Sides
A perfect picnic needs some sides. They may be a little trickier to eat, but they are always worth it.
- Picnic Salad Jar (self mixing whatever container you use!)
- Easy Creamy Coleslaw with Crème Fraiche from Feast Glorious Feast
- Peperonata – Slow Cooked Pepper Salad from End Of The Fork
- Rice Salads – Make them up with cold rice and all your favourite extra ingredients.
- Arroz Colorido (Mexican rice salad) from Melissa Traub
- Pasta Salad – Use cold ‘al dente’ GF pasta, mayo and veg/meat/fish
- Goose Egg Salad (or use standard eggs)
- Potato Salad from Apply To Face Blog
- Zucchini Roll-Ups
- Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas
- Pineapple Coleslaw
- Easy Creamy Coleslaw with Crème Fraiche from Feast Glorious Feast
You can also check out our Party, Picnic & Lunchbox Index for more ideas.
Sweet stuff recipes for a gluten free picnic
Picnics need dessert… But as with all the other food, it is still easier to go hand-held and low-maintenance. Top of the gluten free picnic sweet feast has to be easily portioned and sharable cakes. Think :
Our summer favourites include :
- Coffee Brownies
- Simple Fudgy Gluten Free Brownies
- Chocolate Banana Coconut Brownies
- Peanut Butter Brownies
- Peanut Butter Blondies
- Vegan Cranberry & Apricot Seeded Flapjacks
- Roasted Fruit Flapjacks
- Date Flapjacks with Apricot and Coconut
Muffins and Small Cakes (no frosting) are also good… Why not make our :
- Strawberry Crumble Muffins
- Orange & Raspberry Friands
- Mini Banoffee Cakes
- Sweet Potato Muffins
- Chocolate Chip Scones (or other scones)
Or go for a larger cake that is easy to cut into slices before travelling…
- Dark & Sticky Jamaican Ginger Cake
- Raspberry & Lemon Drizzle Cake
- Best Battenberg Cake
- Chocolate Loaf Cake
- Marble Cake
- Jam Swiss Roll
or…Tarts & Pastries
Biscuits & Cookies
You can also stay simple with some Biscuits and Cookies. Our most loved gluten free picnic cookies include :
- Soft Italian Amaretti Cookies
- Chocolate-Espresso Puddle Cookies
- Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips
- Gluten Free Biscotti with nuts and fruit
- Double Chocolate Biscotti
- Nutella Thumbprint Cookies
- Peanut Cookies with Chocolate Chips
- Gluten Free Shortbread
Or go simple with pimped up fruit…
Gluten Free Picnic Food from the Supermarkets
Of course, no-one’s going to make everything from scratch for a picnic and you aren’t going to be judged for getting food from the supermarket… So it’s important to have a few ideas up your sleeve about what gluten free picnic food you can get in the shops (UK based information, but ideas will be international).
Don’t just look at the free from sections… It’s amazing how much is available that is either naturally safe or is made with gluten free ingredients, but for everyone’s basket! Check your usual supermarkets and start reading labels for the foods you might not normally think are possible… You might just strike lucky!
There are loads of options out there and it’s worth taking a good look to see what’s on offer. Here’s a few of my favourite gluten free picnic supermarket buys :
Ideas from the Free From Aisle
- Italian Breadsticks (from Schar) & salted Tortilla Chips for dips (check the chips in the normal aisle too… Some are gluten-safe, and cheaper)
- Pitta Bread (The BFree ones open well)
- Crackers and Oat Cakes
- Genius Brioche Burger Buns
- Sandwich Thins – we love the Warburtons ones
- Wraps (we swear by the Old El Paso GF Tortilla Wraps (long life) which are way better and closer to wheat versions than any of the ‘actual’ GF wraps. Buy them in Tesco
- Pork Pies – ‘Too Good To Be’ pies are delicious… get them at Sainsburys
- Ready to eat GF Sausage rolls (Sainsbury (Too Good To Be); Asda)
- Veggie Rolls (Cheese & Onion – M&S)
- Cold Chicken Nuggets (cook at home before you head out)
- Ready to eat Quiches – Most major supermarkets
- Crisps & snacks in bags (eg Well & Truly/ Kettle Chips / Eat Real snacks / M&S Cheese snacks) – Check the non-free from aisles too!
- Cakes and Biscuits
- Made Good Snack Bars (Morrisons)
- Gu Puds (Free From Cheesecakes)
- Coconut Collaborative Chocolate Pots, Rice Puddings and desserts
Naturally GF – Mostly!
(Although the usual rules apply to check labels for any coatings, seasonings or allergen warnings)
- Raw veggies as dips (carrots, peppers, cucumber, baby corn)
- Cherry Tomatoes & Cucumber
- Cold meats (plain ham, salami, etc)
- Chicken legs and pieces (ready cooked plain and some coated)
- Smoked Salmon
- Cooked Prawns
- Potato Salad
- Some other dips
- Fruit – berries and watermelon slices/cubes are perfect
Favourite GF finds that are unexpectedly gluten free
Check your local supermarket aisles & Labels to see what you can find!
- Sushi – Tesco makes some of their sushi gluten free (inc the soy sauce) – read labels
- Falafels (tesco) & Gosh!
- Cocktail sausages – rare, but you may strike lucky.
- Satay Sticks (some supermarkets : Sainsburys)
- Amazin Grazin Cheese Bars (in Sainsbury chiller) – totally addicted!
- Ready to eat BBQ Chicken (M&S; Sainsburys; Tesco; Morrisons; Waitrose)
Are we missing something?
Let me know about it! Have you been on a great gluten free picnic? Have I missed any good tips, tricks, recipes or supermarket buys that we should let people know about? Leave a comment or contact me. And stay in touch! Follow on Social Media (links at the top of the page) and Subscribe (using the box below) for all the latest from Gluten Free Alchemist.
For Lots More Gluten Free Recipes and Inspiration
Check out our amazing on-line photographic Recipe Book Index…