Sun, sand, sea… and squashed sarnies. Swap your usual beach food for something fancier with our clever ideas, from make-ahead pesto whirls, to cakes that can be packed in a cool bag and pitchers of homemade ginger beer.


Beach food should be easy to make, pack, hold (especially if children are coming along) and tidy away. Plus, it has to be both refreshing and safe to eat at room temperature, unless you have the energy to lug a cooler across the sand (check out our best cool boxes, if you fancy that challenge).

Check out our beach-ready recipes below, then pick a picnic rucksack to buy, enjoy our best family picnic recipes and read all about the best British seaside breaks for foodies.

Top tips for packing a beach picnic

Someone airing out a picnic blanket on a beach
  • Don’t pack anything that requires chilling. Remember, beach days are usually long days. Nobody ever wants to leave! So, no sweaty cheeses, melty foods (chocolate is the biggest culprit), or meat and fish – unless you’re going to eat them straightaway.
  • Avoid coffee and tea. Famous for their diuretic properties, they’re likely to leave you feeling dehydrated and in desperate need of the toilet. Instead, stick to water, homemade mocktails or juices.
  • Add giant ice cubes to your bottles. They’ll melt eventually, but adding ice to your drinks before you leave will keep them cooler for longer. Try filling your water bottle halfway up, then freezing it on its side. Once frozen, fill up with water just before you leave the house.
  • Remember the beach towels: one to keep everyone dry and another to lay your picnic out on. Or, if you have the room, pack a picnic blanket. Check out our favourite picnic accessories.
  • Leave only footprints. The nearest bin might be a trek away across sandy dunes, so pack a bag for all your rubbish. You can find a bin on the way back to the car, or dispose of the lot at home.
  • No glassware! It might not be allowed on the beach, and it’s best to keep glass well away from little toes anyway. Instead, check out our best reusable travel cups and favourite sustainable picnicware products.
  • Most fruit (the less juicy the better), sandwiches and wraps, veggie pasta salads (pack a bunch of recyclable forks), homemade sponge cakes, chunky biscuits and anything bite-sized all make great beach food.
  • Be careful with melon – once cut, melons create a great environment for bacteria to grow. The same goes for cut tomatoes and leafy greens.

10 beach picnic recipes

1. Almond, raisin & popcorn trail mix

A small bowl of popcorn and nut trail mix

Perfect for snacking on and full of energy, this healthy popcorn mix can be made on the morning of your beach day in less than 10 minutes. It’s also free from chocolate and anything sticky – nice and mess-free.

2. Seeded cheese & chive flapjacks

Seeded savoury flapjacks being lifted out of a green box

One of the many wonderful things about flapjacks is that they slice so neatly. That means no crumbs all over your flip-flops. This recipe is packed with porridge oats and mixed seeds, both great for slowly releasing energy.

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3. Avocado hummus & crudités


Make your avocado hummus the night before (it’s a simple and takes about 5 minutes) then pack it in a small airtight container with carrot batons, pepper strips and sugar snap peas. If you wash the veg before you leave the house, you won’t have to bother doing it at the beach.

4. Deep-fried olives

A small bowl of deep-fried olives with wooden picks on the side

Small enough to scoff whole, we think a box of these golden nuggets would go down a storm at a beach picnic. Make them the day before and forget about the mayo on the side – these panko-crusted snacks are good enough on their own.

5. Cheese & pesto whirls

Baking tray of pastry swirls

The whole family can get involved with making these rolls. Stuff the pastry whirls with mozzarella, semi-dried tomatoes and pesto, then take them to the beach in one slab to tear and share on the sand.

6. Banana bread

Brilliant banana bread

Thick and easy to transport, banana bread slices so well, even if you have to do it on the beach. We’ve got dozens of banana bread and banana cake recipes, but this one has more than 1,500 five-star reviews.

7. Blackberry bakewell squares

Fresh blackberry traybake cut into squares

Bring Tom Kerridge’s traybake to the beach, and you’ll be the envy of every other day-tripper. It’s a sturdy, sponge-based bake that will stand up to the sun well. Slice in advance and transport in a tin.

8. Carrot cake flapjacks

Squares of carrot cake flapjacks on a wooden board

You know we love a flapjack! This easy to cut sweet version is crammed with carrots, oats, walnuts, seeds, cranberries and spices. Best to leave the icing off – it will likely melt in the heat.

9. Easy blueberry muffins

A batch of blueberry muffins on a wooden board

Easy to hold, even easier to demolish. Our foolproof muffins are a perfect beachside pick-me-up. You can use frozen berries if you can’t find fresh ones, and take inspiration from even more muffin recipes.

10. Homemade ginger beer

Ginger beer in glasses with fruit on the side

Iced water is a must for a sunny day, but fiery ginger beer would go down a treat at lunchtime. This recipe calls for fresh ginger, lemons, sugar and sparkling water, but we’d omit the mint leaves – they’ll probably wilt in the sun. Find more soft drink ideas and health benefits of ginger.

Like this? Find more picnic recipes:

Top 60 picnic recipes
Picnic snack recipes
How to pack the perfect picnic
Kids' picnic recipes


What do you like to pack for a beach picnic? Leave a comment below.

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