Picnic Pleasures: Foodal’s Guide to the Best Baskets

Summertime and picnics go hand in hand. They’re great for a romantic date for two, or for a large crowd at the beach, a park, or anywhere you can find a bit of outdoor space.

Best Picnic Basket Reviews | Foodal.com

And it doesn’t take much to successfully pull off one of these leisurely outdoor gastronomical affairs. Food and drink, a blanket to sit on, and some good company are the basics. There is no need to drag out the portable gas barbecue grill when you want to keep things simple.

But if you want to add a little extra organization and panache to your picnicking pleasures, consider investing in a picnic basket designed for the job. Prepare your food ahead of time, like our make-ahead Sicilian pasta salad, and simply carry it with you.

Foodal's Guide to the Top Rated Picnic Baskets | Foodal.com

A well thought out basket is not only attractive, it’s also space efficient and a great time saver – and, it can help to avoid disappointments. Really, who wants to open a nice bottle of wine with a stick because the corkscrew’s still in the kitchen drawer?

So let’s look at some basics, and then we’ll move into a review of some of the most popular baskets in the marketplace.

The Origins of the Picnic

History shows us that today’s picnics evolved from the luxurious and elaborate customs of the movable outdoor feasts that were once enjoyed by the uber-wealthy.

Historical Picnics | Foodal.com
At one time, picnics were consigned to the realm of the wealthy.

These banquets were held to impress guests with the power and wealth of the hosts, and would go on for days and even weeks, often including chairs, tables and even servants.

From Medieval festivals and hunting feasts to Renaissance banquets in the country and Victorian garden parties, the heritage of all of these has contributed to today’s leisurely repast.

The somewhat scaled down version as we now know it became popular in the middle of the 19th century, a refinement of the European “grand picnic,” a favorite subject of many authors and artists of that era.

The Perfect Basket Checklist

Every good picnic will need a few basics to ensure that a good time is had by all. Here’s a handy checklist for some fun in the sun:

  • Go with finger food. The less cutlery and hands required to eat with, the better – at least for simpler events spread out on a blanket. And clean-up is so much easier with finger foods.

Finger Food Ideas

Start with some raw, fresh apps, with or without dip. Think cherry tomatoes and veggie spears such as asparagus, bell pepper, celery and carrots. Grapes, cheese and crackers and olives also work well.

Picnic Food - Foodal's Guide to the Best Baskets | Foodal.com

Add in some prepared nibblies like stuffed mushroom caps, chicken fingers, chicken wings or drumettes, bread with hummus, baba ghanoush or roasted pepper spread.

  • Then pull out the salads, side dishes, sandwiches, samosas, burgers, ribs, satays, kebabs or chicken, and finish up with some fruit and tangy cheese.
  • Remember the potables, potent or otherwise. Pack up the wine, spritzers, water or soft drinks as well as unbreakable glasses, a corkscrew and bottle opener, a bottle stopper, straws and ice.
  • Squirt for success. For your next picnic, stock up on inexpensive squirt bottles at the market or dollar store. They’re clean, spill-proof and easy to use, one of the best containers ever devised for successful outdoor dining. Use them for all condiments, dressings, oils, sauces and any other liquids you might need to pack.

Choosing the Best Picnic Basket for your family | Foodal.com

  • Bring along some handy-wipes, or hand sanitizing gel. Clean washroom facilities can be in short order at many parks and camping areas, so a small packet of pre-moistened wipes can be a lifesaver for sticky hands and minor accidents. And a squirt of hand sanitizer is also a good idea before handling food items.
  • Check your checklist. Keep a standard list of essentials in your basket and check them off as you pack up. Include:

  • bug spray
  • paper towels
  • a good cutting knife
  • can opener
  • band-aids and antiseptic wipes
  • clips for closing bags

  • trash and recycling bags
  • a blanket or mattress pad
  • thermoses and coolers
  • ice or ice packs
  • tea towels
  • lawn chairs

Don’t forget any other items necessary for your particular plans.

Picnic Basket Reviews

Sutherland Jubilee

A rectangular basket of handcrafted willow interwoven with sisal, it’s also fully lined with blue and white cotton gingham, with decorative straps, chain hinges and a toggle closure plus a suitcase-style handle on the front.

Sutherland Jubilee Picnic Basket for 2

It includes a service for two with 8” plastic plates, two plastic knives, two plastic forks, two plastic spoons and two plaid cotton napkins. Measurements are approximately 16 x 8 x 11”. Made in China.

To beautify your picnic spread, try folding these pretty cloth napkins into little silverware pouches, to surprise your date.

What Others Are Saying

Those who like the Sutherland enjoy its good quality and convenient carrying size, and the interior is spacious enough for food and drinks for two.

The naysayers think the handle should be on the top rather than the side, so that the contents don’t slide around when you pick it up. See all of the customer reviews on Amazon.

Picnic Time Champion

This handcrafted and elegant basket comes with a deluxe service for two. Made of handsome and durable two-toned willow construction, it measures 15 x 10 x 13”, and has two transport options – a canvas shoulder strap and a suitcase-style carry handle, as well as leatherette bound closure toggles.

Picnic Time Yellowstone Moka Willow Picnic Basket with Deluxe Service for 2

The high quality accessories for two include a cutting board, cheese knife, food storage container and linens, plus two shatterproof wine glasses, two porcelain plates, stainless steel flatware, and two colorful napkins that match the basket’s stylish interior. Made in China.

What Others Are Saying

Happy customers report that this basket is well made and of higher quality than expected, with real porcelain plates and glass glasses. It has an attractive design with contemporary colors, is spacious inside, and it makes a well-received gift.

Only one complaint, and that was about the lining being ripped on arrival. See all of the reviews on Amazon now.

Household Essentials

This attractive rectangular-shaped picnic basket is woven from all-natural willow with an arched center and large basket-style handle, featuring a service for 4 that includes plates, glasses, flatware, a bottle opener, and salt and pepper shakers.

Household Essentials Woven Willow Picnic Basket, Service for 4

The interior is fully lined with a cotton plaid material, and has straps to secure the dinnerware components for travelling. It has two separate lids that open from the center, giving full access to the interior of the basket. Measures 18 x 12 x 15”.

What Others Are Saying

Fans are impressed with the plaid lining, which is well made and secured. The kit contains everything needed for outdoor dining. It offers good value for the price, has a clever design and is well made.

The critics point out that some of components are not of the highest quality, with inexpensive chain hinges and pseudo-leather straps. Read more customer reviews on Amazon.

Newbury

A handsome English suitcase-style basket with a service for four, this basket features durable willow construction with a plaid cotton lining, a hinged lid and two leatherette straps with buckles for fastening, as well as a suitcase-style handle for transport.

Picnic Time Newbury Willow Basket Set | Foodal.com

It comes with deluxe amenities for four, shatterproof glasses and porcelain plates, plus a corkscrew and salt and pepper shakers – all in an attractive flat-lid design with components secured in pockets and with straps.

Picnic Time Newbury Willow Picnic Basket with Deluxe Service for Four

Measures 20. 5 x 13 x 8”. Made in China.

What Others Are Saying

Satisfied shoppers are very complimentary about the spacious design and good quality of materials used in its construction and dinnerware, as well as its elegant presentation – another basket recommended for gift giving.

The only complaint is that the stem of a wine glass snapped during washing. Read customer reviews on Amazon now.

Picnic at Ascot London Backpack

This backpack is elegant in its details and quality. With thermal Shield Insulation for freshness, a roomy leak-proof cooler and comfortable backpack straps, it’s the ideal transportation and organization system for up to four people.

Picnic at Ascot London Picnic Backpack for 4 with Blanket

Contents include a combination corkscrew, hardwood cutting board, cheese knife, wooden salt and pepper shakers with non-spill tops, acrylic wine glasses, coordinating melamine plates, stainless steel flatware, cotton napkins, a detachable wine cooler pocket and a large fleece blanket.

Lightweight and easy to carry with ergonomic straps, this backpack measures 21 x 6.5 x 15.5” and is made in the US.

What Others Are Saying

Happy customers like the high quality of construction and materials used, that it’s just like the advertised photo, and that it provides all the needed components for successful outdoor dining.

However, there are a few comments about the cooler compartment being a bit too small for a four person service. Read more customer comments on Amazon and see if this high quality, made in the USA product is something that would work for your outdoor adventures.

The Tandoor

This backpack has an exterior shell that’s made with durable polyester and features two soft padded adjustable shoulder straps. It feaures a large thermal insulated food compartment and two wine bottle carriers that are insulated, detachable and fully zippered. The leak-proof liner is also detachable and holds either ice or ice packs.

Picnic Plus Tandoor 4 Person Backpack

This set comes with a complete service for four: melamine plates, acrylic goblets, cotton napkins, stainless steel flatware, wooden handled corkscrew/bottle opener, stainless steel salt and pepper shakers, a wooden cutting board with cheese knife, and a bottle stopper.

It even has a dirty dish bag for easy clean up. This backpack measures 21 x 11 x 17” and weighs 8 pounds with all its accoutrements. Made in China.

What Others Are Saying

Not a lot of reviews are in, but those who have written all like the generous size for packing food, the detached bottle coolers, its functionality, convenience and light weight. There’s one comment about the flatware being of cheap quality. Read all the customer comments on Amazon now.

Verona Wine and Cheese Basket

The Verona Wine and Cheese tote is a stylish barrel-shaped basket with wine and cheese service for two. Made of sturdy willow construction with premium leatherette accents and dual canvas/leatherette carrying straps, it’s also fully lined with pine green polyethylene for durability, and has dual lids with toggle closures.

Picnic Time Verona Insulated Wine Basket with Wine/Cheese Service for Two

It includes two hand-blown wine glasses, stainless steel corkscrew/bottle opener, nickel-plated bottle stopper, cutting board, cheese knife, and 100 percent cotton floral print napkins. Perfect for outdoor concerts or lazy days at the park. It measures 18 x 10 x 10” and weighs 5.5 pounds. Made in China.

What Others Are Saying

Lots of positive comments on the quality of construction, security of pieces, good value for price and the elegant design – with numerous reviewers who bought it as a gift, but kept it for themselves or ordered another as a keeper. Check it out on Amazon now.

Napa Wine and Cheese Basket

Another specialty basket with wine and cheese service for two from Picnic Time, the Napa Wine and Cheese basket is handcrafted of sturdy willow construction and is fully lined with premium leatherette accents, dual toggle closures and a suitcase-style handle on the lid.

Picnic Time Napa Basket with Wine and Cheese Service for Two

It includes wine glasses, a waiter-style corkscrew, wooden cutting board with cheese knife, colorful napkins and matching tablecloth, and a food storage container.  Designed for the picnicking elite, this lovely basket is functional as well as elegant. It measures 13 x 9 x 10.5” and weighs 4.5 pounds. Made in China.

What Others Are Saying

Great little basket with all the amenities for a romantic wine and cheese for two, well made with nicely constructed lining and it’s easy to carry. The only negative comments are about it being a bit too small, while others found it to be the perfect size. Read more now.

And that concludes our look at some of the most popular picnic baskets available today – for yourself or to give as a gift, they will take the pleasure of outdoor dining to a whole new level this summer.

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About Lorna Kring

Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.

Looking to step up your spring and summertime gastronomical game? Want to get out and enjoy the great outdoors? Like to eat? If so, you need a picnic basket - it's that simple. Read our guide to help you choose the best one for your needs.

38 thoughts on “Picnic Pleasures: Foodal’s Guide to the Best Baskets”

  1. I admire the quality of this article; it was clearly well-thought out, from the list of possible foods for a picnic down to the numerous baskets themselves. Personally, my favorite basket just to view is the Newbury. If I went on picnics more often, then I’d definitely consider purchasing that. Overall, excellent read, thank you!

    • Thanks for your comments Liv6, glad you enjoyed the post… and the Newbury is sweet with its deluxe touches.

  2. This was a great read! I’ve never heard the history of picnics before. There’s more information packed into this article about outdoor specific cuisine than I think I’ve ever heard anywhere else, ever. Like Liv6 said, clearly very well-thought out, I am impressed. Awesome ideas for finger foods here, too. The family has been wanting to go on an outdoor adventure for a while (we have our location picked out and everything) but can never find the time to prepare it all and actually get out there and go. Reading this made me really want to get out there and give it a go on the next nice day this summer. 🙂

    • Thanks for your comments nightwind, picnics are a subject close to my heart and I enjoy them whenever I can! They’re great fun for the family, hope you get out on a couple this summer.

  3. Fascinating that they evolved from elaborate moveable feasts to something that’s often associated with cheap (but super enjoyable) dates! I did not know that.

    I’m not in a position in my life to warrant buying a picnic basket for two, let alone more than that (ah, the joys of being a mostly solitary person). But some of these options look lovely. I love the backpack ones for practicality, but for aesthetics the Champion has to be my favorite.

  4. The Champion is a beauty, very chic and contemporary. And there’s nothing in the Picnicers Guidebook to Rules and Etiquette that suggests picnicking for one isn’t allowed! If there’s no one available to join me, I’m all for picnicking solo…

  5. I am a huge fan of the picnic. I totally agree that finer food is the key. In fact if you are going out to a scenic spot a genuine wicker basket and a genuine French bottle of champagne is the way to go. And I think the best time for it is dusk. But that’s the romantic side of me talking. 😉

    • They do bring out the inner romantic! With a nice blanket and a great spread…what more could you ask for?

  6. Those picnic baskets look gorgeous. We often times worry about what type of food we will carry but then forget some other essentials such as hand sanitizer. This article brings out some good memories of back when I used to go on picnics.

  7. I find that the best picnics are not carefully planned, they are the sum of simple, yet tasty food, good weather and an excellent company! 🙂

  8. The best things are the simplest, outdoor dining being a perfect example. And, weather certainly plays its role!

  9. These baskets are just extraordinary and seem to suit every outdoor occasion. I do have baskets, but nothing like this and they never seem big enough. I am either going to revamp mine by stealing from these ideas or buy myself a new one from this fine selection.

  10. They’re gorgeous, aren’t they? And while I love my old basket, I’m convinced I need the Verona Wine and Cheese Tote before I can go hiking again!

  11. This is such a great article. My in laws just got us a picnic backpack that comes with a blanket, wine holder, glasses and forks, and little napkins. I love it. IT’s so easy that way. We have yet to use it but I’m glad I saw this article so I have more ideas for when the time comes!

    • Having a basket with all the accessories just makes picnicing so much easier harpazo. Enjoy the ideas for breaking-in your in-laws new backpack!

  12. I don’t think I could handle a weeklong picnic like in the old days, but I think I could manage for a few days if I had several of the Newbury and Picnic Champion baskets. I’m totally in love with them! With this fail proof guide to picnics, I’m sure my next picnic will be a success. Thanks for the tips!

  13. In my opinion, eating and drinking are always better enjoyed out of doors (assuming you have good weather). My boyfriend and I love picnics, mainly because eating and being outside are two of our most favorite pass times! We are always faced with the challenge of finding mess-free foods that are still yummy and diverse, and we almost always do hummus- I am definitely going to go with some baba ganoush (correct spelling?) next time to switch it up! I bet it would also really help to have a good basket- as someone who dislikes carrying things in my hands, I’d probably try one of those backpacks.

  14. It’s hard to beat an outdoor meal alex… and the backpack versions are great for a hands-free hike to your favorite spot.

  15. For so long, I’ve wanted to be the girl with her boyfriend at the park, or even in the backyard, having a date with her boyfriend. In my daydreams, I see a full spread complete with a red and white checkered blanket and a full spread.

    The problem? He’s a picky eater. It’s hard to figure out finger foods to take on an outing because he doesn’t eat any vegetables, and the only fruit he likes are grapes and strawberries. If you see and read this post, could you give us some recipe ideas?

    I’m in the market for a basket, but there’s so many out there to choose from and it’s hard to find the pre-packaged ones without wine glasses and corkscrews. We don’t drink wine, so we don’t need those. I’ve also always wanted one that’s very cute, feminine, and Victorian, but those cost a lot!

    • You can still be the girl with the checkered blanket kdb890! Finger food doesn’t have to be veggies or fruit, and here’s a few ideas – try bread, cheese, and cold cuts, sandwiches, cold pizza, samosas, savory muffins, sausage rolls, quiche… hope you find the basket of your dreams!

  16. I loved this article! Now that spring has sprung, I am thinking more and more about heading up to our favorite picnic spot and spending the day outside. I’m always looking for new things to include in our menu and these ideas are really helpful. But more than the food, I can’t believe the number of fabulous baskets you have here! I’ve got my eye on the Verona.

    Thanks for sharing these great ideas.

    • I just dug out my basket the other day, and it’s looking a little tired – I was thinking the same thing about the Verona Andie! Glad you enjoyed the post, and happy days in your favorite spot…

  17. The baskets are lovely. I am getting more and more ready for summer to get here, and this article certainly helps a lot to motivate me. I just love laying out a blanket on the grass to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, cool breezes and birds singing as I eat. My husband and I love getting outdoors to dine, so these ideas come at a great time for us.

  18. I don’t go out for picnics that much but some of those look really pretty, I’d probably buy one just to store stuff in it. Summer is coming and I need some baskets for the beach.

    • A beach, a meadow, beside a cool mountain stream… it doesn’t really matter when you’ve got one of these cute baskets to tote your gear and grub in!

  19. Wow, it’s amazing how variate picnic baskets can be, I kept with the idea of the classic one and I think that my favorite in the list is the household essential one, it seems like a really good basket and definitely a good investment. It’s great that you actually added some picnic history, imagine how different it was on those times? How they carry their food and protect themselves from insects? lol!
    It’s amazing how something ordinary as a picnic can have such an interesting background.

    • The Household Essentials is a great basket anorexorcist, good eye! And glad you enjoyed the background, you’ll have some good trivia for your next outing!

  20. Picnics are best when the idea to have one occurs spontaneously – which is where a purpose-designed basket of backpack is most useful. All of the necessaries are to hand – all that’s needed is a trip to the supermarket, delicatessen and wine merchant. The baskets are dreamy -but I find the backpacks easier to transport.

    • The pre-packed baskets and backpacks are a must for the spontaneous picnicker Julie! All you need is an idea and a market, and you’re ready to go… thanks for your thoughts.

  21. This article was extremely informative. I am so happy I stumbled upon it as I was looking at picnic baskets the other day at the store. They were very plain Jane and I thought that is how all picnic baskets were. I didn’t know they could be this beautiful and the fact they’re partially packed with supplies is even better! The Verona wine basket is now in my shopping cart and I couldn’t be more excited! Thank you.

    • Oh, that’s so cool that you’ve scored the Verona, it’s a beauty! Glad you enjoyed the post Verity, I know you’ll like the basket…

  22. I once owned an official picnic basket quite a many years ago and gave it away because I never used it. Now, I’m having a picnic with a friend on Wednesday and wish I still had it. There’s something really whimsical, yet very official about showing up to a picnic with a picnic basket. I’m hoping to delight my gentleman friend with my culinary expertise, but I think I may have to get a new basket before Wednesday. Seeing all the nice ones in the article makes me think that a basket might help in making the day more special.

  23. Well if you asked me how many times I have forgotten a small cutting board and kicked myself for doing so, I would be embarrassed to answer. It is just not something that I immediately think about, but it just makes sense to have one and cutting bread is a hassle when you do not have one. I keep the basket and the cutting board closer together now, but it still happens.

    • It’s way too easy to forget something rz! Keep a check list in your basket and there’ll be no more cutting bread on your knee!

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