Picnic Pleasures: Foodal’s Guide to the Best Baskets

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

Vertical image of a wicker suitcase-style picnic basket with a handle on the front, fully stocked with dishes, flatware, a metal thermos, and other items, on a red blanket spread out on green grass, with a tree in the background, in bright sunshine, printed with orange and white text near the top and at the bottom of the frame.

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 (though you certainly can bring that too, if you like).

A family of four including an adult man, adult woman, girl, and boy, spread a blanket on the ground together, with a wicker basket in the foreground, on green grass in mottled sunshine, with small trees in the background against a pale blue sky.

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 some fresh cut fruit, and simply carry it with you.

Horizontal overhead image of a wicker picnic basket with a lid that opens on either side, with dishes and flatware secured to the inner lid with leatherette straps, and a variety of foods in the bottom including fruits, bread, cheese, and plastic containers of salads and more, on green grass.

History tells 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.

At one time, picnics were consigned to the realm of the rich. 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.

A light beige wicker basket containing a bottle of champagne, a baguette, and a cloth napkin is in the foreground, with a pale blue-green blanket spread on teh sand in the background, with a small wooden cutting board on it with a bunch of green grapes and a small wheel of cheese with a white rind on top of that, and two wine glasses.

Today, we tend to keep things a little simpler. But you’re still going to need something to carry your feast, preferably a stylish or ergonomic option, with flatware and a few glasses thrown in, and perhaps a tablecloth to boot.

Luckily for you, dear reader, you can have it all!

A woman in a white cotton dress and a man in a pale blue dress shirt and blue pants rolled up at the cuff are walking through the grass barefoot, carrying a wicker picnic basket together, with trees in the background.

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 take a look at our review of the top picks, including some of the most popular baskets in the marketplace.

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. And it’s bedecked with decorative (and useful) 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-inch plastic plates, two plastic knives, two plastic forks, two plastic spoons, two plastic cups, and two plaid cotton napkins, all in blue.

Measurements are approximately 16 x 8 x 11 inches, and it weighs just over 4 pounds. Made in China. Includes a lifetime guarantee from the manufacturer.

Those who like the Sutherland enjoy its good quality and convenient carrying size, and the interior is spacious enough to hold food and drinks for two. There are also some naysayers who 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. Pack it well, and this shouldn’t be a concern.

See all of the customer reviews on Amazon now.

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

Yellowstone

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

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

The high quality accessories for two include a hardwood cutting board, cheese knife, and plastic food storage container with a lid, plus two shatterproof wine glasses, two porcelain plates, stainless steel flatware, and two colorful red and earth tone Moka Collection cotton napkins with a matching patterned tablecloth. Leatherette straps keep everything securely in place.

Made in China, with a total weight of 8.65 pounds. This product includes a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.

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

We could only find one complaint from verified purchasers of this product at the time of this writing, and that was about the lining being ripped on arrival. In the unlikely case of receipt of a damaged product, Amazon should be able to help you out with a simple exchange.

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 melamine plates, polypropylene glasses, stainless steel 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. Restraining straps hold the lid portions in place when they are open.

This product measures 18 x 12 x 15 inches and weighs just under 7 pounds. Fans are impressed with the plaid lining, which is well made and secured.

This kit contains everything needed for outdoor dining, and nothing that you don’t need. It offers good value for the price, and has a clever design. 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 service for four, this basket features durable willow construction with a blue and burgundy 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 including stainless steel flatware, 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 4

This product measures 20. 5 x 13 x 8 inches and weighs a little over 9 pounds. Made in China. Includes a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer to repair or replace if defective for any reason.

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

On the complaints side from verified customers at the time of this writing, one customer experienced the stem of a wine glass snapping during washing, and a couple of others had some issues with the security of the handle. Be sure to use the included components with care, and consider holding it from the bottom if loaded with heavy items.

Read customer reviews on Amazon now.

London Backpack

This backpack is elegant in its details and quality. With thermal Shield Insulation for freshness, a roomy leak-proof cooler compartment in the back, 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 no-spill tops, acrylic wine glasses, coordinating melamine plates, stainless steel flatware, cotton napkins, and a detachable wine cooler pocket – plus a large fleece blanket!

A handy zipper pocket is also included on the front, to hold your keys or other small essentials.

Constructed of sturdy 600-denier polyester canvas, this pack is built to last. Lightweight and easy to carry with ergonomic adjustable shoulder straps and a handle on top, it measures 21 x 6.5 x 15.5 inches and weighs 6 pounds. Blanket dimensions are 60 x 50 inches.

Designed and assembled in the USA, this product includes a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.

Happy customers like the high quality of construction and materials used, reporting 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 meal.

Read more customer comments on Amazon and check current prices.

Tandoor Deluxe Backpack

Picnic Plus boasts that their products are known for the special little “extras” that are included, and this particular backpack does not disappoint!

It features soft padded and adjustable shoulder straps, a large thermal foil insulated food compartment, and two wine bottle carriers that are insulated, detachable, and fully zippered – perfect if you’re a fan of bringing chilled beer or wine with you on your outdoor adventures. The leak-proof liner is also detachable and may hold either cubed ice or ice packs.

With an exterior shell that’s made from durable 600D polyester canvas, it is available in your choice of sage green or navy blue

Sage green and tan Tandoor Deluxe picnic backpack with cutlery and flatware, glasses, and a bottle of wine, isolated on a white background.

Tandoor 4-Person Deluxe Picnic Backpack

This set comes with a complete service for four: melamine plates, acrylic goblets, cotton napkins, stainless steel flatware, a 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 cleanup.

This backpack measures 21 x 11 x 17 inches and weighs 6 pounds. Made in China. It is backed by a limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.

Purchasers of this product enjoy the generous size for packing food, the detachable bottle coolers, and its functionality, convenience, and light weight.

Check current prices and read customer comments on Wayfair 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 polyester fabric for durability, and has dual lids with toggle closures.

This product is available in your choice of liner in pine green, red and white ‘Harmony,’ or navy blue ‘Adeline,’ with coordinating cloth napkins.

Picnic Time Verona Insulated Wine Basket with Wine/Cheese Service for 2

It includes two hand-blown wine glasses, a stainless steel corkscrew/bottle opener, nickel-plated cork bottle stopper, hardwood cutting board, stainless steel cheese knife with wooden handle, and 100 percent cotton print napkins. Perfect for outdoor concerts or lazy days at the park, it measures 18 x 10 x 10 inches and weighs 5.5 pounds.

Made in China. Includes a lifetime Built to Last guarantee from the manufacturer.

Lots of positive comments have been written by customers regarding the quality of construction, security of pieces, good value for the 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.

Available in several colors and patterns, take your pick from ‘Adeline,’ ‘Botanica,’ or ‘Watermelon’ – fun combinations of brown wicker with brown accents and coordinating orange, black, and white fabrics; light brown wicker with oxblood accents and green, white, and leaf-patterned fabric accents and accessories; or white wicker with matching accents and watermelon-patterned fabrics.

Picnic Time Napa Basket with Wine and Cheese Service for 2, Botanica Collection

It includes hand-blown wine glasses, a waiter-style corkscrew, a hardwood cutting board with cheese knife, colorful napkins and matching tablecloth, and a plastic food storage container with lid. Designed for the picnicking elite, this lovely basket is functional as well as elegant.

It measures 13 x 9 x 10.5 inches and weighs 4.5 pounds. Made in China. This product is backed by the manufacturer’s Built to Last lifetime pledge to repair or replace the item if it is found to be defective for any reason.

This is a fantastic little basket with all the amenities you’ll need for a romantic wine and cheese date at the park for two, well made and easy to carry with with a well-constructed lining. The only negative comments are about it being a bit too small, though others found it to be the perfect size.

Read more about this product and check current prices now on Amazon.

Freeport Park Wheeled Basket

This cleverly designed wheeled wicker and wood basket with service for two provides everything you need in an aesthetically pleasing hamper, with a convenient handle and wheels for easy transport.

With the ease of a pushcart rather than the heavy burden that a basket often presents right at your fingertips (or eagerly awaiting your next outing in the closet or garage), just imagine all of the delights that you can pack for your al fresco lunch!

Wheeled wicker picnic basket with push handle and leatherette closures, isolated on a white background.

This basket includes a set of four 8-inch square ceramic dinner plates in off-white, stemware, stainless steel flatware, a wooden cutting board, cheese knife, and a tablecloth with matching napkins in a floral print.

You’ll also find a separate insulated wine bottle tote, a corkscrew, and salt and pepper shakers, plus a large drawer at the center that is fully insulated with thermal foil to hold hot or cold items and keep them at temp until you reach your destination.

Wicker picnic basket with full service for two, including wine glasses, plates, cutlery, and napkins, isolated on a white background.

Freeport Park Wheeled Picnic Basket with Service for 4

This is most definitely the creme de la creme of outdoor dining gear. It measures 19 x 16 x 14 inches with a 36-inch retractable handle, and the overall product weight is 18 pounds.

Everything is strapped securely in place for easy portability, and the total tablecloth dimensions are 72 x 48 inches. Made in China.

Read customer reviews and check current prices now on Wayfair.

From the Origins of the Picnic to Today’s Modern Spread

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 nineteenth century, a refinement of the European “grand picnic,” a favorite subject of many authors and artists of that era. And it continues today, in nature preserves and at outdoor concert venues, on beaches and lakeside, atop mountain peaks and by stunning vistas across the world.

Horizontal closely cropped image of a fully stocked wicker picnic basked with glasses, silverware, dishes, and more, on a green lawn.

Before your next picnic, prep for your outdoor dining adventure with a basket or backpack that meets your needs. Order one today, so it will be ready to pack and go when you need it. Or, give one as a gift so your friends and loved ones can enjoy the pleasure of outdoor dining this spring and summer, taken to a whole new level.

What was your most memorable picnic, and how do you like to pack yours? Do you have a favorite outdoor lunch destination? Share your stories in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out our guide to packing your picnic with all of the essentials (coming soon!).

Product photos via Sutherland, Picnic Time, Household Essentials, Picnic at Ascot, Picnic Plus, and Freeport Park. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. Originally published on June 27, 2015. Last updated: May 1, 2019 at 9:59 am. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

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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.

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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