Lifestyle

24 Beach Dinner Ideas Made for a Picnic


There are few summer traditions that are more special than beach dinners with friends and family, a glass of rosé in hand, and a casual menu highlighting all of the season’s best produce. With the sun setting over crashing waves and my favorite summer playlist humming in the background, the ambiance is set—no need for anything else. Similarly, my beach dinner ideas are beautifully simple. They consist of a menu that’s full of seasonal ingredients, is easy enough to prepare, simple to pack in a basket, and requires little-to-no serving utensils.

Honestly, I’d be happy with a PB&J as long as it comes with an ocean view, and your guests likely feel the same. But of course, here at Camille Styles, we’re all about elevating the everyday. So even though the beach is the perfect casual setting for friends and family to gather, you still deserve a special meal.

In hopes of inspiring you to take your next meal by the sea, I’ve rounded up some of my go-to, picnic-approved main course and dessert recipes. From snacks for dinner to tacos to brownies, you’re guaranteed to make waves with whatever easy beach dinner ideas you choose.

Featured image by Kristen Kilpatrick.

24 Beach Dinner Ideas

When it comes to beach dinner ideas, it’s all about simplicity, freshness, and convenience. Opt for light and refreshing ingredients that are easy to pack and store. Fresh fruits like watermelon, berries, and grapes make for delicious and hydrating snacks and great salad ingredients. Sandwiches and wraps with a bit of protein are portable and satisfying. Slice and dice your fruits and vegetables, marinate the protein, and assemble the sandwiches ahead of time.

Pro tip: Bring a cooler or insulated bag with ice packs to ensure food remains fresh throughout your trip. It’s all about spending less time on preparation and more time enjoying the sun and sand.

Whip out your beach blanket and enjoy the summer sun with this list of the best beach dinner recipes.

Appetizers

Crispy Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Yogurt, Herbs, and Everything Spice

Why We Love It: Sweet potato lovers, prepare yourselves. Camille’s method for the crispiest, restaurant-level sweet potatoes sets your toppings up with the perfect canvas. Top with yogurt, herbs, and everything spice for a good mix of protein and healthy fats. But of course, when it comes to beach dinner ideas, customizability is top of mind. Create your own masterpiece with black beans, goat cheese, bacon, and sautéed greens. Simply let your taste buds guide the way.

Hero Ingredient: Whatever your hungry heart desires. 

Classic Easy Bruschetta

Why We Love It: Sometimes, beach dinner ideas can be as simple as a hefty serving of snacks. Enter: this easy bruschetta. With just a few super fresh ingredients and some good sourdough and you’ve got yourself a light, summery, Italian-inspired dinner that satisfies every time. I suggest making the bruschetta at home, packing it in a mason jar or Tupperware container, and letting your guests pile on the goodness once you get settled in the sand.

Hero Ingredient: Super fresh, super summery cherry tomatoes.

No-Knead Olive & Rosemary Focaccia

Why We Love It: Make-ahead bread is the perfect carb for your beach dinner excursion. This rosemary and olive focaccia is filled with flavor, brought to you by everything bagel seasoning and fresh herbs. Serve with a dipping dish filled with savory olive oil to complement any entree.

Hero Ingredient: I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning for this recipe.

Carrot Turmeric Hummus

Why We Love It: Who doesn’t love a hummus platter at a dinner gathering? This recipe is super easy to prep, store, and enjoy wherever you host your beach dinner. The added turmeric also gives this recipe an anti-inflammatory element and gorgeous golden color.

Hero Ingredient: Serve with pre-toasted sunflower seeds for an added crunch.

Guacamole

Why We Love It: When it comes to dips, we here in Texas tip our hat to good guacamole. This Latin-Ameircan-inspired recipe from Virgilio Martínez contains all the ingredients you know and love, as well as some you’ve never thought to include. It makes for the perfect pre-prepped appetizer to accompany your beach dinners.

Hero Ingredient: Any red chiles always bring the heat!

Pastas, Salads, and Bowls

Summer Pasta Salad

Why We Love It: This pasta salad is a recipe is one of my favorite beach dinner ideas. Why? Because you’ll turn to over and over again for its hearty and fresh seasonal flavors. Packed with plenty of summer veggies and herbs, pasta salad makes for the perfect picnic meal, considering it can really be enjoyed at any temperature. Just toss the ingredients together in a portable dish, serve on paper plates or bowls, and voila. You’ve got a picnic-proof meal that satisfies with every bite.

Hero Ingredient: The edamame adds a delicious crunch and plenty of protein. 

Watermelon Tomato Caprese Salad

Why We Love It: This salad is the epitome of light and refreshing. I love the addition of fresh mozzarella cheese to add an element of richness that accompanies your fresh fruit. Sprigs of basil add an herby taste that brightens up the flavor of this salad.

Hero Ingredient: There’s just something about watermelon in the summer.

Green Goddess Pasta Salad

Why We Love It: Our food editor turned the viral TikTok green goddess salad into the pasta salad of our dreams. (Bonus: it’s vegan!) This recipe is full of peas, artichokes, cucumbers, avocado, and celery, sticking with the obvious green theme, and is dressed in a creamy, tahini-based version of traditional green goddess dressing. I personally prefer to eat this salad cold, but if it warms up on the car ride over to the beach, it tastes great at room temperature, too. 

Hero Ingredient: The dressing makes this recipe.

Summer Veggie Pasta Salad with Feta & Lemon-Tahini Dressing

Why We Love It: Fresh, flavorful, and mayo-free, this pasta salad has been called “summer in a bowl.” Toss it up with herbs, veggies, and all the to-die-for lemon tahini dressing, and you have the perfect beachy meal. Again, the beauty of a pasta salad is that it tastes just as good served fresh in the kitchen as it does out of Tupperware on a picnic blanket. 

Hero Ingredient: I crave the crispy, crunchy radishes.  

Charlie Bird Farro Salad

Why We Love It: This salad brings NYC to the beach. Jessie De Lowe made this version of her favorite salad from New York restaurant Charlie Bird for us at her Santa Barbara dinner party and we’ve been hooked ever since. Packed with summer tomatoes and fresh veggies, this recipe is a solid vegetarian beach dinner recipe. It’s easily prepped, transported, and devoured. 

Hero Ingredient: The farro makes this salad fantastically filling. 

Watermelon Chopped Greek Salad

Why We Love It: Beach dinners are never complete without summer fruit, and this is my personal favorite way to incorporate watermelon into a meal. Traditional Greek salads always hit the spot, but the sweetness of the watermelon paired with the briny olives and salty feta makes this recipe the ultimate seasonal version. Plus, by pre-chopping everything to be roughly the same size, you ensure that each forkful has the perfect sweet-salty-crunchy-briny ratio. 

Hero Ingredient: Watermelon is a match made in heaven for this salad’s salty Greek flavor.

Pesto Pasta Primavera

Why We Love It: This one-pan, veggie-packed seasonal pasta is always a sure thing for summer entertaining. Who doesn’t get excited when they hear that pasta is on the menu? Plus, this recipe can be totally customizable depending on what greens you have on hand. And of course, it tastes equally as good at room temperature if it cools down on the way to the beach. 

Hero Ingredient: Naturally, I choose the cheese in a veggie-heavy recipe. So I’ll say it: give me all the goat cheese, please.

Main Dishes

Paneer Tikka Kebabs

Why We Love It: The ultimate beach dinner ideas require no plates and zero utensils to pack. Enter: paneer tikka kebabs. This flavor-packed vegetarian dinner can be easily transported to the beach in a casserole dish or plastic container for guests to grab and eat as they please. Throw some rice or naan into your picnic basket and you have a well-rounded meal that everyone can enjoy. 

Hero Ingredient: Have no fear, paneer is here. 

Lime-y Chicken Tacos with Jicama, Avocado, & Mint

Why We Love It: Camille describes these tacos as heaven in a corn tortilla, and I have to agree. The jicama and carrots add the perfect crunch, while the mint and chipotle aioli bring a cool freshness to your taco. While I typically suggest setting up taco night as a buffet, when it comes to beach dinners, it’s easier to assemble the tacos beforehand and line them up in a reusable container for transport. That way, guests can simply grab and get going. 

Hero Ingredient: Hooray for jicama. 

Roasted Cauliflower Tacos with Cilantro Pesto

Why We Love It: I drool thinking about the crispy, caramelized cauliflower in these tacos. Even meat lovers won’t complain when diving into these flavorful, vegan beauties. The best part about these tacos is that everything can be prepared in advance and hang out at room temperature until you’re ready to eat. Just be sure to bring a knife and slice the avocado beachside so it doesn’t turn brown. Oh, and bring extra cilantro pesto for dipping. 

Hero Ingredient: Cauliflower has some serious power over me. 

Spicy Peanut Brussels Sprouts Tacos

Why We Love It: When Camille’s husband claims he “didn’t miss the meat,” you know you’ve found a delicious vegetarian recipe. These Brussels sprouts tacos are undeniably one of my favorite Camille Styles meals and are perfectly suitable for beach dinners. Obviously, the sprouts and radishes themselves are delicious, but the peanut sauce and mashed avocado take these tacos to a crave-worthy level I never knew existed. 

Hero Ingredient: Warning, this peanut sauce is highly addictive. 

Chimichurri Fish Tacos

Why We Love It: Nothing screams beach dinners like fresh fish tacos. This particular fish taco recipe is the one that Camille turns to often, and its simplicity is in no way boring. The chimichurri sauce is generously used as a marinade for the fish, a dressing for the cabbage, and the base for the crema that brings it all together. This same recipe can also be turned into a taco salad if that’s more your vibe. Whatever you do, just don’t forget to pack some margaritas in a mason jar. 

Hero Ingredient: The chimichurri does triple the work for three times the flavor. 

Shrimp Skewers with Tzatziki

Why We Love It: Serving seafood while sitting seaside just makes sense. These 30-minute colorful shrimp skewers are perfect for beach dinners because they are incredibly easy to make, transport, serve, and eat. But don’t let the minimal ingredients fool you into thinking they aren’t full of flavor. The combo of grilled shrimp and veggies with cold, crisp tzatziki is simply delicious.  

Hero Ingredient: It’s the tzatziki for me. 

Peach, Pesto, and Balsamic Pizza

Why We Love It: While takeout pizza will also suffice for beach dinners, this peach, pesto, and balsamic pizza is summer on a crust. The sweet and savory flavors make every bite absolute perfection and show off some of summer’s best. Whether you start from scratch and make your own dough or pick up a ready-bake crust from the store, this topping combination is sure to make waves at your next oceanside picnic.

Hero Ingredient: Perfectly ripe peaches.  

Spinach and Ricotta Pizza with Garlicky Olive Oil

Why We Love It: Another ride-or-die pizza topping combo, we’ve had this spinach and ricotta pizza recipe on repeat this summer. The simplicity of the toppings with the mouth-watering garlic sauce truly proves that sometimes, less is more. Depending on the size of your picnic party, I suggest making one of each of these pizzas and letting everyone try a bite of both. 

Hero Ingredient: Gotta be the garlic. 

Desserts

Vegan + Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookies from Café Gratitude

Why We Love It: Beach dinners without dessert are a crime, and nothing goes with an ocean sunset like a big chocolate chip cookie. These vegan and gluten-free cookies come courtesy of the famous Café Gratitude. I suggest doubling the recipe because all of your guests will be going back for seconds. Maybe thirds. 

Hero Ingredient: The walnuts and almond butter tie for making these cookies perfectly nutty. 

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Brownies

Why We Love It: These brownies are fudgy, sweet, delicious, and both gluten-free and dairy-free (but trust me, you’d never know it). After experimenting with all sorts of gluten-free brownies that are too dry and crumbly, I am forever grateful that our team created this recipe. Plus, they come together in just one bowl, making it that much easier to supply fresh brownies for all your beach dinners.

Hero Ingredient: The sprinkle of flaky sea salt on top should definitely not be optional. 

Gluten-Free Lemon Bars

Why We Love It: These simple gluten-free lemon bars are the ultimate summer dessert: light, fresh, and easy to make. My mom and I perfected this recipe last summer, and it has been a go-to for barbecues, potlucks, and beach dinners ever since. As far as transportation goes, I suggest packing them in a Tupperware container lined with a layer of parchment paper to keep the gooey, delicious crust from sticking to the bottom. 

Hero Ingredient: The gluten-free graham crackers and crust can’t be beaten. 

Orange-Walnut Olive Oil Cake

Why We Love It: While this snacking cake is a perfect treat any time of the day (yes, this means cake for breakfast!), it’s a fabulous summer dessert to serve at the beach. It’s light, not too sweet, and shows off summertime oranges beautifully. Plus, it just looks gorgeous. Cakes are always easy to transport, and this specific one can be easily picked up and eaten with your hands. An important quality of this cake, considering everyone will be reaching for a slice the second it’s unveiled. 

Hero Ingredient: The walnuts keep this cake nutrient-dense and deliciously nutty.

This post was originally published on July 25th, 2022, and has since been updated.





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