Winter picnics: warming recipes and ideas

Child with mittens holding a hot drink outdoors
Warm up on a winter adventure with a hot chocolate! (Photo: Chiociolla/iStockphoto)

Picnics aren’t just for summer, they’re a brilliant way to keep the whole family warm on chilly winter days too! So dust off your picnic basket and get inspired with these yummy ideas and recipes.

Hot drinks and soups

One of the easiest ways to keep toasty on winter adventures is with a hot drink, or some soup, in a flask. A steaming cup of hot chocolate is extra special when it's sipped in the middle of a frosty forest (especially when topped with mini marshmallows!). And wrapping your hands around a warm mug will help defrost icy fingers.

Fancy a change from tea or coffee? Try diluting squash with hot water to make a warming fruity drink, or have a go at our delicious mulled juice.

Mulled apple juice recipe

You will need:

  • 1 litre of apple juice or diluted squash
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • a few pieces of orange peel.

Put all the ingredients into a pan and simmer gently for about ten minutes. Carefully remove the cinnamon, cloves and peel, and pour the liquid into a flask. Scrumptious!

Thaw out with our delicious mulled apple juice. (Photo: Ben Lee/WTML)

Hot food

A hearty snack will soon chase away the chill and help boost flagging energy levels. One-pot meals, like stews, will keep warm in a food flask. You can also make something that's easy to eat on the move like filled pitta breads or hot dogs.

Chilli pitta pockets

Cook up a chilli and put it in a food flask. When you're ready to eat, open your pitta halves so they form pockets and pour some chilli into them. It’s a tasty alternative to a sandwich and you don’t need to take bowls and spoons with you!

Hot dogs

Cook some tinned hot dog sausages at home, then put them in a food flask topped up with just-boiled water to keep them warm. When you're hungry, carefully fish out the hot dogs and pop them inside bread rolls. (Remember to dry the sausages first or you'll get soggy bread!) Add your favourite sauce and tuck in.

Baked potatoes

This family favourite is another meal that works well outdoors. Keep baked potatoes warm for a couple of hours by wrapping them in foil and bundling them up in tea towels. Add hot baked beans and grated cheese. They'll have never tasted so good! 

Top tips for exploring in winter

It goes without saying, but it's important to wear warm clothes. Remember that several layers are warmer than one thick item and easier to shed if kids get too hot running around. Wear an extra pair of socks to keep toes cosy and don’t forget a hat. If your hands get frozen, you can eat your picnic wearing a pair of fingerless gloves.

These might be useful additions to your picnic basket too:

  • something waterproof to sit on – logs and woodland picnic seats can be damp, even if the weather’s dry
  • sanitising hand gel
  • kitchen roll (or napkins)
  • a rubbish bag to take your litter home
  • some winter wildlife spotter sheets.

Explore somewhere new

Looking for a new place for your picnic? Find a wood near you for a fun family adventure this winter. And don’t forget to pack a couple of blankets to snuggle up in when you find your perfect picnic spot.

Have a brilliant day and tell us all about it in the comments below!

Tell us your winter picnic tips.

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