Picnic Sandwich Ideas

Joined Aug 15, 2003
The place I work at (small boutique hotel and dining room), we offer a picnic lunch for guests to take with them as they explore the area. We offer them year round, but being in New England we really only sell them frequently in Summer and Fall foliage.

I'm looking for a few ideas to spruce up our offering a bit. We do the normal ham/roast beef/turkey (all made and sliced in house) and a nice oil packed tuna salad. We keep the tuna in cans in the pantry and the sliced deli meats frozen in portions. I know not ideal, but we don't go through them fast enough not to freeze.

We'll do a veggie sandwich upon request.

In previous years we've done variations of chicken salad (Thai peanut, curry/apple, etc) but I want to get away from chicken salad since ordering is somewhat unpredictable and keeping prepared chicken salad around all the time doesn't seem economical. We frequently don't get the picnic orders until later in the evening, so it becomes arduous to pull a frozen chicken breast, thaw it, cook it, and make the salad all potentially after service or just at the end.

In any event, looking for ideas for sandwiches that maybe aren't super common or ubiquitous, but also maybe where the ingredients keep or store well for long periods.

I had a couple of quick thoughts

pimiento cheese sandwich
mozzarella with tomato and pesto (maybe tomato jam in months where tomatoes aren't in season)

Any other ideas? No chicken salads please.

Creative tuna salad ideas?
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I think the key word is Boutique. When I'm staying in a Hotel I expect the food to match the elegance and atmosphere of the surroundings. If I was at a cattle ranch I would expect a BBQ not a 7 course French dinner. That being said, I also look at the bread that will stand up to a sandwich being held for 4 or 5 hours. I like Ciabatta rolls and a French Baguette for most all the meat sandwiches. I feel if using a Croissant the person building the sandwich needs to understand how to keep the croissant from getting moisture to close to the top and bottom layers. I want the quality of the bread to hold up. I agree with you on holding the meats in portions in the freezer. This will make all the meat sandwiches easily accessible to the morning crew to assemble.
You're in New England, I would do a Lobster or Shrimp salad. These could be made in the morning as needed. I like the idea of Italian cheese and salami with pickled peppers, Roasted red peppers and so on. I also like the look of a Roasted turkey with a cranberry cream cheese with toppings. Avocado and sproust are always nice. Smoked Salmon and cream cheese spread could replace or give a different sand done like a tuna salad. The Sandwiches could also be served with a small tray of pickled veggies. Like I said, in your case and what I know you want to present to your guests is quality. In many places box lunches aren't anything to brag about. In your case it should be an experience.....The Best....ChefBillyB
Joined Apr 25, 2017
Some sandwiches improve over time as the flavors meld together, that sort would be ideal for picnic offerings.

Chefbilly has some great ideas. I really like the smoked salmon and cream cheese as cucumber and cream cheese was what popped into my mind when reading your post. Dressed with dill and a nice bib or butter lettuce - on a thinly sliced sour dough perhaps, good bread can make a sandwich better.

Pimento Cheese is also a good option - it's great on a croissant with bacon - the unexpectedness adds to the enjoyment.

We make a nice sage bread for our turkey and cranberry sandwiches - using brie for the cheese really makes the cranberry sing.

Generically speaking - good, less common cheeses and breads can make all the difference between a deli meat sandwich they could make at home and what they enjoy from y'all. Cheese holds longer than deli meat, and if needed you can freeze cheese as long as you pre-slice, it crumbles if you try to slice it after thawing.
Joined Jan 9, 2019
Italian muffaletta?
Our usual (indestructible) back packing lunch is always bagel sandwiches with the above mentioned salmon/cream cheese & perhaps a few sprigs of baby dill.
Bring your own "econo flight food" is usually some sort of wraps ie: egg salad, charcuterie & cheese, PB & banana, etc.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
I can't think of anything the others haven't said. You can vary the egg salad by adding things like green onion and bacon.
Someone must have written a sandwich cookbook you could use for reference.
Mostly I'd like to strongly support using in-season tomatoes when they arrive. I look forward to them all year and a farm fresh tomato/mayo sandwich is nothing to sneer at. You could always dress it up with flavored mayos and other ingredients on various breads.
Quite a few years ago some chef made a PBJ using foie gras and concord grapes on a house made brioche roll. I think he coated the foie gras in crushed peanuts and sugar glazed whole grapes. I don't remember exactly who or how but it made quite a stir when he did it.
Along those lines you could use a country pate to make an upscale meatloaf sandwich with house pickles and mustard. Liverwurst or chicken liver pate might be interesting. Smoke turkey breasts in house and make sandwiches with that. Sliced Pork loin sandwiches. Use poached salmon to make salmon salad with lettuce and red onion or in-house pickled red onion.
Sliced beef tenderloin sandwiches with a horseradish mayo.
If you can find those enormous chicken breasts I see once in a while, you could poach and slice them for chicken sandwiches (not salad, just the meat).
Cheese sandwiches. Not grilled, just cheese, bread and ...chutney, apples, etc?
Ok, time for a snack.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Roast pork loin is a great option also. You could roast the whole loin, chill it, slice it thinly, portion and freeze. Once you have the pork there are endless options. One of my favorite, for summer time is a baguette with sliced pork, muenster, arugula, roasted red peppers, and serious drizzle of both balsamic vinegar and olive oil. This sandwich also benefits from being wrapped and allowed to sit for at least an hour. For Fall, use a ciabatta bun, add cheddar, chipotle mayo on the bottom bun, a hefty dose of apple butter on the top, and a few hearty greens.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
A well made olive salad makes any sandwich taste better!!!!

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