Which picnic baskets are best?

What’s more pleasant than wiling away an afternoon on a picnic blanket, enjoying finger foods, conversation and fresh air? The key to this experience is a picnic basket. A well-designed picnic basket lets you keep your food fresh and organized. It also helps you carry everything easily while making cleanup a breeze. When you’re looking for an all-purpose basket to make your picnic special, the HappyPicnic Wicker Picnic Basket Set is the top choice. 

What to know before you buy a picnic basket

Who will be at the picnic

Are you planning a romantic picnic for two, complete with a bottle of wine? Or do you want to pack enough snacks for a soccer team? The amount and type of food and drink you want to carry will dictate whether you need a big basket with compartments and insulation, a backpack-style picnic basket, or a tidy two-person old-fashioned basket like Dorothy’s in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Your picnic aesthetic

Baskets come in retro styles, focus on function or emphasize room. If setting a pretty picnic is your prime consideration, find a picnic basket that comes with matching supplies. If you don’t care as much about how your picnic looks, look for something instead that prioritizes function and space over aesthetics.

Whether you’ll be serving food that needs to stay hot or cold

Picnics are often associated with finger foods, like sandwiches, but if you want to keep drinks cold or mozzarella sticks hot, consider a basket that’s either fully insulated or has an insulated compartment. Note that this compartment will require a separate wipe-down, not just a quick shake after you unpack the basket. Be sure to plan to clean it after each use to keep it fresh.

What to look for in a quality picnic basket

Good materials

Since picnic baskets are essentially a tool for carrying things, they need to be sturdy. If you opt for the classic wicker look, look for picnic baskets made of willow, rattan or bamboo. If you prefer a more modern and easily washable option, consider polyester canvas.

Carrying method

Traditional picnic baskets with wooden handles look great but can get heavy, especially if you need to carry them a long way. If you love the look of a wicker picnic basket but not the wooden handles in the crook of your arm, look for one with a carrying strap. This lets you distribute the weight to your shoulder. If you want to keep your hands free, a backpack-style picnic carrier, while not the traditional “basket,” will save you from bearing all the weight with your hands. There are also picnic baskets with wheels, which can be helpful if you’re lugging lots of heavy items.

Accessories

You can supplement inexpensive picnic basket options with utensils from home and paper napkins for a rustic, homegrown feel. But if you’re looking to plan a special outing, consider a full picnic basket complete with bells and whistles. These include things like plates, utensils, glasses, cloth napkins, salt and pepper shakers, bottle openers and a matching blanket. Together, they create a fancier, more cohesive scene for your special afternoon. 

How much you can expect to spend on a picnic basket

A picnic basket with a full set of accessories (plates, utensils, etc.) will cost between $65-$120, depending on the materials and how many people it’s intended to serve. If you just want a basket to carry your food, you can find one for as little as $20.

Picnic basket FAQ

What must-haves should I pack in my picnic basket?

A. Half your work will be done for you if you buy a picnic basket with all the accessories included. You can still make your picnic basket even more functional by supplementing the standard utensils and plates with a few extra items. For starters, a small pack of wet wipes can go a long way. Eating on the go can be unexpected messes that standard napkins can clean up. You may also want to bring bug spray, but be sure to double-bag it and keep it away from food. And while this won’t fit inside your picnic basket, bringing along a small foldable picnic table can add an air of sophistication to your picnic and keep your food safe from bugs. A simple pop-up canopy can protect you on a hot day.

How do I keep my picnic basket in good condition?

A. Make sure to clean your picnic basket thoroughly after each use. Because picnic baskets can sit for long periods between uses, you want to be sure there isn’t any leftover food inside. If you do find your basket has picked up an unwanted scent, sprinkle some baking soda inside it, leave it overnight, then vacuum it thoroughly. Otherwise, simply wipe it clean and store it in a cool place out of the sun.

What’s the best picnic basket to buy?

Top picnic basket

HappyPicnic Wicker Picnic Basket Set for 4

HappyPicnic Wicker Picnic Basket Set for 4

What you need to know: With a matching blanket, interior lining and napkins, this is a visually appealing picnic basket with plenty of room for all your treats.

What you’ll love: The stainless steel cutlery and melamine plates are sturdy and easy to keep clean, and everything has a slot to keep things organized. 

What you should consider: This picnic basket has a handle but no carrying strap, so you may not want to walk too far with it. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top picnic basket for the money

HappyPicnic Leakproof Picnic Cooler Basket with Waterproof Beach Blanket

HappyPicnic Leakproof Picnic Cooler Basket with Waterproof Beach Blanket

What you need to know: If you’re looking for reliable basics for your picnic, this set is a great choice.

What you’ll love: This insulated canvas basket keeps foods at their original temperature and has enough storage capacity for all the food you want to bring. The blanket matches and is a generous size. 

What you should consider: This doesn’t come with utensils and plates, so you’ll have to pack those separately.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Picnic at Ascots Yorkshire Picnic Basket with Coffee Flask for Four

Picnic at Ascot’s Yorkshire Picnic Basket with Coffee Flask for Four

What you need to know: If you’re looking for a splurge, this upscale set from the well-known makers of picnic goods will give your afternoon an elegant feel. 

What you’ll love: No detail has been overlooked in this beautiful picnic basket. It comes with coffee thermos and stainless steel coffee mugs in addition to the standard plates and utensils. The basket is handcrafted of full reed willow for an artisan look. 

What you should consider: This basket doesn’t come with a matching blanket, so you’ll need to remember to bring one along.

Where to buy: Sold by Wayfair

 

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Maria Andreu writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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