Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Picnic

Elaborate and delicious recipes from 1879 to adapt with modern ingredients for a perfectly old-fashioned picnic.

Picnic basket

This is the season of picnics! During the 19th century July, August, September (and in some localities) October were the ideal picnic months.


Whether the picnic was a community affair or just a family or party picnic, the picnic basket was the all-important item for the occasion. When it was a community picnic, it was essential to bring a well-filled basket since one could usually find some friend or neighbor who was alone or who failed to bring eats along.



picnic basket

The success of a picnic depended in a great measure upon the packing. For this purpose two baskets were usually brought along — one, for the food and the other for the utensils. Sandwiches formed the standby at a picnic lunch, and there was practically no limit to the variety in which they were created. Also included was fried chicken, a beef loaf, or a cold boiled ham sliced very thin and served with dressing. Ladies’ magazines often included menus and recipes for a successful outdoor affair. Godey’s Lady’s Book offered some elaborate and delicious recipes — not your everyday fare — for their readers in 1879. You can adapt these recipes with modern ingredients for a “perfectly old-fashioned picnic.”


lobster recipes


Baked Lobster Recipe

Ingredients—Lobster, Butter, Cayenne pepper.

Three spoonfuls of pounded crackers. Chop the meat, mix the cracker with it, and put to it a dressing of butter the size of an egg, melted, a little Cayenne pepper, and a little vinegar, also braid into the butter the yolks of three hard-boiled eggs; put this into a dish, and over the top put a little pounded cracker and bits of butter. Bake about twenty minutes, or till brown on top; eaten hot or cold.


Curry Lobster Recipe

Ingredients—Lobster, Two spoonfuls of flour, One of curry powder, Cup of cream, Butter, Pepper and salt.

Take a cup of hot water, a piece of butter, the flour, curry powder, pepper and salt, and the soft portion of the lobster; stir this all together; add a cup of cream, and give it one boil; put it on the lobster, which should be cut (but not fine), and let it simmer two minutes. Can be used cold for a picnic, or hot upon the table.


bread on cutting board

Chicken Croquettes Recipe

Ingredients—Chicken and ham, Four eggs, Two tablespoonfuls of olive oil, Mustard, Vinegar.

Chop the chicken (not too fine), also add a little ham; then braid together the yolks of the eggs (boiled very hard) with the oil; when smooth add a little homemade mustard, vinegar: stir this mixture well and add the meat. Have ready some thin slices of bread, buttered, and put some of the mixture between two slices.



Picnic Buns Recipe

Ingredients—Eight ounces of butter, Fourteen ounces of flour, Six ounces of sifted sugar, Two eggs, Half a nutmeg, Teaspoonful of sifted ginger, Large spoonful of caraway seeds.

Beat the butter to a cream; add the eggs, well beaten; mix the other ingredients together and work them well into the butter; add a tablespoonful of flavoring essence. Bake in



Mock Mince Tarts

Ingredients—Two crackers, One cup of boiling water, One cup of sugar, Juice and rind of one lemon, One cup of chopped raisins.

Mix these ingredients together, and bake them in a rich puff paste, like covered tarts. Bake a delicate brown, in a moderate oven.


Victoria Cakes

Ingredients—One pound of flour, Half pound of butter, Half pound of sugar, Four eggs, Six tablespoonfuls of cream, Flavor with almond.

Beat the butter and sugar to a cream; add the eggs, cream and flour; beat all well, and drop from a spoon onto a floured tin; sift sugar over them, and bake quickly for great Queen Cake.


Molasses Cookies

Ingredients—One pint of molasses, Half pound of butter, Two tablespoonfuls of cold water, Two tablespoonfuls of dissolved soda, Flour, Ginger.

Put the molasses and butter together; set them on the fire to warm slowly; add the water and soda, ginger to taste; then flour enough to roll out thin. Bake quickly in a moderate oven.


Raspberry Vinegar Beverage

Ingredients— Raspberries, Vinegar, Sugar.

Red raspberries, any quantity or sufficient to fill a stone jar nearly full, then pour upon them sufficient vinegar to cover them; cover the jar closely, and set it aside for eight or ten days; then strain through flannel or muslin, and add to the clear liquor one and a half pounds sugar to each pint, place over a fire and boil for a few minutes, allow it to cool, and then bottle for use. This makes, when mixed with water, a delightful summer drink.


Lemon Tarts Recipe

Ingredients—Two large lemons, One cup of sugar, Two eggs, Butter size of an egg.

Grate the peel from the lemon, and press the juice over the sugar; beat the ingredients together, and let them simmer a few moments on the fire. Have ready puff paste, made as tarts, and when the mixture begins to cool, fill the tarts with it.


Coconut Patties Recipe

Ingredients—One grated coconut, One pound of sugar, Half pound of flour, Quarter pound of butter, Four eggs, Teacup of milk, Half teaspoonful of salt, Teaspoonful of soda.

Mix these ingredients (except coconut) thoroughly together, then add the coconut; line your patty pans or any small dishes with a nice paste; fill with the mixture, and bake coconut patties a delicate brown.


Sugar Gingerbread

Ingredients.—One cup of butter, Two cups of sugar, Four eggs, Five cups of flour, One cup of sour milk, Half cup of yellow ginger, Half teaspoonful soda.

Beat the butter and sugar to a cream; add the eggs well beaten, then milk with the soda dissolved in it, ginger and then flour. Bake Gingerbread in shallow pans about half an hour. Source: Godey's Lady's Book, 1879