5 Simple Tips for a Food-Safe Picnic + Apricot Pineapple Chicken Salad

April 28, 2016

Have a safe and enjoyable outdoor picnic this spring and summer with these food safety tips, plus a healthy and delicious recipe for Apricot Pineapple Chicken Salad!

Apricot Pineapple Chicken Salad Sandwich on Plate

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This post, recipe, and images are by Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN. This page contains affiliate links. See below for full disclosure statement.

With the weather warming up, it’s the perfect season for a picnic! Heading outdoors for a meal and quality time with family and friends can be a great way to enjoy the best that spring and summer have to offer. But there are a few rules to follow to ensure that your food stays safe. Here are some tips to help keep you and your food healthy all season long & a recipe for a picnic-worthy Apricot Pineapple Chicken Salad!

Wash Your Hands

This one seems simple, but it’s one we all forget sometimes! The best way to prevent illness is to wash your hands with soap and water before handling food. Also be sure to wash fruits and veggies and all utensils and cutting boards. If you won’t have access to running water at your picnic site, bring along some moist towelettes or hand sanitizer so you can clean those hands before you eat!

Keep Cold Foods Cold

Any cold dish with dairy, meat, eggs, or cooked veggies needs to stay at 40°F or lower (think chicken salad, potato salad, cheese, mayonnaise). Make sure to pack a cooler with ice or ice packs to keep salads, sides, and condiments cold. Transport your cooler inside your car instead of in the trunk to ensure it doesn’t get hot too fast. And these foods can only stay out for 2 hours (or 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F!). Any longer than that, and it is better to throw it out.

Apricot Pineapple Chicken Salad Over Lettuce

Thoroughly Cook Hot Foods

If you’re going to be grilling, bring a thermometer to ensure you cook meats to the proper temperatures. The internal temperatures to guarantee safety are:

Chicken, Hot Dogs and Sausages: 165°F

Hamburgers: 160°F

Steaks, Pork, and Fish: 145°F

Separate Raw Foods From Ready-to-Eat Foods

If you’re bringing along raw meat, make sure to keep it separate from cold, ready- to-eat foods such as salads and fruits and veggies. Pack raw meat in a separate cooler, and bring separate utensils and cutting boards for raw meat and cooked meat. Fruit and vegetables should always be cut on a separate cutting board from raw meat.

When In Doubt, Throw It Out!

Lastly, enjoy yourselves! Picnics are a fun time to kick back and relax with family and friends. If you get caught up in the good time you’re having and forget how long your food has been sitting out, don’t take a chance. Throw it out rather than taking home the leftovers. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

For a fun picnic recipe you can prep ahead and take with you, try this Apricot Pineapple Chicken Salad! It’s perfect for building sandwiches or lettuce wraps! And if you’re looking for more picnic eats, check out this roundup of over 50 healthy and delicious homemade picnic recipes!

Apricot Pineapple Chicken Salad Sandwich

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Switch up your regular chicken salad with this Apricot Pineapple Chicken Salad lightened up with Greek yogurt. Get the recipe at JessicaLevinson.com | #chickensalad #picnicfood #glutenfree #chickenrecipes

Apricot Pineapple Chicken Salad

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Switch up your regular chicken salad with this version made with apricots and pineapple, lightened up with Greek yogurt.


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts,, cooked and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 stalk celery,, finely diced
  • 2 stalks green onions,, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • Salt and pepper,, to taste


  1. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients. Chill until cold.
  2. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Apricot Pineapple Chicken Salad with Text Overlay

Do you like chicken salad?

What’s your favorite picnic recipe?

Share with me in the comments below!
Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase products through these links, your cost will be the same but I will receive a small commission to help with operating costs of this blog.
Have a safe and enjoyable outdoor picnic this spring and summer with these food safety tips, plus a healthy and delicious recipe for Apricot Pineapple Chicken Salad! @jlevinsonrd.

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  1. Yum! I hands down love it when RDs posted on food safety. Probably because I was a huge food safety advocate at UCSD, but still, my family calls me the food police b/c I make them ice bath everything, esp in California and the heat! Great post Kaleigh!

  2. I love picnics and can’t wait for it to warm up so I can start having them again!! I could totally make this vegetarian by using mashed chickpeas in place of the chicken. Thanks for the idea!

    1. I know! Hopefully the warmer weather will be here soon. Love your idea of making this with chickpeas for a vegetarian option!

  3. Food safety is so important! I worked in the kitchen at our local hospital for a while so my husband thought I was a germaphobe with food haha! I was just super conscious of food handling and he thought I was weird. I’ve eased up a bit these days but food safety is still a big deal in my house

  4. This chicken salad sounds amazing. My favorite is cranberry walnut but I would love to try something new and different. The flavors in this sound bright and fresh!

    1. Thanks Sandra! Cranberry Walnut is certainly a classic, but it’s fun to mix it up sometimes. Hope you give it a try and enjoy!

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