Gourmet Backpacking Dinner Recipes (2024)


Laura Moss


  • University of South Carolina

Laura Moss is a journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing about science, nature, culture, and the environment.

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Updated May 31, 2017

Gourmet Backpacking Dinner Recipes (1)

If you think spending a week in the wilderness means subsisting on days-old gorp, flavorless noodles and whatever you can catch or forage, you're in for a scrumptious surprise. With a little bit of preparation you can eat quick, easy gourmet meals on the trail — and be the envy of all your trailmates. All of the recipes we've gathered can be made in just a freezer bag or one pot and cooked over a campfire or simple camp stove. After all, the last thing you need when backpacking is a pile of dirty pots and pans! So lace up those hiking boots, grab your titanium spork, and read on for some truly divine campfire cuisine.


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Queet's Valley Shepherd's Pie

Gourmet Backpacking Dinner Recipes (2)

This hearty meal is perfect for cold-weather camping and is ready in mere minutes.


  • 7 ounce package baked tofu (savory flavor)
  • 4 ounce package mashed potatoes
  • 1 packet mushroom sauce
  • 1/2 cup dried mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup dried mixed vegetables
  • 1/2 teaspoonvegetable bouillon
  • 1/4 teaspoondried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoondried thyme
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  1. At home: Combine the vegetables, sage, thyme and bouillon in a plastic freezer bag. Place the potatoes in a second freezer bag. Carry the mushroom sauce and diced tofu separately.
  2. On the trail: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and pour 2 cups into the potatoes and 1 cup into the vegetables. While the vegetables are rehydrating, sauté the tofu. Add the vegetables to the tofu, but don't drain the vegetables. Add the packet of mushroom sauce and stir well to help it thicken. Top the mixture with mashed potatoes before serving.

Serves 2-4

Courtesy of onepanwonders.com


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Camp Stove Pizza

Gourmet Backpacking Dinner Recipes (3)

There’s something about a daylong hike and being miles from civilization that makes you long for a greasy slice of pizza. Feed that craving. Camp Stove Pizza


  • Bisquick
  • olive oil
  • pizza sauce
  • Asiago cheese
  • Italian seasonings (oregano, garlic)
  • pizza toppings


  1. At home: Measure Bisquick into small container or plastic bag — the amount of will depend on the size of your pan. Pour sauce and oil into small containers, and dice cheese and store in bag.
  2. On the trail: Add water to Bisquick and stir to create dough. Coat the bottom of your pot or pan in olive oil and then pour the dough into the pan and spread it thin. Spread sauce on top of the dough and then sprinkle cheese across dough until it's coated. Add any toppings or seasonings you've brought along, and then place the lid on the pan. Cook pizza on your camp stove for 7-10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Serves 1


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Backpacker's Quinoa Soup

Gourmet Backpacking Dinner Recipes (4)

This healthy and delicious vegetarian soup is enough to satisfy any backpacker’s belly. Backpacker’s Quinoa Soup


  • 1/4 cup cooked and dehydrated quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons freeze-dried corn
  • 2 tablespoons dehydrated mixed vegetables
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1 packetTrue Lime
  • 1avocado
  • salt and pepper
  1. At home: Combine dry ingredients in a locking plastic bag. Carry the avocado separately.
  2. On the trail: Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add the dry ingredients to the water, stir, and allow to rehydrate. Dice the avacado and stir it into the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 1-2

Courtesy of onepanwonders.com


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Trail Tacos

Gourmet Backpacking Dinner Recipes (5)

Cook up a campfire fiesta in just a few minutes. Trail Tacos


  • 1/2 cup beef-flavored TVP (textured vegetable protein)
  • 1/2 cup minute rice
  • 1/2 cup freeze-dried sweet corn
  • 1/3 packet taco seasoning
  • 3-4 small tortillas
  • 1 packetTrue Lime
  • 1avocado
  • salt and pepper
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  1. At home: Combine TVP, rice, corn and taco seasoning in a 1-quart freezer bag. Place this bag and the tortillas in another bag or container.
  2. On the trail: Boil 2 cups of water. Remove water from heat and immediately add to food mix, filling bag until water just barely covers food ingredients. Mix thoroughly, then seal the bag and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir the food contents and test the rice for softness. When rice is tender, spoon mixture into tortillas, add hot sauce or salsa, and enjoy.

Serves 1-2

Courtesy of J.squared

Beefy Noodles

Gourmet Backpacking Dinner Recipes (6)

Jazz up camping staples like beef jerky and ramen noodles with this delicious dish. Beefy Noodles


  • 4 tablespoons shredded beef jerky
  • 1 3-ounce package ramen noodles
  • 1 1-ounce package instant onion soup
  • 2 tablespoon mixed dehydrated vegetables
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1-2 packets soy sauce


  1. At home: Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large freezer bag.
  2. On the trail: Boil 2 cups of water. Add water to bag and stir. Let noodles soften and vegetables rehydrate for about 5 minutes. Season with soy sauce to taste.

Serves 2


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Hobo Dinner

Gourmet Backpacking Dinner Recipes (7)

This campfire classic can easily go from cliché to gourmet. Hobo Dinner


  • 1 potato
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 burger crumbled, or use dehydrated meat, TVP or veggie patty
  • Seasonings *
  1. At home: Chop vegetables and potato and store in bag or container. If you're using meat or a veggie patty that's not dehydrated, freeze it and make this meal your first night.
  2. On the trail: Place vegetables and meat or TVP in tin foil and season to taste. Add about a teaspoon of water and then wrap tin foil around the food. Carefully place your dinner on hot campfire coals and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes, rotating as needed. Unwrap, add any condiments (ketchup, cheese, hot sauce), and enjoy!

Serves 1-2

The great thing about hobo meals is that anything goes! If you're a practiced forager, look for nuts, mushrooms or herbs to give your dinner a distinctly local taste.


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Red Pepper Pasta

Gourmet Backpacking Dinner Recipes (8)

Spice up bland noodles with this quick and easy recipe. Red Pepper Pasta


  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons parsley flakes
  • 1/4 cupparmesan cheese
  1. At home: Pack garlic powder, red pepper, parsley and shredded cheese in a locking plastic bag. Put olive oil in a leak-proof container.
  2. On the trail: Boil and drain pasta and then stir in remaining ingredients.

Serves 2-4


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Shrimp and Grits

Gourmet Backpacking Dinner Recipes (9)

You can have a taste of the sea and the South no matter where you decide to camp. Shrimp and Grits


  • 1/4 cup instant grits
  • 1/4 cup dehydrated shrimp
  • 1/4 cup dehydrated peppers and onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  1. At home: Pack all ingredients in a plastic bag or container.
  2. On the trail: Mix bag of ingredients with water in a pot and soak for 5-10 minutes. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for two minutes. Cover pot, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

Serves 1


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Cheesy Rice and Tuna

Gourmet Backpacking Dinner Recipes (10)

Mix up this campfire comfort food in just a few minutes. Cheesy Rice and Tuna


  • 1/2 cup minute rice
  • 1/4 cup cheddar broccoli soup mix
  • 1 packet dehydrated cheese mix (such as from a macaroni and cheese mix)
  • 1 7-ounce pouch tuna in water (or substitute dehydrated veggies or TVP)
  • 2 cups water
  1. At home: Combine rice, soup mix and cheese in 1-quart freezer bag. If substituting veggies or TVP for tuna, add these to the bag as well.
  2. On the trail: Combine dry ingredients with water in pot and soak for 5-10 minutes. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Cover pot, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

Serves 1

Courtesy of J.squared


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Camp Stroganoff

Gourmet Backpacking Dinner Recipes (11)

This campsite version of a dinner favorite will refuel you after a long day on the trail. Camp Stroganoff


  • 1 package beef-flavored Ramen (including seasoning)
  • 1/4 cup dehydrated ground beef
  • 1/4 cup dehydrated vegetables
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt tuna in water (or substitute dehydrated veggies or TVP)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoonpaprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • individual packet (about a tablespoon)cream cheese
  • 1-2 packets soy sauce
  1. At home: Combine all dry ingredients in a 1-quart freezer bag.
  2. On the trail: Boil water and then pour into bag until all ingredients are covered. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes and then stir in cream cheese. Close the bag and let sit for another 5 minutes.

Serves 1

Gourmet Backpacking Dinner Recipes (2024)


What is a good dinner for backpacking? ›

Backpacking dinner ideas: Macaroni and cheese with bacon bits or tuna; dehydrated risotto; pasta with pesto and parmesan cheese; ramen noodles with dehydrated vegetables; instant soups; instant mashed potatoes and beef jerky; instant stuffing with cooked chicken (pouch or fresh); backpacking Thanksgiving dinner.

What is the most dense food for backpacking? ›

Examples of calorie-dense food include: nuts (peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews) and nut butters (peanut butter, hazelnut butter) seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin.

What should I eat on a 5 day hike? ›

The best foods will be protein rich, nutrient-dense and made of complex carb's and healthy fats – that are digested slowly and release a steady supply of energy. Starting out with a bowl of oatmeal (or soaked rolled oats) topped with nuts (good fats), fruit & honey provides just the blend your body will draw from.

Can you make your own backpacking meals? ›

As much as we love a good Mountain House meal—and the ease of “clean up” afterwards—commercial backpacking food can get pricey. So, whenever possible, we like to prepare our own backcountry meals using a combination of dehydrated food and ingredients from our local grocery store.

Why are backpacking meals so expensive? ›

The Cost of Ingredients.

They are packing the meals full of real meat. And more exotic vegetables. Cheaper meals use a lot more carbs, and less meat/vegetables. They also use thickeners, so the meal tends to remind you of Chef Boyardee cans, rather than real food.

How much does 5 days of backpacking food weight? ›

For lightweight and ultralightweight backpackers, the combined weight of food and water will regularly exceed that of all the gear they are carrying. For example, five days food equates to approximately 10 lbs (4.5 kg). Half a gallon of water is roughly 4 lbs (1.8 kg).

Is 40 lbs too heavy for backpacking? ›

A loaded backpacking pack should not weigh more than about 20 percent of your body weight. (If you weigh 150 pounds, your pack should not exceed 30 pounds for backpacking.) A loaded day hiking pack should not weigh more than about 10 percent of your body weight.

What is too heavy for backpacking? ›

Members of the UI Hospitals & Clinics Rehabilitation Services team recommend you carry no more than ten percent of your weight in a backpack. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should carry no more than 15 pounds in a backpack.

How often should you eat while backpacking? ›

Snacking regularly (every one to two hours), as opposed to three big set meals a day, is conducive to a more efficient hiking approach. You are not as weighed down with a full stomach, your muscles won't be as stiff because your breaks aren't as long and it's better for your digestive system.

What is the best energy food for hiking? ›

Fruits, vegetables, and grains are all sources of complex carbohydrates. They are also sources of other nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are a source of more sustained energy throughout the day because they have fiber. Eat these foods before, during, and after a long day of hiking.

What should I eat on a 7 day hike? ›

The more you stash in a backpack, the harder it is to hike, so opt mainly for non-perishable foods that are relatively lightweight and nutrient dense, such as: Trail mix. Nuts, seeds, nut-based bars or nut butter packs. Fresh, whole fruit that doesn't require refrigeration such as apples, bananas and oranges.

Why is Jelly Ace good for hiking? ›


It compensates with its taste and it does quench thirst. The fruity flavor is also addictive and its a trail food that is easy to pass around, kindà give off that happy vibe as we are probably psychologically influenced by its common presence at every hike.

Do backpacking meals go bad? ›

If the meal is in a proper mylar bag- and is freeze dried, I wouldn't be concerned over a few years. With packaged FD or dehydrated meals, I've had no problems with 3 to 6 months past “Best By” dates. I have, however, I've had problems with ProBar meal bars that are near or past their expiration date.

Can you take bacon backpacking? ›

Pre cooked bacon is excellent. I have taken it on many trips. I also will take th real pre cooked bacon bits to mix in with Mac and cheese or mashed potatoes.

What to do with food at night when backpacking? ›

Food Storage in a Campground
  1. During the day, keep all your food secured in your cooler or car, even if you're sitting nearby or on a short jaunt to the outhouse, and especially if you're away on a hike.
  2. At night, place any loose food, plus a cooler if you have one, inside a metal bear box if there is one.

What is the best lightweight food for backpacking? ›

Backpacking Meal Suggestions
  • Granola & Cereal (Bear Naked)
  • Powdered Milk (Nido or Grace Coconut Milk Powder)
  • Breakfast Drink Mix Packets (Carnation)
  • Trail Mix.
  • Nuts and Seeds (Almonds, peanuts, etc.)
  • Almond Butter Packets (Justin's)
  • Peanut Butter Packets (Justin's)
  • Instant Oatmeal (Quaker)
Jan 29, 2018

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