Backpacking Recipes and Trail Food Ideas


Choosing the right backpacking recipes and trail foods will ensure that you will meet your nutritional needs and have ample energy for hiking.

Backpacking Food Choices

Meals can range from super simple to complex.
  • no cook foods
  • foods only requiring boiling water
  • medium effort cooking (one pot meals)
  • gourmet (multi-pot, multi-course meals)

Some meals are easier to clean up after than others and you may want to factor that into your recipe choices as well as how much stove fuel each will use. Personally I prefer simplicity in my backcountry cuisine and for the most part stick with one-pot meals when backpacking. Those grocery store pasta or rice side dishes cook from 5-10 minutes and flavored mashed potato dishes just take boiling water. They are inexpensive too at about $1 - $1.99 each. It can be even cheaper too if you assemble your own ingredients.

One thing I like to incorporate into my menus are multi-use foods. Foods such as quinoa or couscous can be used as a warm breakfast cereal by adding raisins, trail mix or butter or as a dinner with spices and veggies. Potato flakes are good to soak up excess water in some dishes. Multi-use foods can allow you to create your own trail recipes on the fly depending on what seems good at the moment.

Backpacking Recipes

Here are a few recipe ideas that I've created and enjoy on my trips. Just FYI you will only find vegetarian or vegan backpacking recipes here but you could very simply add meat to taste.

Oh-Oh Oats

Jazz up your instant oatmeal for nutrition and variety.
+ maple sugar flavored oats (any brand that has paper instead of foil packaging)
+ add trail mix or your favorite items like cashews, banana chips, dried cherries, vanilla protein powder, butter, etc.

Coconut Cream of Rice

+ 1/4 cup cream of rice
+ 3 heaping tbsp of coconut cream powder
+ 2 tbsp powdered margarine
+ dash of salt
+ add your pre-assembled mix to 1 3/4 cup boiling water and simmer for 1/2 minute. Remove from heat and wait for rice to soak up any excess water.
+ add a handful of raisins or other dried fruit

It took me a few tries to figure out how much coconut cream this needed but the result is pretty tasty. Feeds 1 person and is about 500 calories.

Lickety Split Lentil Rice Soup

+ 1 part ground lentils (from coffee grinder)
+ 1 part ground brown rice (from coffee grinder)
+ dehydrated carrots
+ dehydrated onions
+ nutritional yeast flakes
+ potato flakes (to taste to soak up excess water)
+ 1 Tablespoon crystallized lemon
+ sea salt
+ spices

Cooks in about 10-15 min. Good with olive oil and pita bread

Falafel Taters

+ 3/4 cup potato flakes
+ 1/8 cup of falafel mix (also spelled falafil)
+ 3 tbsp margarine powder
+ 1 tsp sea salt
+ couple dashes of granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
+ add pre-assembled mix to 2 cups of hot water (slowly stir in mix to avoid lumps)

I knew I wanted to create a meal using potato flakes and this is what I came up with. It is quick, delicious and filling and I take it on every trip. Sometimes I add nutritional yeast or olive oil. This recipe feeds 1 person and I calculated it to be around 420 calories.

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