Backpacking Desserts

Backpacking desserts pair well with sunsets after glorious days in the forest. There’s no better way to top off a great meal. Sometimes, if the hiking is hard, you have to dip into your dessert stash by early afternoon, which is why I pack two servings.

Backpacking Dessert Recipes featured at BackpackingChef.com

Reconstituted dried fruits lend a sweet juiciness to other ingredients used in backpacking desserts: dehydrated angel food cake, breadcrumbs, granola, nuts, graham crackers, chocolate, and other goodies.

Three desserts include instant pudding—not exactly a health food, but to allay the guilt, Grahma Nanna Nilla Pudding, Pineapple Up-side Down Cake, and Mud Pie also include real fruit and nuts.

This backpacking dessert collection also includes real fruit puddings—nothing artificial, made with apples, bananas, and peaches; plus puddings made with sweet potato and pumpkin puree.

Desserts with Cake and Breadcrumbs

Backpacking desserts made with cake and breadcrumbs.

Photos above (left to right): Trail Angel Cake, Peach Cobbler, and Apple Pie.

Trail Angel Cake

If your sweet tooth starts acting up in the woods, reach for the Trail Angel Cake in your pack. Sweet strawberries, angel food cake, and warm chocolate sauce drizzled on top will tame your cravings.

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup dried strawberries
  • 1 cup dried angel food cake crumbs
  • 3 Tbsp sweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup water + a few tsp to rehydrate

At Home:

Dry angel food cake in half-inch slices and then break into smaller pieces. See the dehydrating cake and breadcrumbs page.

Pack dried strawberries and sweetened cocoa mix in separate small plastic bags. Chocolate milk powder works well. Enclose in larger plastic bag with dried angel food cake.

On the Trail:

Combine strawberries with water in pot. Light stove and warm for ten minutes over low flame. The mission is to warm and rehydrate the strawberries and create some tasty strawberry juices at the same time, not to boil the red out of them.

Combine cocoa powder with four teaspoons of water in a second pot. If using one pot, transfer strawberries and juices to a serving cup and make chocolate sauce in the same pot. Stir continuously over low flame, adding more water a teaspoonful at a time until the sauce reaches desired consistency.

Cover strawberries with cake crumbs. Push the cake down into the strawberry juices but don’t stir. Drizzle chocolate sauce over cake. Some of the cake will absorb the strawberry juices and some will remain crunchy. Explore with spoon.

Peach Cobbler

This simple and peachy backpacking dessert is cobbled together with breadcrumbs, which absorb the sweet peach juices to make a very pleasant mush.

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup dried peach slices
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • ½ cup water to rehydrate

At Home:

Pack dried peaches, sugar, and nutmeg in a small plastic bag. Enclose with breadcrumbs in a larger plastic bag to stay organized.

Use plain Italian-style bread to dry the breadcrumbs.

On the Trail:

Combine dried peaches, sugar, and nutmeg with water in pot. Light stove and warm for ten minutes over low flame. No need to boil – you just want the peaches to rehydrate and warm up. When the peaches are soft and warm, stir in breadcrumbs.

Apple Pie

For this backpacker's rendition of apple pie, we turn again to dehydrated breadcrumbs, as we did with peach cobbler. So simple, yet so delicious.

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup dried apples
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup water to rehydrate

At Home:

You can use plain Italian-style bread for the breadcrumbs, or try dried pita bread for more of a pie crust texture.

Pack dried apples, sugar, and cinnamon in a small plastic bag. Pack breadcrumbs in a small plastic bag and raisins in another small plastic bag. Enclose all bags in a larger Ziploc bag to stay organized.

On the Trail:

Combine dried apples, sugar, cinnamon, and raisins with water in pot. Light stove and heat until warm. Stir in breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs will absorb the sweet apple juices.


Rice Pudding

Traditional or Fruity Rice Pudding Backpacking Desserts.

Photo above: Traditional or Fruity Rice Pudding.

This rice pudding recipe is great as a backpacking dessert or for breakfast. Cook the rice at home in vanilla flavored almond milk and then dehydrate it as described below.

Cooking Rice Pudding: Combine one cup rice, two cups of almond milk, plus one teaspoon vanilla sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until rice is tender. Add ¼ cup more liquid if necessary.

Yield: One cup rice = 3½ cups cooked = 1¾ to 2 cups dried.

Dehydrating Rice Pudding: Spread cooked rice out on dehydrator trays covered with non-stick sheets. Dehydrate at 125°F (52°C) for approximately five or six hours. Once or twice through the drying process, break up any rice that is stuck together. Rice will be hard when completely dried.

Rice Pudding with Raisins and Cinnamon

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup dried rice, vanilla-almond flavored*
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ cup water to rehydrate

At Home:

Pack raisins in a separate small bag and enclose with rice, sugar and cinnamon.

On the Trail:

Combine all ingredients with water in pot and soak five minutes. Light stove and heat to near boiling. Remove from stove and wait ten minutes before eating.

Fruity Variation:

Substitute a different dried fruit for the raisins, omit the cinnamon, and add ¼ cup of fruit leather. Try dried pineapple pieces and peach/apricot fruit leather. Mango works well too.


Backpacking Desserts with Instant Pudding

Backpacking Desserts made with Instant Pudding. Pineapple Up-side-Down Cake and Mud Pie shown.

Photo above (left to right): Pineapple Up-side-Down Cake and Mud Pie

Pineapple Up-side-Down Cake

When you dig into Pineapple Up-side-Down Cake, you and your trusty spoon will explore layers of creamy pudding, crunchy cake, and tangy pineapple.

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup dried pineapple
  • 2 Tbsp Jell-O Brand vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 2 Tbsp instant dry milk powder
  • ½ cup dried angel food cake crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1 cup water to rehydrate

At Home:

Pack each ingredient into a separate small plastic bag. Enclose all bags in a larger zip lock bag to stay organized.

On the Trail:

Rehydrate dried pineapple with half of the water (½ cup) in pot. Light stove and warm for ten minutes over low flame until warm.

Combine powdered milk with other half of cold water (½ cup) in a separate pot or cup and stir until mixed. Add instant pudding mix and stir briskly until smooth. Pudding will set in about five minutes.

When pudding sets, cover with angel food cake crumbs. Push cake down a little into the pudding, but don’t stir. Spoon the warm pineapple over the angel food cake. Pour any remaining juice over the cake as well. Garnish with shredded coconut.

Mud Pie

If you can make mud, you can make Mud Pie. All you have to do is whip up some instant pudding and toss in some nuts, cookie crumbs, or granola.

Serves 1

Ingredients:

½ cup Annie’s Homegrown Chocolate Bunny Grahams*
¼ cup peanuts, mixed nuts, or granola
2 Tbsp JELL-O brand instant chocolate pudding
2 Tbsp powdered milk
½ cup water to prepare

* In place of Annie’s Bunny Grahams, any crumbled cookies will do.

At Home:

Pack each ingredient into a separate small plastic bag. Enclose all bags in a larger bag to stay organized.

On the Trail:

Combine powdered milk with cold water in pot or cup and stir until mixed. Add instant pudding mix and stir briskly until smooth. Pudding will set in about five minutes.

After pudding sets, stir in all your goodies and let your spoon guide you.


Mostly Fruit Backpacking Desserts

Dip your spoon into delicious fruit desserts, like baked cinnamon-spiced apples, banana split pudding, hot peach crunch, and fruit cocktail.

Apple Desserts

Backpacking Apple Desserts: Pumpkin-Spice Apples, Tortilla Apple Tarts.

Tortilla Apple Tarts, Pumpkin-Spice Apples, Applesauce, and more.

See Dehydrating Apples

Banana Desserts

Several kinds of puddings made with bananas.

Banana Fruit Leather, Banana-Pineapple Pudding, Banana Split Pudding, Banana Pudding with Chocolate & Nuts, Banana Nut Bread Pudding, Grahma Nanna Nilla Pudding, and more.

See Dehydrating Bananas

Peach Desserts

Backpacking desserts made with peaches: Peach Granola Clusters, Peach Perfect Trail Mix, and Hot Peach Crumble.

Peach Granola Clusters, Peach Perfect Trail Mix, Hot Peach Crumble, and more.

See Dehydrating Peaches

Fruit Cocktail

Fruit Cocktail for the trail.

To make a juicy fruit cocktail, combine one cup of dried mixed fruit with two cups of cold water in a Thermos Food Jar. The result, if you wait at least thirty minutes will be one cup of refreshing fruit juice and a tasty serving of rehydrated fruit. We prepare our fruit cocktails after lunch and enjoy them later in the afternoon.

See Dehydrating Fruit and Dehydrating Fruit Leather.



Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Pie Bark Puddings

Sweet Potato Pudding and Pumpkin Pie Bark Pudding.

Sweet Potato Bark and Pumpkin Pie Bark can be eaten as chewy and healthy trail snacks, or you can turn them into hot or cold puddings.

See Dehydrating Sweet Potatoes and Pumpkin Pie Bark.



Get all the recipes for backpacking desserts and meals in Chef Glenn’s books.

Receive more dessert recipes in Trail Bytes, Chef Glenn's free monthly newsletter. In addition to new backpacking recipes, you will also receive a free e-book, Home & Trail: An Introduction to Drying Food, when you subscribe.

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