Backpacking Recipes with Lentils

This page includes four backpacking recipes with lentils, plus two more on related pages. Green, black, or brown lentils cook up firm; but red and yellow lentils cook up mushy.

Lentils add protein, carbs, fiber, and a gravy-like flavor to meals.

Backpacking recipes with lentilsJPG

Photo: Green Lentils & Vegetables.

Cook and dehydrate firm lentils in a stew or chili, or cook and dry mushy lentils into “curry bark.” Rehydrated lentil bark makes a delicious sauce in vegetarian backpacking meals.

Green Lentils & Vegetables

The vegetables in this recipe are cooked in their own juices without oil, and then combined with cooked green lentils.

Use green, brown, or black lentils—any of these will maintain a firm texture when cooked. Red or yellow lentils get mushy when cooked, and are better suited to dals and curries.

Yield: This recipes yields 4½ cups of cooked lentils and vegetables before drying, and 2¾ cups after drying.

Cook the Lentils


  • 1 cup green lentils (200 g)
  • 3 cups water (710 ml)
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp. salt, or more to taste
  • Ground pepper to taste


Inspect the dry lentils and pick out anything that isn’t a lentil, like a wayward pebble.

Rinse lentils in a pot with cold water several times to remove any dust or chaff.

Add 1 cup of lentils to 3 cups of water in pot. Vegetable stock may be used in place of water. You may add a pinch of salt, but do not over-salt. It’s best to add salt to taste after the lentils are cooked.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes with lid on the pot. Remove pot from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Tip: Cook just until firm so they keep their chewy texture after you dehydrate them and rehydrate them on the trail.

Pour off excess cooking liquid if it looks soupy, but leave some in the pot for flavor.

Stir in apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper. Let the lentils rest while you prepare the vegetables.

Cook the Vegetables


  • ½ cup onions, diced (50 g)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup bell pepper, diced (140 g)
  • ¾ cup carrots, diced (100 g)
  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced (400 g)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • Ground pepper and more salt to taste
Vegetables for lentil stew.


Dice vegetables into small pieces. This will ensure that they dry at the same rate as the lentils. Halve or quarter carrots longwise before slicing thinly across. Retain the juices from dicing the tomatoes.

Place diced onions in a large nonstick pan and turn heat to medium. Add ¼ tsp. salt. Onions will begin to sweat in a few minutes. Stir continuously once you hear the onions cooking.

Add the minced garlic.

When the onions look like they are about to dry out, add a spoonful of the juice from the tomatoes. Continue stirring, and when the liquid is gone, add another spoonful of tomato juice. After 3 rounds of adding juice, the onions will be lightly caramelized. Be careful not to let the garlic turn brown.

Add the carrots and bell peppers, turn up the heat a notch, and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and all remaining juices. Season with bay leaf, basil (or other herbs), soy sauce, and salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a light boil and then drop heat to simmer for 8 minutes.

Cooking lentils & vegetables

Photos: Cooked vegetables on left, combined with cooked lentils on right.

Combine the Lentils & Vegetables

You may drain off excessive liquid from the pot of lentils, but it is best to leave some or all of the cooking liquid in the mix to maximize flavor.

Dump cooked lentils into the pan with the vegetables and let the flavors meld for a few minutes.

Dehydrate the Lentils & Vegetables

Cooked lentils and vegetables on dehydrator tray

Photo: A portion of cooked lentils and vegetables on Cosori dehydrator tray.

Divide lentil and vegetable mixture into 2–3 equal portions and spread on nonstick dehydrator sheets or trays. If using an Excalibur or Cosori dehydrator, dividing into 2 portions works well. For dehydrators with smaller trays, spread mixture on 3–4 trays. The key is not to overload the dehydrator trays, which would increase drying time.

Dehydrate at 145°F (63°C) for 6–8 hours. When dry, lentils will be crispy and vegetable bits will easily tear in half with no moisture remaining. (Actual test time in a Cosori dehydrator using 2 trays was 6¼ hours).

Allow dried lentils and vegetables to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Dehydrated rice and lentils

Photo: Dehydrated rice and dehydrated lentils & vegetables.

Lentils & Vegetables makes a great backpacking meal all by itself or combined with rice.

Lentils & Vegetables

Lentils & Vegetables rehydrated with boiled water.

Photo: Lentils & Vegetables rehydrated with boiled water.

Servings: 1


  • 1 cup dried lentils & vegetables
  • 1¼ cups water to rehydrate

On the Trail:

Place dried food in pot with water and soak 5 minutes. Light stove and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Transfer pot to insulating pot cozy and wait 15 minutes.

If rehydrating in a freezer bag or thermos food jar, add boiled water to the dried ingredients and wait 25 minutes.

Lentils & Vegetables with Rice

Lentils & Rice rehydrated with boiled water.

Photo: Lentils & Rice rehydrated with boiled water.

Servings: 1


  • ¾ cup dried lentils & vegetables
  • ½ cup precooked & dried rice
  • 1½ cups water to rehydrate

Follow the same trail cooking procedure as the previous recipe.

Cold-Soak Rehydration:

This meal makes a tasty cold-soak salad. Use ¼-cup less water than if you were using boiled water. Add cold water (1¼ cup) to ingredients (1¼ cup) in a thermos food jar and wait 1 hour. If you carry olive oil, add some when serving. This recipe will fill the lid of a thermos food jar 2 times.

Lentils & Rice Salad rehydrated with cold water in a thermos food jar.

Photo: Lentils & Rice Salad rehydrated with cold water in a thermos food jar.

Extra Ingredients

To make a larger meal, consider adding a ¼-cup total of any of these dried foods: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, mushrooms, tofu, or chicken-flavored TVP. Increase water by the same amount.

Lentils & Vegetables (with or without rice) roll up nicely in tortillas, and you may also enjoy the meal with crunchy corn chips on top.

Dehydrated green lentils and vegetables can stand in for the mixed vegetables component of any backpacking meal.

Lentil Surprise Stew

Shared by Eric Payne, Crestwood, KY USA

This backpacking lentils recipe can be cooked on the stove, but it’s faster in an Instapot pressure cooker. It dries wonderfully in the dehydrator and rehydrates well on the trail.

Servings: 6


  • 1 lb. bag brown lentils
  • 32 oz. chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 large onions, sliced thin
  • 6 oz. shredded carrots
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. rubbed sage
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

At Home:

Slice onion thin and sauté with garlic, carrot, and spices.

Add lentils and chicken or vegetable stock. Pressure cook for 11 minutes @11.5 psi. Natural release. Or, cook on stovetop for approximately one hour.

Lentils should be soft but not mushy, and the stew should be thick. Tweak with salt, pepper, and seasoning to taste.

Dehydrating Lentil Stew

Spread stew thinly on lined dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) until all the moisture is gone, approximately eight hours.

Break up dried lentils and dump into bowl making sure to scrape the drying sheets collecting all the flavorful bits and dust. Divide into trail sized portions such as 1½ cups per serving.

On the Trail:

Rehydrate with 1:1 ratio of boiling water to lentil surprise stew. Add boiled water, stir, and let it sit 10–15 minutes in an insulated container.

Nutrition of Lentils in Backpacking Meals

Lentils are high in protein, fiber, folate, iron, potassium, manganese, and polyphenols. Source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Red Lentil Curry Bark

Red lentils turn mushy when you cook them. To turn red lentil mush into a flavorful sauce, run the cooked red lentil curry through a blender and dehydrate it into bark. Combine the bark with dried basmati rice and colorful vegetables.

Ingredients for making red lentil curry bark.

Photo: Ingredients for making red lentil curry bark.

Yield: 1½ cups dried bark


  • 2 tsp. cooking oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 Tbsp. curry powder*
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt

* Note on curry powder: I used mild but you can go with a hotter blend if desired. The curry powder I used was a blend of coriander, turmeric, yellow mustard, fenugreek, cumin, ginger, pepper, onion, garlic, bay leaves, paprika, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg.

Cumin seeds and fresh ginger give the curry a little extra zing.

How to Make Red Lentil Curry Bark

Begin by lubricating a stock pot with 2 teaspoons of cooking oil. Cook the onions, garlic, and grated ginger over medium heat for a few minutes.

Add the curry powder and cumin seeds. Stir to toast the spices a little.

Add a few ounces of water at a time, cooking down the mixture to a paste-like consistency before adding a little more water. After 15 minutes or so, the flavor of the spices will have blossomed.

Add the lentils and rest of the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in one teaspoon of salt at the end. Remove pot from heat and let cool.

Dehydrating Red Lentil Curry into Bark

Dehydrating Red Lentil Curry into Bark.

Run the cooked red lentils through a blender until smooth or use an immersion blender. The yield from this recipe is approximately 5 cups of blended lentils. You will be able to make several trail meals from this quantity.

Spread blended mixture evenly on dehydrator trays covered with non-stick sheets or use the fruit leather inserts if drying in a round dehydrator. Two cups of mixture is perfect on 1 Excalibur dehydrator tray.

Dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) for 8–10 hours until dry and crumbly. The dried yield of 2 cups blended mixture is approx. 1½ cups crumbled bark.

Dehydrated Red Lentil Curry with Basmati Rice & Vegetables

Red Lentil Curry with Basmati Rice & Vegetables

Servings: 1


  • ¼ cup red lentil curry bark
  • ½ cup dried basmati rice*
  • ½ cup dried vegetables
  • 1¼ cups water to rehydrate

* See Dehydrating Basmati Rice.

Large serving: ⅓ cup bark, ¾ cup dried rice, ¾ cup dried vegetables, 1¾ cups water.

Vegetables: Use a colorful medley of dried carrots, red bell peppers, red pepperoni, and baked sweet potato. Cut the carrots and peppers julienne-style before drying to give a nice texture to the meal. Use any vegetables you like.

On the Trail:

Rehydrated Red Lentil Curry backpacking meal.

Photo: Rehydrated Red Lentil Curry backpacking meal.

Combine all ingredients in pot with water. Soak 5 minutes and then light stove. Bring to a boil. Continue boiling for 1 minute and then turn off stove. Transfer pot to an insulating pot cozy and let sit for 10–15 minutes. If cooking in a thermos food jar, add an extra quarter-cup of boiled water.

Indian Dal Recipe

Shared by Zondra Skertich, Montana USA

Servings: 1-3


  • 2 Tbsp. ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 small chili pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. of Garam Masala (or your favorite Indian spices, ground up)
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 3 cups (approximately) of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 can of diced or pureed tomatoes or (or 2 fresh diced tomatoes)

At Home:

Sauté one diced onion in ghee until soft.

Add garlic, chili peppers, and spices.

Add lentils and enough broth or water to cover with about ½–inch extra liquid on top.  Stir everything together.

Once lentils start softening up, add tomatoes.

Cook until lentils are mushy.  Add more water if needed.

Mash up with potato masher, or run through blender/food processor to make smooth.

Spread thinly on dehydrator trays covered with non-stick sheets and dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) until crumbly.


For each serving, combine dried ingredients in a plastic bag:

  • ½ cup dried Indian Dal, crumbled
  • ½ cup dried or instant rice
  • ¼ cup dried vegetables
  • Handful of cashews
  • Handful of raisins or currents

On the Trail:

Combine with equal amount of water and soak for 5 minutes. Bring to a boil and then remove pot from stove. Insulate pot in cozy and wait 10–15 minutes.

Explore More Backpacking Recipes with Lentils:

Rehydrated Green Lentil Chili.

Green Lentil Chili (shown in photo)

Green Lentil Stew

You might also like: Yellow Mung Dal

Sale: Buy 1 e-book and get $5 off each additional e-book.

Share this page with friends on social media.