Backpacking Recipes:
What's for Dinner?

This page features my favorite backpacking recipes. Using healthy, dehydrated ingredients, the meals are light-weight, well-preserved, and most importantly—delicious.

Backpacking Recipes from Chef Glenn at Backpacking Chef. Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners & Desserts. Eat well on the trail.

Homemade Backpacking Meals

The backpacking recipes cover these techniques:

  • Cook a complete meal, like chili or stew; then dehydrate the meal and divide it into individual servings.
  • Dehydrate ingredients separately—vegetables, meats, beans, tofu, rice, pasta, and potatoes—then assemble into a wide variety of meals.
  • Enhance boxed products like Knorr’s Pasta Sides, Zatarain's Spanish Rice, or Far East Couscous with additional dried meats and vegetables.
  • Run starchy foods like potatoes, beans, or creamed corn through a blender; then dehydrate them into bark. Bark rehydrates into a delicious sauce to surround the other ingredients in trail meals.
  • Dehydrate tomato sauce for Italian-style meals, or curry paste for Thai-style meals.

Recipe of the Month:
Thai Peanut Noodles

These Thai peanut noodles were dehydrated and then rehydrated for a backpacking meal.

This Thai peanut noodle recipe uses low-fat peanut butter powder, so you can dehydrate it for a light-weight backpacking meal. Rehydrates with either hot or cold water.

See Thai Peanut Noodles.

Readers' Choice Backpacking Recipes

Readers' Choice Backpacking Recipes: Chili, Mexican Beef & Rice, and Unstuffed Peppers.

Based on letters from readers, these are the three most favorite backpacking dinners enjoyed on the trail:

Beef & Bean Chili

Cook a big batch, dehydrate, and divide into meal size portions.

Mexican Beef & Rice

Ground beef, beans, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and rice in a zesty cheddar cheese sauce with taco seasoning.

Unstuffed Peppers

Ground beef, bell peppers, and rice in tomato sauce.


Backpacking Mac & Cheese Recipes

Shells in Cheesy Tomato Sauce

Shells in Cheesy Tomato Sauce, dried ingredients.

Servings: 1 Large

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup dried shells (70 g)
  • ⅓ cup dried ground beef (40 g)
  • ⅓ cup dried mixed vegetables (20 g)*
  • 2 Tbsp. cheddar cheese powder (12 g)
  • 1½ Tbsp. milk powder (9 g)
  • ⅓ cup tomato sauce leather (25 g)
  • 2¼ cups water to rehydrate (532 ml)

* For mixed vegetables, try a combination of dried bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and onions.

At Home:

Pack cheese and milk powders together in one small bag, tomato sauce leather in another small bag, and enclose with other ingredients in a larger Ziploc bag.

On the Trail:

Combine all ingredients except cheese and milk powders with water in pot, and soak five minutes. Light stove, bring to a boil, and simmer for one minute. Remove from stove and stir in cheese and milk powders. Insulate pot and wait 15 minutes.


Backpacking Mac and Cheese Recipes.

Explore More: Macaroni and Cheese Recipes

Macaroni and Cheese with added meats and vegetables. Ham and Cheese, Kickin' Veggie Mac & Cheese, Taco Mac 'n Cheese, Tuna Mac & Cheese, and more. Plus instructions for dehydrating macaroni.


Backpacking Rice Recipes

Thai Green Curry

Thai green curry ingredients: dried jasmine rice, green curry paste, ground chicken, and mixed vegetables. Dried tofu may be substituted for chicken.

Photo: Thai green curry ingredients: dried jasmine rice, green curry paste, ground chicken, and mixed vegetables. Dried tofu may be substituted for chicken.

Prepare this Thai Green Curry recipe with chicken, or make it vegan by using dehydrated tofu.

This recipe is simplified for easy preparation at home and on the trail. Thai green curries typically include Thai basil and kaffir lime leaves. Since those ingredients may be hard to find, the main flavor drivers in this backpacker’s version are dehydrated Thai green curry paste and coconut milk powder.

I used the Thai Kitchen brand of green curry paste. Ingredients: green chili pepper, garlic, lemongrass, spices, salt, shallot & lime peel.

Contents of one jar of Thai Kitchen green curry paste on dehydrator tray. Crumbles by hand when dry.

Photo: Contents of one jar of Thai Kitchen green curry paste on dehydrator tray. Crumbles by hand when dry.

Dehydrating Green Curry Paste

Optional Ingredients: ½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger, ½ teaspoon fish sauce. Stir these into the curry paste before drying.

Spread green curry paste (¾ cup, 200 g) thinly on dehydrator tray using nonstick sheet.

Dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) until crumbly, about 6–7 hours. There is no need to grind the dried curry paste into powder—hand-crumbled is fine.

Dried Yield: ¾ cup (52 g)

Thai Green Curry Ingredients (One Serving)

  • ½ cup precooked & dried rice* (60 g)
  • ¼ cup dried ground chicken ** (30 g)
  • ¼ cup dried mixed vegetables*** (15 g)
  • ¼ cup dried green curry paste (15 g)
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut milk powder **** (20 g)
  • 2 cups water to rehydrate

* Jasmine rice precooked in chicken broth was used, but any long-grain rice will work. See Dehydrating Jasmine Rice.

** Ground Chicken mixed with ground oats rehydrates well with excellent texture. See Dehydrating Chicken.

*** Any combination of dried vegetables may be used. This recipe included red and orange bell peppers, carrots, onions, and green beans. Another excellent choice is dehydrated baby corn.

**** Native Forest brand of coconut milk powder was used.

Pack coconut milk powder in a separate bag.

Shop Amazon: Native Forest Coconut Milk Powder and Thai Kitchen Curry Paste.

Rehydrated Thai Green Curry with Chicken.

Photo: Rehydrated Thai Green Curry with Chicken.

On the Trail:

Combine all ingredients with water in pot. Soak 5 minutes, then bring meal to a boil. Transfer pot to insulating cozy and wait 15 minutes.


Backpacking Rice Recipes.

Explore More: Backpacking Recipes with Rice

Ham with Rice & Vegetables, Curry Shrimp & Rice, Easy Cheesy Rice & Beans, Hawaiian Shrimp & Rice, and more. Learn how to dehydrate rice for flavorful meals.


Backpacking Recipes with Tofu

Thai Red Curry

Dried Thai red curry ingredients: jasmine rice, red curry paste, tofu, and mixed vegetables. Dried chicken may be substituted for tofu.

Photo: Dried Thai red curry ingredients: jasmine rice, red curry paste, tofu, and mixed vegetables. Dried chicken may be substituted for tofu.

Prepare this Thai Red Curry recipe with tofu, or make it meaty by using dehydrated ground chicken.

I used the Thai Kitchen brand of red curry paste. Ingredients: spices, red chili pepper, garlic, lemongrass, salt, shallot, coriander root, kaffir lime peel.

Contents of one jar of Thai Kitchen red curry paste on dehydrator tray. Crumbles by hand when dry.

Photo: Contents of one jar of Thai Kitchen red curry paste on dehydrator tray. Crumbles by hand when dry.

Dehydrating Red Curry Paste

Optional Ingredients: ½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger, ½ teaspoon soy sauce. Stir these into the curry paste before drying.

Spread red curry paste (1 cup, 225 g) thinly on dehydrator tray using nonstick sheet.

Dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) until crumbly, about 6–7 hours. There is no need to grind the dried curry paste into powder—hand-crumbled is fine.

Dried Yield: 1 cup (81 g)

Thai Red Curry Ingredients (One Serving)

  • ½ cup precooked & dried rice* (60 g)
  • ¼ cup dried tofu ** (25 g)
  • ¼ cup dried mixed vegetables*** (15 g)
  • ¼ cup dried red curry paste (15 g)
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut milk powder **** (20 g)
  • 2 cups water to rehydrate. (473 ml)

* Jasmine rice precooked in vegetable broth was used, but any long-grain rice will work. See Dehydrating Jasmine Rice.

** See Dehydrating Tofu. Dried ground chicken may be used in place of tofu.

*** Any combination of dried vegetables may be used. This recipe included red and orange bell peppers, carrots, onions, and green beans. Another excellent choice is dehydrated baby corn.

**** Native Forest brand of coconut milk powder was used.

Pack coconut milk powder in a separate bag.

Rehydrated Thai Red Curry with Tofu.

Photo: Rehydrated Thai Red Curry with Tofu.

On the Trail:

Combine all ingredients with water in pot. Soak 5 minutes, then bring meal to a boil. Transfer pot to insulating cozy and wait 15 minutes.

Thai Red Curry-Coconut Soup

Use the same quantities of ingredients as the Thai Red Curry meal above, but increase water to 2¾ cups (650 ml). Fills one 24-ounce capacity thermos food jar for 1 large or 2 small servings.

Thai Red Curry-Coconut Soup rehydrated in 24-oz thermos food jar.

Photo above: Thai Red Curry-Coconut Soup rehydrated in 24-oz thermos food jar.


Tofu Backpacking Recipes.

Explore More: Tofu Recipes

How to dehydrate tofu with seasonings. Recipes include Tofu Noodles with Vegetables & Rice, Tofu Vegetable Soup, Spicy Tofu Tortillas, and Curry Tofu & Vegetables.


Vegan & Vegetarian Recipes

Green-Lentil Stew

This vegetarian backpacking recipe is cooked as a whole meal, dehydrated, and divided into individual servings for the trail.

Green Lentil Stew Ingredients.

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups leeks, chopped
  • 1–2 carrots, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ lb. mushrooms, sliced (250 g)
  • 1⅔ cups green lentils (300 g)
  • 2½ cups vegetable broth (591 ml)
  • Handful chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. cooking oil
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Green Lentil Stew.

Cooking Green-Lentil Stew

Lubricate a stockpot with ½ tablespoon of cooking oil. Cook onions, leeks, and garlic for 10 minutes on medium heat. Add carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers, and continue cooking a few more minutes. Hold back the mushrooms and parsley.

Add lentils, and cook another 5 minutes.

Add vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, covered.

Mushrooms cooked for Green Lentil Stew.

In a separate, minimally lubricated pan, cook sliced mushrooms and chopped parsley. Add 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar or a splash of wine if desired.

Add cooked mushrooms to cooked lentils in stockpot, and simmer another 5 minutes. Remove from stove, and allow to cool for dehydration.

Cooked Green-Lentil Stew on dehydrator tray.

Dehydrating Green-Lentil Stew

Spread stew on dehydrator trays covered with nonstick sheets. For this recipe, 3 Excalibur Dehydrator trays were used.

Dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) for 10–12 hours or until all components of the stew are dry. Check the mushrooms to make sure they are dry on the inside.

Dehydrated Green-Lentil Stew (left), Rehydrated (right).

Photo: Dehydrated Green-Lentil Stew (left), Rehydrated (right).

On the Trail (One Serving):

  • 1 cup dried stew
  • 1⅓ cup water to rehydrate or a little more.

A little extra water is fine with this meal, as it creates a gravy. Rehydrated green lentils remain firm and chewy.

Pot Cooking: Combine all ingredients in pot with water. Soak 5 minutes, and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Transfer pot to an insulating cozy for 15 minutes.

Thermos Cooking: Use an extra ¼–⅓ cup water, depending on the serving size. Add boiled water to ingredients in thermos food jar, and wait 20 minutes, up to several hours.


Vegetable Stew Backpacking Recipes.

Explore More: 25 Vegan & Vegetarian Backpacking Meals

Vegan and vegetarian backpacking recipes include vegetarian unstuffed peppers, French-inspired ratatouille, Moroccan-spiced root bark stew, hearty green-lentil chili, and curry-carrot soup; plus meals with textured vegetable protein, and many more vegetarian backpacking meals from Chef Glenn’s newsletter, Trail Bytes.


Tuna Backpacking Recipes

Tuna & Pasta San Marzano, and Tuna & Rice with Vegetables.

Explore: Tuna Backpacking Recipes

Pasta with Tuna Sauce, Tuna Mac & Cheese, Tuna & Rice with Vegetables, Tuna Zuppa, Tuna & Pasta San Marzano, Tuna Salsa Salad, and Tuna Snack Pack.


No-cook Backpacking Recipes

No-cook Backpacking Meals: Couscous Salad with Cucumber-Salsa Dressing, and Sushi Rice Bowl.

Explore: No-cook Backpacking Recipes

Sushi Rice Bowl, Peach Salsa Rice Salad, Tuna & Pasta San Marzano, Quinoa & Bean Cilantro Salad, Couscous Salad with Cucumber-Salsa Dressing, Overnight Couscous Salad, Shrimp Cocktail Tortillas, Gazpacho, Overnight Bircher Muesli, and Peach Crunch Breakfast.


Bark Recipes

Bark Backpacking Recipes: Potato Bark, Bean Bark, Corn Bark, Sweet Potato Bark, and more.

Explore: Bark Recipes

Blend and dehydrate starchy vegetables and beans into bark, and use it to make flavorful, saucy backpacking meals such as Mashed Potatoes with Meat & Vegetables, BBQ Beef Stew, Sweet Potato Porridge, BBQ Bean Bark Stew, Black Bean & Salsa Bark Stew, Corn Bark Stew, Crab Chowder, and more.


Backpacking Recipes with Tomato Sauce

Macaroni with Beef & Vegetables in Tomato Sauce

Rehydrated Backpacking Dinner: Macaroni with Beef & Vegetables in Tomato Sauce.

Servings: 1

Ingredients:


Pack all ingredients in a Ziploc bag for trip. Optional: Include a packet of parmesan cheese for a topping.

On the Trail:

Combine all ingredients with water in pot and soak for 5 minutes. Light stove, bring to a boil, and continue cooking with the lid on for 1 minute. Place pot in an insulating pot cozy and wait 15 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese when serving.


Backpacking Recipes with Tomato Sauce.

Explore More: Tomato Sauce Leather Recipes

Italian-style backpacking meals like Pasta & Cheesy Tomato Sauce, Seafood Raminara, and Unstuffed Peppers.

Learn how to make tomato sauce leather and tomato powder using sauce from a jar or with Chef Glenn's homemade tomato sauce recipe.


Ramen Noodles Recipes

Ramen Noodle Backpacking Recipes: Ramen Noodles & Kraut, Cheese-O-Rama, Vegetarian Ramen Noodles.

Explore: Ramen Noodles Recipes

Ramen Noodles & Kraut, Cheese-O-Rama, Vegetarian Ramen Noodles, and more.


Easy Backpacking Meals

Easy Backpacking Recipes: Beef Stroganoff, Red Beans & Rice, and Couscous with Beef & Tomato.

Explore: Easy Backpacking Meals

Add dried veggies and meat to popular boxed products from Zatarain's, Near East, and Annie's Organic. These enhanced backpacking meals include Spanish Rice with Beef & Tomatoes, Red Beans & Rice with Vegetables, Pine Nut Couscous with Meat & Vegetables, and several Cheesy Pasta backpacking recipes.


Community Shared Backpacking Recipes

Backpacking recipes shared by readers of BackpackingChef.com.

Explore: 50+ Shared Backpacking Recipes.

If you have a good one, there's a form for you to share it.


Chef Glenn's Books and Guides

Save on Chef Glenn's books and guides. Great backpacking recipes and step-by-step food drying instructions.

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Backpacking Soup Recipes

Backpacking Breakfast Recipes

Backpacking Dessert Recipes

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Free e-books:

1001 Miles on the Appalachian Trail

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Home & Trail: An Introduction to Drying Food

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From the Mailbag:

"My husband and I hiked the John Muir Trail during the month of September and before our trip I had purchased your cookbook so that I could prepare most of our dinners. I trusted your basic ingredients and straight-forward approach and prepared many of your dehydrated recipes. I had friends ask if I was going to taste test the meals first and I said no. My logic was that we would be so hungry that anything would be edible. Well, we were very hungry and it`s true that anything is edible but we looked so forward to having our "homemade" meals in the evening... they were so filling, healthy, and extremely tasty! Thank you so very much for sharing your knowledge and recipes." - Patty