How to Make & Dehydrate Chili

How to make chili and dehydrate it. Best Backpacking Chili Recipe.

I learned how to make chili from an old pro who has been making this chili recipe for her husband for over 50 years, starting on the honeymoon.

Dehydrating chili is easy. Make a big batch, dry it, and divide it into individual servings.

This is my go-to chili recipe for every backpacking trip. It rehydrates well on the trail, and I hear from lots of folks who love it. I also use it in my chili mac recipe, which you’ll find further down this page.

Beef & Bean Chili Recipe

Making chili, dehydrating chili, and rehydrating chili on the trail.

Servings: 3–5


  • 1–1¼ pounds lean ground beef
  • ½ cup fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 large onion
  • 1–2 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney or red beans, drained
  • 1 10-oz. can tomato puree
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes

In the Kitchen:

Work breadcrumbs into ground beef with your fingers and set aside for a moment. I add breadcrumbs because dehydrated meat infused with breadcrumbs rehydrates better on the trail. Also, the breadcrumbs absorb and lock in more of the chili flavor. If you are not planning on dehydrating this chili recipe for backpacking, there is no need to add breadcrumbs to the meat. You can make your own breadcrumbs by dehydrating bread.

Sauté onions and garlic in a little olive oil using just enough to coat the pan. It really helps to use a non-stick pan.

Add ground beef and cook for about ten minutes until browned, stirring continuously.

Add chili powder and cook for one more minute.

Add tomato puree, diced tomatoes, and drained beans.

Cook until bubbling and then reduce heat to a simmer for one hour.

Dehydrating Chili

Allow chili to cool, then spread it out on dehydrator trays covered with non-stick sheets or parchment paper.

Dehydrate at 145° for 8–10 hours. This chili recipe takes up three 15 x 15 Excalibur Dehydrator trays. After about four hours in the dehydrator, break up any meat and beans that are stuck together and redistribute the chili on the trays.

Once dry, divide dehydrated chili into one cup or larger servings and pack in zip lock bags.

Yield: Five cups weighing about 12 ounces dry.

On the Trail:

Combine one cup dried chili with one cup water and soak for five minutes. For a larger serving, combine 1½ cups of dried chili with 1½ cups of water.

Light stove, bring to a boil, and continue cooking for one minute.

Transfer pot to an insulating pot cozy for ten to fifteen minutes.

Garnish with crackers or cheddar cheese.

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Chili Mac Recipe

Chili Mac Recipe

Servings: 1


  • ½ cup macaroni*
  • ½ cup dried chili
  • ¼ cup dried bell peppers
  • 2 slices dried jalapeño pepper
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • 1½ cups water to rehydrate

On the Trail:

Combine all ingredients with water in pot and soak for five minutes: Light stove and bring to boil.

*If using macaroni straight from the box, maintain light boil for two minutes. If using precooked and dried macaroni, then boiling for one minute is sufficient. Transfer pot to an insulating pot cozy and wait ten to fifteen minutes.

Dehydrated pasta in chili mac.

Learn more about precooking and dehydrating macaroni for chili mac and backpacking mac and cheese recipes: Dehydrating Macaroni.

Get these chili backpacking recipes and many more in Chef Glenn's books:

Recipes for Adventure Books by Chef Glenn
Sale: Buy one book, get $5 off each additional book.

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