Tuna Backpacking Recipes

These tuna backpacking recipes show how you can make hearty, hot tuna meals for dinners, or nutritious tuna salads for lunches.

Tuna backpacking recipes on this page include Pasta with Tuna Sauce, Tuna Mac & Cheese, Tuna & Rice, Tuna Zuppa, Tuna & Pasta San Marzano, and Tuna Salsa Salad.

Pasta with Tuna Sauce

Shared by Sandra Wolgast, Norway

This pasta with tuna backpacking recipe is a nice variation on the usual pasta dishes with meat sauce. Tuna is well suited for drying in a dehydrator, and this dinner is not very time consuming to make.

Pasta Tuna Sauce on Excalibur Dehydrator Trays.

Photo: Tuna sauce spread on Excalibur Dehydrator trays.

Servings: 4


  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 250 g mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 200 g onions, diced
  • 40 g black olives, finely chopped
  • 3 cans of tuna in water (330 g without the water)
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil for frying
  • 1½ tsp. vegetable broth powder
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juice (400 ml)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 Tbsp. capers
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 300 g whole-grain fusilli or penne pasta (11 oz.)

At Home:

How to make pasta with tuna sauce:

Cook the pasta as directed. When the pasta is cooked, it is important to rinse the pasta under cold running water so that it does not stick together. Set the pasta aside.

Heat the oi in a skillet, add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add mushrooms and fry them until they start to lose water. Add the bell pepper and tuna. It is important that the tuna does not clump together in large pieces; this makes the drying process difficult. After the tuna has simmered a little in the sauce, add the tomato paste. Finally, mix in both capers and olives.

Pour the sauce into pot and add the can tomatoes, broth powder and 1.5 dl water (5 oz.). Season the sauce with salt, pepper and lemon juice and simmer the sauce for ten minutes. When the sauce is done, take it off the heat and add chopped basil.

Pasta Tuna Sauce dried.

Photo: Dehydrated tuna sauce.


Pasta and sauce dehydrate separately, you need four drying trays with drying sheets for the sauce, and 4 trays without drying sheets for the pasta

Temperature: 63°C (145°F)

Dehydration time sauce: 9 hours, dry longer if needed.

Dehydration time pasta: 3 to 4 hours.

Packing & Storage:

When the pasta and sauce have dried, divide it into four portions and pack in airtight containers or boil in bag. It is best to vacuum pack the food as this prolongs shelf life.

On the Trail:

Add 300 to 350 ml of boiled water (10–12 oz.) per serving of dried food. Mix the food well with the water. The food should be completely covered by the water. Set the pot aside in a cozy or sleeping bag to retain heat. Wait 15 to 20 minutes and dinner is done!

Cooking Scene Norway.

Check out Sandra Wolgast’s website. It’s written in the Norwegian language, but her photos of Norwegian scenery speak for themselves. “The Norwegian nature is my playground for enjoying life and finding inspiration.” –Sandra Wolgast

Comments from Chef Glenn:

I like the way that Sandra made a complete sauce with her tuna backpacking recipe, and how she divided the sauce into four equal portions on the dehydrator trays. Thanks Sandra!

Another approach is to pull together individually dried ingredients from your supply of dried foods and combine them with a powdered sauce like cheese powder. On long trips where variety is important, I might make one tuna backpacking recipe with bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes; and another tuna meal with carrots, peas, and corn. I also vary the type of pasta that I use.

Tuna Mac & Cheese

Ingredients for Tuna Mac & Cheese.

Photo: Tuna Mac & Cheese with peas, tomatoes, mushrooms, and onions.

This tuna backpacking recipe is featured in Recipes for Adventure: Healthy, Hearty, and Homemade Backpacking Recipes and The Action Guide: Dehydrating 31 Meals.

Servings: 1 large


  • ¾ cup macaroni, precooked and dried (70 g)
  • ⅓ cup dried tuna (35 g)
  • ⅓ cup dried mixed vegetables (20 g)
  • 2 Tbsp. cheddar cheese powder
  • 1½ Tbsp. powdered milk
  • 1¾–2 cups water to rehydrate (425 ml–475 ml)

At Home:

Skills: Dehydrating Tuna, Dehydrating Vegetables, and Dehydrating Pasta.

Combine cheese and milk powders in a small plastic bag and enclose with other ingredients in a plastic bag.

On the Trail:

Combine all ingredients except the cheese and milk powders with water in pot and soak for five minutes. Light stove, bring to a boil, and continue cooking for one minute. Remove pot from stove and stir in cheese and milk powders. Transfer pot to insulating cozy for fifteen minutes.

Tuna & Rice with Vegetables

As an alternative to using pasta, this tuna backpacking recipe is nice with rice. Try to include dried vegetables like corn and carrots to add a little bite to the meal, which otherwise has a creamy texture.

Tuna Rice & Vegetables after rehydration.

Servings: 1


  • ½ cup dried rice (60 g)
  • ⅓ cup dried tuna (35 g)
  • ¼ cup dried mixed vegetables (20 g)
  • 1¼ cups water to rehydrate

Package all dried ingredients in a single Ziploc bag.

On the Trail:

Combine ingredients with water in pot. Soak five minutes, then bring to a boil for one minute. Transfer pot to an insulating pot cozy and wait fifteen minutes. If using a thermos, simply add boiled water to the ingredients in the thermos and wait twenty minutes up to several hours. Use a little extra water for thermos cooking.

Tuna Zuppa

This Italian-inspired soup is thick and nutritious. Recipe fills one 24-oz thermos food jar.

Two servings of Tuna Zuppa.

Servings: 1 large or 2 small


  • ⅓ cup dried tuna (35 g)
  • ⅓ cup dried rice (40 g)
  • ⅓ cup dried mixed vegetables (25 g)
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato sauce powder (30 g)
  • 2½ cups water to rehydrate (600 ml)

Ingredient considerations:

A packet of non-dehydrated tuna may be used in place of dehydrated tuna.

Tomato sauce leather, tomato sauce powder, or any dehydrated tomato soup base can be used, such as Tomato-Carrot Soup and Gazpacho.

Package all dried ingredients in a single Ziploc bag.

On the Trail:

Combine ingredients with water in pot. Soak five minutes, then bring to a boil for one minute. Transfer pot to an insulating pot cozy and wait fifteen minutes. If using a thermos, simply add boiled water to the ingredients in the thermos and wait twenty minutes up to several hours.

For cold soup, wait at least 1½ hours after adding cold water to serve the soup. For a tasty cold tomato soup base, see this gazpacho recipe.

No-cook Tuna Backpacking Recipes

Tuna and mayonnaise on a tortilla is one of the most common lunches on the trail. The next three tuna backpacking recipes give you more options with a cold-soak tuna pasta salad, a zesty tuna salsa salad, and a tuna snack pack to make basic tuna and tortilla lunches uncommonly delicious.

Tuna & Pasta San Marzano Salad

A cold-soak tuna salad that's perfect for lunch.

Here’s a tuna backpacking recipe that requires no cooking on the trail—perfect for lunch on a hot summer day. All the ingredients, except the tuna, are dehydrated. It’s important to use precooked and dried macaroni; otherwise the macaroni will not be palatable if only soaked in cold water.

Tuna & Pasta San Marzano Ingredients.

Photo: Ingredients for Tuna & Pasta San Marzano Salad

Servings: 1


  • 50 g macaroni, precooked & dried, about ½ cup
  • 10 g tomato pieces, dried, about ¼ cup*
  • 5 g green beans, dried, about ¼ cup
  • 5 g olives, dried, pinch or two
  • 2.6 oz. packet of tuna (74 g)
  • ¾ cup water to rehydrate (177 ml)

* For the best flavor from the tomatoes, see Dehydrating San Marzano Tomatoes.

On the Trail:

Cold Preparation: Add dried ingredients and cold water to Thermos Food Jar, or other container with a tight-fitting lid. Wait at least two hours; two-and-a-half hours is ideal for this recipe. Stir in tuna, enjoy! Tip: Prepare this meal in the morning before you break camp.

Hot Preparation: Add all ingredients to pot with water. Bring to a boil for one minute. Transfer pot to insulating cozy. Wait fifteen to twenty minutes. Enjoy.

Tuna & Pasta San Marzano after rehydrating in a thermos food jar.

Photo: Cold Tuna Pasta San Marzano Salad rehydrated in a Thermos Food Jar. This recipe is featured in Recipes for Adventure: The Best of Trail Bytes.

24-ounce Thermos Food Jars.

Buy a 24-Ounce Stainless King™ Food Jar on Amazon.

Disclosure: BackpackingChef.com participates in the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program. If you make a purchase after following the above link, I may receive a commission. Thank you.

Tuna Salsa Salad

Tuna and salsa taste great together. Rehydrate the salsa with cold water about an hour before serving.

Tuna Salsa Salad Ingredients.

Servings: 1


  • 1 2.6 oz. packet of tuna (74 g)
  • ⅓ cup dried salsa (25 g)
  • ⅓ cup cold water to rehydrate (80 ml)

Use a chunky-style salsa such as one of these Backpacking Chef salsa recipes: Apricot-Mint Salsa or Peach Salsa.

Serve with corn chips, pita bread, or tortillas.

On the Trail:

Rehydrate salsa one hour before serving. Combine with tuna.

Tuna Snack Pack

If you’re looking to give your tuna and mayonnaise tortilla lunches more excitement, dehydrate assorted ingredients like tomatoes, apples, celery, and pickles. Pack ⅓–½ cup of dried ingredients per serving of tuna.

Tuna Snack Pack for making tuna tortillas on the trail.

Photo: Dehydrated Snack Pack Ingredients: Pickles, Celery, Apples, and Tomatoes.

On the Trail:

Rehydrate dried snack pack ingredients with an equal quantity of water about an hour before serving. Combine with tuna and a packet or two of mayonnaise. Roll it up in a tortilla or fill a pita bread.

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