Tasty Trail Recipes

9:52 p.m. on August 4, 2013 (EDT)
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I have been able to spend a few nights camping this summer. I have some pretty good gear and map reading skills but my cooking is whats lacking. I would like to get better at backcountry cooking. I have a stove, 1 liter pot, and frying pan so I feel like I am ready to cook. 

I would like to get some recipes that can be cooked on the stove that tastes good. I am ok to start with meals that just add water but would like to get in to more complicated recipes. 

8:38 p.m. on August 5, 2013 (EDT)
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You can cook anything you can cook at home. Easiest and first step if your serious about backpacking to to buy a dehydrator. Dehyrate things like spagetti and meat sauce, mac n cheese w/tuna, shredded beef wraps, etc.

Dehydrating your own meals will let you save a good deal of money from buying MH etc. In addition to dehydrating things yourself you can buy dry items from the grocery store like instant mashed potatoes, refried bean flakes, dehydrated vegies and soup mixes, gravies, instant rice and pasta dishes like knorrs etc.

Little ethnic type stores, especially polish ones, have amazing dried and smoked sausages.

All of those things mixed together in various ways can make some good meals. An easy one is backcountry thanksgiving: 1 can chicken or turkey, 1/2 cup instant potatoes, 1/2 cup stove top stuffing, handful of dried cranberries or craisens, packet of turkey gravy. Add boiling water till it "looks right" and its ready to eat. You can obviously adjust the potatoes and stuffing to your appeptite levels.

OK so you want to actual cook something.

Like i said, anything you can make at home just about. Simple things would be hard boiled eggs, poached eggs, eggs benedict, omelets, eggs any way really. Pancakes, hoecakes, hashbrowns, muffins, instant pudding, brownies, cakes, lava cake, stews, soups, grilled anything, burritos, tacos, pretty much any rice or pasta dish you can fathom, kabobs, sausage and peppers, and on and on i could go.

You can make anything and everything, it just depends on my many pans and of what types you want to bring. But speaking in very general terms, if you bring 2 pots/pans with lids than can fit inside one another, and some oil, you can make anything.

Its easy to pack in fresh foods for that first night, and first couple days on the trail. Fresh eggs will keep for weeks without refridgeration, as will your hard cheeses like cheddar and parmesan etc, though the cheeses will get oil, so i recommend wraping them in papertowels or butchers paper to keep that mess down. I usually freeze a steak, or some type of fresh meat for the first night, and wrap it in foil and put it in a ziploc bag full of ice and put it in a small soft cooler along with a six pack of beer. It easily stays frozen solid 24 hours, you could easily make it stay cold enough for the 2nd night as well. I usually have to let it sit out of the cooler for an hour or two to thaw before cooking. Pancakes, hoecakes, or steam baked muffins are a staple for breakfast, along with eggs of some sort.

Instead of bread pack wraps or tortillas, they survive much better in a pack. You can make wraps of darn near anything, pbj, ham and cheese, shredded beef, refried beans, etc.

I know I kind of rambled on like mad there, but hope you got something out of it. The possibilities are endless. If you have any specific questions then by all means please ask.

11:27 a.m. on August 7, 2013 (EDT)
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check out these sites for lots of recipes that you can cook in your pot or freezer bag cooking




9:14 p.m. on August 14, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks so much for this, it will help me out until I get comfortable branching out and experimenting with recipes.

12:59 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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NOLS makes an awesome little book called "Cookery". I would recommend checking it out as it has a lot of recipies and alternatives to foods that are hard to take on long backpacking trips.

5:27 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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If you like that book you might like Lipsmackin Backpackin..

11:07 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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Rambler is correct...you can cook just about anything outdoors with the right stoves and pots. When I think about more elaborate outdoor cooking…the first place my mind goes is to baking. Baking is very different than the meals we eat most often outdoors which are primarily boiled and simmered gruel-like masterpieces…baking opens up your menu exponentially (cakes + pies + casseroles +bread + etc.) to new textures + taste + smells…the smells…and the smells.

You can bake in several ways...the simplest and easiest method is to fire-bake some bannock or other dough ball on the end of a stick to add a fresh biscuit + cornbread + to your soup or stew. If the weather is going to be nice and you know you will have a fire…bring a little extra bannock and improve everyone’s backpacking gruel with a dose of yummy.

You can also fire-bake using a reflector oven…which allows just enough control to bake almost anything if you have the experience…but it still relies on clear weather while adding significant weight to your pack (carrying it on a rainy trip is an exercise in moral constraint). Fire-baking a biscuit on a stick is by far my favorite way to bake outdoors (so easy!)…but if I want more than a hunk of baked dough (which is delicious!) I usually dry and steam bake using a 1.3L uncoated titanium pot and a heavy aluminum pan from Fat Daddios.

Flatcat Gear sells a 1.3L system that is the baking equivalent of Ferrari…but if you have a pot large enough with a lid you can put together a fine (if less tuned) version for 6.00 with a good simmering stove (or a few tea-candles). An uncoated pot is preferable because it will allow you to dry bake…but you can steam-bake with a coated pot if it is all you have. The smells and textures of dry-baking will be absent if you steam-bake…but most of the food options are still available. As a point of fact...I prefer to steam-bake my blackberry slump over dry-baking it because I really like the spongy texture in a dessert....so steaming cn be desired in some cases.

I know you asked specifically for recipes…but I thought mentioning the idea of baking might help you improve your food experience more than a specific recipe would…and the resources mentioned above are excellent. If you do want to try baking I would suggest first baking something on a stick to see just how awesome a piece of burnt dough will improve your existing recipes…your total investment will be a few ounces of flour…and this method gives you quite a bit of options to experiment with (do not just think about dinner either!). After that…just a little extra investment adds an entire grocery store aisle to your backpacking food options.

11:34 p.m. on September 16, 2013 (EDT)
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I just realized Rambler has actually posted a lot about baking...check out some of his forums for specifics...ditto on Rambler's comments the strengths of steam-baking (moisture + easy clean-up).

11:00 a.m. on September 17, 2013 (EDT)
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I want to go hiking with Rambler and Joseph. Great discussion. I avoid freeze-dried food whenever possible and usually buy almost all food in a grocery store. Going on a canoe trip next week and bringing an aluminum Dutch Oven which makes everything easy. Know any good sources for an aluminum reflector oven? There were popular when I was a kid.

12:26 p.m. on September 17, 2013 (EDT)
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We use our dehydrator to dry burritos from the local taqueria.  We slice them like a loaf of bread, dehydrate them, and then cook them up on the trail.  Absolutely easy and delicious.


My wife is a chef, so we have a certain amount of fun when it comes to backpacking food--but I have to carry it, so we everything must be dried, dehydrated, or freeze-dried.


Unless, of course, it's just an overnighter.  Then anything goes!

3:21 p.m. on September 17, 2013 (EDT)
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A lot of folks are crazy about the Svante Freden oven...at almost 2 lbs. it is not the lightest stove...but it folds up nicely...swallows 9 inch pans whole...and will last your entire life. The prices on the oven vary widely website to website...but the Boundary Waters Catalog is selling the oven for 79.95 which is the best I have found.

Old Scout Outdoor Products offers a slightly smaller and lighter oven at 24 oz. and 68.00. Instead of folding it uses slots. Unfortunately it looks like it doesn't have a handle while in oven-mode...which is a deal-breaker for me because handles make (re)positioning your oven easier and safer...and I find (re)positioning is the best way to control the baking process!

As I said...the biggest weakness (also greatest strength) of reflector ovens is their weight and reliance on clear weather. If you want the wonderfulness of fire-baked foods with less of the weight cost this guy has an interesting DIY thread on backpacking light that I would seriously consider: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=24068

Of course...there's always aluminum foil. I've made a truly UL reflector oven out of heavy aluminum foil and a couple of metal clothes-hangers that worked well enough. To make it I folded the aluminum foil and clothes-hangers in the middle at 45 degree angles...I then folded the ends of the foil over the two rods so that the clothes-hangers gave the foil a semi-rigid form in the shape of a reflector oven (note: this arrangement will only reflect radiant heat from one side of the oven to the top of your food...which is technically broiling not baking).

10:50 p.m. on September 17, 2013 (EDT)
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I steam bake like a mad man nowadays. Muffins, cake, cookies, cornbread, lava cake, brownies.... mmmm baked goodness.

June 23, 2018
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