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The Best Hiking and Backpacking Recipes

Updated on September 7, 2014

Some of my family's favorite recipes to cook on hiking trips

As an avid home cook and hiker I always found myself disappointed with the backpacking and hiking meals that I would pick up at the local outfitters. The dehydrated meals are certainly convenient, but they are also incredibly expensive, and oftentimes seriously lacking in the flavor department.

Perusing my local grocery store before my family's last hiking trip revealed hundreds of ingredients and packaged foods that could easily be used for recipes in the backcountry, allowing us to put together lightweight, flavorful and nutritious meals perfectly suited to my family's taste buds.

With a little bit of advance planning and experimentation, you can cook up fantastic meals when you're out exploring the backcountry. After a long day of hiking, nothing tastes better than a real meal!

I would like to share some of my family's favorite hiking recipes with you. I guarantee that once you start creating these meals in the wilderness, you'll never turn back to the pre-packaged meals in a foil bag ever again.

Most of the ingredients for these recipes can be found at your local grocery store or co-op. For some recipes, it is quite handy to order single serving sized packets and pouches from on-line retailers such as Minimus

My family also collects all those little Taco Bell hot sauce packets, soy sauce, mustard and ketchup packets to use on our hiking trips.

Thanks to Omar Omar on Flickr for sharing this photo, CC licensing.

Regardless of if you are on the trail for one week, or one month...there's no need to sacrifice flavor!

My Favorite Backcountry Breakfasts - Delicious alternatives to oatmeal!

Energy bars and instant oatmeal are breakfast staples when backpacking, but I like to mix my recipes up a bit. Here are some easy and delicious alternatives that will get everybody up and moving in the morning.

  • Cranberry Pan Biscuits

    These biscuits are an easy breakfast treat, and a great alternative to trail pancakes. Drizzled with a bit of honey, delicious!

  • Breakfast Taters

    Mashed potatoes are well-loved comfort food. Try these to start off your day on the trail. A bit of bacon makes these a special treat.

  • Almost Instant Rice Pudding

    If your trying to get back on the trail in a hurry, this rice pudding is fast to make, and so much tastier than an energy bar to get started off on the right foot. It also makes a yummy dessert on chilly nights.

  • Cheesy Grits & Bacon

    Grits. Cheese. Bacon. How can you go wrong?

  • Eggs Benedict

    Eggs keep for quite some time without refrigeration! To be on the safe side we usually use pasteurized eggs for this breakfast favorite. Shelf-stable bacon makes a good substitute for the canadian bacon, and we use a packet of Knorr's hollandaise mix to keep our pack weight down a bit. The mix calls for half a stick of butter, but butter buds can be substituted in a pinch, as long as you add a tiny bit more water to the mix.

    To save on fuel, cook your eggs over easy, rather than poaching them in boiling water.

A Beautiful Dining Room!

Many thanks to Alaskan Dude on flickr for sharing this gorgeous photo.  CC licensing.
Many thanks to Alaskan Dude on flickr for sharing this gorgeous photo. CC licensing.

Recipes for Lunch and Dinner on the Hiking Trail - Some of my favorite backpacking recipes

Keep your energy up with meals rich in protein, carbohydrates, and flavor!

  • Glenn's Mexican Beef & Rice

    This recipe requires advanced preparation at home, and the use of a dehydrator, but once on the hiking trail it is a very easy and comforting meal.

  • Jambalaya with Quinoa

    Quinoa is packed with protein, and is a perfect complement to this backcountry Jambalaya recipe.

  • Shepherd's Pie

    A satisfying dinner. The recipe calls for smoked tofu, but a foil pouch of chicken works equally well.

  • Almost Thanksgiving

    This is very tasty and extra filling served with a prepared pouch of "Idahoan Instant Buttery Homestyle Mashed Potatoes"!

  • Cashew Chicken

    This recipe calls for fresh pearl onions and bell pepper, but you can use dehydrated if you are trying to save some weight in your pack, or if you are on an extended hiking trip, just be sure to rehydrate them first!

  • Mango Chicken Curry

    A tasty curry that really hits the spot after a long day on the trail. It is served over pre-cooked and dehydrated lentils, although if you don't own a dehydrator you could easily omit the lentils and serve with extra rice.

  • Pesto & Salmon Pasta

    This is an easy gourmet trail meal, prepared with ingredients you can find at most any grocery store.

  • Beef Stew

    This recipe also requires a bit of prep at home, but is very tasty! The link includes a recipe for biscuits prepared in the "Outback Oven" as well, but we usually just serve this up over our enduring favorite, "Idahoan Buttery Homestyle Instant Mashed Potatoes".

  • Chicken Gumbo

    This is so good! I highly recommend the use of "Better Than Bullion" chicken stock concentrate for this recipe; the flavor just isn't the same if you use bullion cubes.

  • Bannock Bread Recipes

    Bannock bread is a backcountry staple. It is simple to prepare, and very filling. We like to get creative and experiment with adding different ingredients such as nuts, seeds, and even fruit!

The Excalibur Food Dehydrator - Save money by dehydrating your own ingredients.

Once you really get into the swing of preparing your own hiking and backpacking recipes, purchasing a food dehydrator is a great way to expand your options for cooking on the trail. Almost any recipe that you can dream up can be prepped at home using this dehydrator.

Dehydrate single ingredients, or whole recipes, for quick and easy preparation in the backcountry.

This Excalibur Food Dehydrator features nine drying trays, an easily adjustable thermostat, and superior air flow for even drying!

Books to Guide You In Dehydrating Most Anything

Different foods require different preparation techniques, and these books are excellent resources to walk busy "cooks" through the process of successfully dehydrating everything from apples to jerky.

Our picky eaters enjoying a hike in Colorado

Our picky eaters enjoying a hike in Colorado
Our picky eaters enjoying a hike in Colorado

Foodsavers Are a Lifesaver! - Vacuum sealing keeps food fresher on the trail

Many backcountry cooks use zip-top freezer bags to package up their recipes for the trail, but I have found that vacuum sealing thoroughly dried foods not only saves space in my backpack, but also has entirely eliminated messes in my pack from failed seals on freezer bags.

The Foodsaver bags are also safe to cook in, and can be packed out, washed, and reused many more times than standard zip-top bags.

As an added bonus, on canoe or kayaking trips, you can seal up most anything, including clothes that you want to keep dry!

More Delicious Hiking Recipes - Check out some of my favorite cookbooks for more hiking recipes!

Now that you have found some great hiking recipes... - Hit the Trail!

Thanks to Chewonski Semester Schhol on Flickr for sharing this Appalachian Trail picture, cc licensing.
Thanks to Chewonski Semester Schhol on Flickr for sharing this Appalachian Trail picture, cc licensing.

I'd love to hear about your backcountry and trail cooking exploits! You don't need to be a registered member of Squidoo to comment, either! If you have any favorite recipes you'd like to share, feel free to contribute.

Happy Trails! - Please let me know about your experiences cooking while on the trail.

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    • profile image

      The Hiking Pear 

      20 months ago

      This is so helpful! We usually go on 1 night backpacking trips, but we love to cook because a hot meal is amazing at the end of the day. Thanks for the read!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 

      5 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Wow! There are so many options. Great suggestions, including the food storage and food dehydration resources.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 

      5 years ago from Lakewood New York

      Great ideas thanks for sharing!!! and your pictures are beautiful :)

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 

      5 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      Great ideas! I remember one time we planned to make fettucini alfredo on the trail, but we forgot to pack a pot. We boiled our noodles in a homemade aluminum foil "pot" (it took a long time) and there has never been a meal that has tasted better to me. I look forward to trying some of these!

    • SBPI Inc profile image

      SBPI Inc 

      6 years ago

      Great lens. Have been to Denver area, Pikes Peak and Estee Park during some of my trip to my Denver office and the country is breathtakingly beautiful and second to none. Looks like you really got all your stuff together for your hike. My hikes have been a little lighter, I'd bet.

    • ian-patrick-716 profile image


      6 years ago

      We took those packet things when we went hiking they were ok I guess but these sound much nicer

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      After reading your lens I am both hungry and I feel like going for a hike! Excellent cooking idea. Although I must admit that some dehydrated meals that I have eaten are pretty darn good (but expensive).

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      we use the Foodsaver sealer - great tool.

    • best-intentions profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @Kailua-KonaGirl: Thank you!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image


      6 years ago from New York

      Had to come back to refresh your *Squid Angel Blessing* You are also a featured lens on my What To Bring Camping lens. Great lens!

    • MikeBarton LM profile image

      MikeBarton LM 

      6 years ago

      That's a super unique article, I enjoyed it. Also, loved the photos of Moraine Lake!

    • Rosanna Grace profile image

      Rosanna Grace 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for these helpful tips! I've bookmarked this lens : )

    • malenk lm profile image

      malenk lm 

      6 years ago

      We're going hiking tomorrow (our first time) so I am trying to find some tips for beginners.

    • senterprises profile image


      6 years ago

      For someone who loves to hike as much as I do, I've never really enjoyed camping all that much. I'm mainly a day hiker, but in recent years I've begun to circle some overnight hikes in my trailbook.

      When I finally take the plunge into the overnight hikes, or even multiple day hikes, I'll definitely have some of these hiking and backpacking recipes with me.

      Thanks for taking the time to put together this lens.

    • best-intentions profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @walkingstick: Thanks! I'll have to look for those at the Indian grocery!

    • walkingstick profile image


      7 years ago

      I like the Indian Entrees in a foil pocket. Heat them up in a pot of water. Open up and eat them out of the pouch. No dishes! Hot water for tea. Usually cost between $2-$3.

    • Jawill profile image


      7 years ago

      Awesome lens , very well executed! I really love the pictures and always looking for some great new receipes, thanks.

    • GreenerDays profile image


      7 years ago

      I LOVE this lens! I am a lightweight backpacking enthusiast, and will definitely be trying out some of these recipes.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens, lots of useful info. I enjoy the pictures and Was wondering where the Cherwonki picture was from. It looks like the White Mountains but it might be in Maine.

    • carolweez profile image


      7 years ago

      What a great lens, delicious recipes and beautiful pics. Love it..

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens, going to use some of these recipes on my next trip

    • duzyatko profile image


      7 years ago

      These recipes are awesome!

    • texan203 lm profile image

      texan203 lm 

      7 years ago

      Great lens, lots of delicious recipes.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      Great lens with fabulous resource links for backpack meals. *Angel Blessed* and I have added this lens as a featured lens on my "What to Bring Camp" lens. I titled the feature "Make Your Own Hiking and Backpacking Meals". Well done!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      trail mix is my best best when hiking or camping. it's light and packed with goodness.

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 

      7 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Love hiking the trails and these back country recipes. I'll be bookmarking this one.

      Angel Blessings**

    • CamelliaPenny profile image


      7 years ago from South Carolina

      I think I need a food dehydrator!! I love banana chips, but baking them in the oven takes hours, and it is so tricky to get them to correct level of crunchiness!

    • sentanta lm profile image

      sentanta lm 

      7 years ago

      I am reading a few books about thru hiking, and the challenges of cooking in the woods is a common theme. They should have read this before setting out!

    • Jogalog profile image


      7 years ago

      I'm really impressed with some of these ideas. I've never had to cook my own food when hiking but these sound great. You'd have to be really serious about it to do your own dehydrating though.

    • latiptop profile image


      7 years ago

      These sound so yummy! I'm going to share these on my Fun in the Summer Sun lens!:)

    • pheonix76 profile image


      7 years ago from WNY

      Freeze dried foods are my friends! I hate wasting too much time cooking while I am hiking, so I usually opt for the easiest option. Thanks for sharing! :)

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 

      7 years ago from Kansas

      Great lens. I love hiking and camping! Will try some of these recipes this summer!

    • Michelle Hogan profile image

      Michelle Hogan 

      7 years ago

      Glad I found your Lens. Great information.

    • Whitwillow LM profile image

      Whitwillow LM 

      7 years ago

      A great collection of ideas. Should improve the meals in the bush.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Being a lover of rice I think the rice pudding recipe is excellent and I am sure to try it. All the recipes sounds jummy though.

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 

      7 years ago from Nashville, TN

      wow. thee sound so yummy!

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Love to backpack, but don't normally cook much when I do. Great recipes here. I will have to try them. Thanks!

    • agoofyidea profile image


      7 years ago

      I love cooking outdoors and your recipes sound wonderful.

    • Hagglecoins profile image


      7 years ago

      That is a pretty cool "mini stove" in the intro! Nice lens, handy for me for when I go camping next.

    • Welcome2iceland profile image


      7 years ago

      I will remember to check this lens the next time I go for an adventure hike ;)

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 

      7 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks for sharing all of the above. Talk about food for thought....

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I always laugh at all the newbies when they crack open their prepackaged dehydrated food, when we are eating a cooked pizza, or even a stuffed burito! Great LEns

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      gorgeous scenery, enjoyed seeing this tonight.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      7 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great lens and so many good recipes. Added to my How to Pick a Backpack lens.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I'm an avid hiker myself ... and a lazy cook on the trail (well, at home too), so I've used dehydrated meals often. (I do think the Enertia brand is pretty good and there are Mountain House meals I actually really like.) But once in a while, especially on shorter trips, I like to leave a little energy at the end of the day to put more effort into cooking. So I'll have to check out some of these recipes. Nicely done lens.

    • Merstarr profile image


      7 years ago

      Love cooking. Love hiking. Love this lens :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I found another site with great info: Backpacking Food Ideas

    • theSEOmama profile image


      8 years ago

      What a great idea for a lens. Can't wait to try a couple of these out.

    • N Beaulieu profile image

      N Beaulieu 

      8 years ago

      Your recipes sound great. I like how they are nutritious as well as tasty. I don't do any cooking when I go hiking and if I bring along a snack its usually beef jerkey. My brother makes his jerky with venison. I've never tried it, but from what I hear its good and healthy.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      These are some great tips! You should enter a recipe into this competition and it could be cooked by tens of thousands of travellers.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I am going to try you recipes

    • bangcool profile image


      8 years ago

      This is all what i need, I need some tips for doing hiking and other outdoor sport. Great lens

    • LadyFlashman profile image


      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Delicious and inspiring! I am bookmarking this for recipe ideas next time I go camping, thank you!

    • best-intentions profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks to everone for your kind comments & blessings. I hope you all enjoy some fun trips with good food and good weather!

    • JJGJJG profile image


      8 years ago

      Eggs Benedict sounded a little too much involved after I looked at the original recipe, but with your short cuts it is more manageable for me to attempt. I love Eggs Benedict so I will have to give this a try. Nice lenses and thanks

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      8 years ago from Colorado

      Stopped by to give you a Squid Angel blessing. Excellent lens. Can't wait to try out these recipes. Thanks! Very nicely done.

    • Jessica-Burde profile image

      Jess Mahler 

      8 years ago from Lehighton, PA

      Great lens, I don't have any recipes to add, but I'm looking forward to using some of these this summer.

    • bkarsono profile image


      8 years ago

      Awesome lens. Two thumbs up!! All the best for your Squidoo adventure (I'm doing the same) and good luck with your teenagers. They can be so much fun.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      What a wonderful lens! I got hungry just reading it.

    • jlshernandez profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this great lens. Lensrolled to Hiking Mission Peak, Fremont CA.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You have added some of my favorite recipes.

    • bames24 lm profile image

      bames24 lm 

      8 years ago

      love your lens :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love to you use de Mars's 'Don't Touch Your Cock Sauce'. it has awesome heat and flavor and comes in a light weight, durable bottle.

    • UKGhostwriter profile image


      8 years ago

      fantastic lens

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      ah my backpacking days are over, but I still hike and some of your recipes are my faves!! Nice lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      The cheesy grits and bacon sounds good.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice lens. Thank you.

    • jackieb99 profile image


      9 years ago

      Mmm...sounds delicious! Thank you

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 

      9 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Yummm... the rice pudding recipe sounds great. Great lens.

    • JJGJJG profile image


      9 years ago

      Ok, I am ressolved to try the cranberry pan bisquits, looks really good and msot of the work done at home. thanks for the suggestions

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      These sound delicious. I'll be looking back at this lens again before we go on our camping trip next month. For now, I'm giving this lens an Angel blessing and will feature it on my SquidAngel At Your Service lens.

    • best-intentions profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      @PrestonSchumach1: You are quite welcome!

    • PrestonSchumach1 profile image


      9 years ago

      It's great to get new recipes for my backpacking trips. Thank you very much.

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image


      9 years ago from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

      A really nice lens packed full of useful tips and recipe links - blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • JenOfChicago LM profile image

      JenOfChicago LM 

      9 years ago

      This a great list! My favorite camping treat is popcorn popped over the campfire.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      These are great ideas! Gonna pass this off to my hubby for his hunting trip next month.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I found lots of useful information, great lens, Thanks!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I found lots of useful information, great lens, Thanks!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      There are some more trail recipes @ Check it out!


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