6 Gourmet Backpacking Recipes for a Tasty Adventure

Dirty Gourmet shared some of their cookbook highlights: backpacking and hiking food that's easy to make and oh-so-good

Dirty Gourmet
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Fuel Your Backcountry Adventures

The backpacking food experts of Dirty Gourmet have mastered the art of lightweight backpacking food that also happens to be super delicious. They've shared some of their favorite recipes from their fantastic Dirty Gourmet cookbook. Below you'll get a small taste; be sure to get a copy of the book for more tasty meals and ideas for your adventure. Many of these recipes utilize Dirty Gourmet's "Backcountry Base Kit." The tools you bring on a backcountry trip need to be carefully considered for the same reasons as the ingredients. You don’t want to have a bunch of “just-in-case” tools that will add weight and take up precious space in your pack. The Backcountry Base Kit is what they consider essentials and includes:
  • 1-liter pot with lid
  • Bandana
  • Matches/lighter
  • Pocket knife
  • Salt and pepper
  • Spork
  • Stove with simmer control
All recipes excerpted with permission from Dirty Gourmet: Food For Your Outdoor Adventures (Skipstone, April 2018) by Aimee Trudeau, Emily Nielson, and Mai-Yan Kwan.
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Blueberry Hot Toddy

Yield: 2 servings | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 1 minute

Soaking dried blueberries in whiskey not only rehydrates the berries, but it also infuses the whiskey with blueberry flavor, turning it a deep purple color with a thick, syrupy consistency. Wrap up your long day of adventure with a cozy hot toddy, and get an antioxidant boost from the blueberries! —Aimee

  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/3 cup whiskey
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons maple sugar, brown sugar, or honey
  • 1 small lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
  • Backcountry Base Kit (see above)
  • Mugs
  1. Combine the blueberries and whiskey in a small pot, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside for at least 15 minutes to allow the blueberries to infuse the whiskey and to rehydrate. Add the water and sugar, and return the pot to high heat, bringing the mixture to a simmer.
  2. Divide mixture into two mugs, and serve with a squeeze and wedge of lemon.
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Korean Soft Tofu Stew

Yield: 2 Servings | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minutes

I discovered Korean food when I first moved to Los Angeles and instantly fell in love with it. One of my favorite dishes is sundubu-jjigae, which is what this stew is based on. Typically, the dish arrives at the table in an individual-sized stone pot filled with furiously bubbling stew. It is served with rice, also made in a stone pot, which yields deliciously crispy rice at the bottom. Full disclosure: There are some specialty ingredients required for this dish, and the tofu box weighs 12 ounces, which will make some of you gasp. On the plus side, it’s ready in 10 minutes and one of the most satisfying and warming dishes for a cold night out.  —Mai-Yan

  • Knife
  • Large pot
  • Spoon
AT HOME: Crumble or cut bouillon cube into small pieces. Combine all ingredients but water and tofu in a zip-top bag. Write how much water needs to be added with a permanent marker directly on the bag.

AT CAMP: Carefully open tofu box and drain any liquid into your pot. Cut tofu into large cubes and set aside. Add two cups of water to the pot along with the contents of the zip-top bag and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and stir making sure bouillon cube is totally dissolved. Add tofu cubes and let simmer for another 5 minutes to heat through.
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Cheesy Mountain Ramen

Yield: 2 servings | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 5 minutes

After expressing some interest in the outdoors, my friends Beth and Joyce prompted a backpacking trip for their maiden voyage into the wild with me as their guide. Although I had many years of backpacking under my belt, I felt a lot of pressure as a first-time trip leader. Their full trust in me and easygoing attitudes helped validate my skill set and boost my confidence. My other reward was using them as recipe guinea pigs making this “dressed-up” version of instant noodles. I replaced the MSG flavor packet with a miso soup base and topped it all off with a mountain of Parmesan cheese. It sounds crazy, but it’s delicious. —Mai-Yan

  • 1 to 2 small bouillon cubes, flavor of your choice
  • 2 (10-gram) instant miso soup packets
  • 1/2 cup freeze-dried corn
  • 8 dried shiitake mushrooms, broken in small pieces and stem discarded
  • 2 to 4 ounces spicy beef jerky (or flavor of your choice), torn in bitesized pieces
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 packages instant ramen noodle soup
TOOLS: Backcountry Base Kit (see above)

AT HOME: Break up the bouillon cubes into small pieces and combine with the miso soup packet contents, corn, and mushrooms in a ziplock bag. In a second ziplock bag, combine Parmesan and jerky.

AT CAMP: Put the water in a small pot. Add the bouillon–dehydrated vegetable mixture and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the noodles and simmer until noodles start to get soft, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and top soup with Parmesan cheese and beef jerky. Carefully eat straight out of the pot using your bandana as a trivet.
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Lentil Vegetable Stew with Dumplings

Yield: 2 servings | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes

I spent the entire four months of our trans-Canada bike tour hungry like I had never been before. What got me through those long days of cycling was thinking about what I would eat for dinner. I craved all things starchy, and dumplings were often on the menu. Some variation of this recipe was a standard that I came back to over and over again. The dumplings are good for the soul, while the vegetables and lentils nourish the body. You can buy dehydrated lentils online, but they also sell sprouted dried lentils at natural foods stores that cook much quicker than regular dried lentils. —Aimee

  • 1 cup dehydrated lentils
  • 3 tablespoons dehydrated bell peppers
  • 3 tablespoons dehydrated spinach
  • 2 vegetable or chicken bouillon cubes, smashed
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Backcountry Base Kit (see above)
  • 2-liter (or larger) pot with lid
  • Cutting board (optional)
  • Ziploc bags
AT HOME: In a Ziploc bag, combine the dehydrated lentils, bell peppers, spinach, bouillon cubes, thyme, and pepper. In another Ziploc bag, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a third Ziploc bag, package the butter.

AT CAMP: Chop the shallot. Heat the oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add shallot and sauté until the shallot is softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the water and the lentil mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. While the stew is coming to a boil, prepare the dumpling dough. Place the butter in the bag with the flour mixture and close the bag. Massage until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Then add the water, close the bag, and continue massaging, just until combined. Using a spoon, scoop tablespoon-sized drops of dough into the stew. Don’t worry if they sink to the bottom. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the dumplings are cooked through and vegetables are rehydrated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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Red Beans and Rice

Yield: 2 servings | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minutes

This is a one-pot meal, and it’s got lots of protein and fiber, both of which can be difficult to come by in the backcountry. Definitely bring a little bit of vinegary hot sauce (like Crystal or Tabasco) or even better, some pickled peppers (such as pepperoncinis) along with you. —Aimee

  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Medium pot
  • Mixing spoon
  • Stove with simmer control
AT HOME: Combine rice, red beans, bell pepper, cayenne, salt, cumin, and tomato powder in a zip-top bag. Package olive oil in a leakproof container. Leave the shallot whole and unpeeled.

AT CAMP: Peel and chop the shallot. Heat the oil in a pot and sauté the shallot until softened and lightly browned. Add the water and bring to a boil. Stir in the bean and rice mixture. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until water is absorbed and beans and rice are softened. Serve with hot sauce and/or pickled peppers.
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Coconut Tapioca Pudding

Yield: 2 Servings | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 15 minutes

Who doesn’t love something a little sweet at the end of a day spent outdoors? The answer, we’ve found, is almost no one. This delightfully simple camping treat can be prepped at home and packed into the backcountry (or the backyard). –Dirty Gourmet

  • 1/2 cup small pearl tapioca
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup freeze-dried mangoes or other fruit (optional)
  • Backpacking stove
  • 1 liter pot
  • 1 small and 1 medium Ziploc bag
  • Spoon
AT HOME: Place the tapioca in a medium Ziploc bag. Combine sugar, coconut milk powder, and salt in a small Ziploc bag, breaking up any clumps of coconut milk powder with your fingers. Place the freeze-dried mangoes in a separate small Ziploc bag.

AT CAMP: Bring two cups of water to a boil in a 1 liter pot. Remove from heat and stir in the tapioca pearls. Set aside to soak for about 10 minutes. Stir the coconut milk powder mixture into the tapioca in the pot and return the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve warm, sprinkled with freeze-dried mango pieces.