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Re: Share your favorite campsite recipes!

Warm weather means more and more plans are taking shape to get outside for overnight trips, which necessitates some good old camp cooking. Whether you go all out with extravagant plans or prefer to keep things simple, people are often passionate about their favorite campsite meals.

With so many questions on the topic shared across the community, we thought it would be fun to gather some recipes and photos of those dishes all in one place. If the community's previous responses about the best camping coffee setup and the absolute worst backpacking meals give us any clues, you all certainly have some stories about what you eat to fuel your long days outside!


Show us your best camping recipes and photos of those meals out in the wild!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
16 Replies

So this is the one I am still working on and trying to get "just right". But I think I am almost there. The level of saltiness depends on the cheese you use.

Bacon and Mushroom Grits

  • 1/3 cup quick cooking polenta, masa harina, or cornmeal
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ oz bacon bits
  • ½ ounce dried mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 ounce sliced cheddar cheese
  • Hot sauce (optional)


  1. Add water and mushrooms to pot
  2. Bring to boil and add polenta - or masa or cornmeal (I think if you add the corn before it boils, it won't clump as quickly)
  3. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to get rid of lumps
  4. Add bacon, remove from heat and cover
  5. Rip up cheese and add to the pot. Stir until melted.
  6. Add hot sauce if desired

355 Calories


“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

We do this one at home, as well as on the trail.  Found it in a forum a few years back somewhere;  don't remember where.

Tibetan Dal Bhat (a delicious, fragrant lentil stew)



  • 1C red lentils (also works well with a blend of lentils, adzuki beans and mung beans)
  • 1T vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, mined
  • 1T ginger, minced
  • 3/4t salt
  • 1/2t mustard seeds
  • 1/2t turmeric
  • 1/2t cumin seeds
  • 1/2t coriander powder
  • 1 medium tomato, diced;  or small can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2T butter (optional)
  • 2T fresh cilantro
  • 3C Chicken or vegetable stock
  • Cooked basmati rice (or you can pack along instant rice for the trail)

Wash and rinse the lentils and allow to soak overnight if possible (can do without but this speeds the cooking time).

Heat the oil in a large skillet or dutch oven;  add the ginger and onion and stir fry on high until the onion is a little brown around the edges, 2-5 mins.  Turn down the heat to medium and add the ginger – stir fry for another 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the cumin seeds, salt, turmeric, mustard seed and coriander powder and stir for another 2 minutes (this will begin to smell divine!).  Add the diced tomatoes and butter, cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes.  Then stir in the lentils.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes, add a cup of stock, cook 5 minutes more, stir in 2C more stock.  Continue cooking on medium for 10 more minutes.  Taste the stew to be sure the lentils are tender – cook longer if needed.  Then turn off  the heat, sprinkle with the fresh cilantro, and it’s ready to serve over your basmati rice.

Tibetans like to scoop this up with some kind of unleavened flatbread – chapatis are popular, but you can also use Naan or tortillas.  Some enjoy livening it up with some red chili flakes, or with an Indian chutney or hot sauce.

Note:  If you’re not hiking, don’t do this.

Ladle out a known quantity (2 trail servings at about 1.5-2C per serving) onto the solid plastic tray of your dehydrator.  You can do 4 servings at a time if you have enough left over, by putting an additional 3-4C of the mixture on a second plastic tray.   You can dry two trays of this in your dehydrator at one time – just separate the two trays with an empty one.

Dry the mixture on the 135o setting overnight.  In the morning, crumble up the mixture.  If it still feels a little moist, put it back in the dehydrator for a few more hours; otherwise, put the dried mixture into one or more zip-loc bags, label with the number of original servings, and put away in the fridge or freezer.  When you’re ready to pack your food for the trail, put the same number of servings of instant rice in a separate zip-loc bag to rehydrate at camp and serve with your Dal.

At camp, boil water and add enough of it to your pre-measured dehydrated food to reconstitute the original serving volume.  Wrap it in aluminum foil or tuck it into an insulated cozy for 15 minutes and it should be ready to eat!





Retired medical technologist and engineer
REI member since 1978
Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
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If I am car camping I can make anything, the fun ones are over a pocket rocket.

Jambalaya in 5 min

Uncle Bens pre made red beans and rice (or whatever the new name is), 1/2 a small can of spam, 1/2 can of mini shrimp (or omit), A bit of chili powder (or omit), Cayenne pepper (or omit)

Put the beans and rice in the pot with a little water. Chop up the SPAM put it in the pot, dump in the shrimp. Heat with the back pack stove while stirring, you will need to practice low heat settings. Everything is cooked, so you only have to heat without burning. The extras are better, but less to carry is less to carry.

It is not like LA, but after 4 days out, all of your friends who are downwind will be looking at where the smell is coming from.

Chicken alfredo

Knorr pasta side, unpack and place in a ziplock with enough dry milk to make the amount of milk on the package. Pro tip, write the amount of water needed on the ziplock. Bring pre packaged chicken. The world of WAL has it in bags. Canned chicken works, but cans are heavy and bulky even after you use them. Boil the amount of water needed, dump in the ziplock of alfredo and dry moo, stir. Add chicken, stir. Remove heat. Cover and set aside for about 5 min, the noodles will absorb the water.

I do the Alfredo thing with a pouch of salmon, pepper from my little backpack grinder, and shave in some Asiago cheese.  Knorr sides are great bases to play with!


Retired medical technologist and engineer
REI member since 1978
Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.


Pie Iron Pizza:

Buttered bread on either side of the pie iron, add pizza sauce, mozzarella, and toppings.  Cook over a a campfire until done.  (Also works for grilled cheese.)

Ziploc Omelets:

Crack two-three eggs into a ziploc baggies, add cheese and other desired chopped ingredients, boil in water until done to liking.

Foil Dinner:

1/4 lb ground beef (or meat alternative), 1/2 sliced potato, 1-2 sliced carrot, 1/4 sliced onion.  Wrap in foil, wrap that in wet newspaper, wrap again in foil, seal ends.  Place directly on hot coals, rotate every 15-30 minutes until fully cooked.

Backpacking: Sorry, I'm too boring here: trail mix, jerky, and energy bars.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

Find good kilbasa, (ie butcher, not hill$hitter farms) and use that in the foil dinner.. I never wrapped mine in newspaper, just make sure it is air tight and it will steam away.

Dutch oven pineapple upside down, peach/ bluberry cobbler...

Being born and raised in Chile, I love bread. When I started my life in US... well, let's just say that I was not happy bread-wise, so I began my learning path as a bread baker. Eventually I tested different ways to make fresh bread while camping. This is a very simple recipe to bake bread on the campfire using a small or medium size cast-iron pot.

Campfire rustic bread


  • 390 gr of flour, or 3 cups give or take (all-purpose flour is fine).
  • 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 cup of hot water (as in, hot from the tap, not boiling)

Mix everything in a bowl and rest for 3 hrs (4 if the weather is cold). With flour-dusted hands, knead it lightly, just to shape it as a rather-flat sphere, and put it aside to rest for 30 more min. on parchment paper or oiled aluminum foil. In the meantime, put your cast-iron pot on the fire to get it well heated (lid included). After the the dough has rested, move it to the cast-iron pot (be careful handling it) with the parchment paper or foil, which will stay between the dough and the pot. Cover the pot well with the lid and put it back at the base of the fire, making sure to spread the hot embers around the pot, and on top if possible, to keep it evenly heated. Bake for 30 min. covered, and then take off the lid and bake for 10 or 15 more min. Take out the bread from the pot to cool down before slicing.

It's important to keep a good fire going while the bread is being baked, and ideally having the fire around the pot. Again, be careful handling the pot, as it gets extremely hot.


Farther. Higher. Longer.

Here's another one I am working on but I am pretty happy with as-is:

Pad Thai Quinoa

(note - obviously rice noodles are the authentic choice but besides offering calories, rice noodles offer no real nutritional value. Quinoa has roughly the same calorie count but offers additional nutrients - helpful for those of us in the second half of our lives and who need to pay attention to such things)

Prep Work:

  • Cook ½ cup of dry Quinoa per instructions (I use very little salt at this stage)
  • Spread into a thin but even layer in a food dehydrator and dehydrate for 8-10 hours
  • Put into a Ziploc bag or other container with a silica gel pack (desiccant pack) until ready to use


  • ½ cup dehydrated quinoa (see above)
  • 1 Tbsp Peanut butter
  • 2 Tsp Sriracha
  • 1 ounce carrots, slivered
  • Dried green onion
  • 1 oz chopped raw peanuts
  • Half fresh lime
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes


  1. Add 1 cup and 2 Tbsp of water to pot
  2. Bring to boil and add quinoa and veggies
  3. Rehydrate for 7½ minutes (approx.)
  4. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice, peanut butter, peanuts, and sriracha.
  5. Add red pepper flakes and let sit for 2 minutes


  • Depending on how well you dehydrated the Quinoa, you may need/want to adjust the amount of water by a tablespoon or so. Basically, you need about 2 tsp of water available in the pot after rehydrating the Quinoa and vegetables. This little bit of extra water thins out the peanut butter and Sriracha to make the sauce. 
  • The ratio of peanut butter to Sriracha is based on my preference. YMMV
  • Yes, this is not an authentic Pad Thai recipe but the flavor is remarkably close
  • As prepared, this recipe is one serving with 625 calories
“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.



In a ziplock, put in your oatmeal, I do old fashioned, some raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon pre trip. With a sharpie, write the amount of water you will need on the bag. You can make as many up as you need and pack them. In the morning, boil X amount of water, dump it in the bag, reseal and squish it around. Take your tent down and start packing. Eat in about 5-7 min.