Backpacking Meal: Thanksgiving in a Collapsible Bowl Recipe

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backpacking thanksgiving

Although Thanksgiving is usually considered an inside meal, some intrepid individuals prefer to spend this holiday outdoors. Car camping is one thing, but celebrating your Turkey Day out on the trail takes things to a whole new level. This meal is designed to help those bold and brave Thanksgiving backpackers enjoy the comforts of a home-cooked meal out in the backcountry.

If you live in the south, there might be a few pleasant areas to backpack in late-November, but for most of the country, late fall can be a trying time of year to be outside. Cold temperatures, unpredictable weather and limited daylight may temper most people's enthusiasm, so chances are you'll only be spending a few nights out. But while you are out there, you should at least enjoy a good meal.

This backpacking Thanksgiving menu might not be ultralightweight, but it captures the essence of the season while packing in a lot of calories. It's also incredibly simple and quick to cook—because the last thing you want is be waiting around for a late dinner.

backpacking thanksgiving

To try and capture as many Thanksgiving classics as possible, this is a multi-part dinner. But thankfully it only requires you to boil a single pot of water. Most of the water is used to rehydrated instant mashed potatoes and dried stuffing, while the remainder is used to make brown gravy. Turkey would have been the ideal choice of meat, but pouches of chicken are far more prevalent in grocery stores. So, we went with chicken.

Split into two bowls, this meal covers many of the Thanksgiving classics: creamy mashed potatoes, stuffing with cranberries and a chicken with brown gravy. On a chilly November night, this meal can go a long way bring the warming comforts of home out under the open stars.

Backpacking Thanksgiving Meal

Yield: 2 servings
Cook time: 10 minutes


  • ½ cup instant potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon powdered milk
  • 1 cup dried stuffing
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1-ounce packet turkey gravy mix
  • 7-ounce pouch pre-cooked chicken


At Home

In a sealable bag or container, measure out the instant potatoes and powdered milk. In a second sealable bag or container, measure out the dried stuffing and cranberries. Pack in your bear canister along with the gravy packet and chicken.

In Camp

Step 1

Bring 2 cups water to a boil. In one bowl, mix the potatoes and 1 cup boiling water. In a second bowl, mix the stuffing and ½ cup boiling water. Stir and let rehydrate for a few minutes.

Step 2

In the meantime, add the gravy packet to remaining ½ cup water and stir until thoroughly mixed. Add the chicken and cook over low heat until the chicken has warmed through.

Step 3

Split the dishes between the two bowls, spooning the chicken and gravy over the top. Need Desert? Check out this apple crisp backpacking recipe.