Backcountry Dinner Recipe: Peanut Noodles

It's so good that you'll start making it at home, too

The ideal serving consistency is slightly less soupy than this one. (Photo: Andrew Skurka)

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Backcountry meals should generally stay in the backcountry. They may taste great after a hard day of hiking, but that’s mostly because hunger is the best seasoning. At home, they’d be a flop.

This peanut-noodle recipe is an exception. I keep a bottle of the sauce in our fridge, and my wife and I make this meal regularly. It’s quick and easy and delicious.


This meal has three parts: three ounces of noodles, two ounces of sauce, and one ounce of extras. I suggest a total serving size of six ounces, which amounts to about 800–850 calories, depending your exact ingredients. I know it’s unconventional to portion meals in ounces, but it works with my larger system for backcountry meal planning, and it’s easier to scale to multiple trips or multiperson groups.

In the backcountry, I use a three-ounce bag of Top Ramen. It’s cheap, shelf-stable, and, because it’s fried, comes packed with 126 calories per ounce. (A nonfat or low-fat noodle usually has closer to 100 calories per ounce.) If you’re more nutrition- or gluten-sensitive than me, use Lotus Foods Rice Ramen.

The sauce should be made at home and in a large batch. (The recipe below serves four.) Don’t make it in the field or for a single serving—it’d be too messy and too much work. Combine the ingredients below in a bowl with a spoon or an electric mixer. Store the sauce in a wide-mouth HDPE bottle, in a size that will be about three-fourths full.

The sauce ingredients. Garlic powder and minced garlic both get the job done, but adjust the amount accordingly. Coconut milk tends to produce a creamier sauce than milk powder. (Photo: Andrew Skurka)

Personally, I also add a kick of sriracha or hot-pepper flakes, but you can leave this out. Also, if I have cinnamon or curry powder left over from other meals, I may add some.

Make a large batch of the sauce to make it worth your while. Unless you have Julia Child-like arm strength, use an appliance to mix the ingredients. (Photo: Andrew Skurka)

The extras can be skipped, but I’d recommend them—they add good texture, flavor, or nutrition. Consider:


  1. Bring 10 to 12 ounces of water to a boil or near boil.
  2. Crush the noodles while they’re still in the package, being careful that the package does not explode. Remove the MSG-loaded seasoning packet, and toss it in your trash bag.
  3. Add the noodles to the water. They will be fully cooked within a few minutes. You can add the noodles before a boil, but you’ll have to watch them—like when cooking pasta at home, they can easily boil over.
  4. Pour or spoon out the sauce into the pot. Or, if it’s the last or only peanut-noodle meal, add purified water to the bottle and shake it rigorously so that the sauce is easier to pour and so that no sauce remains inside the bottle.
  5. Add the extras.
  6. To clean your pot after you’re done, rinse it with purified water. I recommend drinking the gray water—in addition to having a few more calories, it will reduce the food odors around your camp. If needed, rinse it again.

Watch How It's Done

I’ve tweaked the recipe some since this video was made, but it still gives a good sense of the finished product.

Filed To: NutritionFood and DrinkCampingHiking and Backpacking
Lead Photo: Andrew Skurka
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