Low angle view of young male and female friends sitting on blanket on ground outside tent during hiking and drinking coffee
We’ve tried a wide range of backpacking meals and dishes—here are our favorites. (Photo: mixetto/Getty)

Our Editors’ Favorite Backcountry Meals

Put down those soggy, freeze-dried go-to’s and dig into these delicious recs from Outside staffers

Low angle view of young male and female friends sitting on blanket on ground outside tent during hiking and drinking coffee
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A long (or even short) hike into the backcountry deserves better than mushy noodles or canned beans. Thankfully, here at Outside, we’ve tried a wide range of backpacking meals and dishes—here are our favorites.

Chili mac is one of my staples for short trips. It requires only two ingredients: canned chili and a box of macaroni and cheese. Fire up your portable stove, cook the pasta, and dump the chili and cheese into the noodles for total carb heaven. —Kelly Klein, associate gear editor

When I’m feeling fancy, I like to make burritos. The ingredients can be a little heavy, but it’s worth it. I usually sauté presliced peppers and onions, melt cheese on a big tortilla, and pile on refried beans, rehydrated Spanish rice, avocado, and hot sauce. —Abigail Barronian, senior editor

I’ve sampled many freeze-dried meals, and the vegetarian Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai is my favorite. The texture of the noodles holds up to rehydration, and the spicy sriracha-lime sauce is flavorful. I like to toss in one of those single-serve tuna packets for an easy calorie boost. —Miyo McGinn, editorial assistant

I’m not one for big lunches, especially on a long hike. Instead I reach for high-protein, individually wrapped bites that will keep me going—things like Whole Foods jerky and individually wrapped cheeses. Eat them together and it’s like a to-go charcuterie board. —Kelsey Lindsey, senior editor

One of my go-tos, especially in cold weather, is a packet of dried mashed potatoes. It’s lightweight, easy to pack, versatile, and cooks in minutes. You can serve them as a savory, grits-like breakfast with butter, powdered milk, and cheese or sausage, or for dinner with a bouillon cube, crispy fried onions, bacon bits, cheese, spices and herbs, and powdered milk or butter to taste. —Jackson Buscher, video producer

From July/August 2022 Lead Photo: mixetto/Getty

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