Dehydrated Trail Sloppy Joes

I have been toying with the idea of dehydrating my own backpacking food for quite some time . Sure, I love Mountain House, Ramen, and oatmeal, but I really wanted to find a way to make delicious backpacking meals that didn’t make you question what you were really eating. The only problem was, I wasn’t sure where to start. I love cooking, but dehydrating can be a little intimidating in that it requires special knowledge and equipment.

Don’t fret! I’ve put lots of hours into researching and experimenting for you, and have to say that my first finished product turned out better than any prepackaged meal I’ve had. A couple of things before I get to that recipe. To start, you’ll need a few things:

Dehydrator – Not knowing if I was going to even like dehydrating or not, I went for a less expensive dehydrator that still had good reviews. This one is about $60. As for my personal experience with it, so far, so good! I don’t have anything to compare it to, but it definitely does the job. Link below with the one I purchased.

Vacuum Sealer – To store your dehydrated meals, you could use a zip top freezer bag, or you could use a vacuum sealer. The benefits of using a vacuum sealer is that the food will last much longer in the fridge, pantry, or in your pack. Like the dehydrator, I went with this one that was less expensive. It works for what I need. If one day I decide to vacuum seal 10 bags a day, I might opt for a more expensive version.Heavy Duty Vacuum Seal Bags – Of course, these are only required if you go with the vacuum sealer option. These bags are heavy duty, hold boiling water, and are BPA free.

Oxygen Absorber Packets – Lastly, to make sure your well-prepared food has the absolute best shelf-life, I recommend you throw in an oxygen absorber packet like these.

All the above will cost you a little over $120 to get going. In the long run though, you’ll distribute those costs out over your meals and end up saving, compared to what you would pay for the expensive freeze-dried, sodium-laden, premade meals you could buy elsewhere. Not to mention, preparing your own food and then sharing it with friends and loved ones in the wilderness is just that much more enjoyable.

After I got everything I needed, I was excited to try it out for our backpacking trip into Desolation Wilderness this past weekend. This trip was only one night, so I made sure that our dinner and breakfast were something that would be a good start into the world of dehydrating.

The sloppy joe recipe I made for dinner below was so good that I plan on making it a backpacking dinner staple. It was easy to make at home in the dehydrator and even easier to rehydrate at camp. Not to mention, totally hit the spot after a long hike. For breakfast the next morning, I made some cheesy loaded potatoes, which I am excited to share in an upcoming post. Can you say nom na na nom nom! Stay tuned!


Dehydrated Trail Sloppy Joes make for the perfect backpacking dinner.

Dehydrated Trail Sloppy Joes

Makes 4 servings


  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 med green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 med red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp dried mustard
  • 1 Tbsp agave or maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Coconut oil


  1. Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook until no longer pink. Drain off any fat.
  2. Add bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
    Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes, until thick. At this point, you could just call it a night and make some delicious sloppies at home, or you could dehydrate it to enjoy in the wilderness.
  3. Allow to cool slightly and split the mixture into four servings on dehydrator sheets set in dehydrator trays. Pat down each portion to make an even layer.
  4. Dehydrate at 155 degrees F for 11 to 12 hours, flipping after 5 to 6 hours. When the top of the sloppy joe mixture is dry, you know it is time to flip. Flip the sheet over so the mixture is directly on top of the dehydrator tray and carefully peel the sheet off the mixture. Continue dehydrating for the remaining time.
  5. After done and cooled, crumble each of the mixtures and store in individual freezer bags (regular or vacuum seal). Regular freezer bags will last up to 1 month in the fridge and 5 days once removed. If in vacuum seal bags with oxygen absorbers, they will last 1 month in the pantry or 6 months in the refrigerator.
  6. To prepare on the trail, simply add about ¾ cup of boiling water to the bag, mix it with a utensil, and let sit for 5 minutes in a mylar bag, or a beanie works, too. Highly recommended: serve on a roll.

In a couple of short weeks, I’ll be heading out on a 7-night backpacking trip and can’t wait to experiment more with my dehydrator. I have some ideas like beef stroganoff, cheesy pasta with veggies, quinoa chicken pilaf, and more. What else do you think I should make?? Leave a suggestion in the comments section below!

5 Comments on “Dehydrated Trail Sloppy Joes

  1. Yummy! Lol we have been taking about these and wondering if it’s worth it or not to invest in! I actually like some of the dehydrated meals you can buy and we take those with us. There’s a chicken and rice one that I love! This post makes me want to start doing our own for sure though!



    • Hi Melanie! It’s actually easier than I thought it would be. If you like to cook as much as me, it is fun, too! I definitely think that it is worth trying out. You can get a pretty inexpensive dehydrator like I have in my post, and it does a great job. Let me know if you give it a try. Thanks for commenting! Emily

      Liked by 1 person

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