Gourmet Trail Recipes: Beef (Turkey) Bonaparte


The word gourmet is relative. Especially when it comes to backpacking food. As a foodie and a long distance backpacker, I struggle to find a compromise. Here is a sample of one of my recipes that takes a little extra time to make, but the reward is worth it!

Beef (Turkey) Bonaparte

Bonaparte, typically made with ground beef, is a casserole, somewhat like lasagna (but easier), that my mom used to make us. It’s salty and cheesy—exactly what I crave on trail! So, I converted it to a dehydrated version.

**NOTE: This recipe makes 4 large 2-person servings. Divide all ingredients into 4**


  • 3 lbs. extra lean ground beef or turkey (7% fat)
  • 2 14.5 oz. cans of canned tomato (the finer the chop the better)
  • 2 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 1-2 T. Minced garlic, based on preference
  • 4 t. Sugar
  • 2 t. Salt
  • 1t. Pepper
  • 16 oz. uncooked corkscrew pasta
  • 16 1 oz. packets of cream cheese
  • 12 1 oz. sticks of string cheese (whole fat if possible)
  • 12 green onions


  • 1 T. Crushed peppers, if desired

At-Home Preparation

Brown the ground meat in a very large skillet, making sure to cut meat into small pieces as it cooks. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper (and red peppers) and simmer for 30 minutes.

Spread meat mixture on 2-3 trays in the food dehydrator and completely dry.

Slice onions and dry in a food dehydrator. Or, even better, if you are going on your trip soon, chop up the fresh onions and place them in a snack sized storage bag. (Remember to divide them into 4 separate bags)

Package it up: Divide dried meat and onions into 4 quart freezer bags. If you are bringing fresh onions, continue to keep them separate. Place cream cheese packets (4 each), mozzarella (3 each), and pasta (divided into 4) into quart ziplocks.

On-Trail Preparation

To meat mixture, add just enough water to baggie to barely cover the meat (and onions) and let soak 1-2 hours until soft.


Boil pasta, adding just enough water for cooking (or find an LNT way to dispose of excess water).

Stir in meat and onions. Break string cheese into pieces and stir in and melt into pasta/meat mixture. Dollop in cream cheese and turn in (as not to completely integrate it in).

Enjoy the creamy, salty goodness!


Each recipe makes 4 large (2 c.) servings and provides 970 calories each.

If you liked this idea, check out my other Gourmet Trail Recipes.

No way you would put this much work into trail food? Check out my articles entitled Favorite Easy Trail Recipes. New recipes coming soon!

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