Gourmet Trail Recipes: Potato Salad

The word gourmet is relative. Especially when it comes to long distance backpacking. 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!


Classic Potato Salad

Homemade potato salad holds fond memories for me, of family get-togethers and summer BBQs. I recently wondered if it could be something that I could replicate for the trail. More than half of all my recipe ideas fail when I try and make them a reality. This one turned out creamy, savory, and delicious–and only requires cold water to rehydrate. Although it isn’t light, it’s definitely coming along with us this summer.


Ingredients (click on the hyperlinks to see where to buy)

  • 2 c. (2 oz.) Freeze dried potato dices
  • 1/2 Celery rib, chopped, dried (or freeze-dried)
  • 1/4 c. Red onion, finely chopped, dried
  • 4-6 T. (6 packets) Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 T. (2 1/8 oz. packets) Red wine or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 T. (1 packet) Sugar
  • 1/2 T. (2 packets) Yellow mustard
  • 1/2 t. Salt
  • 1/2 t. Pepper
  • 1/4 t. Garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. Dill
  • Sprinkle of paprika

Ingredients, minus the celery and onion

Optional Ingredients

  • Shelf-stable boiled egg (I have seen them at convenience stores, but I have never actually tried one)
  • 1 T. (1 packet) imitation or real bacon bits
  • 2 Packets relish


At-Home Preparation

Dry the celery and onion in a food dehydrator at 135F for 4-6 hours (until the moisture is gone). The celery will come out looking like weird little worms, but they still taste good. 🙂

Package it up: In a ziploc baggie, mix potatoes, celery, onions, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dill. In a pill baggie, package a sprinkle of paprika. Into the large baggie, throw in the small baggie of paprika and the unopened packets of mayo, vinegar, mustard, and bacon bits.


On-Trail Preparation

Remove all of the packets from the large baggie containing the potato mixture and add just enough cold water to the baggie (or in your cook pot) to just barely cover the mixture. Don’t add too much water; you can always add more. Let sit about 10 minutes or longer (if you can wait for about 30+ minutes, it will come out even better).

Once the potatoes have softened, add the mayo, mustard, vinegar, and bacon bits. If you brought an egg, chop it up and add it now. Stir to moisten the whole mix. Sprinkle paprika on top. Let sit another 5 minutes to let the flavors meld. Eat!


Makes 2.5 c. salad and provides 655 calories.

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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