Buffalo Pasta Salad | Backpacking Lunch Recipe
By Aaron Owens, MS, RDN, CD
Updated September 28, 2022
This post may contain affiliate links.
This vegetarian cold soak backpacking lunch recipe was one of the easiest to prepare during my thru-hikes of the Oregon Coast Trail. Backcountry Foodie’s freezer bag-style backpacking lunch recipes, such as this one, can be prepared in a matter of minutes at home and on the trail. Add dry ingredients to a baggie at home and add cold water on the trail. It’s truly that easy! You might also want to try our Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta cold soak recipe. It’s another Foodie fan favorite!
For the meat-eaters, add a foil pouch or freeze-dried chicken to boost the protein content of the recipe. Be aware that foil pouch chicken provides 90 calories per 3 oz pouch at only 30 calories per ounce. While freeze-dried chicken provides 170 calories per 3/4 cup serving at 140 calories per ounce. Also, remember that the smell from a foil pouch will be harder to conceal than freeze-dried chicken while in bear country. You might want to consider dehydrating or freeze-drying chicken at home for a less expensive option.
Long-term Shelf Life:
Another perk of this cold soak backpacking lunch recipe is that the ingredients will remain shelf-stable for months without vacuum sealing. It’s a great option for thru-hikers or those of us who like to prepare meals in the offseason and spend our time outside during the summer. I hope you enjoy our Buffalo Pasta Salad recipe as much as we do!
Buffalo Pasta Salad
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NUTRITION (per serving)
- 1 cup (85 g) elbow macaroni, precooked and dehydrated, measurement is after dehydrated, not the raw ingredient
- 1 Tbsp (0.8 g) red bell peppers, freeze-dried
- ½ Tbsp (2 g) jalapeno peppers, dehydrated
- 1 tsp (1 g) red onion, freeze-dried
- 1 Tbsp (6 g) buffalo sauce mix, powder
- 6 packets (0.4 oz each) (67 g) mayonnaise
- 8 oz (240 mL) water
- 1 tsp red bell peppers, dehydrated (substitution)
- ½ tsp red onion, dehydrated (substitution)
INSTRUCTIONS (per serving)
- Put noodles, bell pepper, jalapeno, and red onion in a bag or container to be used in the backcountry. See meal prep tip below.
- Pack buffalo sauce powder in a separate bag or container to be stored with the noodle bag.
- Pack 6 x 0.4 oz packets (67 g) of mayonnaise to be added at the time the meal is consumed.
- Add 8 oz (240 mL) hot/cold water to the noodle bag.
- Let noodles and vegetables stand until fully rehydrated.
- Consume or properly discard the remaining broth to practice the Leave No Trace principle.
- Add buffalo sauce powder and 6 packets (67 g) mayonnaise.
- Stir to mix well and enjoy!
MEAL PREP TIPS
- Any mini-shaped pasta can be used for this recipe, with larger shapes not rehydrating as quickly.
- Powdered buffalo sauce mix can be found in the salad dressing or sauce mix aisles in grocery stores.
- Total sugar (per serving): 3 g with no added sugar
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Aaron Owens Mayhew, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian and ultralight long-distance backpacker with over 20 years of nutrition and backpacking experience. She’s also the founder and owner of Backcountry Foodie, an online ultralight recipes and meal planning platform for backpackers. She also enjoys teaching hikers about backpacking nutrition via virtual masterclasses, YouTube videos, and podcast episodes. You can follow Aaron’s adventures in the kitchen and the backcountry via Instagram and Facebook.
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