Easy to Prepare Ultralight Backpacking Meal Recipe – Buffalo Pasta Salad

Easy to Prepare Ultralight Backpacking Meal Recipe – Buffalo Pasta Salad

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This vegetarian no cook pasta salad was one of the easiest backpacking recipes to prepare during my my thru hike of the Oregon Coast Trail. Freezer bag style recipes, such as this one, can be prepared in a matter of minutes at home and just as easily while backpacking. Add ingredients to a baggie or container at home and add cold water on trail. It’s truly that easy!

For the meat eaters, foil pouch or freeze dried chicken may be added to boost the protein content of the recipe. Be aware, however, that foil pouch chicken provides approximately 90 calories and 19 grams protein per 3 oz pouch at 30 calories per ounce. Freeze dried chicken, on the other hand, provides 170 calories and 25 grams protein per 3/4 cup serving at 140 calories per ounce. Also keep in mind that while in bear country the smell from an opened foil pouch will be harder to conceal than freeze dried chicken consumed with the meal.

Another perk of this no cook backpacking recipe, is that the ingredients will remain shelf stable for many months without the need for vacuum sealing. It’s a great option for thru hikers or those of us that like to prepare meals in the off season so that we can spend our time outside during the summer. Hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we do!

Ultralight Buffalo Pasta Salad




6 oz dry weight (including sauce packets)


3 oz (1 cup) macaroni noodles, pre-cooked and dehydrated (if cold soaking)*

1 Tbsp freeze-dried green bell peppers

1 Tbsp freeze-dried red bell peppers

1 tsp freeze-dried red onion

1 Tbsp dry buffalo wing sauce mix*

1/8 tsp black pepper

dash salt

1 (1.5 oz) packet blue cheese dressing

3 (0.4 oz) packets mayonnaise

  1. Put noodles and vegetables in a bag with spices in a separate bag to be stored inside the noodle bag.
  2. Pair with 1 (1.5 oz) packet blue cheese dressing and 3 (0.4 oz) packets of mayonnaise.


  1. Remove spice packet.
  2. Add enough cold water to cover noodles.
  3. Allow to cold soak until fully rehydrated. This will take approximately two hours. Hot water may be used to speed up the rehydration process.
  4. Consume or properly discard water after meal is rehydrated.
  5. Add spice packet and salad dressing packets.
  6. Stir well and enjoy!

Macaroni noodles: The noodles can be cooked while in the backcountry without pre-cooking and dehydrating at home. Allow for additional cooking time and adequate fuel to do so.

Buffalo Wing Sauce: Dry sauce mix can oftentimes be found in the dry sauce packets aisle in grocery stores. A variety of brands are also available via Amazon.com such as Buffalo Wing Wings, Lowry’s or Bexten’s Best brands.


Calories: 750 kcal

Calories per ounce: 125 kcal/oz

Protein: 12 grams

Carbohydrates: 68 grams

Fiber: 3 grams

Total Sugars: 5 grams

Fat: 47 grams

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This no cook freezer bag style backpacking meal recipe requires only minutes to prepare at home and a few ounces of cold water on trail. This dietitian trail tested recipe also packs a whopping 750 calories per serving at an ultralight 125 calories per ounce. Wowzers! You'll be fueled and ready to continue your day after this tasty backpacking lunch recipe. Enjoy! #backpackingmeals #backpackingfood #backpackinglunch #backcountryfoodie
Backcountry Foodie Ultralight Recipes for Outdoor Explorers Digital Cookbook

For more recipes like this one, check out our Ultralight Recipes for Outdoor Explorers Cookbook in digital format. 

We also recommend checking out one of our favorite backpacking ultralight dessert recipes.

Chocolate Cake Batter Hummus.

This one is AMAZING! We guarantee you’ll want to eat the entire batch BEFORE dehydrating!

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Aaron Owens Mayhew, MS, RDN, LD is the founder of Ultralight Meal Planning for Outdoor Explorers and owner of Backcountry Foodie™. Aaron is a registered dietitian and ultralight long-distance backpacker with a passion for food. She spends much of her time experimenting with new ultralight recipes in her kitchen and later trail tests them to ensure that they meet backcountry adventurers’ needs. Aaron also offers a nutrition consulting service where she helps outdoor adventurers meal plan for their next big trip. She counts calories so you don’t have to! You can follow Aaron’s adventures in the kitchen and in the backcountry via Instagram and Facebook.