Dehydrated chili con carne recipe

Chili is a popular hiking meal

Dehydrating food is a great way to make lightweight and portable meals for hiking. You can dehydrate a variety of foods like fruits, vegetables, meats, and even complete dishes like stews, pasta or chili. Just make sure to follow proper food safety guidelines, start with a clean work surface and invest in a good food dehydrator for best results. To help you get started, here’s a simple recipe for a dehydrated chili con carne.

Why Chili?

Chili con carne is a popular hiking meal for several reasons:

1. Nutrient-Dense: Chili is a hearty and nutrient-dense meal that provides a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. This makes it an excellent choice for replenishing energy during strenuous hikes.

2. Lightweight: Dehydrated chili, which is commonly used for hiking, is lightweight and doesn’t take up much space in a backpack. Dehydrated meals are ideal for hikers because they are compact and easy to carry.

3. Long Shelf Life: Dehydrated chili has a long shelf life, which makes it suitable for extended backpacking trips. It doesn’t spoil quickly, so you can store it for a long time before your adventure.

4. Easy Preparation: Dehydrated chili is simple to prepare on the trail. You usually just need to add hot water, wait for it to rehydrate, and you have a hot and satisfying meal ready to eat.

5. Warm and Comforting: On a chilly day in the outdoors, a warm and spicy bowl of chili can provide comfort and help regulate body temperature. The spices in chili can also provide a pleasant warmth.

6. Customisable: Chili is versatile and can be customised to suit your taste preferences. You can adjust the level of spiciness, add vegetables, or include different types of beans and meat.

7. High Calorie Content: Hiking burns a significant number of calories, and chili tends to be calorie-dense due to its protein and fat content. This helps hikers maintain their energy levels during long treks.

8. Filling and Satisfying: Chili is filling and can help curb hunger during a hike. It’s a meal that provides sustained energy and can keep you feeling full for an extended period.

For all these reasons, chili con carne has become a popular choice among hikers and outdoor enthusiasts as a convenient, nutritious, and comforting meal option while on the trail.

How to make dehydrated chili con carne

Here’s a recipe for dehydrated chili con carne for hiking:


  • 450g lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (400g) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (400g) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (400g) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (170) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust for desired spiciness)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup water

Optional ingredients to add while rehydrating:

  • Dehydrated rice (cooked and dehydrated separately)
  • Dehydrated corn
  • Dehydrated cheese


1. In a large skillet, cook the ground beef or turkey over medium-high heat until browned. Break it up into crumbles as it cooks. Drain any excess fat.

2. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, and minced garlic to the skillet. Cook until the vegetables are softened.

3. Stir in the diced tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, and tomato paste.

4. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

5. Pour in the water and simmer the chili for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld. If the mixture becomes too thick, you can add a bit more water.

6. Once the chili is done, let it cool for a bit, then spread it in a thin layer on a dehydrator tray lined with non-stick sheets or parchment paper. Dehydrate at 63°C for 8-12 hours or until completely dry. Be sure to check and break up any clumps during the drying process.

7. Once the chili is fully dehydrated, let it cool and then package it in a vacuum-sealed bag or airtight container.

8. Before your hiking trip, prepare dehydrated rice and dehydrated corn if you’re using them. These can be cooked and dehydrated separately and packed in their own bags.

9. To prepare the meal on the trail, simply add the dehydrated chili to boiling water in a pot, stir, and let it rehydrate for about 10-15 minutes. You can also add the dehydrated rice and corn at this stage.

10. Once everything is rehydrated, serve your delicious homemade chili in the wilderness. If desired, sprinkle with dehydrated cheese for extra flavor.

Enjoy your homemade dehydrated chili con carne on your hiking overnight or multi-day adventue.

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