Being a vegetarian in the wilderness can be difficult.
While your friends are barbecuing, you're the odd one out with nothing to do. But don't worry. You don't have to sit in the corner, chewing on raw vegetables all day at the campsite. You can still grill, fry, and concoct some of the most delicious campfire courses.
Today we'll look at 10 vegetarian camping food recipes that will make your mouth water. Show off your skills at the camping barbecue and become a wilderness Gordon Ramsey!
First - How to Heat Your Food
Heat + food = dinner, right? If you are in the outdoors, you may not always have the luxury of a dual-burner stove to boil water or a propane grill to have a barbecue. Here's a few different methods to cook your meals at the campsite.
Seems simple enough, but how are you exactly supposed to cook over an open flame?
Ideally you'll have a fire pit with a grate on top of it, but if you’re deep in the backcountry, you’ll need to get creative. There is no one sure-fire method, but many backpackers use a combination of campfire coals and a circle of ash as a makeshift stove.
2. Charcoal Grill
Most popular campsites come with a fixed Charcoal grill, so you’ll want to pack plenty of coals and lighter fluid.
Camper's tip: Make sure you thoroughly brush the communal grill before using it, especially if you or your camping buddies are allergic to certain foods.
3. Camping Stove
A great, reliable method to cook your meals at camp is a camping stove. Whether you go for a lightweight, single person version, like the MSR PocketRocket 2, or a larger Coleman Triton Series, these fuel-powered stoves are perfect in adverse conditions.
Next - Let's Look at Your Cooking Equipment
So now that you’ve decided the best heat source for your campsite let’s look into some of the basic camping cooking equipment that you need to be an outdoor chef.
Cast Iron Skillet
The most durable and king of all camp kitchen equipment is the cast iron skillet.
This heavy pan is meant to brave the elements of the outdoors, and since it has a high heat tolerance, it’s better to use over a campfire which is difficult to regulate. Also, with the nonstick coating, clean up should be a breeze. Check out some cast iron skillets here.
If you know your way around the camp kitchen, you’ll know that the dutch oven is a great way to make “one-pot” meals to minimize cleanup.
These cast iron pots can be placed directly in the fire if need be, or hung from a support above the flames. If you want to look at more dutch ovens online, you can do so here.
If you aren’t using a skillet or dutch oven you’ll probably need a small camp cook set. Typically, there will be a a few pots, a cup, some utensils, and other essential outdoor kitchen items. If you are backpacking, this will be the type of cookware that you will most likely use. For more details, check out some products like the GSI Outdoors Microdualist Halulite cook set.
Being in the outdoors doesn’t mean that you have to abandon your manors. While you can always bring plastic utensils to the campsite, they may create more trash in the long-run. Instead, try a multi-use product like the Orblue 4-in-1 camping utensil.
Usually, I’ll just eat out of whatever vessel I cook in, but that might not be the best option if you are camping with several friends. Instead, look into collapsible plates and bowls so that they take up less space in your car and backpack.
Finally, something I always forget are all the miscellaneous items: spatula, whisk, butchers knife, cutting board, ladle, etc.
Instead of worrying about these kitchen products in the outdoors, prepare for your campsite cooking at home. Dice those tomatoes, chop those onions, and whip up that pancake mix. That way, you won’t have to worry about lugging along every little thing in your kitchen.
You’ll Need To Store Your Food
Let's face it. It’s difficult to properly store you food at the campsite.
Of course you can bring a big cooler, fill it with some ice from the local gas station, and place it outside your tent. You want to ensure the food remains at, or below, 40℉ so that it doesn’t spoil. Read more here about how to keep food cold when camping.
Then there's keeping your food safe. Your campsite is like a beacon for forest critters announcing that there is free food for the taking. Ensure that all your coolers and trash bags are locked (use a bungee) AND tied off to a tree (or a permanent fixture in the area).
That way, no creatures can drag your food supply deep into the woods.
10 Vegetarian Camping Food Recipes
Are you all set with your heat source, cooking equipment, and food storage? Alright, good. Let’s bust out the outdoor cookbook with 10 amazing vegetarian camping recipes that will make you feel like nature’s Michelin Chef.
Note: Any equipment that may be needed for each recipe will be appear in bold in the description, rather than simply listed.
1. Camping Quesadillas
A quick, convenient snack that will have everyone at the campsite wanting more. Campfire quesadillas are a healthy, calorie-filled snack that’ll fuel any outdoor adventure.
Prep Time: 10-20 minutes
- 1 red onion
- 10 white mushrooms
- ½ cup corn
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 jalapeno (optional)
- 4 flour (or corn) tortillas
- 1 cup of shredded cheese (your choice)
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- Salt, pepper, chili powder (to taste)
Using a cast iron skillet (or simply aluminum foil if you travel light), heat up the oil over the campfire great. While you'rer waiting for the oil to get hot, dice up your vegetables.
Toss the cut veggies into the oil, sprinkle your desired spices (I love chili powder), and let cook for about five minutes, or until they are tender.
While the veggies are cooking, lay out four pieces of aluminum foil for the tortillas.
Spread your choice of shredded cheese on half the tortilla, then once the veggies ready, place them on top of the cheese.
Fold the tortilla in half and wrap the entire thing in aluminum foil. Place the foil on the campfire rack, and allow for the quesadilla to cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Then, simply enjoy!
Jay’s Tip: Typical cheeses include Colby Jack or Pepper Jack, but if you lack refrigeration at the campsite, you may want to switch to a hard cheddar since it lasts longer. Also, don’t forget the hot sauce.
2. Campfire Corn On The Cob
The classic picnic snack of flame-grilled corn on the cob is easy and convenient, just make sure you packed your toothbrush!
Prep Time: 10-90 minutes
- 4 ears of corn
- ½ cup of sugar
- Salt, pepper, butter (to taste)
First, do not husk your corn. Soak it for about an hour in a clean pot of water (you may add the ½ cup of sugar to the water, or save some for later).
Once 60 minutes has passed, place the corn on the campfire grate, turning it over on its side every few minutes so it cooks evenly. Once the husk begins to turn brown, which is approximately 15-30 minutes, you can remove the corn from the fire.
Peel back the husk, add salt, pepper, butter, sugar, or whatever spices you desire, and dig in.
Jay’s Tip: If you don’t have the time to soak your corn, you can open the husk slightly and pour in a few tablespoons of water. Wrap the ears in aluminum foil and cook.
3. Nature Nachos
A vegetarian take on a everyone’s favorite bar snack, nature nachos will provide a fun, tasty treat to the entire campsite.
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
- ½ lb. of tortilla chips
- 8 oz. (1 can) of hot tomato sauce
- 1 cup of shredded cheese (your choice)
- 8 oz. of black beans
- 1 diced white onion
- 1 diced avocado
- 1 lime
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt, pepper, chili powder
In a large dutch oven, use the olive oil to coat the pot to ensure that your nature nachos don’t stick (and cause a huge headache when it’s time to clean up).
You’ll then want to add about ½ your nachos (¼ lb.) and ⅓ of the rest of your ingredients to form a nice bottom layer. For the second layer, add the rest of your ingredients, starting with the chips, and ending with the cheese.
Cover the dutch oven, and place it on the campfire grate for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
When ready, make sure to remove the dutch oven using oven mitts (or a t-shirt because who brings oven mitts to the campsite?). Squeeze a little lime juice on the savory treat, and add salt, pepper, and chili powder as desired, and start eating.
Jay’s Tip: Instead of packing the entire spice rack, you may want to buy a pre-mixed packet of taco seasoning mix, like this one from McCormicks. It tastes absolutely delicious on nachos.
4. Backcountry Pancakes
You don’t have to pack up and drive to IHOP to enjoy a stack of flapjacks. They taste doubly delicious when you whip them up at the campfire.
Prep Time: 5-20 minutes
Serves: 4 (12 pancakes)
- 1 cup of flour
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup skim milk powder
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- 1 egg
- 1 cup water
- 4 tbsp. Olive oil (for skillet)
- Maple syrup (optional)
Before you head out to the campsite, mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, and whisk together so that they are mixed thoroughly. Add the pancake mix to a waterproof plastic bag and pack it in your bag.
Once you get to the campsite and are ready to fuel up for the day, place the mixture in a large bowl, and mix in the egg and 1 cup of water.
While you let the batter sit for five minutes, place an iron skillet over the campfire grate and coat with oil (do not use all of it). You’ll then want to ladle the wet pancake batter onto the hot skillet (whichever size you desire).
Once the top of the pancake starts to bubble, use a spatula to flip it. Wait about another minute, or until the center bubbles, then remove onto a separate plate.
Continue the same process with the rest of the batter, and try to oil the pan in between each pancake in order to avoid a messy clean up. When your large stack of fluffy flapjacks is ready, drizzle on some maple syrup and fuel up for the day.
Jay’s Tip: For vegans and people who don’t want to use eggs, you can use smushed banana as a binding agent instead.
5. Vegan S’Mores
As a vegan camper, you often have no choice but to sit on the sidelines and watch your friends enjoy a warm camper's snack. That's about to change. Check out this delicious, animal-free S’more by the fire.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
- 8 vegan marshmallows
- 16 Nabisco Graham Crackers
- 8 squares of Vegan Chocolate
First, you are going to want to grab a long, skinny stick from the woods.
Next, stick the marshmallow onto one end of the stick (I like to push it all the way through so it doesn’t fall off).
Then, using the stick, hold the marshmallow about 1-2 inches away from the campfire flames so you don’t get a charred S’more.
Place the chocolate on one of the graham crackers, and when your marshmallow is a gooey golden brown, place it on the same graham cracker as the chocolate. Use the second graham cracker to create a “sandwich,” and squeeze down, sliding the marshmallow off the stick in one motion.
There you have it, Vegan S’mores.
Jay’s Tip: It may be hard to find vegan graham crackers in your local grocery store, so maybe grab some oreos (yes, they are vegan) and use the outside crackers instead. Of course, don’t forget to lick the tasty oreo filling off first.
6. Wilderness Kebabs
Cut up your favorite vegetables and grill them on a metal stick with this tasty vegetarian take on classic meat dish.
Prep Time: 10-20 minutes
- Your choice of vegetables
- Olive Oil
- Salt, pepper, seasoning (to taste)
There really isn’t much to making wilderness kebabs.
Cut up your favorite vegetables, like squash, zucchini, eggplant, onion, mushroom, etc., into a thin disk-like shape (you can do this at home).
Using a metal skewer stack on the cut veggies, alternating between varieties. Either drizzle, or brush, olive oil and the seasonings of your choosing onto the uncooked kebab, and place directly on the rack over the campfire.
Rotate every few minutes until the vegetables are brown (try not to burn them, it doesn’t taste very good).
When ready, you can either dig right in, or slide off the veggies one by one, and voila, you’ve got a wilderness kebab.
Jay’s Tip: Call me crazy, but I love the taste of grilled pineapple. Seriously, add it to your next kebab.
7. Peanut and Sweet Potato Stew
Warm up on those chilly nights with a hearty, and freshly-prepared stew that will have you wanting more, even after the last bite.
Prep/cook time: 30-45 minutes
- 2 cups of vegetable broth
- 1 diced sweet potato
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- 1 diced white onion
- 4 cloves of chopped garlic
- ¼ cup of peanut butter
- 1 cup of fresh spinach
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt, pepper, chili powder (to taste)
Coat your dutch oven with the olive oil and place over the campfire (let heat for a few minutes).
Toss in the onions and garlic, stirring with a spoon or rubber spatula to bring out the aromas.
Once the onions and garlic are brown, add in the peanut butter, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and desired seasonings, and then pour on the broth. You’ll want to continuously stir the stew to ensure that the peanut butter doesn’t form nasty coagulated clumps.
Leave the dutch oven uncovered over the campfire for about 20 minutes (you can pick out a sweet potato to see if it’s tender).
Finally, add in the chickpeas and spinach, and let simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
Now, you have a wonderful, hearty stew for those chilly nights. Soup-er!
Jay’s Tip: If you’re a fan of spicy Thai food, you may want to add in a few chili peppers and coconut milk.
8. No-Cook Mediterranean Couscous
An easy, delicious recipe that will leave you full without having to go through the hassle of setting up the fire.
Prep time: 1-2 hours
- 1 cup of couscous
- 1 ½ cups of water
- 1 tbsp. Olive oil
- ½ cup dried fruit (cranberries, apricots, etc.)
- ½ cup of almonds
- Salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin (to taste)
Instead of dealing with hassle of a fire, you can actually soak couscous to soften it without boiling water.
In a 16 oz. sealable jar (like an old peanut butter container), add all of the ingredients, and then add your water. You’ll want to let the mixture sit for at least an hour, or until the couscous has absorbed all of the water.
When you’re ready to eat, open the jar and enjoy. It really is that easy!
Jay’s Tip: Since the couscous takes time to soak, I usually prepare it around lunch time and then store it away in my backpack. That way, when I get to camp and am hungry from a long day in the wilderness, dinner is already made.
9. Dutch Oven Pasta
Everyone’s favorite family-style Italian meal makes it way to the campsite with the savory, cheesy, dutch oven pasta.
Prep-time: 20-60 minutes.
- 1 lb. pre-cooked pasta
- 1 16 oz. jar of pasta sauce
- 1 16 oz. can stewed tomatoes
- 2 cups of shredded parmesan cheese
Before you leave the house, cook one pound of your favorite pasta until al dente (I go with rigatoni, but it’s your preference.
Once you arrive at the campsite, you’ll want to mix all the ingredients together in a dutch oven (except the cheese), and place it on the campfire grate for about half an hour. Carefully remove the lid and stir in the parmesan cheese and cook for another 10 minutes.
When the time is up, you can use a big spoon to serve the pasta family style to all of your campmates.
10. Freeze-Dried Meals
Don’t have the skills of an iron chef? Don’t worry.
There are plenty of delicious (and nutritious) vegetarian freeze-dried meals that will feed your hunger at the campsite.
Typically, you just add the desired amount of boiling water, let the package sit for a few minutes, and then enjoy. Let’s take a look at some different brands and check out what satiating meals they have offer.
Backpacker’s pantry offers a full line of vegetarian and vegan dehydrated meals, including Cuban coconut rice and black beans, Katmandu curry, Chana Masala, and so much more. You should be able to browse options at your local REI or outdoor camping store.
Specifically made for vegans, Mary Jane’s Farm offers all-natural, organic, dehydrated meals to enjoy in the outdoors. Some of their more popular products are ginger sesame rice, Lebanese peanut bulgur, and velvety black bean soup. Heck, they even have freeze-dried vegan brownies!
Offering a variety of vegetarian options, Good To-Go is an essential product for any backpacker. From meals like herbed mushroom risotto to Indian vegetable korma, your stomach will always be filled with delicious food with Good To-Go.
Whether you want to have a gourmet outdoor feast or a simple campsite picnic, hopefully you’ve learned a little bit of camp kitchen knowledge from these 10 vegetarian camping food recipes.
Remember to choose your heat source, pack the right equipment, and always store your food properly so that you can dine in the five-star restaurant of the outdoors. Next thing you know, all your friend will be coming to you for advice for their campsite cuisine.
Jay toes the line between hiking enthusiast and vagabond as he treks across the world, soaking in it’s natural wonders. When he’s not exploring the trail, he writes articles to help guide others through their outdoor conquests.