I’ve been experimenting with stoveless backpacking food and find that I’m drawn to foods I would normally eat without heating. A variety of different tastes and textures can be achieved by creating stoveless trail deli plates. There are endless combinations that are possible. If it’s a weekend trip in relatively cool temperatures, fresh foods such as avocado and shredded cabbage can be used. For longer trips, substitute dried items. It’s a little easier to justify heavy, fresh foods when you aren’t carrying the weight of a camp stove and fuel.

See Stoveless Food Options and Cold Soaking for the Backcountry for more tips.

The ingredient that makes a big difference in the recipes here is vinegar powder, though you can use packets of vinegar instead. That tart flavor is so often missing in backpacking foods but with the powder or a packet, you can make a vinaigrette that can be used on antipasto vegetables or a tabbouleh or chickpea salad and then you can build the rest of the deli plate around it. You can choose red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar powder (see “Resources” below for sourcing info).

I included a series of recipes that build on each other and I have a list of optional ingredients to consider to build deli plates with different flavor and texture profiles.

Deli Plate with cabbage salad, dried tomatoes with vinaigrette, cheddar cheese, olives from a small pouch, avocado and pepperoncini

Trail Vinaigrette Dressing


2 teaspoons vinegar powder
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch garlic powder

On Trail

1 tablespoon olive oil


Mix dry ingredients at home.
Add 2 teaspoons water to dry ingredients and mix well.
Add olive oil.

Yield: 1 serving

Vinaigrette Ingredients: oregano, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar powder, basil, garlic powder



¼ cup dried tomato slices
1 tablespoon dried diced red bell pepper
5-6 olives in a pouch
1 tablespoon grated hard cheese
¼ sliced fresh avocado (optional)

Bring 1 serving Trail Vinaigrette Dressing + olive oil


Mix 1 serving Trail Vinaigrette Dressing with water and olive oil per directions.
Combine ingredients with one serving of Trail Vinaigrette Dressing, let sit for 10 minutes.

See below for more ingredient ideas.

Yield: 1 serving

Store 1 serving of vinaigrette in a pill pouch and add olive oil on the trail (pictured in leakproof Nalgene bottle)

Tabbouleh (bulgur) Salad


1/8 cup fine bulgur (#1 grind)
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
1 Tablespoon dried tomato, sliced or diced
¼ teaspoon dried minced onion

Bring 1 serving of Trail Vinaigrette Dressing + olive oil

Bring 1 serving of Antipasto


Mix 1 serving Trail Vinaigrette Dressing with water and olive oil per directions.
Add cold or warm water to cover. Let sit 20 minutes.
Combine with 1 serving Trail Vinaigrette Dressing and 1 serving of Antipasto.


Optional: add freeze dried or dehydrated vegetables or vegetable powder to taste (e.g. 1 Tablespoon dried diced red bell pepper and ½ teaspoon tomato powder)

Optional: add mint

Optional: Add Tabbouleh Salad to a wrap.

Yield: 1 serving

Fresh Cabbage Salad


Bring shredded cabbage or ¼ head of cabbage on short trips with cool weather. It should last 3-4 days.

Bring 1 serving Trail Vinaigrette Dressing + olive oil


Mix 1 serving Trail Vinaigrette Dressing with water and olive oil per directions.
Combine 1 serving (1 cup or amount desired) of cabbage with 1 serving Trail Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Deli Plate using vinegar packet and olive oil: hummus, cracker, pepperoncini, olives, avocado, cabbage salad

Additional Deli Plate Items

  • Cheese: feta, shaved parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar or other
  • Hummus (ground chickpeas with tahini)-Used a powdered mix such as Sadaf brand
  • Chickpeas/garbanzo beans): canned or dried to add to salads
  • Falafel—bake ahead of the trip using a mix such as Tarazi, serve with hummus or tzatziki
  • Mushrooms: fresh or dried
  • Corn: dried or freeze-dried
  • Cabbage: fresh or dried
  • Pepperoncini
  • Berries: blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, cranberry; fresh, dehydrated or freeze-dried to add to tabbouleh
  • Nuts: pine nuts, pistachio, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds or other chopped nuts
  • Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, flax, chia or other
  • Crackers, chips or croutons
  • Pasta: orzo, small bowtie or small elbow shapes, cooked and dehydrated
  • Hard-boiled egg (if able to keep cool)
  • Chicken: pouch, canned or freeze-dried
  • Seafood: pouch tuna/salmon, canned or jerky (mix with mayonnaise, mustard and/or relish packet)
  • Cured meat such as salami
Baked hummus (mixed without oils from Tarazi brand mix)

Stoveless backpacking deli plates have provided me with a framework for expanding my cold meal options.


Inga’s Backpacking Food Articles

The Hungry Spork TRAIL RECIPES: Quick Gourmet Meals for the Backcountry by Inga Aksamit

The Hungry Spork: A Long Distance Hiker’s Guide to Meal Planning by Inga Aksamit

White wine vinegar powder (Amazon)

Red wine vinegar powder (Amazon)

Apple cider vinegar powder (Amazon)

Balsamic vinegar powder (Amazon)

Red wine vinegar packet-liquid (Minimus.biz)

Balsamic vinegar packet-liquid (Minimus.biz)

Mayonnaise packet (Minimus.biz)

Sweet relish packet (Minimus.biz)

Mustard packet (Minimus.biz)

Deli Plate with hummus, cracker, pepperoncini, olives, avocado, cabbage salad

All photos by Inga Aksamit, unless otherwise credited.

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