Backpacking Recipes: Mountain Gruel

Mountain Gruel
Mountain Gruel

If you liked the Polenta Mush recipe I published last week, you’ll probably like this one too. Mountain Gruel is another simple, one pot backpacking meal that you can eat as sweet hot cereal or a savory vegetable porridge depending on what ingredients you add to the basic recipe. This gives you a lot of flexibility depending on your mood or what you find in resupply shops along your route. Further, by adding-in varying ingredients and different textures, you can avoid becoming bored with your food on a long hike.


Serves 1

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (substitute 1/4 cup of rolled oats with rolled wheat, as a variant)
  • 1/4 tablespoon salt

At home: Premeasure ingredients and store them in a snack-size ziplock. Alternatively, you can bring a larger amount of grains and a small measuring spoon/cup and determine your portion size on the fly in camp.

In Camp: Combine oat mixture with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil over moderate heat while stirring. Reduce heat and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes until oat mixture thickens, stirring as needed to prevent the mixture from burning your pot.


Hot Cereal: Just before serving, stir in any of the following to taste (you can really load up the calories this way): raisins, chopped dates, dried and sweetened cherries, dried and chopped apricots or pears, sweetened cranberries, walnuts, hazelnuts, slivered pecans, sunflower seeds, milk powder, honey or brown sugar.

Vegetable Porridge: While cooking the grains, add 1 tablespoon of onion flakes, a chicken or vegetable boullion cubs, and a 1/4 cup serving of your favorite mild flavored dried vegetable such as carrots, cabbage, spinach flakes, or zuchini to the oatmeal. Thicken to desired consistency, but keep it soupy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Rating: This meal is a winner.

Recipe Source

This backpacking recipes comes from the backpacking cookbook, Simple Foods for the Pack. This article is part of a series of backpacking recipes for one pot meals, published on


  1. Marco’s Mud: 1pkt Oatmeal, 1pkt cocoa, 1 spoonfull of coffee (to taste) 10oz of boiling water
    Apples, Maple Sugar, Cinnamon, dehydrated fruits of any kind can be added. A squirt of olive oil can also be added. Packets can be burned, but you may need to pick the aluminum foil out, if any.

    My grandmother used to add raw cocoa to my oatmeal as a kid. I still do when camping. Coffee came a bit later, of course.

  2. I’d recommend a name change:
    “Presidentials Polenta; Oceola oats”. Justs sound more appetizing to me.

    • The recipes are my adaptions of someone elses work so I don’t feel right in renaming them, but I have a new one coming out next week that is more original. I like these suggestions though!

  3. Have knocked up a savory porridge previously; 4 oz oats + salt + 1/2 oz dried onions + pinch of garlic & chili powder; once cooked up (not too watery) add 3 – 4 ozs of cheddar cheese = 650 – 750 Cals.
    Tastes not bad too.

  4. Other rolled grains can be used for different flavors, too. I like wheat, rye, and barley together.

  5. I’m trying to make it easy, especially at breakfast. I always bring quick cooking rolled oats, a chunk of butter, brown sugar and a great addition is any kind of dried fruit that you like. I cook it just like I do at home and it’s very filling and tasty. No more of the instant oats – they just don’t taste as good plus they have the added sodium. Now to make it easier for dinner……

  6. with eggs, bacon, peanut butter, berries

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