Backpacking Meals: Trail Pizza

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Being from Chicago, I take my pizza pretty seriously. So, when I’m out in the backcountry, I don’t want to let my standards fall, but I also don’t want to be cooking with a headlamp trying to make some lengthy, effort-intensive gourmet meal. My solution: Trail Pizza. One of my favorite backpacking meals, trail pizza is super tasty, but also super easy to make. It also allows different group members to pick their own toppings and makes for a great family camping recipe where kids can help build their own pizza. Try it out and you won’t be disappointed— trail tested, Chicagoan approved.

backpacking meals



First, construct your pizza. Take a slice of pita bread and spoon out about a tablespoon of canned tomato paste onto it, using the back of the spoon to spread it evenly in a thin layer to the edges of the bread (too much sauce makes your pizza soupy).

backpacking meals

Next, sprinkle some garlic salt, or minced garlic, over the paste. Then it’s time to add the cheese— depending on your preference and the length of your trip, you can use any variety of different cheeses. I’ve used bomb proof American cheese on 20 day trips and fresh goat cheese on overnights— shredded mozzarella is a good bet for weekend trips.

backpacking meals

The next step is to add toppings, and the world is really your oyster for this part. My favorite? Spam and canned pineapple. Summer sausage, chopped onion, garlic… the list goes on and on, so get creative! I always like to bring a little hot sauce with me when I’m backpacking— definitely a great pizza possibility.

backpacking meals

backpacking meals

Heat a skillet over your stove or fire with a pat of butter (add per pizza) to melt. Once the butter is melted, put your pizza in the pan and allow the bottom to start cooking. Over a hot flame, it’s easy to burn the bottom of your pizza, so make sure you’re continually moving your pan over the flame in circles to cook evenly. But how do you get the cheese to melt before the bottom burns, you ask? Here’s the coolest part: have someone in your group pour just a teaspoon of water from their water bottle into the bottom of the hot pan while you hold the pan lid ready to close it. As soon as the water hits the hot pan and begins to create steam, close the lid. The steam generated will melt the cheese and cook your toppings. But be careful not to add too much water, or your bread could get soggy! If the cheese isn’t melted after the first steam, just repeat the process a few times until it is. Add salt and pepper to taste. Repeat this process until everyone in your group has their own personal pizza (or two, or three…).

backpacking meals


Serves: 2 people

Prep time: 5 minutes per pizza

Cook time: 5-10 minutes per pizza


  • 1/2 -1/4 sticks of butter
  • Package of four pita breads
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • Cheese (your choice – 4-8oz)
  • Toppings (canned pineapple, garlic, onion, sausage, hot sauce…)
  • Spices (salt, pepper, garlic salt, cayenne…)

Anna Elliott grew up canoeing in the Northwoods of Wisconsin where she acquired a love for all things wild. A month long backpack through the Wind River Range in Wyoming later convinced her that western mountains were the place to be. Moving to the Seattle area in 2011, Anna has been taking advantage of the wilderness playground that is the Pacific Northwest— hiking, climbing, trail running and paddling— ever since. Writing, editing and leading trips, she is always looking for opportunities to inspire others to get outside.

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