Dehydrated Risotto with Vegetables

Creamy risotto rice, hearty mushrooms, and fresh zucchini, this dehydrated risotto is one of our all-time favorite backpacking recipes. Now you can enjoy a warm, comforting bowl of risotto on your next backpacking trip without all time-consuming work!

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We love risotto. For us, it’s top of the list in terms of comfort food. On a rainy day or chilly night, nothing brings us joy quite like the smell of a rich and creamy bowl of risotto. It’s hearty and filling, but still surprisingly bright – especially when cooked with white wine and spring veggies!

A pot of risotto on a log

We can definitely think of a few nights in the backcountry where a bowl of risotto would have been heavenly. (I’m thinking specifically of a cold and stormy we night we rode out in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. Yeesh!)

But despite its morale-boosting qualities, traditional risotto isn’t all that backpacking friendly. Between the active cooking time over low, controlled heat (something backpacking stoves are notoriously bad at), and the weight of the ingredients, it’s just not the best candidate for lightweight backpacking.

Dehydrated risotto in a pot on top of a backpacking stove

But, we found the solution… make the risotto at home and dehydrate it! This way you can perform all the time-consuming parts of the recipe in the comfort of your home kitchen. Then, when you’re out in the field, all you have to do is rehydrate in some boiling water and it’s ready to eat!

And course, if you’re already dehydrating your risotto at home, then you might as well dehydrate some vegetables to go with it, right? For this particular recipe, we went with zucchini, mushrooms, and peas which add some nutritional punch.

With a little prep work at home, you too can enjoy the rich creaminess of homemade risotto while backpacking in no time at all!

Michael sitting on the ground with a camp scene and sunset

How to make dehydrated risotto

First things first: make the risotto (at home!) Use as little fat when cooking as possible. Normally, if we were making this recipe to eat at home, we would use a decent amount of butter. However, in order to properly dehydrate the rice and prevent it from going rancid, we cut out all of the butter 🙁 and reduced the fat to just 1 tablespoon of oil (you need something to cook the onion and toast the rice with!).

Saute the onion in the oil until it’s soft and just barely golden. Add the rice to the pot and stir to coat in the oil. When the tips of the rice grains turn translucent, add the wine. Stir continuously until the rice has completely absorbed the wine. Then start adding the broth, a half cup at a time, adding more as the liquid is absorbed. Once the rice is tender, remove from the heat, season with salt to taste, and cool.

Spread the rice in as even of a layer on your dehydrator trays as possible. We prefer to use these screen-style trays in our Nesco dehydrator. Since the sauce is so starchy, it doesn’t really drip through the holes, and we find that the rice dehydrates more evenly using these trays. You can use fruit leather trays as well if that’s all you have and/or your risotto is particularly runny when you go to dehydrate it. If you use the solid fruit leather trays, you may want to flip the risotto when it’s halfway dried to promote even drying.

Slice your veggies and place them on the dehydrator trays without overlapping any pieces.

Dry at 135F for 4-8 hours. The rice is done when it’s brittle and breaks easily between your fingers. Veggies are done when they are completely dry and no longer have any bend to them.

To pack for the trail: Pack all of the dehydrated ingredients together along with some parmesan cheese and bring along a small container of olive oil for added calories.

Michael sitting on the ground next to a pot on a backpacking stove

How to rehydrate on the trail

At the campsite, dump all of the ingredients into a pot, add 2 cups of water, and start to simmer and stir. The rice and vegetables will start to plump back up and all that starchy goodness will return. Rehydrating this meal at camp takes only a fraction of the time it would take to make it from scratch on site!

Essential equipment

Dehydrator: The Nesco Snackmaster is a great starter dehydrator that won’t break the bank. We have been using this one for a few years now.

Dehydrator Liners: Line your dehydrator trays with either the “mesh” or “fruit leather” liners to prevent the risotto and peas from falling through.

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  1. Hi there! A cup of dry risotto seems like it would make a lot more than two servings, do you only get two servings out of this recipe?

    1. “Serving size” when it comes to backpacking food is, admittedly, a little more nuanced than we’re able to get into within the recipe card, so our serving size is always a best-guess.

      At just under 700 calories per serving, assuming 2 servings in this recipe, 1 cup of dry rice is about right for Michael and I. BUT, for some that might be too little or too much. The great thing about prepping your food before you depart on a trip is you have a chance to look at the food before you dehydrate it and ask, How many meals does this look like?

      We assume we will be a little bit hungrier than average on the trail since there is so much physical exertion involved, but we try not to overestimate our hunger, either.

      I realize that’s not a super-specific answer, but hopefully, it helps shed a little light on how we came up with the “two serving” measurement.

      Happy trails,

      Megan