Spicy One Pot Jambalaya (Backpacking Recipe)

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Hot, spicy and thoroughly filling this one-pot backpacking jambalaya is a great way to warm up at the end of a day.

Megan holding a backpacking pot filled with jambalaya

Combining instant rice, dehydrated veggies, summer sausage, rich tomato powder, and spicy cajun seasoning, this jambalaya is ready to eat in minutes but tastes like it has been simmering on the stovetop all day.

The one-pot nature of the recipe means it’s easy to cook and easy to clean, while its nonperishable ingredients mean you’ll be able to enjoy this on day 1 or day 7 of your trip.

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Ingredient notes

  • The level of spice in Cajun seasoning can vary greatly from brand to brand. Before taking this meal out on the trail, test the heat level of your seasoning, and dial it in. There’s nothing worse than being starving and looking at a bowl of food that is too spicy to eat. We used McCormick’s in this recipe.
  • We found tomato powder on nuts.com
  • Olive oil can be packed in small resealable containers, or you can find individual packets online.

What’s the difference between jambalaya and gumbo?

One of the differences in preparation between a jambalaya and a chicken and sausage gumbo is that jambalaya is made with the rice cooked into it, whereas gumbo does not–it’s more of a soup (though often served with a side of rice). So, jambalaya is a true one-pot dish!

Equipment notes

  • As with many backpacking meals cooked in a lightweight pot, scorching is something to be aware of. Once the ingredients have been added to the water, keep it moving around with a spoon to prevent the food from burning to the bottom. We like this MSR ceramic coated pot–it seems to prevent food from sticking better than titanium pots.
  • See our full post about backpacking stoves, and our backpacking checklist for the rest of our cooking gear!

More backpacking recipes

Megan is sitting on a rock next to a campfire stirring a pot of food
A pot of jambalaya with orzo

Spicy One Pot Jambalaya

This homemade one pot backpacking meal is worth washing a dish for – it combines rice, veggies, and summer sausage with a spicy and flavorful sauce that will fill you right up after a long day of exploring.
Author: Fresh Off The Grid
5 from 8 ratings
Pin Rate
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
2 servings


  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • ½ cup freeze dried or dehydrated vegetables
  • 2 tablespoons tomato powder
  • 1 tablespoon Creole spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 oz summer sausage or jerky, optional – omit to make this meal veg friendly
  • 2 cups water


  • Pre-Trip:
    Place the rice, freeze dried vegetables, tomato powder, Creole spice, and salt in a resealable bag. Pack along the olive oil and summer sausage.
  • At Camp:
    Empty the contents of the bag into your cook pot. Add the water and olive oil and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the veggies are tender, making sure to stir fairly often (especially towards the end) to prevent the food from scorching and sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • In the meantime, cut up the sausage or jerky and add to the pot as the rest of the meal is cooking to heat through.
  • Remove from the heat and enjoy!


Ingredient Substitutions:
We often make this dish with 1 cup of orzo pasta instead of the instant rice since it’s what we usually have in our pantry, AND it has double the protein as well as some extra calories.

Nutrition (Per Serving)

Calories: 385kcal

*Nutrition is an estimate based on information provided by a third-party nutrition calculator

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  1. PHO'Neill says:

    I’m really interested in making this recipe for a thru-hike with my family (two adults and two children). I’m wondering if I should double everything, including the water, to make this. What do you think?

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      Doubling everything seems like a good place to start. But, if you’re going to make this for a thru-hike, we HIGHLY recommend you make it at home first. Depending on the spices you pick up and the type of modifications you make to scale it up, you will want to be 100% on the recipe before you pack it out into wild.

  2. If I substitute tomato powder with Bouillon how do you think it will affect the meal?

    1. Fresh Off the Grid says:

      We haven’t tried that substitute, but I can’t imagine it would be bad. It will lose that bright tomato flavor and skewer more savory. Sort of a different flavor, but probably still good. Let us know how it works out.

    2. Michael Szuch says:

      I have subbed the tomato powder with chicken bouillon with tomato and it was good but not as good as tomato powder. That being said, tomato powder is expensive (amazon) and only sizes are enough to make this recipe 100x over.
      One thing I tried was the chicken/tomato buillion and a little tomato paste.
      Tomato paste is shelf stable and cheap. Play with the amount at home until you get taste/consistency you like.
      Either way this is one of my favorite recipes and goes over big with my camping buddies every time.
      I also sub out andouille sausage for the summer sausage. Have also tried jerky but doesnt taste the same.
      Good luck!