Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Our 6 day backpacking trip through bear country required us to really think through everything we were putting into our packs, and food is always the hardest thing to narrow down. Dehydrated/freeze dried foods really are key to your success backpacking, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your favorite meals on the trail, or even get a little fancy.


Instant mashed potatoes should be a staple food in your ready-to-go backpacking kit. They are a lightweight blank slate and they are filled with energy. You can buy them in flavored packets if you really want to save time, but you can also do the jazzing up yourself.

This trip, we combined them with broccoli cheese soup and bacon bits. We added the bacon bits a bit too early, so they reconstituted and became more like ham bits, but were still delicious. I would love to try a chili cheese version or maybe a southern version with hearty greens, mushrooms and garlic. Do you have any great ideas we should try?

We hope some of you are getting to enjoy your first tastes of fall right now. For us in SoCal, it feels like its a long way away. At least that means there is still time to get out and enjoy your favorite summer hikes!

Loaded Mashed Potatoes


2 servings

Prep Time / Cook Time


Activity Guide



  • 1 cup dry instant mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup freeze dried broccoli
  • 1 cup broccoli cheese soup mix
  • 1/2 cup bacon bits
  • 2 cups water
  • Crushed crackers (optional)


  • Spoon
  • Stove
  • Pot or mylar pouch


  1. Boil water. Add broccoli to rehydrate for one minute before removing pot from heat.
  2. Add soup mix and potatoes either to the pot of water, or add them plus water and broccoli to the Mylar pouch. Stir and cover or zip and let rehydrate for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Finish with bacon bits and crushed crackers.

11 thoughts on “Loaded Mashed Potatoes

  1. I have gotten away from dehydrated potatoes and recently came back to them. On my winter hike up to Thousand Island Lake, I used them to make a soup, which is the easiest way for me to put down serious backcountry calories.

    I boil an amount of water that seems appropriate for the size soup I want. Then I sprinkle the potatoes in until I get the consistency I like. Next, I just start adding whatever ingredients sound good. On this trip, I added Trader Joe’s Srirach Bacon Jerky (diced), diced carrots, diced wild onion picked on the trail, and little cubes of pepper-crusted parmesan. Tasty, packed with calories, and ultralight!

    1. That sounds like an awesome combination. Dehydrated potatoes offer so much variety. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  2. I cook for back country trips for Sierra Club service trips. Great recipes–good instructions, flexible ingredients!

    1. @Rachel, we ate this toward the end of a 60 mile, 5 day backpack trip with tons of elevation change, if that gives you an idea of how hungry we were compared to your trip. This recipe is written at about 400 calories per serving. It would be really quick and easy to add more if needed, so maybe bring extra ingredients to cook as a second round. You could also bulk it up with something like bean flakes or cheese. Hope that helps!

    1. @Nicole, I’ve used a few different brands (even a vegan one!), and they all turn out great. I’ll see if I can figure out what specifically I used for this iteration and get back to you.

  3. Hey Emily,
    Thanks for posting this recipe. It sounds so delicious and easy. It’ll definitely be on a list for my next trip. Can’t go wrong with some mash!

  4. I brought this along for beach camping this past weekend. It was kind of last minute so I picked this recipe because I could find most of the ingredients in my usual grocery store. I used frozen brocolli rather than dehydrated and let it thaw in my pack during our hike. I also added dehydrated shallots because I had some on hand. This dish was so good, and everyone was impressed with how fancy it looked. It realy hit the spot, and it was so easy and quick. Definitely making this one again next time I’m on the trail!

    1. @Sarah, thanks for sharing! Dehydrated shallots are a wonderful secret weapon to keep on hand. Your variation makes me want to get out there and eat this again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *