Trail Chef: Editors' Choice, Breakfast Recipe Edition

Staff experts share their hearty trail pancakes and choco-banana French toast

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Mmm, breakfast. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning, and that goes double for demanding trail days. And, lucky for me, some of our editors take it waaaay beyond oatmeal. I convinced Editor-in-Chief Jon Dorn and Associate Editor Shannon Davis to share their favorite all-star breakfasts.

Jon’s Famous Trail Pancakes

Requested by a reader via Twitter (okay, it was one of our former employees—but we’re more than happy to oblige)

50/50 blend of Krusteaz add-water-only buttermilk mix and Aunt Jemima buckwheat mix

Eggs—critical for maximum fluffiness—or egg beaters (check package for how many)


1 teaspoon vanilla

Seasonal fruit (best blend: lots of berries and banana, but at a 2:1 ratio to each other)

Nuts (prefer: pecans, crumbled in quarters and halves, at a 1:1 ratio with the banana)

Dark chocolate chips (restraint here—10 or fewer per 6-inch cake, about half the volume of the nuts, unless you’re serving kids)


Mix all ingredients but nuts, chips, and fruit. Fold those in one at a time, in that order, being careful not to mash the berries. Make one extra-large pancake at a time in a medium skillet, using very hot (but not smoking) canola oil for extra-crispy edges. Bring a real spatula, and use a heat diffuser (I use the one from my Outback Oven) if you have a stove with a very tightly focused flame that burns the middle of the cake while leaving the outside raw. Serve with warmed real maple syrup or honey.

Use leftover cakes, peanut butter, and honey to make sandwiches for lunch.

Shannon’s Choco-Banana French Toast (aka, The Best French Toast the World Has Ever Known)

This gooey concoction left us decadently stuffed on a recent staff hut trip in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. It’s kinda elaborate, but perfect for car camping or yurt trips.

3 large eggs (egg beaters)

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons plain yogurt (optional, really)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons vanilla

2 large bananas, sliced

16 1/2-inch slices of French bread

1 cup Nutella

1. Stir eggs, milk, yogurt and cinnamon until smooth. Set aside. Heat some butter in a large non-stick skillet/griddle/cast iron pan over medium heat.

2. Spread Nutella on one side of each slice of French bread. Top half of the bread slices with several banana slices. Place the remaining Nutella-slathered bread slices on top of the bananas.

3. Dip each sandwich carefully in the egg mixture (tongs help) and turn to coat, making sure to keep the sandwich intact. Place the sandwiches on the hot skillet and cook until golden brown. Turn gently, and cook on the other side until golden brown.

4. Serve the Nutella French toast immediately (garnish with with fresh berries and a drizzle of pure maple syrup).

5. Prepare to be worshiped for the rest of the morning. Coupled with bacon, this is perhaps the best breakfast you (and your dirtbag friends) will ever have.

Makes 8 sandwiches.

What’s your favorite backpacking breakfast? Tell us at We’ll print the yummiest submissions in our Readers’ Choice issue.

—Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan


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Recipes: the Menu Maker Archive

Photo credit: Mitch Mandel

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