4 Perfect Backcountry Mac and Cheese Recipes

You’re an adult: Eat like one. Upgrade your mac and cheese by swapping fluorescent powder for old-world flavors, veggies, and spices.

Photo: Nick Cote

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Backcountry Mac

This gourmet recipe serves as a base for the three variations below. 2 to 3 servings

8 oz. macaroni
4 oz. cheese of your choice (1 ½ cups grated)
1 ½ cups milk from powder (whole milk powder like Nido yields a creamier result)
1 Tbsp. flour
Salt and pepper to taste

At home: Pack ingredients in separate zip-top bags.

In camp: Boil noodles until al dente, drain, and set aside.

Heat rehydrated milk over medium heat until it just starts to bubble. Reduce heat and mix in flour until there are no clumps. Simmer until mixture thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add cheese in batches, stirring until fully combined and smooth. Mix in any additions, plus salt and pepper. Remove from heat, stir in noodles, and serve.

Porcini Mac & Cheese

These mushrooms add savory depth but almost no extra pack weight.

2 to 3 servings

1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
4 oz. aged Manchego 
(1 ½ cups grated)

At home: Chop mushrooms into ¼-inch pieces.
Pack ingredients for Backcountry Mac.

In camp: Soak mushrooms in 2 cups water for 20 minutes, then strain. To save water and boost flavor, use leftover liquid to cook the pasta. Follow instructions for Backcountry Mac, stirring mushrooms in with the sauce before adding the pasta.

Roasted Green Chile Mac & Cheese

Dinner and a show: Impress your friends by flame-scorching chiles and serving up this hot-sweet take on traditional mac. 2 to 3 servings

2 medium green chilies (poblano for mild, Anaheim for hot)
4 oz. aged Gouda (1 ½ cups grated)

At home: Wrap chilies in foil. Pack ingredients for Backcountry Mac.

In camp: To prepare chilies, char over a camp stove flame, rotating constantly until blackened all over (5 to 10 minutes). Wrap in foil and set aside until cool enough to handle. Peel off charred skin, remove the stem and seeds, and dice
the remaining pepper.

Follow instructions for Backcountry Mac, stirring chilies in with the cheese before adding the pasta.

Cajun Mac & Cheese

Turn up the heat with a homemade spice mix and Spanish-style chorizo.

2 to 3 servings

4 oz. dried, uncured Spanish-style chorizo or other hard salami
4 oz. aged Manchego (1 ½ cups grated)
1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning (see below)

At home: Pack ingredients, including those for Backcountry Mac,
in separate zip-top bags.

In camp: Chop chorizo into bite-size chunks. Follow instructions for Backcountry Mac, stirring chorizo and seasoning in with the sauce before adding to pasta.

Tip: Keep the chorizo or salami in its original packaging until ready to use. It requires refrigeration after opening, so snack on the extra while you’re cooking.

Homemade Cajun Seasoning

1 Tbsp. each onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil
½ Tbsp. each dried thyme, black pepper, white pepper, mace, celery seeds
½ Tbsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
3 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients and pack what you need for the trail in a zip-top bag.