kayaking food idea

8 Awesome kayak Camping Food ideas! (with Recipe)

In this post, I’ll share 8 kayak camping food recipes and 5 snacks idea. About the camping food, I’ll divide into two section; Non-cooking food ideas and Basic Cooking. The snack part, I just list some choice that pops into my head.

There are a lot of things that you need to take into consideration when you plan on going kayaking camping for an extended period of time. Even if you’re only planning on being out on the river for a day. One of the concerns will be the food preparation. You have to make sure you’ve got enough calories packed(Check out this article: How Much Food Should I Pack.)  in your kayak to keep you stay energetic throughout the day. 

If you don’t get enough nutrition during the paddling session, you’ll start to feel sluggish and tired. That’s the dangerous moment for a kayaker. You will most likely to make mistake and use the wrong stokes to paddle which can end up causing the injuries. 

In this post, I’ll break down into three main parts. Below is the overview of the article.

  • Non-cooking food ideas
    • Greek salad
    • Tuna and White Bean Salad
    • Hummus-Stuffed Pitas
    • Smoked Salmon Bagel
  • Basic Cooking 
    • Beef Stew
    • Camp Pizza 
    • Campfire Fajitas
    • Tin-Foil Camping Meals
  • Snacks
    • Fruit and Vegetables
    • Dehydrated yogurt
    • Trail mix
    • Granola bars
    • Beef jerky

Non-cooking food ideas

When you on a kayaking trip you won’t bring your entire kitchen with you.

Normally, you want to keep the food thing as simple as it possibly could. In this part, I will share with you some easy meals that require no cooking at all. They just need a minor preparation and some basic kitchen tools. 

  • Greek salad
  • Tuna and White Bean Salad
  • Hummus-Stuffed Pitas
  • Smoked Salmon Bagel


Greek salad

This recipe can yield 4 serves.


  • Big bowl
  • Small bowl
  • knife/swiss knife
  • Measuring spoon set


  • For the salad:
  • 1 pt. grape or cherry tomatoes
  • cucumber
  • 1 c. kalamata olives
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 3/4 c. crumbled feta
For the dressing
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
How to make it
  1. Preparing the ingredients(you can do it at home first.) Slice Cucumber, thinly sliced into half moons(any shape you like.) Slice red onion, cherry tomatoes, and olives into thin pieces. Cut the lemon in half.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together tomatoes, cucumber, olives, and red onion. Gently fold in feta.
  3. In a small bowl, make dressing: Combine vinegar, lemon juice, and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Slowly add olive oil, whisking to combine.
  4. Drizzle dressing over salad.


Although salad is always easy to make, I’d prepare everything at home first which I don’t have to bring those tools on my kayak, but don’t forget to keep each item in a separate container and then just put the whole thing together when you need to eat. Or you can assemble it in advance but not put any dressing and tomatoes, it will ruin the whole salad. 



Tuna and White Bean Salad

Prepare the Tuna and White Bean Salad over mixed greens, or make this tasty salad into sandwiches! Simply mash the beans and spread them inside 4 whole-grain pitas, then stuff in the remaining ingredients.

This recipe can yield 4 serves.


  • Big bowl
  • knife/swiss knife
  • Measuring spoon set(not necessary.)


  • 2 15-oz. cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 12-oz. can chunk light tuna packed in water, drained
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (quartered if large)
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives, chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

How to make it

Preparing the ingredients, In a large bowl, combine beans, tuna, tomatoes, olives, shallot, and parsley. Drizzle oil and lemon juice over mixture. Toss well, season with salt and pepper, and serve over greens, if desired.


Again, although salad is always easy to make, I’d prepare everything at home first which I don’t have to bring those tools on my kayak, but don’t forget to keep each item in a separate container and then just put the whole thing together when you need to eat.



Hummus-Stuffed Pitas

This recipe can yield 4 serves.


  • Measuring spoon set
  • knife/swiss knife


  • whole wheat pitas (6″ diameter)
  • 4 tbsp. prepared roasted garlic hummus
  • 4 tbsp. fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • ground black pepper
  • 1/2 small seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c. crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
  • lettuce or spinach leaves, shredded
  • sliced bottled or fresh hot peppers (optional)
How to make it
Cut the pitas in half. open carefully. Spread 1 tablespoon each of the hummus and yogurt into each pocket. Season lightly with the oregano and black pepper. Stuff with the cucumber, onion, cheese, lettuce, and hot peppers, if using.


I will strongly suggest you prepare the stuffing the night before you go. Get the vegetables sliced and keep them together, a plastic bag will be fine. And also you can toast the pita first at home if you like the crewing after the toast.


Smoked Salmon Bagel

Starting with smoked salmon, this bagel sandwich is layered with tasty ingredients—flavored cream cheese, capers, and purple onion. It’s a quick fix for a brown-bag lunch.

This recipe can yield 1 serve.


  • Measuring spoon set
  • knife/swiss knife
  • spatula (or just using a swiss knife)


  • 1 pumpernickel or plain bagel (6 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons chive cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced English cucumber
  • 3 ounces thin-sliced smoked salmon
  • 3 thin rings red onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon drained capers
How to make it
Split bagel in half horizontally. Spread cut sides with cream cheese. Over cheese on 1 bagel half, layer cucumber, smoked salmon, red onion, and capers. Set remaining bagel half, cream cheese side down, over filling.

Basic Cooking 

When I go on a kayak camping trip. When the night has come, for me personally, I always want to have something hot to eat. In order to make it happen, you need to invest in some basic cooking equipment and knowledge.

  • Beef Stew
  • Camp Pizza 
  • Campfire Fajitas
  • Tin-Foil Camping Meals


Beef Stew:

Beef stew is the benevolent king of all stews. Familiar yet never tiresome, chunks of tender beef and potatoes in rich brown gravy will always bring comfort and joy to our kayaking trip. Especially, when it’s cold and misty, what better dinner to make over a campfire than the Beef Stew.

This recipe can yield 6-8 serves.




  • 2 pounds beef chuck, cut into large chunks
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour (plus more for thickening the stew, if needed)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 14.5 ounces can diced tomatoes
  • 12 small to medium carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 sprigs fresh thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (or one sprig of fresh rosemary)
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups water or beef stock

How to make it

  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Toss the beef in the flour, until all the pieces are lightly coated. In a large pan over medium-high heat, add the butter and olive oil. Sear the beef until browned on all sides. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside.
  2. To the pan, add the garlic and onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Add the tomatoes and the carrots, along with the herbs, wine, and stock. Add the beef back to the pot.
  3. Bring the stew to a boil, cover, and simmer for 1½ hours, until the beef is tender.


This is absolutely delicious even you eat it solely. But in my opinion, it’s best to serve with rice or noodles.


Camp Pizza :

Who doesn’t like Pizza?

It’s the best thing you can crave after a long paddling session, this pizza was inspired by the one that Alan Rousseau, a guide with Seattle-based Mountain Madness mountaineering company, makes for his exhausted trekkers (his go-to version is pepperoni, green pepper, and onion).

Bring the olive oil in its bottle, and pack the other ingredients in sealed containers, grouped according to their use. You’ll need a large frying pan and large cutting board for this recipe.

This recipe can yield 4 serves.


  • Measuring spoon set
  • knife
  • charcoal grill
  • stove (WhisperLite International Multifuel Backpacking Stove)
  • fry pan(GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Frypan)


  • About 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 baked 10- to 11-in. pizza crust, such as Boboli
  • 2 onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces bulk Italian sausage
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 2 tsp. dried
  • About 1/2 cup store-bought or homemade pizza sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) coarsely shredded fontina cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

How to make it

  1. Heat a charcoal grill to medium (about 350°) or set up a camp stove and use medium heat. Warm a large heavy frying pan until hot, then oil bottom and sides. Toast pizza crust (cheesy side down, if there is one), pressing down on edges, until crunchy and golden on bottom, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board.
  2. Stoke fire with 12 to 15 more briquets if using charcoal. Add 2 tbsp. oil to a pan, then onions, sausage, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook, stirring often until onions are soft and medium golden brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Scoop onion mixture into a bowl and wipe out a pan.
  3. Brush pan with remaining oil. Fit pizza crust into the pan with the toasted side up. Spoon on pizza sauce and two-thirds of onion mixture, followed by cheeses, remaining onion mixture, and oregano. Return pan to heat. Cook, covered with lid or foil until cheese begins to melt (check underside to be sure it doesn’t burn), 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer pizza to board. Tent with foil to melt cheese completely
  5. Slice, serve and enjoy!



Campfire Fajitas:

Campfire fajitas are one of the easiest dinners to make when camping out. 

This recipe can yield 4 serves.


  • Measuring spoon set
  • Bowls
  • Knife
  • Campfire cooking grate
  • Stove (WhisperLite International Multifuel Backpacking Stove)
  • Fry pan(GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Frypan)


For the fajitas:

  • 2 lb. skirt steak, trim any excess fat off the back (if you can’t find skirt steak, then flank steak will work)
  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, or block cheese sliced into strips
  • Tortillas, the raw ones are best on a campfire if you can find them
  • onions or bell peppers(optional)

For the marinade:

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic (if you buy the pre-minced garlic as I do, use a tablespoon)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

How to make it

  1. Make your marinade, just mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. I like to marinade my fajita meat in gallon Ziploc bags so that its easier to fully coat the meat without having to make a ton of marinade.
  2. Let the skirt steak marinade for at least two hours, but overnight is preferable. Marinading is important, not only to add flavor but to tenderize the meat.
  3. Slice the tomato and avocado into small cubes and the jalapeno into thin slices.
  4. Pull off enough cilantro leaves so that you can get 6 – 10 on each taco.
  5. Now, take your fajitas out of the marinade and toss on your pre-heated cooking grate over the hottest part of the fire.
  6. Brown each side very well, then pull your grate back enough that the skirt steak is still cooking, but not burning. Medium to medium well should be just right. 
  7. Once the meat is done, take it off and let it sit for about 5 minutes to rest.
  8. While meats are resting, toss your tortillas on your grate one or two at a time to cook.
  9. Slicing the meat. The key to slicing your fajita meat is to slice it thin across the grain, not with it.
  10. Lay all the ingredients out and let everybody build their own campfire fajitas, buffet style.
  11. You can add onions or bell peppers if you like it.


I usually chop up the vegetables (excluding the avocado) and cheese and put them in some Ziploc bags, as well as pre-mix the marinade and put it into a covered bowl. That way all you have to do is marinade the meat when you get there then throw it on the fire.

Just make sure don’t use something like a cedar in your fire, or your fajitas will taste weird.



Tin-Foil Camping Meals:

Tin-Foil Camping Meals ideas are true to the spirit of good ol’ campfire cooking, but without all the muss and fuss of a lot of work. They are easy, fun and delicious. Kayakers love them because they are a lot less work than traditional camping meals. Generally, these meals don’t use specific recipes; you just decide what you want to include – and toss it all together, with your favorite seasonings. So, I will show you one recipe that works for me. 

The Classic Hamburger Tin-foil Dinner

This recipe can yield 1 serve.


  • 1/3 to 1/2 lb hamburger
  • 4 – 5 whole cabbage leaves
  • 1 cup diced “HashBrown potatoes, (like Orieda Frozen Hash Browns)/Frozen hashbrowns do not have to be kept in your camp cooler
  • 1/2 cup each; frozen corn and peas
  • 1 whole carrot – sliced approx. 1/4″ thick
  • Montreal Steak seasoning, Salt & pepper – generous, but to taste
  • 1 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • Other vegetables can be added, ie. onions, sweet peppers, or green beans. Fresh is best, but frozen works fine.

How to make it

It’s super easy to make.

  • Start with a double layer of cabbage leaves, then the frozen and fresh veggies, followed with the hamburger, followed by the Montreal Steak Seasoning, salt & pepper, and butter. Then complete the package by topping with more cabbage leaves.
  • Place completed foil pack on mature coals, not in or over open flames, or still-flaming coals – the food will burn, for 25-30 minutes.


Seal foil packs with foil folds – not just “crunched” closed – to keep the juices sealed in.




Paddling session builds up an appetite really quickly and you often find yourself need to take a break to eat in order to refuel your bodies. Here are some great snack ideas to keep paddlers from abandoning your kayak when the hunger pains start to hit. Just grab a quick one, you will be good to go again.

  • Fruit and Vegetables
  • Dehydrated yogurt
  • Trail mix
  • Granola bars
  • Beef jerky

Actually, I think this list is pretty straightforward. I will just give you some brief info in case you don’t know what the items are.


Fruit and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are great foods to take on the river.  Apples, peaches, grapes, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and bananas, for instance, are great choices because they do not need to be kept cold on hot summer days. 

If the fruit or veggies happen to get wet there is no need to worry about having a soggy snack, since fruit and vegetables come in their own waterproof wrappers.

Dehydrated yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt is a high protein snack that will keep you full for hours. Pack it in a plastic bag in pieces. Once you are on your paddling trip, add water to the dehydrated yogurt in a bowl and mix. Keeping adding water gradually as needed. Top with anything you like.

Trail mix

It’s a product you can find it in Costco. It often consists of peanuts, cashews, almonds, raisins, and sometimes with chocolates. It’s convenient for paddlers to get a quick bite.

Granola bars

The granola bars provide paddlers with optimal nutrition and help us maintain our energy. You can easily find them on the supermarket shelves. There are thousands of energy bars and granola bars to choose from.

Beef jerky

I think you know it, one of the hottest snacks in America right now is beef jerky. It’a good choice between-meals snack, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. You also can find tons of options in the supermarket.




Taking a float trip is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors.  When it comes to the food to take on the river, it should be easy with no fuss involved.  After all, you are going to the river, not a restaurant. You should not have to worry too much about preparing an elaborate meal. Just relax and enjoy.

Hope you find this article helpful and interesting. If you find anything wrong or outdated, please kindly leave your comment below. I will update as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading. Happy Kayaking.



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4 years ago

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4 years ago

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Hannah Flack
4 years ago

Looks so good! Hmmm, I love ramen but this looks too involved for me. I’m too much of a health snob to eat packaged ramen though, although tempting – would rather save my fat for favorite treats. Thanks for helping me get hungry though! ????

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