If you’re anything like me, you know the struggle of coming up with easy, satisfying meals that everyone will enjoy while camping. Over the years, I’ve tried countless camping meal ideas, but to be honest, I waited way too long to include rice in our meals. 😅
Why? Because I was worried about how to cook rice while camping, to be honest. I was afraid it would take too long or be too difficult to cook without burning.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
There are many different ways to cook rice while camping, but the easiest (and my personal favorite) is using instant rice. It isn’t always my first choice at home, but it wins for ease of use and cook time at camp.
But some meals just aren’t the same with instant rice, so occasionally I’ll choose another rice-cooking method.
Whether you prefer cooking over a campfire or using a camp stove, I’ve got you covered. In this article, I’ll share my tips and tricks for cooking rice while camping using different methods and types of rice. Plus, I’ll suggest some easy and tasty meal ideas featuring rice to make planning easier.
So let’s get cooking and learn how to make easy and delicious rice while on your next camping trip!
Methods for Cooking Rice while Camping
Cooking rice while camping can seem a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a newbie, there’s a cooking method out there that will work for you. For all these methods, you’ll need some kind of pot or pan with a lid, a heat source, rice, and water.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to cook rice while camping:
As I mentioned earlier, this is our favorite way to take rice camping because it’s so easy!
Instant rice is a lifesaver if you’re in a hurry or don’t want to fuss with cooking rice from scratch. This is the one we typically buy because it’s easy to find and cooks in a fraction of the time of long cook rice.
Simply add the rice and water to a pan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Voila! You have fluffy rice that’s ready to eat.
Just keep in mind that instant rice may not have the same texture or taste as regular rice.
Pre-cooking rice before you leave for your camping trip can save you time and effort at camp, but be sure to prep and store properly to prevent food poisoning. When you’re ready to eat, add a little water and fluff with a fork, then reheat the rice on a stove, campfire, or even in a rice cooker or Instant Pot (this is my favorite model for cooking rice).
Portable Camp Stove or Grill
One of the most popular methods for cooking rice while camping is on a portable camping stove or grill. I like this method because it’s probably already a part of your camping gear, which makes it super practical.
Whether you have a single burner or a two-burner stove, you can easily cook rice in a pot. Add 2 parts water and 1 part rice to your pot, bring to a boil, and add a pinch of salt, then reduce to a simmer on low heat and cook until the water is all absorbed.
If you opt for long-grain or short-grain rice, it will take about 15 minutes (brown rice will take about twice as long). Because of this, if you choose this method, it’s probably a good idea to opt for instant rice (unless you have a lot of fuel to burn 😅).
My personal favorite stoves are our JetBoil Genesis Basecamp or our Dometic indoor/outdoor stove in our camper because they come the closest to cooking on our stove at home. I can dial in my temperature control and cook more evenly on these two camp stoves than on any others I’ve tried.
Campfire (Directly Over the Coals)
Cooking rice over the open flame of a campfire is a classic and nostalgic method. However, it requires a bit more skill and patience. (More than I typically have. 😅)
If you choose this method, for best results, you’ll want to use a cast iron pot or a Dutch oven and keep a close eye on the heat. If it gets too hot, the bottom layer of rice can burn quickly. If needed, you can carefully remove the Dutch oven from the fire (it will retain heat for a while) and allow the fire to die down a bit before returning it to the coals.
Campfire (Hanging Pot Method)
In my opinion, the hanging pot method is a better way to cook rice over a campfire. Again, you’ll want a cast iron pan or pot, but you’re less likely to burn the bottom layer by putting some space between the fire and your pot.
However, you will still need to watch this one a bit to ensure it doesn’t get too hot. There is no temperature control when cooking over a fire, so keeping a close eye on your meal is essential.
Campfire (Grill Method)
Placing your pot on top of the campfire on a grill grate is another way to put a little space between the flames and the bottom of your pot. As with all campfire methods, you’ll have to keep an eye on the heat to prevent burning.
Rice Cooker or Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot)
If you prefer regular brown or white rice while camping, a rice cooker or pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot) is your best bet – if you have access to electricity or a generator. Just don’t forget to bring the right cords and adapters!
You can even power them with a portable power station like the Goal Zero Yeti. However, we suggest testing how much battery your cooker will drain before leaving home (or having solar panels so you can easily recharge).
A portable power station is helpful when camping or traveling to keep necessary (and not-so-necessary 😆) devices charged and ready to go. This model from Goal Zero can charge a variety of devices with it's multiple ports that include USB, USC, 12V, and standard outlet.
The kettle method is a simple and efficient way to cook minute rice (white) while camping. All you need to do is bring a kettle of water to a boil, add your rice, stir, and cover. Once the water is absorbed (about 5 minutes), fluff with a fork, and you’re done!
If you’re looking for a quick and flavorful way to cook rice, stir-frying is a great option for pre-cooked rice. You can cook the rice at home ahead of time or simply cook your rice in a pan at camp. Once finished, add your oil, eggs or meat protein, vegetables, and spices for a delicious one-pot meal.
Choosing the Best Rice for Camping
Next, it’s time to choose the right type of rice to bring along. Don’t worry. You won’t need a degree in nutrition to make the right choice. Here are some popular rice types to consider:
- White Rice: Cheap and readily available, white rice is the most common option for camping. It has a long shelf life but isn’t quite as healthy as brown rice since it’s stripped of its bran and germ, which contain most of the rice’s nutrients.
- Brown Rice: If you’re looking for a healthier option, brown rice is the way to go. With its bran and germ still intact, it provides more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than white rice. Keep in mind, though, it takes a bit longer to cook.
- Instant (Quick-cook) Rice: When time is of the essence, instant rice is your best bet. It’s the most convenient option since it cooks quickly and requires minimal preparation. It’s easy to find at the grocery store and uses less fuel than regular rice.
- Pre-cooked Packaged Rice: For the ultimate in quick and easy, pre-cooked packed rice (like this rice-quinoa blend) is a game changer. Though it is a bit more expensive than other types of rice, we often use these packets as a base with premade dal or canned beans and salsa for a fast and filling meal on our first night at camp.
My top choice for camping is instant brown rice. It’s a healthy, satisfying option that cooks quickly and will keep you full and energized throughout your outdoor adventure. Plus, it’s not as pricy as the fully cooked options.
Preparing Pre-Cooked Rice for Camping: Food Safety Tips
When it comes to pre-cooking rice for camping, preparation is vital! Properly preparing rice beforehand can save you time and hassle at the campsite (and, more importantly, keep you from getting sick). Here are a few key things to remember in regards to food safety and rice:
- Pre-cooking Rice: Pre-cooking rice can be a great way to save time and ensure that you have a tasty and nutritious meal waiting for you at the campsite. To pre-cook rice, simply follow the instructions on the package, then let it cool before storing it in an airtight container.
- Storing Rice: When storing pre-cooked rice, it’s essential to keep it cool (40°F or below) to avoid bacteria growth (like bacillus cereus). Pre-cooked rice should only be stored for approximately 3 days. I suggest cooking it the night before you leave, allowing it to cool a bit, then putting it in your fridge overnight in an airtight container. This will prevent the cooked rice from bringing up the temperature of everything else in your cooler. When you’re ready to head out, add the chilled rice to your cooler (with ice packs) or camp fridge to keep it cold and avoid bacteria growth until you’re ready to use it.
- Reheating Rice: It’s important to note that reheating rice can be a breeding ground for bacteria growth when it isn’t thoroughly heated. If you decide to reheat pre-cooked rice, it should be piping hot all the way through (internal temperature of 165°F) before consuming.
Easy Camping Meal Ideas with Rice
Rice is one of the most versatile foods, and learning how to cook rice while camping opens up a world of possibilities for easy, delicious meals. Here are a few simple yet tasty meal ideas to get you started:
- Stir-Fry: Heat oil in a skillet or wok and add your choice of protein (such as chicken, shrimp, or tofu) and vegetables (such as bell peppers, broccoli, and carrots). Once cooked, add cooked rice and season with soy sauce, ginger, and garlic.
- Sushi Rolls: Pre-cook sushi rice and roll with your favorite fillings, such as cucumber, avocado, and cooked shrimp or crab. Don’t forget to pack some wasabi and soy sauce for dipping.
- Veggie Fried Rice: Pre-cook the rice at home and store it in a sealed container in the cooler. On-site, heat some oil in a skillet, add chopped vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, carrots, and snap peas, and then add the rice and soy sauce. You can also add some eggs! It’s a simple yet satisfying meal that can be customized to your liking.
- Burrito Bowls: My personal favorite is a bean and rice burrito bowl. It’s easy, filling, and nutritious. But, honestly, the best part of this meal is that everyone (even my picky eater) loves it! I cook rice and black beans on a portable stove or grill and add toppings such as avocado, cheese, salsa, jalapenos, and cilantro. You can also include grilled chicken, tofu, or beef for added protein.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cooking Rice at Camp
Is Rice Good for Camping?
Absolutely! Rice is a fantastic option for camping as it provides energy, is versatile and easy to prepare, and can be paired with a variety of ingredients for a delicious meal. Don’t let any misconceptions about rice being a boring or inconvenient camping food stop you from trying it on your next camping trip!
How much rice should I bring camping per person?
When planning how much rice to bring, aim for 1/2 to 3/4 cups of uncooked rice per person, depending on appetite and activity level. Be sure to account for any additional ingredients you plan to add, such as veggies or protein.
What is the best rice to cook at camp?
Instant brown rice is my top choice because it cooks quickly and is nutritious. Plus, if you’re cooking on a camp stove, it takes less fuel because of the reduced cooking time. It also doesn’t need as much water (since it’s partially cooked already), which is especially important at sites where you bring (or filter) your own water.
What is the best pre-cooked rice?
While there are many options for pre-cooked rice, we recommend Seeds of Change Organic Quinoa & Brown Rice with Garlic. It’s easy to prepare and delicious. (Give me all the garlic!) Plus, it’s a great energy source for your outdoor adventures and packs an extra punch of protein with the addition of quinoa (it has 7 grams of protein per pouch).
What is the best camp stove for cooking rice?
The best camp stove for cooking rice is one that is reliable and efficient, can maintain a consistent temperature, and heats evenly. My favorite is the JetBoil Genesis Basecamp System, which has a built-in regulator for more precise temperature control. We’ve had it for years and love how its compact size makes it easy to pack and transport – perfect for camping! (Though it is too heavy for backpacking. For backpacking, I prefer the JetBoil Sumo.)
Final Thoughts on Cooking Rice at Camp
Rice just might be the unsung hero of camping food. It’s affordable, versatile, and easy to cook. Whether you prefer white, brown, or instant, rice can be a healthy and filling addition to any camping meal. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and try new recipes with rice on your next camping trip!
Get creative with your rice dishes and bring your favorite spices, vegetables, and proteins to camp. Stir-fries, burrito bowls, sushi rolls, and risotto can all be made with rice and are sure to satisfy your taste buds. The only limit is your imagination!
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