9 Easy Ways To Cook Rice While Camping

how to cook camping rice

Rice is nutritious, packs well, easy to make, and extremely versatile. Making a large bowl of rice with will provide enough calories for an entire meal. You’d probably want to throw in something to make it interesting, but rice is one of my favorite camping foods. So how do you cook and prepare rice for camping?

Cooking camping rice is fairly straightforward. It can be cooked on almost any heat source and all you need is a pot and water. Instant rice is easier since it’s precooked (no cooking time), but you can make regular rice as well. Heat up a pot of boiling water, pour in your rice, instant rice is done immediately (regular rice takes 17 minutes) and fluff it with a fork.

At that point you will probably want to throw something in your rice to improve the taste. I usually throw in some cheese or Mexican/Asian inspired flavoring since it’s easy.

Rice is the ultimate camping and backpacking food. It basically lasts forever in your pack and can be used in a wide variety of dishes. You can use this simple staple in Mexican, Asian, Indian, and American Cuisines (among many others).

I Recommend Instant Rice For Camping

As the name implies, instant rice is precooked so it doesn’t need to be cooked on a camping trip. You still need to heat up a cup of water to a boil, but the rice is done instantly after dropping it in the water.

It’s so much easier to cook instant rice than regular bags of rice when you’re camping. Regular rice needs more water (2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice) and should be cooked for 17 minutes, which will go through a lot of fuel. It’s so much easier to cook instant rice while camping.

How Do You Make Rice On A Camping Trip?

How to make rice on a camping trip

Let’s face a simple fact: most campers and backpackers aren’t culinary artists. Most people stick to a handful of easy staples that provide high calories at a reasonable pack weight. I can cook a decent meal at home, but the thought of cooking gourmet food on a camping trip is above my skill level.

That’s why rice is the perfect food for backpacking and camping. It’s extremely versatile, nutritious, affordable, and easy to pack. The only downside to cooking rice is that plain white rice is somewhat bland, but there are ways to take camping rice to the next level (I explain Mix-Ins below).

9 Easy Ways To Cook Rice While Camping

Rice is a fairly straightforward meal to prepare, but you will need to find some kind of heat source. The way you choose will depend on two things. Whether or not you have electricity and if you’re using instant pre-cooked rice or regular uncooked rice.

You need to have a consistent low temperature flame when cooking uncooked rice from scratch. That’s rarely possible when cooking over or a campfire. So you’re limited to cooking with a camping stove, grill or some type of electric appliance if you aren’t using instant rice.

9 Ways To Cook Camping Rice

  1. On A Camping Stove
  2. Over A Campfire
  3. In The Campfire Coals
  4. On The Grill
  5. Rice Cooker
  6. Electric Pot
  7. In a Rice Cooker
  8. Kettle
  9. Stir-Fried

Don’t Pre-Cook The Rice Without A Cooler! Precooked rice needs to be either dehydrated or kept cool. Instant rice is a much easier option since it’s already precooked.

Easy Things To Mix In With Rice While Camping or Backpacking

what to mix in with rice while camping

I recommend bringing along your favorite spices and/or cheese to mix in with the rice. I may also throw in some cured meats like bacon or pepperoni, powdered eggs, and hot sauce (I like Siracha) if I’m making a boring cheesy rice dish.

Normally I will go back and forth between Asian and Mexican style rice dishes. You can buy spice packets in a wide variety of Asian flavors: Teriyaki, General Tso, Stir-Fry, Honey Sesame, Sweet & Sour, etc. Sun-Bird Seasoning sells like 20 different types of seasoning packets, but they’re far more expensive online (Go to Walmart).

Just cook your rice and throw in the rice packet and you usually need to add a little bit of water. From there you may want to add a packet or two of Soy Sauce and hot sauce. You can also add powdered eggs as well to get some protein in.

You may also want to bring some beans, but they’re kind of a pain since they need to be dehydrated. Canned beans are far too heavy to go in your pack, but dehydrated beans will be much heavier. I’ve never found them in the grocery store, but you can get them online (dehydrated black beans).

How To Cook Instant Rice While Camping

It’s almost impossible to screw up instant rice. You just need to know how to boil a pot of water.

  1. Start by bringing 1 cup of water to a boil (makes 1 cup of rice).
  2. Add in 1 cup of instant rice once the water is boiling.
  3. Fluff the rice with a fork, and serve!

How To Cook Regular Rice While Camping

Rice is a great camping food because it’s lightweight, filling, and easy to cook. Here’s how to make perfect rice on your next camping trip:

  1. Start by bringing 2 cups of water (for 1 cup of rice) to a boil in your pot.
  2. Add 1 cup of rice and stir.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Turn off the heat and let the pot sit for 5 minutes. This will help the rice absorb all the water.
  5. Fluff the rice with a fork, and serve!

9 Different Ways To Cook Rice While Camping

Rice is one of the most versatile foods with a wide variety of cooking methods. Unfortunately, some cooking methods are better than others depending on the type of rice you’re cooking with.

You can use almost any cooking method with precooked instant rice, but you’re limited with regular uncooked rice. With regular uncooked rice, you need to have complete control of the temperature. That isn’t possible with a campfire or charcoal grill (need instant rice).

It’s Hard To Cook Uncooked Rice On A Campfire (Go With Instant)

Cooking regular uncooked rice over a campfire can be a challenge. Rice needs to be cooked at a low temperature, and it’s hard to control low heat with coals. It can easily ruin your pot if you’re cooking at too high of a temperature.

I recommend using instant rice if you plan on cooking over a campfire. It’s precooked, so you don’t have to go through the 17 minute cooking process. Just boil a cup of water, toss in 1 cup of instant rice, fluff with a fork, and it’s ready to serve.

1) Camping Stoves Are Like Regular Stoves- Instant Rice or Uncooked Rice

camping stove rice

Camping stoves are by far my favorite cooking method. They’re safe, quick and easy to use. Camping stoves work just like your oven at home. With complete control of the cooking temperature, it can cook almost anything including instant and uncooked rice.

Easily make delicious meals on your next camping or backpacking trip. There are two main ways to prepare rice with a camping stove: standard pot or steam kettle (instant rice). The type of stove or fuel source you use doesn’t matter. Obviously, a much larger pot/stove will need to be used if you’re cooking with a large family.

Just buy a portable one or two burner camping stove if you’re camping near your car. Coleman Double Burner Stoves are by far the most popular since they’re well made and relatively cheap. I prefer their propane stove since I already have full-sized propane tanks (you need an adapter), but liquid fuel stoves (white gas) work just as well.

Check out my post that explains how to connect a camp stove to 20lb tanks

There will be a few differences depending on the type of rice you’re using. Instant rice is easy! All it takes is hot water to cook instant rice. Most people use a standard pot since they’re carrying it for other meals, but you can also use a steam kettle (I explain more below).

Set the kettle on the stove with 1 cup of water (for 1 cup rice), wait until it’s hot, pour it in a bowl, add instant rice, and fluff with a fork. Follow the traditional cooking method that I explained above for uncooked regular rice.

2) Use A Tripod To Cook Rice Over A Campfire- Instant Rice Only

campfire pot with rice

Cooking regular uncooked rice over a campfire can be a challenge. Rice needs to be cooked at a low temperature, and it’s hard to control low heat with coals. It can easily ruin your pot if you’re cooking at too high of a temperature.

I recommend using instant rice if you plan on cooking over a campfire. It’s precooked, so you don’t have to go through the 17 minute cooking process. Just boil a cup of water, toss in 1 cup of instant rice, fluff with a fork, and it’s ready to serve.

Cooking rice over the campfire is fairly straightforward. You need to find a way to hang a pot or kettle above the fire to boil water. There’s no control over the campfire temperature, so it’s hard to cook uncooked rice over a campfire. You would need to keep the coals burning at a low temperature to avoid burning the pot.

That’s why I would only use instant rice over a campfire. It’s really easy to boil water over a fire since it can be done at any temperature. You probably don’t want flames scorching the pot, but there’s no way to screw up the boil.

There are many ways to accomplish this, but I recommend using a campfire tripod. Most campfire tripods include a hanging grill grate to use with normal pots/pans, but you can also purchase a hanging cast iron pot or hanging steam kettle (instant rice).

3) In The Campfire With A Cast Iron Pot- Instant Rice Only

cooking rice in the campfire

Once again, this method works best with instant rice, but it can be done with regular uncooked rice. You would need to lower the campfire temperature, raise the pot up higher, and stir continuously to avoid burning.

All you need is a large cast iron pot to set in the campfire. I usually set the pot off to the side in the coals, but you can center it on the wood (much hotter). Just be careful, because it can be hard to pull a cast iron pot out of a fire without spilling.

You’re not limited to cooking rice with this method. Figure out how to control the temperature and you can cook almost anything. I regularly cook massive pots of soup and chili for my family throughout the year.

4) Cooking Rice On A Grill- Instant Rice or Uncooked Rice

cooking rice on the grill

Lots of people use charcoal and propane grills to cook rice. Most campgrounds include a charcoal grill on the site so it’s easy to toss on a pot of water, when you’re cooking meats and vegetables. Propane will be much easier since you can easily change the temperature.

You can cook instant rice anywhere, but uncooked rice can be a challenge on a charcoal grill. It depends on if there’s a way to move the grill grate to reduce the temperature. Light the coals and raise the grate so you can cook rice at a lower temperature.

Cast iron pots work best on a grill since there’s no risk of damaging the pot. It will take a long way to heat up the pot, but there won’t be as much time cleaning the pot afterwards.

5) Heat Water With A Campfire Kettle- Instant Rice Only

Make Instant rice with a water kettle

A kettle is by far the easiest way to heat up water for instant rice. I have a small aluminum campfire kettle that I’m constantly using for rice. It can be used on almost any heat source and there’s a low risk of spilling the water.

There are so many different ways you can use a kettle. I usually set mine on the grill, camping stove, or use a small grate in the campfire, but any heat source will work. Cast iron kettles can go directly in the campfire if you prefer that method.

Just heat up the water until it boils, add instant rice, and fluff it up. Throw in whatever seasoning you’d like to use and you have a bowl of rice. The entire process takes less than 5 minutes.

6) Stir-Fried In A Pan- Prepare Rice Before The Trip

Stir-Fried Rice

I’ve never met a person that doesn’t like stir-fried meals. Stir-fried dinners can be prepared in a wide variety of ways. Use a cast iron pan in the campfire, grill, camping stove, or any other heat source. Prepare the stir-fried rice like you would just like you would do at home.

The only difference is you need to prepare the rice ahead of time. You can either do that with one of the other methods on this list or make a small batch of rice at home. Make sure you keep pre-prepared rice cool to reduce the risk of bacteria.

7) Electric Cooktop- Instant Rice or Uncooked Rice

Electric cooktop

There’s a world of options available when your campsite has electricity or you bring a generator along. Using an electric cooktop works just like the electric stove in your kitchen. When looking for a campground choose either a Class A/AA/AAA campsite.

Check out my post explaining the difference between Class A, Class AA, Class AAA, and Class B campsites.

They can be used with regular pots/pans and you can cook almost anything with an electric cooktop. Prepare the rice just like you usually do at home. Throw in seasoning, vegetables, meats, eggs, or whatever else you like.

8) Rice Cooker- Uncooked Rice

Rice cooker

I instantly fell in love with my rice cooker when I first bought it. It’s ridiculously easy to use a rice cooker if you have access to electricity. They usually have water/rice fill lines on the side of rice cookers to make cooking rice easy.

Using a rice cooker shouldn’t take longer than 20-30 minutes. You don’t even need to pay attention while you’re using it. Turn it on, let it run for a while, and they automatically lower the heat to a warming temperature when they’re done.

9) Electric Pots and Other Appliances

electric pot

If you have a access to electric, there are so many electrical appliances you can use to cook rice. I really like electric pots for instant rice and rice cookers for uncooked rice, but any type of electric appliance will work. Electricity heats up water fast so these are extremely efficient ways to cook rice.


Why Bring Rice Camping?

There are so many different reasons why rice is a popular camping food. Rice is highly nutritious, carb packed, long shelf life, easy to prepare, versatile, and it’s fast to cook (instant rice).

  • Nutritious Calorie Dense Food: Very few foods beat rice when it comes to calorie density for the price.
  • Packed With Carbs: Our body uses carbs for fuel, so the fact that rice is packed with carbs will increase your energy while camping.
  • Easy to Prepare: It’s hard to cook uncooked rice with unreliable temperatures, but instant rice is so easy to prepare. If you can boil water, you can make instant rice in minutes.
  • Long Shelf Life and Highly Packable: If you keep rice dry it will last for 25 years and it’s ridiculously easy to pack.
  • Versatile: There are so many different styles of rice you can make and it pairs well with almost any kind of meal.
  • Fast To Cook: Cooking instant rice is so simple and fast to cook. You have a fully cooked meal in less than 5 minutes.