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Black Bean Burritos for Backpacking, Boating, and Bivouacking

posted in: Camp Cooking
There's lots of diversity in my menu planning and kitchen set-up, depending on how I'm traveling.
There’s lots of diversity in my menu planning and kitchen set-up. I adapt them as needed based on weather, mode of travel, and length of trip.

Black bean burritos are a staple for camp cooking. No matter how I’m traveling, whether wandering out on the land or threading along waterways, I usually have some form of black bean burrito recipe on the trip menu. Quite simply, black bean burritos are the best. I have several renditions that I make: from ultralight with long-lasting ingredients for backpacking to super deluxe with fresh ingredients for whitewater rafting to somewhere in-between for other modes of travel.

Today, Campfire Kam @CampfireChic posted a tweet on Twitter that got me craving burritos, so here goes:


If I was to conduct a job interview, I would ask people to describe their perfect burrito. #cubiclelife


Black Bean Burritos

A Basic Recipe and Some Ideas for Adapting It

This is a basic recipe for backpacking. It is easy to adapt based on your preferences (e.g., ultralight vs extra flavour), travel considerations (e.g., mode of travel, length of trip), and other conditions (e.g., outside temperatures, other possibilities for keeping perishable food items cool). If you are traveling with a cooler, or outdoor temperatures provide you with refrigeration, you can replace some dehydrated ingredients with fresh and add a few more:

  • Use fresh vegetables and salsa instead of dehydrated
  • Use softer cheeses, such as cheddar and Monterey Jack, instead of longer lasting hard cheeses, such as Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Add fresh uncooked ingredients, such as guacamole, cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, to filling. Depending on how you are travelling, these might not last long but you might be able to use them earlier in a trip.
  • Add fresh uncooked red or green cabbage and carrots (grated), for filling. These last much longer so they could be used later in a trip.

Regardless of how I make black bean burritos, I find that they’re a delightful treat at the end of the day. Sometimes, I even plan it so that I have leftovers for lunch the next day.


Serves 3 – 4

Makes 8 small black bean burritos. Add a rice dish and you’ll have a hearty dinner for three or four.

Dehydrated black bean flakes.
I use Tasty Adventure Instant Black Refried Beans.


Store Bought Prepared Food

8 small flour or corn tortillas (approximately 7 1/2”). Alternatively, you can make your own tortillas.

2 cups instant black bean flakes, prepared according to instructions

4 Tbsp bacon bits

4 sun-dried tomato halves, finely chopped

Dehydrated Vegetables

1 red pepper, small dice

1 green pepper, small dice

1 medium onion, small dice

1/2 cup frozen corn

1/2 cup salsa

Black bean burritos
Black bean burritos and sunshine. Yum! Here, I used garlic scapes instead of onion because they were in season. They last longer than green onions.
Fresh Vegetables

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 small onion (Alternative: 1 or 2 shallots)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil


1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste


1/2 – 3/4 cup Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano

3 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped (substitute with shallots or another favourite onion)


2 litre pot

1 1/2 litre pot

1 small frying pan or Dutch oven for baking over a wood fire.


Fry tortillas in a frying pan.
Brown tortillas shells in a frying pan and then fill them with the black bean mixture and other fillings.


In larger pot, sauté garlic and onions until translucent. Add sun-dried tomatoes and bacon bits and saute until tomatoes are slightly browned. Add dehydrated vegetables. Add enough water to just cover them. Simmer vegetables until well rehydrated, adding water as needed. In smaller pot, boil enough water to rehydrate black bean flakes, as per instructions. Add black bean flakes, finishing as per instructions. Then add to vegetables to black beans and mix together.

Prepare tortillas by frying them dry or in a bit of vegetable until slightly browned. Put a dollop of black beans in the middle of a tortilla, add a bit of cheese and onions, and then wrap.




Serve With

Serve with Mexican style rice or something else that suites the occasion. I often take Zatarain’s New Orleans Style Rice, one of the few prepared rice mixes that I’ve found that I enjoy. I also liked another brand that was sold in most of the stores that we got to in Southeast Alaska but I forget the name. If you know what I’m talking about leave me a comment and I’ll update this post.


Bake in the Dutch oven
Another way to prepare black bean burritos is to bake them in a Dutch oven. Top them with cheese, onion, and sun dried tomatoes (instead of wrapping these inside). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.



Some More Quick Tips

  • Finding Ingredients: Look for real not artificial bacon bits. I can buy Taste Adventure Instant Black Refried Beans at our local health food store. If you can’t find dehydrated black bean flakes, substitute with canned black beans that you dehydrate yourself. You will need to cook them longer and mash them.
  • Dehydrating Vegetables: Do this according to instructions that come with the dehydrator.
  • Maximizing Flavour: I travel with some fresh garlic and onion, even a little bit makes food taste much better.
  • Vacuum Packing: I vacuum pack dehydrated vegetables if I’m preparing for long trips; or if I’m preparing for a potentially wet trip, for longer storage, to make food items easy to find, or to save space. I have an older model of FoodSaver vacuum sealer that I’ve been using since 2006. I wrap items that harden when dehydrated in freezer paper to keep pointy edges from poking holes in the bag. I’ll be writing more about food preparation and packing.
  • Saving fuel: add boiling water to rehydrating vegetables and then let them sit in the pot with the lid on for a 1/2 hour.
  • Saving fuel: Try cooking rice, pasta, and grains for a bit more than half the amount of time specified. Then take the pot off the stove (keep lid on) and let it sit for the remaining time. You might need to reheat to finish cooking or adjust the time (on stove versus off stove) to figure out what works best for the rice, pasta, or grain you are cooking and the conditions (e.g., outside temperature, elevation).
  • Saving fuel: Have a look at the MEC Hot Pot Cookware Insulator. I don’t have one but I’m tempted to buy one. Leave me a comment if you’ve put it to the test.
  • Saving dishes: boil the amount of water needed for black bean flakes in the pot that vegetables have been rehydrated in (make sure they are completely hydrated), add the black beans, and then let it sit for the required amount of time with the lid on. You’ll need to estimate water remaining in vegetables and adjust the amount accordingly.


Come back soon. I have lots more ideas for recipe related posts and posts about food preparation, storage, and cooking for the backcountry. In the meantime, send me your questions and comments. Happy adventuring and cooking out there!


2 Responses

  1. Andrea

    Love your blog, Deb. BBB are my favorite trip meal too, but mine are woefully simplistic and boring compared to yours. At home – cooked black beans, cooked yam and salsa mixed together and dried. In camp – rehydrated mix slapped on wraps with cheese (lots), wrapped up and toasted in a pan or on the grill. Great cold the next day too. Brings back some good memories…Andrea

  2. Deb Wellwood

    Thanks! And thanks for adding these great points, Andrea. BBB are meant to be diverse. Haven’t tried yams yet but will do so. They dehydrate wonderfully and are a staple for me in Indian-type curries.