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How to Dehydrate Spanish Rice for Backpacking Meals

How to Dehydrate Spanish Rice for Backpacking Meals

Looking to expand your backcountry food options? Tired of the same few flavors?  Check out how to dehydrate Spanish Rice so you’ll eat well backpacking!

Once you start dehydrating your own backpacking meals, you’ll need a good staple rice with lots of flavor.  That’s where Spanish Rice comes in! 

Dehydrated Spanish Rice has a great flavor that makes everything taste good.  It’s just like those black pants you have in your closet…it goes with just about everything!

My partner and I love to dehydrate Spanish Rice and add it to our two-person backpacking meals that we eat on our thru-hikes.  It adds just enough flavor that it really rounds out every meal we add it to, and we’re always stoked to eat it.

Come with me as I’ll bring you into our kitchen and show you how to dehydrate Spanish Rice, step by step.

The Basics to Dehydrate Spanish Rice

A thru-hiking couple in sitting in their bug net with backpacks and sleeping quilts in the foreground.

If you’re looking to add a lot of flavor to your backpacking dinners with only a little effort, you should dehydrate Spanish Rice!

Dehydrating rice is super simple and easy to do.  Making that into Spanish Rice only takes a minimal amount of extra effort but reaps huge rewards.

Imagine yourself sitting down by your tent after a long day of backpacking…then realizing you have a quick, easy, and nutritious dinner awaiting you.  Let your mind sink into this and put in the effort before you head out!

Dehydration Setup

You will need a few key items to start your dehydration journey.  Most items you probably already have in your kitchen!

You’ll need:

  • A large cooking pot
  • Stirring and spreading spoon
  • Dehydrator*
  • Non-stick drying sheets**
  • Vacuum sealer
  • Pint, quart, or gallon-sized vacuum seal bags (depending on how fast you’ll need them)

*If you don’t already have a dehydrator, I recommend getting one with at least 5 trays.  This will really help you ramp up production for a thru-hike’s amount of food. 

**The non-stick drying sheets for your dehydrator trays are VITAL here.  Without them, enough of the rice will fall through your dehydrator trays and become a problem.

Spanish Rice Ingredients List

The ingredients needed to dehydrate Spanish Rice laid flat.

Gather up a few ingredients to dehydrate Spanish Rice ahead of time to make your life easier.  Luckily, there’s not too many!

Making this much Spanish Rice will be the correct amount to spread onto 5 dehydrator trays evenly spaced. 

Remember: best to use the whole dehydrator if you can for bulk food production efficiency!

  • 3 cups rice (I use Basmati or Jasmine)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (can have seasonings in it if you’d like)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • Seasoned salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • Vegetable Bouillon

I honestly never measure the spices out.  I heap them in and taste the flavor as I go.  Just go easy on the seasoned salt here because almost every vegetable bouillon has a hefty amount of salt.

Step-by-Step Instructions to Dehydrate Spanish Rice

Onto the main recipe! Here are step-by-step directions so you can dehydrate your own Spanish Rice.

Luckily, this one doesn’t take up too much time.

Step 1: Cut and Sauté the Onions

Main ingredients sans spices for Spanish Rice
Gather, Prep, Sauté

Dice up your yellow onion nice and small.  Give them a quick sauté so the onions become nice and translucent, but still hold a crunch.  You can sauté them with any of the spices mentioned above if you’d like as well.

Lastly, if you opted for fresh tomatoes instead of a can, do the same for the tomatoes.

Step 2: Cook Rice

Spices in a line to dehydrate Spanish Rice with great flavor.

This is the fun part: add everything together!  Start by adding 3 cups of rice to your pot with 6 cups of water.  Then, add your can of tomatoes, your diced onions, a good-sized spoonful of vegetable bouillon (I use Better than Bouillon or Sprouts bouillon cubes), and all your spices. 

If you’re unsure about spice amounts, go easy on it…you can always taste it later and add more.  You can’t take it out, but adding is easy.

Cover that and bring it to a boil.

As soon as it boils, vent the pot, and bring it down to a slow simmer.  This usually needs about 18-22 minutes of simmering. 

When the water has evaporated, take it off the heat and stir it up. 

Your 3 cups of uncooked rice has magically transformed into 9 cups of cooked rice!

Give it a taste here and add extra seasonings as needed.  At this point, it should be Spanish Rice like what you’d plate up for dinner.

Step 3: Let Spanish Rice Cool Some

Cooked Spanish Rice in a pot cooling.
Cooked and Cooling Spanish Rice

I like to let the Spanish Rice cool a bit before putting it onto the trays. 

You can start straight away, but if you need your fingers to spread it out…it’s nice if it’s not super hot.

I usually just leave it uncovered and wait a bit.

Step 4: Spread the Spanish Rice onto the Non-Stick Dehydrator Trays

When you're ready to dehydrate Spanish Rice, spread it out evenly over your dehydrator trays.
2/5 Trays with Spanish Rice Spread Out

Spread your cooked Spanish Rice onto your non-stick dehydrator trays. 

To dehydrate Spanish Rice properly, you’ll want to put an even amount on each tray.

Make sure to spread that even amount up to cover the whole tray.  Break up any larger clumps to make it as uniform as possible.

Step 5: Dehydrate! (*Don’t forget to Break Up & Rotate Halfway Through)

Breaking up clumps of dehydrating Spanish Rice halfway through the dehydration process.
Break up the Clumps Halfway Through!

Now for the fun part! Now you’ll dehydrate Spanish Rice for 5-7 Hours at 130 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Definitely start with 5 total hours and increase as needed after that. 

Remember you need to pause roughly halfway through (*about hour 3*) to rotate each tray 180 degrees and change their vertical position in the dehydrator!

As you rotate the trays, break up any larger clumps again to allow the air to get into all the pockets.  We try very hard to make it uniform, to begin with, but we always end up breaking a bit more up here.

You’ll know if it’s done if it feels hard in your hands.  If you break apart a small clump and it’s still mushy…it’s not done.

Depending on how you moved your trays around or distributed the rice, some trays might finish before others…that’s ok.  Just pull those finished trays out and reset your timer for the others.

Step 6: Let Spanish Rice Cool to Room Temperature

You’ll want your dehydrated Spanish Rice to cool to room temperature before you repackage it. 

How you repackage it depends on when you’re going to use it. 

I dehydrate Spanish Rice and put all 5 trays worth into a gallon Ziplock bag.  After it’s closed I double it up.  This is great if you want to use it within a month or two.

Personally, we like to make 2-person backpacking meals in bulk.  This gallon Ziplock method works well as we re-portion items like dehydrated Spanish Rice for backpacking meals.

If you don’t plan on making it into meals for more than two months, I recommend vacuum sealing it right away.    

Step 7: Vacuum Seal for Later Meal Distribution

Whether you’re vacuum sealing right away or later, this is the best method for longevity. 

If you dehydrate Spanish Rice and vacuum seal it, it could easily last a year.  I’ve definitely eaten it at the year-and-a-half mark, but I don’t recommend going much beyond that.

Adding Spanish Rice to Dehydrated Backpacking Meals

Dehydrated Spanish Rice in a 2-person backpacking meal.
One Option of a Dehydrated Spanish Rice Meal

The beauty of dehydrating Spanish Rice is that it has a delicious flavor that goes well with most other flavors!

Spanish Rice makes a fantastic base on which you can build an epic backpacking meal.

Above is one delicious way to use your dehydrated Spanish Rice is to pair it with (dehydrated) black bean enchilada bark, (dehydrated) creamed corn, and (dehydrated) bell peppers!

✨ PRO TIP: I write what the meal is on a paper towel. This goes inside the vacuum-sealed meal. First, this tells me what I’m eating. Second, we use it to clean the pot afterward! Double yes! 🙌

Also, I particularly like to pair it with dehydrated Beyond Beef and vegetables. 

Lastly, it goes fantastically with any dehydrated beans and vegetables.  I’ve also paired it successfully with the “chicken” and “bacon” bits (textured vegetable protein or TVP) from Harmony House Foods.

If you want to create a lot of combinations, you should definitely dehydrate Spanish Rice!

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking to get into the dehydration game or you’re looking for new ideas, dehydrate some Spanish Rice!

It’s one of our staples because of its solidly great taste that enhances other flavors.

Plus, it’s relatively easy in the grand scheme of things!

Let me know what you pair your Spanish Rice with for backpacking meals in the comments!


Wednesday 24th of April 2024

Okay, when we get a home I am definitely getting a dehyrdrator! That meal looks so delicious. I would love to enjoy spanish rice on the trails!


Wednesday 24th of April 2024

@Lita, Yay! Thanks for reading it! We store ours at my Mom’s house since it would take waaaaay too much power in our van. We like to mix the Spanish Rice with beans and veggies to make it a complete protein. It’s great every time on trail!