Fireside Quesadillas

One of my favorite car camping, backpacking, and mountaineering meals is fireside quesadillas. This is usually good for the first night unless you’re in a cold enough area to keep food frozen or chilled (winter or high altitude climbing) or you have a cooler (car camping, canoeing, etc).

If you have a fire and a grill, you can cook these over the fire. Otherwise use a pan. Even a tiny backpacking frying pan does the trick, you just need to fold ’em to cook all parts.


  • One jar of chunky salsa
  • One package of frozen vegan chicken strips/tenders
  • One package of flour tortillas
  • One can of refried beans
  • One package of shredded Mexican cheese (for your non-vegan friends)

At Home Prep:

The night before hitting the trail, cut up the vegan chicken pieces into smaller bit size pieces and mix your jar of salsa into the bag. If the bag of faux chicken you got isn’t resealable, then use a freezer ziplock.

Mix everything up and put it in the freezer overnight in the form factor you can pack it in (i.e. flat, round, whatever)

Backcountry Prep:

Open up a tortilla, spread your spready beans (as we call refried beans) over one half of the tortilla, cover with the chicken/salsa mix, add cheese if it’s for a non-vegan friend, and fold the dry half over the wet half.

Preheat your frying pan over low to medium heat. We’ve done these in a frying pan over a jetboil stove, over a coleman two burner camping stove, and even at home on a regular oven top. You can use anything so long as it heats your frying pan to cook the tortilla well without burning it. If you’re grilling over a fire, make sure you’ve got the at the right temp for cooking and maybe lightly flame licking the tortillas.

If you’re using a frying pan that doesn’t fit the half tortilla, fold it in half (or thirds) and as one part cooks, flip/unfold around until all sides are cooked.

Once done, remove, let cool for a moment or two and then either eat whole if they’re folded, or slice into 3-4 wedges.

It’s awesome if a friend is helping and one of you can prep fresh quesadillas and cut recently cooked ones while the other handles the grilling/frying.

If you like things extra crispy, put some oil in your pan first and get the whole quesadilla covered in a thin layer of oil. They’ll crisp up to extra crunchy in no time!

Serve with tortilla chips and salsa for dipping. Add on sides of guacamole and sour cream if you like!

Ingredient Notes:

You can use real chicken if you’re going not vegan, no problem.

Trader Joes has awesome breaded faux chicken tenders. Gardein also makes some as do a number of other vegan friendly brands.

Flour tortillas work great. Corn ones will not work well. We like burrito size tortillas but get what you like.

Chunky salsa is great as it has veggies in it, flavors everything nicely, and gives the inside of the quesadilla a nice mouthfeel.

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