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Mountain House Kung Pao Chicken Review

Aaron Zagrodnick



When it comes to pre-made backpacking meals, manufacturers understandably often seem to be trying to come up with meals that are compatible with as many palates as possible. Right away, this typically leaves meals that should be spicy toned down and even perhaps, bland. Luckily, by packing a small bottle of hot sauce or hot sauce packets and / or bringing some spices, this can typically be easily remedied. That said, as someone who has never called a meal too spicy, having a meal check off this box right out of the gate can be nice, for the sake of convenience if nothing else.

Mountain House Kung Pao Chicken Review

This option from Mountain House offers up 580 calories and 32 grams of protein.

Making the Meal and Impressions

New for 2024 Mountain House has released a meal I was hoping might be of interest to spicy food fans including myself – their Kung Pao Chicken. The meal is composed of basmati rice, chicken, vegetables including peppers and zucchini, as well as spices and a sauce complete with oyster extractives. The meal is marketed as a 2 serving option that contains 580 calories in total with 32 grams of protein and is gluten free.

Mountain House Kung Pao Chicken Ingredients

After adding 1.5 cups of boiling water, the meal is ready after 15 minutes of rehydration time with a stir at about the halfway mark. From the start, I was impressed with the sizable chunks of chicken Mountain House included in this meal – some other recent freeze-dried meals I’ve tried have had me doubting the meat listed on the ingredients was even included at all. As I’d hoped for, the spices level is a bit up there – nothing too extreme but it’s high enough where this meal is likely tolerable by most, but it could be more spicy than some would prefer. Myself, I wouldn’t mind adding even more spice, but that’s why I often carry habanero powder on backpacking trips.

Kung Pao Chicken from Mountain House Before Rehydration

Spice and heat level aside the meal tastes pretty good, but while the chicken is noticeable as previously mentioned, I do wish both the chicken and vegetables were included in a greater quantity, as the meal comes across as mostly rice and sauce based. Speaking of the sauce, despite the oyster component I didn’t pick up on any particularly overboard seafood type of smells from the meal but would still store the used bag in an OPSak bag inside my Ursack Major along with other trash on trips. Although I typically shy away from rice-based freeze-dried meals where the rice is the main ingredient, on this meal the basmati rice used is larger and more toothsome than average.

Kung Pao Chicken from Mountain House

The meal rehydrates well and results in a solid backcountry dining option.


Overall the Mountain House Kung Pao Chicken meal is a solid option for those who like spicy food, but I do feel that the meal could use more chicken and vegetables, as well as more flavor in the spice department and potentially some more heat as well. That said, if you’re willing to bring along a few add-ons in your food bag many of these wish-list items can be taken care of quickly out on the trail.

The Mountain House Kung Pao Chicken meal retails for $11.50. You can find it here at REI.com and search all of REI’s backpacking meals at this link (save 10% on 8 or more).



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