How To Playa

Cooking at Burning Man


Some quick notes on stuff you should really bring to BM


Be sure to bring enough to hand out to your new Burner friends. But make sure that you don’t drink too much, alcohol and desert heat don’t mix well. Also, I personally try to stay away from drinking too much alcohol at the event. Booze numbs me in a way than other substances do not. Stay present.

Again, booze is good, usually better cold so don’t forget your cooler(s) and ice. If you bring beers, it’s better to bring cans.

If you want to booze up, some recommendations:

Bring your own cup.

You’ll need it to get booze from the camps. There will be endless camps with bars that provide drinks but basically none of them will have available cups or glasses for you.


I love IPAs and darker ales, but they do not work as well in the deep playa heat. Lighter/white beers work best. Trust me on this.

Also, for the love of your favorite deity. Do not bring bottles , bring your beer in cans so they can be recycled (off playa on at the playa directly, look for the aluminum recycle camp at the esplanade)


Nothing better than margaritas at the playa. Seriously.


Bring a small flask to carry with you. This is the one I use.



If you get dehydrated (and you probably will) replentish your electrolytes by pouring a pack of Pedialyte into your water.


An ice cold Gatorade makes for the perfect gift to give to fellow Burners. I do not bring already made gatorade in plastic bottles since they are MOOP, but bring my own ready to mix one and pour a little every day on my camelback.

Water Melon or Coconut Water

Juicy and refreshing, you’ll have to eat it on the first or second day because the heat will ruin it.

Snacks :

Peanut Butter

The perfect all-around snack.

Snack Bars

Dried Fruit

Gums & mints

Rice (particularly pre-cooked)

I bring tons of already cooked instant rice. Easy to warm up over the car on the sun and ready to eat whenever.

Jerky (or even better: Biltong!)

Biltong is a form of dried, cured meat that originated in Southern African countries (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia). … It is related to beef jerky in that they are both spiced, dried meats; however, the typical ingredients, taste and production processes may differ.

It’s soooo good on the playa. Get it and you’ll thank me later.

Preparing Off-Playa: The easy method

Vacuum sealed pre-prepared food, frozen.

This is an old time burner hack. Get a vacuum sealer, cook anything you want (Indian Food works really well) and freeze it for about 10 days to a week before the event so it’s rock-solid.

Bring it to Burning Man in a decent cooler, get it out hours before eating and put it on top of your car for easy defreeze. Eat directly from the pouch or pour it over a plate. Done. Delicious.

This is the one I have been using for years, it works like a charm:

    asin B0044XDA3S is not in db

Recipes for cooking at Burning Man

Some notes on cooking at Burning Man

This video is a 10+ year old (from ‘07) class from Google’s exchef (which also was The Greatful Dead’s personal chef on their tours) with some simple advice on cooking at burning man for Google employees.

([Some easy to make ‘just add water’ meals]


The Spanish staple food that scales. It takes basically the same effort to feed 10 than 100, my fav paella on the playa ;


0 threads saffron, crushed (a scant 12 tsp.) 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2” pieces 10 large shrimp, peeled and deveined Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 12 cup extra-virgin olive oil 4 oz. dry-cured Spanish chorizo, cut into 14”-thick coins 1 tbsp. smoked paprika 3 cloves garlic, minced 3 dried bay leaves 3 medium tomatoes, minced 1 small onion, minced 7 cups chicken broth 2 12 cups short-grain rice, preferably Valencia or bomba 8 oz. fresh or frozen peas 3 jarred roasted red peppers, torn into 12”-thick strips 12 mussels, cleaned and debearded 1 (9-oz.) box frozen artichoke hearts, thawed


Put saffron and 14 cup hot water in a small bowl; let sit for 15 minutes. Season chicken and shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 16”–18” paella pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken, shrimp, and chorizo and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate, leaving meats in pan. Add paprika, garlic, bay leaves, tomatoes, and onions to pan and cook, stirring often, until onions soften, about 6 minutes. Add reserved saffron mixture and broth, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Sprinkle in rice, distribute evenly with a spoon, and add artichokes, peas, and peppers. Cook, without stirring, until rice has absorbed most of the liquid, 10–12 minutes. (If your pan is larger than the burner, rotate it every two minutes so different parts are over the heat and the rice cooks evenly.) Reduce heat to low, add reserved shrimp, and nestle in mussels hinge side down; cook, without stirring, until mussels have opened and rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente, 5–10 minutes more. Remove pan from heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.



1 (3-pound) rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded into bite-sized pieces (3 12 cups chicken) 5 ounces coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese 34 teaspoon kosher salt 12 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 4 (7-inch) flour tortillas Hot sauce (optional, for serving)


Cut 8 (12x16”) pieces of heavy-duty foil. Layer 2 pieces of foil on top of each other to create 4 stacks. Place a flour tortilla in the center of each foil stack. Dividing evenly, top one half of each tortilla with chicken and cheese and season with salt and pepper. Fold tortillas in half, then bring edges of foil together to enclose the quesadillas and crimp edges to seal. Prepare a campfire or grill for medium, indirect heat, preferably with hardwood or hardwood charcoal. Let coals burn until covered with ash and glowing red with no black remaining. Place foil packs side by side directly onto hot coals or grill and cook, rotating with tongs occasionally, about 5 minutes. Carefully remove 1 packet from heat and check if cheese is melted. If necessary, return pack to coals and continue to cook, 5–10 minutes more. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

Chicken Spring Roll Bowl with Peanut Sauce


Chicken Spring Roll Bowl with Peanut Sauce

(serves 1)

1 teaspoon garlic granules, divided

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided

2 tablespoon sugar, divided

8 tablespoons powdered peanut butter

2 soy sauce packets

1 liter of water for boiling

1 small cucumber

1 small carrot

1 large lime

1 7-ounce package grilled chicken

3.5 ounces / 100 grams thin rice noodles (14 of a commonly-sized box)

3 tablespoons water (you can use some of the water for boiling, mentioned above)

(optional) 1 sliced green onion

(optional if fresh!) A few fresh leaves of cilantro, basil, and mint.


First, add a liter of water to a 1.5 liter pot. Prime and light your cook stove, then set the pot on it to warm up. You’ll want the water to come to a boil, so while you’re waiting, you can prepare the rest of the dish.

Cut the cucumber into 2” lengths, then slice each chunk lengthwise into four slabs. Lay the slabs flat on your cutting board, and slice them into matchsticks. Repeat with the carrot and set aside. (Alternatively, cut the vegetables into any shape of bite-sized pieces you wish.)

Next, prepare the chicken:

Roll the lime on a hard surface to help release the juices, then cut in in half. Juice half of the lime into the bag you made, labeled “Chicken.” I find that stabbing a spork into the lime as you’re squeezing it helps get all the juices out. Set the other half of the lime aside. (You’ll use it later to make the peanut sauce.) Then, open the packet of chicken and dump the meat into the bag. Stir to combine, or seal the bag and shake. Set aside.

Next, make the peanut sauce: open your “Peanut Sauce” bag, remove the soy sauce packets, and empty their contents into the bag. Then, squeeze in the juice from the second lime half. Make sure you get out all the juice you can. Mix everything together to form a thick paste. Finally, mix in water a tablespoon at a time until it forms a sauce. (about three tablespoons). Seal the bag and set it aside.

When the water comes to a boil, turn the stove off. Break the rice noodles in half and add them to the water. Give them a stir, cover them with a lid, and let them soften over the next 8-10 minutes. (Different rice noodles soften at different rates, however, so allow yours to soften until they’re how you like them, either al dente or soft.) When the noodles are soft, strain out the water.

Now, you’re ready to assemble! Dish up the rice noodles into a bowl. Then, top with chicken and vegetables.

Vegan Spicy Thai Coconut Soup


A splash of oil 2 onions, quartered 1 long eggplant, halved and sliced into half moons 6 cloves of garlic, minced 2 cans coconut milk 2 peppers (any colour), diced large A handful of mushrooms, sliced 2 sticks of celery, sliced 1 carrot, cut in half then cut into half moons A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes 1 package of soft tofu, cut into cubes ¼ cup Thai curry paste* 3 tablespoons soy sauce 1-3 tablespoons sriracha, to taste 1½ cups of quinoa


Bring quinoa and 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pot. Reduce heat to the very lowest setting and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit until the rest of the curry is finished. While the quinoa is cooking, add a good splash of oil to the bottom of a large pot. Add the eggplant and onions. Don’t be surprised when the eggplant soaks up all of the oil; this is normal. Cook on medium high for about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Add both cans of coconut milk, the peppers, mushrooms, celery, carrot and cherry tomatoes. Stir in the curry paste, soy sauce and sriracha. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the tofu and warm through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.


    The type of curry paste you use will make a big difference in this recipe. I use either Amoy or Mae Jin (make sure you use the curry paste and not the cans of pre-made curry.) The only type of curry paste that I really wouldn’t recommend is Thai Kitchen as I find it is spicy but flavourless.

    If you want to make this a 1 pot meal add the quinoa plus 2 cups of water to the curry a few minutes after you add the veggies. Add a little more water if you find it is getting too thick.

Parmesan Corn on the Cob

Mix some parmesan cheese, paprika, and salt into softened butter. Rub that buttery deliciousness all over the corn.

Bake, broil, or BBQ (your choice!) the corn until it is tender and the cheese winds its way into the little cracks between the corn kernels. See the pic below? That’s what it’s going to look like when it comes out of the oven. ?

Eat! This is the best step. Roll up your dirty hippy sleeves, eat and share

What I ate at Burning Man - some of the pictures in this article are from this wonderful blog post.