Hardtack — A Great Survival Food Stock

Simple Hardtack Recipe

Hardtack is nutritious, delicious, and stores easily

You’ve all heard of hardtack. It’s a great survival food, because it is very nutritious and tasty, and also keeps extremely well when stored in the proper conditions. We’ll show you how to make hardtack using a simple recipe, and show how to cook it to make a delicious survival food. See also Hardtack and Gravy.

Hardtack is an ideal survival food

What makes a good survival food? Well, first off, you need to be able to store it for long periods of time without spoiling. Second, it needs to be nutritious. And third, it should taste good. Tasting good is not really a necessity, but it sure is nice if you end up living off the stuff for a long time.

Hardtack satisfies all three conditions. Once it’s dried thoroughly, it will keep for years, provided it stays dry and away from pests. Edit: The Minnesota Historical Society has a piece of Civil War hardtack in its collection. It’s over 150 years old, and perfectly edible. Watch this video. If you make it with natural, healthy ingredients, it’s very nutritious. And if you know how to prepare it, it tastes delicious. Because it is completely dehydrated, it is relatively light and easy to transport, but because it is so dense, it packs a lot of nutrition in a small package.

Hardtack history

Hardtack has actually been around since the time of Egyptian sailors, but you probably know it better from the Civil War period. During the war, 3×3 inch squares of hardtack were shipped to both the Union and Confederate armies, making a staple part of a soldier’s rations. Typically made 6 months beforehand, it was as hard as a rock when it actually got to the troops. To soften it, they usually soaked it in water or coffee. Not only would this soften it enough for eating, but any insect larvae in the bread would float to the top, allowing the soldiers to skim them out.

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Simple hardtack recipe

You can make hardtack almost identical to what sailors, troops, and pioneers have been eating (minus the weevils!) by following this simple recipe:

4-5 cups of flour

2 cups of water

3 tsp. of salt

Mix the flour, water and salt together, and make sure the mixture is fairly dry. Then roll it out to about 1/2 inch thickness, and shape it into a rectangle. Cut it into 3×3 inch squares, and poke holes in both sides. Place on an un-greased cookie or baking sheet, and cook for 30 minutes per side at 375˚ (or 350˚ if you have a convection oven).


When it’s done, you’ll want to let it dry and harden for a few days, just out in the open. When it has the consistency of a brick, it’s fully cured. Then simply store it in an airtight container or bucket. To prepare for eating, soak it in water or milk for about 15 minutes, and then fry in a buttered skillet. You can eat it with cheese, soup or just plain with a little salt added. Any way you do it, it’s delicious!

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  • Me

    I foudn this recipe to be more like the Pilot bread hard tack they sell in Alaska and it tastes much better and is easier on your teeth. http://namastemama.blogspot.com

  • SaaM1001

    Using lentil flour instead of wheat makes healthier and tastier hard tack. Lentil flour has more protein, fiber, vitamin C, and many other vitamins/minerals compared
    to regular wheat flour! Google “lentil vs wheat flour”. Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to buy the lentil flour from Amazon.

    Try the above procedure but with 4 cups lentil flour, 1 cup wheat flour, 2 cups water and 3 tsp table salt. If the batter seems sticky, add extra wheat flour until the batter is a consistency that can be rolled. Lentil tack is great with peanut butter and should work perfectly as a backpacking food. Just remember, don’t use butter, milk, or
    oil if you want the tack to last…!

    • Tired

      This is a great idea. By using things that have complimentary amino acid profiles to make a bean enriched flour, your hard tack should be nutritious, long lasting, and most likely edible.

  • SicaBixby

    SN0man, I know you said share so I hope you don’t mind but I added your recipe to food.com on this one too. They did have other recipes but not this one. There were 7 other recipes. I did put a link back to your page in the description.

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  • TeXas

    I use 2 cups wheat flour 1 cup protein powder 1/3 tsp salt.
    I know good for 6 years still. its a great add in to the hardtack

    • Eric Gold

      That sounds good.

  • MI Patriot

    My husband and I are Civil War re-enactors and know first hand about hardtack. LOL. I made a batch of “reproduction” hardtack, right down to the 16 holes in each rectangle. I came to a conclusion that if you need plates for a flak jacket or bullet-proof vest, hardtack is your go-to source. It was. in one word…hard. I put a little garlic salt in it and it was better. You’d better have good sturdy teeth unless you soak it in coffee or some other liquid.

  • Rail

    I have problems with the fact that I live in a humid place, I’m still working on ways to counter it.

    • Kitty Derosier

      i would imagine you could use a wide mouth ball jar as a cutter instead of square and “can” them once dry. using the foodsaver jar vacuum attachment would work. it does for other dry foods storage…

    • Lauri

      you can also buy silica packs that can help absorb the moisture.

    • http://www.queereka.com Benny

      I bake, then dehydrate briefly, then vacuum seal mine.

  • Terri Spencer

    The whole point though is the longevity of this stuff. If you’re adding different ingredients from the original, simple flour water and salt, you’re taking the chance on it not being edible for as long as you might want it to. I suppose it depends on why you would want to make it, but for “survival storage” you want to not have to worry about things like how long your food will last. I rotate and use from my storage to keep things fresh as possible but if the *s* really ever did “htf”, there won’t be any more rotating and replacing. We’d probably eat everything tasty first over the first year or two but at some point, the hard tack would come in to play and you want it edible. You’d also want to be able to hunt down some protein because carbs and salt are not going to sustain you for very long on their own.

    • Halfbreed

      Must have discipline. I would eat that which is least appealing first and eat that which remained without regrets.

  • lustmorde

    Late to the party, but curious if it would be ok to put this in a dehydrator rather than have to let it sit out for days – if you’re in a hurry?

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  • Eric Gold

    Its great survival food, but the only nutrient I can find in this, is carbs, and carbs make you fat.

    • http://www.queereka.com Benny

      In a survival or war situation being fat is the last thing anyone is worried about. Fat is food storage that moves with you.

  • I am God ✓ᴰᵉᵖˡᵒʳᵃᵇˡᵉ ✓MAGA

    I just store white rice flour, honey, and non-iodized salt (all indefinite shelf lives). Make it fresh to order.

  • Sauron Vile

    Honey in a recipe? Honey lasts just about forever also.