Skip to Content

10 Best Ice Fishing Meals & Snacks

10 Best Ice Fishing Meals & Snacks

When ice fishing, there’s plenty of time to share food and drinks with friends. The right mix of foods and drinks can crank up your energy, core temperature and create memories.

Let’s look at ten ideas that can boost your energy and core temperature while pleasing the taste buds and curbing hunger.

1) Eat right before hitting the Ice

a bowl of shrimp fried rice
You’ve probably heard how marathoners’ carbohydrate load so they have sufficient energy to complete the race.

You may not be running a marathon or even a 5-K, but when ice fishing, you’re in a race to keep your body temperature up.

Eat Whole Grains

whole grains
Putting the right fuel in your tank before hitting the ice can crank up your metabolism and core body temperature. Whole grains give you the complex carbs you need to have an edge in keeping your core temperature up.

Refined white grains are simple carbohydrates that burn quickly. Take a plate of shrimp fried rice, for example, it’s delicious, but 30 minutes later,  you’re hungry again. What you want are slower-burning complex carbs found in whole grains.

Spelt, quinoa, brown rice, and other whole grains contain not only the refined portion of the grain but also the chaff, endosperm, bran, and germ. These parts of the grain require more energy to break down, raising your metabolism and core temperature.

Adding these grains to your daily diet is a win-win because it not only keeps you warmer on the ice but increases your basal or resting metabolism, giving you an edge in controlling your weight.

The following list are whole grains easily found in local markets:

  • Brown rice
  • Oats
  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Rye flour
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur (steamed and dried cracked wheat)
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Spelt

2) Coffee

a cup of coffee
A cup of hot Joe in the ice shelter to warm up the hands and soul is a no-brainer. The actual surprise is, even Ice coffee will get the job done because it’s the caffeine, not the temperature, that brings that warm feeling inside.

Caffeine tweaks your core temperature by causing an increase in metabolism through the release of fatty acids from the body’s fat deposits. An increase in body temperature often results. The thermogenic effect of caffeine increases when adding low-fat vitamin D milk to your coffee.

Buttered coffee is a way to boost the warming effect of coffee. Adding butter to coffee slows the absorption of caffeine and provides a steady, enduring energy level. The upshot is that the thermogenic effect of caffeine increases as well.

The addition of butter to your coffee may be a double-edged sword. Sure, it extends the warming effect of caffeine, but it also adds loads of saturated fats to your coffee and calories. If you choose this option, limit yourself to one cup.

3) Banana Nut Muffins

banana nut muffins
Easily baked in advance and delicious, banana nut muffins with cinnamon and ginger are gold mines of heat-generating goodness. Here’s why:

  • Bananas are nutrition powerhouses packed with b-vitamins and magnesium key to helping your thyroid and adrenal glands control body temperature in less temperate settings, like an ice fishing shelter.
  • Nuts like almonds, cashews, and pistachios, and dates have been shown to crank up your metabolism and increase body temperature. They contain serotonin, a hormone shown to boost mood and feelings of wellbeing.
  • Cinnamon and Ginger – are in the family of warm spices. They have a slow metabolism-boosting effect on the body and anti-inflammatory properties.

Follow the recipe shown above and add a dash of cinnamon and ginger and you have a delicious, healthy, and warming snack to eat with your buttered coffee.

4) Venison Chilli

venison chilli dish

This venison chili is a good starting recipe that you can adjust to your liking or use as is.

This is a cook-at-home dish that you can easily reheat on a Coleman tabletop stove grill combo .

If venison isn’t for you, you can substitute any other lean red meat like beef tenderloin or top round. Venison is a top source of easily absorbed Haem iron.

If venison isn’t your first choice, lean beef is another prime source of iron, a mineral that aids in warming the body.

Serve your chili over some pre-cooked quinoa or brown rice to keep your belly feeling full longer.

Another option is a spinach and arugula salad with a dash of lemon and mandarin orange sections. Citrus fruits boost iron absorption.

5) Macaroni and Cheese

macaroni and cheese
A favorite American comfort food, macaroni, and cheese are easy to make and so versatile, most families have a favorite recipe. Mac-n-cheese cooked the night before, easily reheats in the ice shelter using your propane stove-grill (see link above), or eaten cold.

I like to add chopped prosciutto ham, seeded and sliced black olives, chopped tomatoes, and Progresso seasoned Italian bread crumbs. It’s a creamy, flavorful treat when baked and served hot.

For ice fishing, it’s even better when made the night before and left to cool. Cut it into squares and you have a full meal in each square. Like pizza, it’s still good cold, and every bite has protein, carbs, and fats. Wrap squares with plastic wrap or small baggies for quick, easy single serving finger foods.

A final tweak for your mac-n-cheese is to substitute a whole wheat version of your favorite pasta.

6) Smoked Salmon (Lox) And bagels with Cream Cheese

smoked salmon bagel
Since you’re an angler, there’s a good chance you have some salmon around the house that you even smoked yourself. No smoked salmon on hand, Retailers like Amazon  and Costco have you covered.

It’s best if you put them together in the ice shelter to keep your bagel crunchy. You’ll need:

  • Whole wheat bagel of choice.
  • 2oz sliced smoked salmon.
  • Cream cheese of choice.
  • Chopped red onion, optional.
  • Method
    • Slice bagel and toast on a propane camp stove-grill.
    • Spread both sides with cream cheese.
    • Add sliced smoked salmon.
    • Sprinkle on chopped red onion if desired.
  • For a twist, I like to spice it up by replacing the cream cheese with hearty slices of pepper-jack on the top and bottom.

7) Hearty Beef Stew

hearty beef stew
A savory beef stew filled with hearty chunks of potatoes, yams, carrots, and more is a perfect meal for warming the bones when ice fishing. Cooked at home and reheated in the Ice shelter, this cold-weather mainstay is an excellent dietary source of boosting iron. The root vegetables are wonderful sources of complex carbs which break down slowly and warm the body. Some examples are:

  • Carrots.
  • Potatoes
  • Yams
  • Turnips
  • Parsnips.

Pump up the heat a little and give your stew an international twist by adding:

  • 1 cup of chopped yellow bell peppers.
  • 1 cup of chopped red bell peppers.
  • Hungarian paprika to taste – Use quality imported paprika, but be careful when adding to your stew. Hungarian paprika is hotter than others. Just enough will help warm you up, but too much will set you on fire.
  • ½ – 1 cup of sour cream (optional) – Sour cream is a tasty option that will make your stew richer and flavorful. Its fat content slows digestion and aids in warming the body.
    • It will also take the bite off if you overdid the Hungarian paprika.

The stew is a meal alone, but it’s good over egg noodles and with a good whole grain or whole wheat bread  to sop up the sauce.

8) Breakfast Bakes

When choosing a breakfast bake recipe, the sky’s the limit.

hearty Greek Meatball Soup - Giouvarlakia, Youvarlakia in Egg lemon sauce in a metal casserole

These hearty casseroles are popular breakfast offerings around holidays like Christmas or any other time you need a quick, satisfying meal for a large gathering of family and friends.

Best prepared the night before and baked or warmed up when needed makes them a perfect fit for ice fishing.

Some recipes like the one above are quiche-like cheesy, egg mixtures with potatoes, and meat.

Swapping out the potatoes for yams and adding favorite veggies will crank up the nutrition and flavor profiles.

Other recipes use a bread base to soak up the eggs and cream. Then they’re mixed with chopped ham, bacon, sausage, veggies of choice, and, of course, lots of cheese.

Changing the plain white bread for a wholesome whole grain-nut bread improves nutrition while adding a unique taste and texture.

Whichever type you choose, bake it the night before and refrigerate till chilled and firm enough for a fork to stand up when inserted.

Cut into individual squares, cover in plastic wrap, or put in baggies, and you have a delicious snack ready to grab between pulling in the fish.

9) Fruit Smoothies

strawberry smoothies
When Ice fishing, keeping hydrated is a genuine concern. A delicious, nutritious, and filling way to keep hydrated is fruit smoothies. With a little prep, these creamy, sweet drinks are quick and easy to make just before you head out to the ice.

To make the frozen smoothie pictured here, you’ll need fresh strawberries, apple juice, plain yogurt or heavy cream, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and ice. The quantities needed vary depending on how thick you like your smoothies and how many liters you’ll be making.

The night before:

  • Prep the fruit you’ve selected by washing, peeling, removing seeds, and cutting into spoon size pieces, and refrigerate.
  • Wash several two-liter bottles thoroughly and keep them on hand.

Before you leave:

  • Add cut fruit and juice to a blender then puree.
  • Add Yogurt or heavy cream and puree.
    • If you want to lower the fat content, go with plain yogurt.
    • If you’re looking for a rich creamy taste, use heavy cream.
  • Add fresh lemon juice to taste, being careful not to let seeds fall in the blender and puree.
    • The citric acid in the lemon juice will help the flavors pop.
  • If you like your smoothie sweeter, add a little honey.
  • Using a funnel, pour your smoothie into two-liter bottles, screw on the caps, and keep cold. When you get to your ice shelter, pack the bottles in the snow outside to keep cold.

10) Homemade Oatmeal Granola bars

homemade oatmeal-granola bars
Homemade oatmeal-granola bars are healthy comfort food that’s a great fice fishing snack or meal if you eat a couple. There are many brands of granola bars in local stores, but making your own is easy. You choose what’s in them, plus you control how much sugar and salt they contain.

Oatmeal is a great base for your granola bar. This whole grain is high in fiber and complex carbohydrates that help warm you up as they boost your metabolism. Their high fiber content means they break down slowly, controlling hunger and sugar spikes.

Oatmeal-peanut butter granola bars:

  • 3 cups of steel-cut oats.
  • ¾ cup natural or chunky style peanut butter.
  • ⅓ cup dark molasses.
  • ½ cup chocolate chips.
  • ⅓ cup butterscotch chips
  • 3 whole eggs.
  • ½ cup of almonds or other chopped nuts
  • ⅓ cup sunflower seeds
  • Optional- dehydrated fruits

Putting it together and baking:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
  • In a large, chilled, steel bowl, mix in all ingredients.,
  • Grease a 9×9 glass baking pan and line with parchment. Then spread your dough evenly around the dish.
  • Bake for 14-17 minutes or until a knife comes out of the center clean. Check occasionally in case your temps are off.
  • Place on a wire rack to cool. Once completely cooled, portion into 12-14 bars.
  • Put the cut bars in a zip-lock bag or wrap them individually for the ice shelter.

Remember eating whole grain, bread, cereals, and pasta, along with iron-rich lean red meats and green leafy vegetables daily, can pump up your metabolism. A higher metabolism gives you an edge in staying warm on the ice and in taking off unwanted pounds, which is never a bad thing.

We’ve looked at a variety of hot or cold meals, sandwiches, snacks, and drinks. To make the most of these foods, you’ll need to have a good propane camp stove-grill to reheat prepared foods, or a high quality thermal carrier box  to keep them warm.

So what’s the best choice? If you’re in a fishing derby, you’ll want to focus on your tip-ups. So, finger foods like the breakfast bake are ready to eat and go well with banana nut muffins and coffee.

If you’re not fishing for dinner and just passing time with friends, then a hot toasted bagel with pepper-jack cheese and smoked salmon washed down with a fruit smoothie makes a substantial breakfast. A hearty beef stew over noodles and granola bars for dessert should keep you warm and full for lunch or dinner.