Campfire Cooking


The tents are in the car, the sleeping bags are rolled and ready, and tomorrow we leave bright and early to go camping on the beach. Last night I asked Craig if we could build a campfire and he said “Sure” and I said, “Maybe I can cook on it?” And he said, “Nothing too elaborate.” That’s where you come in, readers: besides hot dogs and s’mores, what are some easy things we can cook on a campfire? The cheaper and easier the better. Maybe I’ll live-blog it as I cook–the wilderness has wireless, doesn’t it?

47 thoughts on “Campfire Cooking”

  1. You should get a cast iron skillet and do eggs and bacon in the morning – maybe steaks and tin foil potatoes (thrown right in the fire) with grilled veg at night.

    Happy Camping!

  2. I remember in girl scout camp, we did an aluminum foil packet filled with veggies. It was yummy.

  3. I was camping the other week and we took bananas, cut them open and added chocolate and marshmallows bits, wrapped them in tinfoil and let them sit in the coals until everything was melted together. Doesn’t get much easier…

  4. Hobo dinners! Take ground beef (or ground turkey, but fat = flavor here) and put it in the middle of a big piece of aluminum foil (you might want use a double foil layer). Add small potato cubes, onion pieces, carrots, peas, etc, then lots of salt and pepper. Other spices are cool, but if you’re camping you might not have more than salt/pepper.

    Wrap tightly and place the little packet in the fire, at the edge. Cook until done. (Sorry, no clue how long…10-15 mins maybe?)

  5. You can cook all sorts of things in foil buried in coals. Basically if you can steam it or braise it, you can cook it on a campfire. Just make sure when you make the packets, you wrap/seal them tightly.

    you can make veggies, chicken, beef, pork, fish or any combination of the above. what about some salmon, and asparagus? just add some liquids like wine lemon juice, etc. and spices and a little pat of butter.

    For dessert, I’ve always been partial to the banana recipe above, but I’ve also loved apples with cinnamon, brown sugar, flour and butter as well.

    Can you tell I was once a boy scout?

  6. I don’t know if it’s the most practical camping food unless you’re going to have some sort of iced down cooler for the day, but my ONLY good memory from Girl Scout Camp was the dinner my Mom sent along w/me. A simple burger patty smothered in baked beans and then sealed up in foil.

    I don’t think ANYTHING could have tasted as good as that did when I took it off the fire.

  7. Believe it or not I took a “snowshoeing and outdoor cooking” class in college for PE credits. I only remember one thing: chocolate cake cooked in a scooped out orange. Use your favorite chocolate cake mix and cut a circle off the top of the orange, scooping out the inside and then filling with the batter and replacing the top of orange. Then you wrap it in foil and stick in fire. Happy camping!

  8. Oh, this is a good rub for salmon:

    For 4 – 6oz fillets

    1/2 c sugar

    1/2 c chili powder

    T paprika

    t dry mustard

    t cocoa powder

    t cumin

    2t ground black pepper

    1 1/2 T coarse salt

    dash cinnamon

    3T oil

  9. if you can get your hands on a cast iron dutch oven- we always made ‘dump cake’ over a campfire at summer camp. Just take a simple vanilla cake recipe (or the typical flour, sugar, etc) and mix with your choice of fruit; cherry, blueberry, etc. The lid on the dutch oven is depressed and you layer hot coals on that. Sumptuous! ‘Bake’ until done.

    Also- we always loved ‘baked apples’, and they are very simple. 1. Find a good roasting stick and place an entire apple on the end of it, stick the apple in the fire and burn/peel the skin off, then roll in brown sugar and stick back into fire until it carmalizes. Eat some off and roll in sugar again, and repeat. Voila!

    I could go on and on- I did summer camp for years!

  10. 1. Butter and spice ears of corn, wrap in foil and throw in the fire

    2. Core apples, in each core place one Kraft caramel, one square of chocolate and one marshmallow. Wrap in foil and throw in the fire until soft.

  11. I definitely second the suggestions about tinfoil dinners! Ground beef, cubed potatoes, carrots, corn, salt and pepper – it is very hard to mess up.

    I also love mountain pies, which are little turnovers you make with bread and pie filling, or even pizza stuff. But I recall using specific mountain pie makers, so maybe that’s not applicable here.

    There’s also the Silver Cloud, which is a blob of packaged cookie dough with a Peppermint Patty or two in the middle. You wrap it up in tinfoil (loosely) and let it bake in the fire. Once the dough is firm, the Peppermint Patty has melted and made everything all minty delicious.

    Now I’m thinking that campfire food (at least the stuff I had) was not so gourmet…

  12. I remember camping at Big Sur years ago. We picked bay leaves off the surrounding trees, made a broth with white wine and canned chicken stock, whole peppercorns and threw in some crawdads the kids caught. Yum!

  13. a cast iron skillet is the car campers best friend. you can do eggs and bacon, or french toast, or even pancakes on the open fire. it helps to have a grate over the fire.

    also soft shell tacos, where you cook the meat in the pan and scoop that onto your soft tortillas with all the fixings.

    quesadillas are great, also in your cast iron.

    hot chocolate.

    my mom used to rub bar soap on the outside of her cast iron frying pan when we would take it camping. she said this would help get all of the soot off of it. she would also pack it on it’s own in a brown shopping bag so the soot didn’t get all over eveything.

    have a wonderful trip to the beach.

    Craig is right nothing elaborate…you can have so much fun with simple and easy, when cooked on an open fire it is all elaborate.

  14. Steamed salmon. We often do this on our campfires – pack each serving of salmon (steaks or fillets work) ahead of time in a tin foil package – all you need (simple!) is a bit of salt & pepper, a few slices of lemon and a slab of butter. The salmon steams in the package, and if you’re really roughing it you can use the tin foil as your camping plate…

  15. i agree with all who suggested a cast iron skillet, and making some eggs and bacon over the fire. there is NOTHING better than a breakfast like that! potatoes wrapped in tin foil stuck under the coals is a tasty addition, too.

    have a great camp-out!

  16. I do a green Thai curry stew when I go backpacking–coconut milk, green curry paste, lemongrass, lime leaf, and whatever veggies, tofu or chicken you want.

    But really, anything you cook tastes better because it’s outdoors and you likely had to trek to your campsite. If you’re backpacking and really hiking, it’ll taste better still.

    Have fun! And bring snacks.

  17. Hobo dinners are the best! We do hamburger patties with onions, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, salt and pepper wrapped in foil packets.

    We like them so well that we even do them at home in the oven!

    And you must have S’Mores. It’s just tradition!

  18. Strawberry shortcakes – bisquick and a cast iron skillet or cast iron dutch oven work fine.

    Clams and chorizo with scallions, white wine, garlic, etc thrown in a pan, cooked until they open and served with good bread and butter.

    Strata cooked in a throw away 9X12 aluminium pan with your choice of layering and fillings

  19. you’d be remiss not to try the packet dinners… to keep things from burning, put a cabbage leaf or two on top of the foil, then your potatoes and meat, then veggies and cheese on top, before sealing it in aluminum foil. truthfully, the whole thing works best when you place it on hot coals, rather than in the fire.

    the cake in the scooped out orange (i prefer white cake) is delicious….

    other than that, if you ever want the best turkey of your life, dig a pit about 2.5 feet deep, line it with rocks, and have a raging bonfire for about 6 hours…. make sure the pit fills up with coals. then let the fire die down, dig out the coals, and drop in a turkey… which you’ve dressed and wrappend in about 1.5 rolls of aluminum foil. cover with the hot coals, and let it cook about 8 hours…. mmmm, nothing better!

  20. Kabobs for dinner. What could be easier and tastier? Simply grab your fav veggies and meat and through them on a stick…marinated and cooked on a open fire makes anything taste good!

  21. Grab some green sticks from trees/bushes nearby … make a dough from self-raising flour, roll into a snake and twist it around the sticks. Makes a marvellous starter with butter! Mouth watering already!!! Don’t make too much otherwise you will overeat before the main course!

    We use to always have a packet of self-raising flour with us when backpacking!

  22. Yes, potatoes in foil. Good, thick rye bread, toasted on a stick. Eat with fresh ripe tomatoes. Don’t forget a tupperware container of kosher salt.

  23. Cast iron is definitely the way to go. If you don’t want to lug along a pan, all those suggestions with aluminum foil are good. I’ve made grilled cheese while camping using both cast iron and foil.

    Hope you have an amazing trip. Bring along a kazoo for campfire songs. :D

  24. I think all of these comments are hilarious. What kind of camping are these people doing? RV camping? Real camping does not involve perishable foods, particularly raw meats/fish!! My kind of camping involves minimal waste – everything is food you need to rehydrate, and that can be stored in either a ziplock baggie or a tupperware.

  25. JLL & TJ have the right ideas about the bananas–we called them Banana Boats when I was in Girl Scouts and they are awesome! The “dump cake” that Caree described is awesome as well.

    A few other fun camping ideas:

    -did you know you can fry an egg in a paper bag and boil water in a paper cup over coals? Go ahead–try it!

    -“Singing oranges”: an (unpeeled) orange, squished around so it is extra juicy, with a peppermint (or other hard candy) stick stuck into it. Suck on the end of the candy and the juice will form a straw–yum!

  26. Tin foil dinners are the ultimate “car camping” food! Definitely not elaborate and yummy comfort food. You can make them ahead of time and pack them in a cooler or assemble them there. Make sure your tin foil is the heavy duty kind and add some cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup to your ground beef, potaoes, carrots, onions and lots of salt and pepper. Not so gourmet but adding the soup creates a sauce and helps cut down on burning. The foil dinners go in the coals, not the open fire so you will need to have the fire going for a while to get yourself some nice hot coals. The key to an evenly cooked tin foil dinner is to rotate and turn, about 15 min on each side. You won’t be disapointed!

  27. slather a brisket with garlic, S&P and any other spices of choice, wrap it in aluminum foil fat side up (important), and put it just outside the flames of your campfire, on the coals. Let it bake most of the day. Melt-in-your-mouth wonderful stuff.

  28. Let me jump in the hobo meals camp! When we go, this is always the first meal of the trip, because I assemble them all at home, keep the packets in a giant ziploc in the cooler, and throw them in the fire after the wood gets all grey bearded and ashy. Not in the fire, really, I guess we set the packets on bricks that we build the fire on. Bricks are great for cooking, because it gives you a place to put stuff, rather than in ashes, they hold the logs off the ground for ventilation, and they get good and hot.

    I have at least 8 variations on the theme. I use teriyaki sauce, ginger, garlic and frozen stir fry mix veggies with my patties sometimes and bring a tub of cooked, room temp short-grain rice. Sometimes, it’s the patty, peppers, onions, cumin, lime, splash of beer, for a tex mex thing. Cheese,tortillas, and general fajita fixins on the side, with that.

    Lets tart up our campfire packets a bit, even! Sirloin burger patties, cracked pepper, coarse salt, minced garlic, splash of wine. A few slices of mozzarella or provolone on top, after you open it, let the remaining heat get the cheese all melty. Sprinkle with chopped fresh Italian herbs of choice, and serve with slices of a perfect tomato. Or put a gob of sauce in the packet before closing. Gourmet pizza burgers in the rough.

    Smores for dessert. Of course.

  29. Paella. OK, so it’s a little elaborate :), but a paella pan weighs much less than a dutch oven and paella is traditionally cooked outdoors over a fire. If you go fishing, you can toss in your catch.

    Funny, I’m going to Seattle on Friday.


  30. Ground beef stuffed onions – wrap in foil and throw on coals. Might be good to add diced potatoes and green peppers to a seasoned meat mix.

    Frito pie – heat chili in opened can, pour on opened individual bags of fritos, add grated cheese. Add chopped onion, sour cream, tomatoes, etc. if you’re want it fancy.

    Popcorn – make doubled foil pouch – leave room for popping, equal amounts of oil and popcorn, seal tightly, tie to a stick and shake over coals.

    Pita bread pizzas – use foil pouch method.

  31. BACON!!

    and I second the kabobs notion – not much is easier for some tasty car camping. Mac-n-cheese with a sliced up kielbasa sausage aint bad either. Have fun AG!

  32. Saw this on TV once: A can of cinnamon rolls, each one stuffed into 1/2 an orange peel (cut an orange into half – scoop out innards – chef gets to eat!)

    Grease the foil, wrap around the 1/2 orange peel with cinnamon roll stuffed into it. Wrap each individually and toss into fire for 15 mins or so.

    Silliness I know – but then again everyone has their weaknesses!!

  33. Saw this on TV once: A can of cinnamon rolls, each one stuffed into 1/2 an orange peel (cut an orange into half – scoop out innards – chef gets to eat!)

    Grease the foil, wrap around the 1/2 orange peel with cinnamon roll stuffed into it. Wrap each individually and toss into fire for 15 mins or so.

    Silliness I know – but then again everyone has their weaknesses!!

  34. When I used to go camping in the NW oldgrowth, my Favorite thing to make was baba ganoush pasta for dinner. It doesn’t sound that great but it is, because eggplants are very lightweight for their size ( easy to pack in) and they were made to be roasted over an open fire (massive flavor enhancement that must be experienced to be believed. It is totally Bedouin and they know campfire food!).

    Split a large eggplant in half, brush the cut sides with olive oil and either lay face down on a skillet or face up if on a wire grill. Roast until soft. Scoop out into a bowl and toss the skins in the fire. Before you leave town, make this sauce (and put it into a really tight, small tupperware container that you double bag in Ziplocs) to mix with the eggplant once you’ve roasted it at camp. About a 3/4 cup of tahini, juice of 2 lemons, about a tsp of sea salt or to taste, 1/4 tsp blk. pepper, about a 1/4 -1/2 cup of water, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, ( can sub cayenne or chipotle also, but flakes are best) and add one or two cloves of grated garlic. It should taste really good, (but will be even better with fire-roasted eggplant) and be about the consistancy of loose yoghurt; or you can leave it more paste-like for travel and add a dash of water at camp when you’re mixing it up. Put that in the tupperware to take with. At camp, when your egglant is as soft as pudding, scoop it out into either a bowl or the drained pasta ( I like penne or rotini to hold sauce; shells, of course, would work perfectly at the beach: ) and mix thoroughly with the sauce. This is deeply hearty and delicious and really satisfies the appetite that presents itself when camping outdoors. Enjoy!

  35. We always do a fondue (with an old 70s fondue pot) when we are camping. Oh and nothing tastes better than a steak cooked over an open fire.

  36. Grilled cheese! Make em fancy, on some good bread, wrap em in foil, and plop em over the fire. When we last did this, the fire pit had a nice big grate over it already, but I’m sure you can jimmy something to hold them. They were the best grilled cheese sandwiches I’d ever had.

  37. Get a life, Brooklyn Lady — not everyone is going on a weeklong survival hike with dehydrated moussaka in their pocket. It’s possible to do a “minimal waste” camping trip for a few nights with…gasp…a COOLER! :)

    Anyway AG, I add my vote for tinfoil dinners, they are the best. We also enjoyed veggie kabobs last weekend, and potatoes roasted in the coals, wrapped in foil and stuffed with broccoli florets — simply unwrap, add butter and cheese, and eat.

    You’re probably way ahead of me, but be sure to back a bottle of HAND SANITIZER — a must-have around the camp kitchen. Enjoy!

  38. I am tin foiler as well but my favorite dessert…

    I have no clue what it’s called!

    Take a can of biscuits and take one biscuit and make ito a really small bowl. put some butter and cinn-sugar inside then using a foil tipped stick (to cook the insides) put the tip of the stick in the bowl and seal the biscuit up around the stick, roast carefully above coals or fire to bake biscuit, when you think it’s done pull it off, the inside will never be fully done but the dough withthe sweetness is awesome.

  39. Hobo Bread to go with those hobo dinners – put a bunch of biscuit mix in a bag, add about a half cup of water and mix with a stick or your fingers until you get a blob of dough. (There will be biscuit mix left over.) Wrap this in a spiral around a green stick and roast over the coals. Make sure to leave space between your spirals!

    We used to do the orange and cake thing too but with gingerbread. Oh, Sooooo good!

    Don’t forget to make toast for breakfast if you don’t make hobo bread. Use a forked green stick and either impale the bread or try to balance it on the fork.

    Make SURE that you use green wood, and for heavens sake if you are in the NW DON’T use elderberry wood – it’s poisonous.

  40. Easy, delicious, no plates needed, just a cast iron pan.

    1 package Mexican chorizo

    1 dozen eggs

    1 package tortillas

    (you can cook half for one meal, the other half for another meal because it works as breakfast,lunch or dinner!).

    Remove chorizo from casing, cook in skillet til crumbly. Crack eggs into skillet, stir around in all the lovely orange grease, cook til eggs are firm. Warm the tortillas over the fire, fill, wrap, eat! No plates, no utensils, ole!

  41. We’ve had nachoes and cheese cooked on a cedar plank over the campfire. It was a bit unusual but we loved the smokey flavour.

  42. In my primary school days and having to go to school camps in victoria theres alot bush land so we used to cook our food on a campfire out in the bush the rule it was if you want eat you have to cook.The first night we cooked something called a bannana boat it’s were you:

    *wrap 2 pork/lamb sausages with vegies of your choice in 2 layers of tin foil.

    *dig a hole,add your ingreidents into the hole and then cover with dirt and then coals,then light a fire on the coals.

    about 40-50 minutes put out the fire let it die out,then dig your meal up but careful its HOT.

    *open the foil and as you say dig in.

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