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Camping Recipes

Chellyd01 posted on General topics that she needed help planning camping meals for her SO...she is apparently a total camping virgin. So I thought we could all chip in here and share good recipes that are simple, don't involve a lot of prep, and will keep well. Apparently she is talking car camping, not backpacking...but both varieties of recipes might be nice.

Here's mine, Chelly:

Camping "Packaged Dinners"

Chicken breasts, boned and skinned. Freeze these ahead of time, put them in the cooler, and by the time they get to the campsite they'll be thawed enough to make this the first night. One per person.
Sliced zucchini, mushrooms, and onions. (about 1/2 cup per person. You can prepare ahead of time and store them in ziploc bags).
One medium potato (I like Yukon Gold) per person, washed, peeled, and sliced fairly thin lengthwise. (Again, try the ziploc trick)
One small jar (the smallest you can find...usually 8 oz) premade spaghetti sauce
Mozarella or Jack cheese, or any white cheese you like. Its ok to cheat and buy presliced.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Place one breast on a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. (You might want to use two sheets, or double-wrap). Layer potatoes, vegetable, and cheese on top. Drizzle on about a tablespoon or two of spaghetti sauce per serving, and salt and pepper to taste. Wrap it all up (again, you'll want sturdy foil!) and poke a hole or two in each package to vent.

The packages can be cooked on a grill on indirect heat, or even placed right next to wood coals on the fire if there is no grill. They will take about 45 minutes to an hour to cook; turn occasionally (tongs help for that!). The cheese will pretty all melt away, but it adds a nice flavor.....

An easy one dish meal that can be prepared in a campfire!

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  1. We usually do a greek salad and a mock-tandoori chicken the first night, as all the ingredients are pretty sturdy. My favorite thing to make recently is apple french toast.

    Slice a bunch of french bread up and then tear it into chunks (cheap supermarket french bread is fine here-you're camping!). Peel, slice and cube some apples and toss w/the bread in a big pot or bowl. In another bowl, mix together eggs with a dash of milk and vanilla and cinnamon and brown sugar-a dash of OJ is great too. Stir into the bread and apples. Melt butter in a saucepan and cook the french toast jumble one layer at a time, flipping to brown on both sides. Serve with syrup.

    The favorite recipe of the kids in our group is "buttery noodles"-cook noodles and drain. Add a big chunk of butter and one of cream cheese and some garlic to the noodles in the pan over low heat. Grate a bunch of parmesan, add salt and pepper. Chives are good, too. You could even (gasp!) add some veggies or a can of tuna. Stir until it's nicely coated.

    1. I could not love my Hounds more!

      1. I'm sick when it comes to camping food.

        On my jeep trips across the desert southwest, my SO and I eat as well as we do at home and everyone else in camp always seems a bit jealous.

        The secret is my vacuum packing machine.

        When ever I make something that will travel well, I double it and freeze. For example, napa cabbage is on sale... chop and freeze. In a seperate bag (in the stages I use them in) I do chopped bell pepper, garlic, ginger and herbs and freeze. I take chicken that I've cooked and shredded (and frozen) and that becomes a stir fry with soba noodles.

        Homemade mushroom ravioli in a garden fresh pesto? Yep, all in the freezer in bags ready to boil in camp for a five minute meal.

        I tend to cook extra meats at home and freeze the chopped leftovers for simple camp tacos, nachos or burritos. I do the same with roasted vegis. The great part is that if you wrap the burrito in foil you have a hot lunch on the trail, foodie style, right off of the motor without ever firing up a stove. Mmmm... grilled vegi burritos rock!

        1 Reply
        1. re: holy chow

          Exactly how do you expect this canoeist to carry frozen items?

        2. Risotto is the ultimate unlikely one-dish camping dinner.

          1. I've gone back and forth the US camping a few times and have some staples that are always a hit and super easy to deal with. Although I think if you're an efficient griller camping is a piece of cake assuming you'll have a fire pit.

            Corn on the cob - buy it fresh, soak in water, throw over the fire (assuming you'll have a fire pit of some kind)

            I make pull pork ahead of time, it keeps really well in the cooler, then warm and serve with the corn.

            Black beans - another easy one to warm in a pan over open fire.

            Marinated chicken pieces. Thighs and big wings (NO WINGETTES). Marinate in your fave spices, throw over open fire.

            Baked potatoes - yukon gold and sweet potato. Baked sweet potatoes are super yummy. Both can be sliced into 1/4 pieces and stuff in foil pak or bag with butter, salt & pepper.

            Sausage, brats, etc. All super easy on the fire. Add some whole peppers and big slices of onions and these bad boys are terrific on a roll with mustard.

            I also make a HUGE muffuletta sandwich - like 4 feet long - and slice into individual size sandwiches. These are a huge hit and good to pack if you're going hiking or canoing.

            Kebabs of any kind are great too. Cut your veggies up before you leave. I like to bring along hummus and pita bread. Grilling the pita bread makes this one extra good.

            3 Replies
            1. re: kittychow

              If you have a dutch oven, I was checking out some sites with dutch oven recipes
              just click on you favorite search engine for dutch oven recipes, and if you like that
              kind of thing, you can get the recipes before hand and prepare for a nice trip. you
              might be surprised about how good the scouts websites are too.

              1. re: bigjimbray

                I second the dutch oven. A cast iron skillet is also a highly valuable camping tool. (car camping only...I'm not lugging a cast iron anything in a backpack). You can use the skillet on the camp stove or just stick on a grate over the fire depending on the situation and use it to cook pretty much anything that doesn't require precise temp control. (i.e. no eggs benedict while camping.)

                Last time out with a group of 8 people, I was the food boss and we had chicken and dumplings for dinner one night, which was a big hit. I pre-chopped all of the veggies and meat and then froze them and just threw them in the cooler when we packed up. Cooked it over the fire in the dutch oven on the second day. That idea would work for anything that can just be tossed in and let to cook at pretty much any medium temperature. (beef or veggie stew for example). You could also venture into the realm of braised anything if you don't have friends that insist that the fire must be BIGGER like mine do. A nice low even bed of coals isn't an option camping with those jokers. Or you coudl use the dutch oven as it's meant to be used with coals under and on top and make darn near anything that you'd make in an actual oven.

                I second the recs for the boy scout website for general guidelines and instructions in the use of a dutch oven. Did you know they can get merit badges for cooking?

                And...I'm sure I'll get somebody pointing out that cast iron isn't supposed to be used for very wet and/or acidic things because it will mess with the seasoning/patina. I say throw caution to the wind and make sure you grease your cast iron well after every use.

              2. re: kittychow

                Corn on the cob is great. You can leave it in the husks, the double wrap it in aluminum foil and place it around the outside of the fire for about 15-20 min, turning occasionally. The moisture in the husk steams the corn.
                Quesadillas are super-easy too. And don't forget coffee. They sell old-style percolaters made for camping that you just place over the fire. A hot cup of coffee in the crisp, early morning hours is great.

              3. Excellent ideas!

                I love a fire-roasted eggplant parm sandwich - roast the tomato and eggplant on the fire in foil packets, then put together in sandwich with cheese and just heat a little unti all is toasty and divinely bubbly. I also love your basic campfire meats -- sausage, hot dog, burger over the fire. Fingerling potatos with a scoop of sour cream.

                How do you guys do coffee when camping? I don't have any kind of burners or anything - I do all of my food over the fire, all wrapped in foil. I think I'll bring some pots/pans this time to try some of these ideas. I am wondering if I should get one of those percolators for my coffee.

                7 Replies
                1. re: foxy fairy

                  Again, over the top is how I roll. Coleman makes a drip coffee maker that sits on a burner and makes excellent coffee. I can usually sell a cup or three to my group at breakfast in the morning it is so good. ;)

                  1. re: holy chow

                    We just got the Coleman drip coffee maker and there is no going back. It was so great to have real coffee on our lasts camping trip. No sludge, no grounds. Just good coffee!

                  2. re: foxy fairy

                    French press is the way to go when camping - the plastic ones are very light and make good strong coffee. I have to bring half and half in a little cooler though b/c I just can't do coffee black.

                    For other foods, one of my old favorites on a campstove is to get a big tube of premade polenta, slice and fry, then top with pesto or tomato sauce and cheese and cover with foil for a few minutes.

                    1. re: celeste

                      Paper filters in a plastic Melita holder makes good coffee, and is easier to clean up than the press. Just toss the filter in the trash.


                      1. re: paulj

                        I've always used a French Press but...

                        I love this idea! What a great new find....thanks! It makes such good sense.

                    2. re: foxy fairy

                      Get a non-breakable French press. One of these got me through many years camping with Boy Scouts.

                    3. Yay--this thread is making me excited for our 4th of July camping trip! I thought I'd toss in some suggestions:

                      We always do some kind of grilled fish item the first night out--we use the marinated shrimp from this food and wine recipe: www.foodandwine.com/recipes/grilled-s... (but never bother with the sorrel or the remoulade)--just throw the shrimp in the marinade before leaving the house, and it's ready by dinnertime to thread on skewers and grill. We also frequently grill salmon and serve it with a butter and brown sugar BBQ sauce, although it can be a little tricky to flip the salmon over on the cooking grates most fire pits come with (we bring oil in a little bottle and paper towels to wipe down the grates with, and tongs and a spatula are essential). With both of these, we serve big slices of grilled bread.

                      I usually also take a marinated tomato salad--chopped tomatoes, some garlic, olive oil, a mix of sherry and balsamic vinegars, sometimes some basil, sometimes some fresh mozz--this is usually good for a couple of days (it gets soggy, but is good for bread dipping at that point...


                      We have a camp stove, so we also do things like pasta (fresh or dried, if fresh usually something like ravioli) and toss it with pesto (made at home and transported in a jar) and sometimes a fresh veg like green beans. Also, for something quick, we boil up some couscous and toss it with a fresh veg and baked tofu, and top it with peanut sauce (jarred or homemade).

                      Last time we went out, we tried a dry pancake batter mix one morning for breakfast--add milk (fresh from the cooler or an aseptic package) and a little oil and stir. Unfortunately, it was a whole-grain batter, so it turned out, um, grainy, but I think the idea might work. We also had biscuits and gravy the first morning out, with gravy I made previously and transported in a jar in the cooler, but that might be a little over the top!

                      Re: coffee--we usually bring a french press (yes, roughing it), but there are also these little packets of espresso concentrate that they sell at camping stores which I've used to produce makeshift lattes, not great, but not too bad...

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: Emily Hope

                        What kind of camp stove do you have? Do you think it's worth the investment -- we'll camp every weekend this summer and maybe even more in September. What are some good brands for camp stoves?

                        Emily -- thank you for reminding me of how much I relish grilled shrimp on the campfire! I am going to marinate at home as you say and they'll be ready to go by evening! woohooo. I love to be gourmet at the campground, I must say...

                        1. re: foxy fairy

                          Hopefully not straying too far OT here... if you're camping every weekend, I do think that it's worth the investment--it makes it so much easier to boil water, make coffee, etc. We have a Primus backpacking stove because we do backpack occasionally, but if you're only car camping, I think that Coleman makes good, inexpensive propane stoves.

                          Yeah, I love that shrimp recipe--something about cooking them over the coals, they get crusty on the edges, and are really garlic-y--yum.

                          One of the other things I meant to mention was lunches--because we don't like to light up a fire or make a big production for lunch, we usually bring along some easily rehydrated things, like black bean or split pea soup that you can buy in bulk, or little soup cups, and have those with some fairly hard cheese (like an aged cheddar) that we bring along.

                          1. re: foxy fairy

                            If you're going to be camping that much, I'd definately invest in some quality cooking gear. It'll make it a lot easier and more fun. This is the coffee pot I use http://www.rei.com/product/401016?vca..., but just looking for this link I found a lot more options, including french presses and drip-style that you put right on your camp stove.

                            1. re: foxy fairy

                              Don't know where you will be camping, but there will definitely be places and times in California this summer where campfires are completely banned, even in pits in organized campgrounds. I imagine the same is true in much of the west and southwest. A campstove will be a necessity.

                              My Coleman propane two burner works just fine....

                              1. re: foxy fairy

                                Wow, that's a lot of camping! I'm jealous. I've been using the standard coleman stove and have no complaints. Propane lasts pretty long too. Places like REI, Target, EMS all have plenty of gear to get you started. You might also think of hitting up a thrift shop for cast iron cookware - seems to be a lot of that stuff at Goodwill. The Campmore is usually full of amazing deals.

                                The stove will be a life saver if it rains and you can't light a fire, or if the campground won't allow fires for any reason.

                                1. re: foxy fairy

                                  A basic two burner propane stove will only run you about $25 at Target and should last for several years, it's worth it even if you only camp once or twice a year. Even though I only camp occasionally, I splurged on a Coleman stove with electric ignition, and hopefully it will last pretty much forever. I make drip coffee by heating up water in my camping teakettle and pouring it through the filter into a thermal coffeepot so we can have warm coffee all morning.

                                  1. re: Chowpatty

                                    Wow! Thanks Chowpatty, and everybody, for such detailed explanations. Again, not trying to veer too much from the topic but since you mention those Coleman stoves -- are they hard to light? :) I've seen people struggling with camp stoves while I merrily toss everything into foil on the fire, but I think those were the tiny backpacking stoves. But I would love it to make soup on a chilly night, COFFEE, ricotta pancakes and bacon. Mmmm.

                                    1. re: foxy fairy

                                      I've never had a problem lighting mine. I don't think you need spend extra on a auto lighting feature. Once you turn n the propane a match does the job.

                                      1. re: foxy fairy

                                        Gasoline stoves (Colman fuel or white gas) take some effort to light. Typically you need to pump air into the fuel tank, and light them with just the right fuel flow. But propane stoves are as easy to use as home gas stoves. If they don't have a built in piezo lighter, use on of those bbq lighter wands.

                                        Propane stoves use 1lb disposable canisters (usually green), or if you are a heavy user, they can be connected to refillable tanks.

                                        Another option is a butane 'hot plate'. These are easiest to find in Asian groceries. The fuel comes in aerosol-style canisters that plug into a slot under the stove's cover. I mainly use mine at home for table top cooking, but have used it camping as well. Butane isn't as good a fuel as propane in cold weather, but the stoves are safe to use, and give you good control.

                                        For backpacking there are options that are more compact and lighter - such as iso-butane canisters and home made alcohol stoves. But for car camping and backyard use, propane and butane are the easiest choices.


                                        1. re: foxy fairy

                                          We have the 2 burner Coleman propane stove. It worked great. The only problem is it does not have a wind guard. I'd rec. buying a model with protection from the wind. These are very easy to use.

                                          1. re: foxy fairy

                                            I have a Coleman gas stove, a Svea 123, and a couple of the butane tabletop burners from the local asian market. Most of the time I use the butane burners, easy to light, easy to control from a simmer to a full boil, and cheap, safe and easy to refuel.

                                            They are also useful at home, making it less of a uni-tasker.

                                            As for coffee, we have a french press with an insulating sleeve. Keeps things warm on chilly mornings.

                                        2. re: foxy fairy

                                          I like the Camp Chef sold by Cabelas and Costco. Two 30,000 btu cast iron burners make it like cooking at home. You may also consider splurging on a good ice chest as well. A good one like the Yeti's are expensive, but they will keep your food chilled for several days.

                                      2. ...sigh....

                                        am I the only one who thinks "gourmet foods" should stay at home and not be frozen/vacuum packed and portable? sheesh.

                                        Give me Dinty Moore beef stew, canned corned beef (for hash over a campfire), cheerios and hot chocolate. Maybe some wieners. Potato chips and fritos. Canned sardines in chili & oil. Smoked o's (oysters--dibs on the oil!!) Bananas. Canned peaches (eaten out of the can with a pocketknife) Columbo salami. Cheddar cheese. Stoned wheat thins. Gorp. Herradura. Marshmallows. Coffee-black.

                                        That's camp eatin. Hell, I'm on v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: toodie jane

                                          I like to meet somewhere in the middle- camping friendly foods (not the processed stuff mentioned above) but prepared in a gourmet way. I am a foodie after all, and while on "vacation" I long to be in the kitchen. In fact I prefer vacations where I can cook, like staying in cabins. Cooking outdoors is the only thing I even get excited about with camping :)

                                          1. re: toodie jane

                                            If you camp infrequently, sure! But if you're one like me that's out every weekend in summer and fall, plus part of spring, then no. Good food all the way.

                                            1. re: toodie jane

                                              Bwah, ha, ha, ha, ha!!! I could not agree more! Camping is when I pull out the canned chili, canned potatoes and the chips! Thank you Foodie Jane! I love the foods eaten w/ a pocket knife!

                                            2. I'm a strong believer that when you go camping you cook what you catch. I motivates you to go out and really spend time in the woods.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: inuksuk

                                                Amen! A big fish fry over an open fire is great! I will say though, I don't recommend cooking a squirrel on a stick. My BIL got the great idea to take a squirrel, gut it, remove the head and then skin it and put it on a stick and roast it over the fire. It came out like a charred piece of shoe leather. The only way I'll eat squirrel is butchered in quarters, soaked in buttermilk and fried like chicken--which makes it a little hard to do (though not impossible) over a camp fire.

                                                1. re: inuksuk

                                                  That is SO's line of thinking. If you don't catch it you don't eat. He spent three months in Montana wilderness one summer and when I flew up to see him, he'd lost 30 pounds. I didn't recognize him at the airport.

                                                2. I spend a good three months of the year in hunting camp on weekends, and I've started trying some serious open-fire cooking. I like to asemble stews and other braised things ahead of time, and cook them over the fire in a dutch oven. I've been working on cobblers in the oven too, and I'm slowly getting better at that.

                                                  My crew is of the bonfire mentality, but we also make a little side fire for coals to cook over. We do steaks directly on a grate over the small fire, and I use that for frying pans and sauce pans too. For the dutch ovens, I just scoop out whatever coals I want and set them on the outside of the fire ring (we keep the area very clear) and load the lids up too. Then it's close and convenient to the fire to regulate temperature by moving it on or off, or taking coals off of the lid or replacing them.

                                                  We eat very well, since the rest of the crew likes to cook too. And yes, we all have gas stoves, and actually, camping trailers, so we could cook more conventionally. They do; I try to stay rustic.

                                                  1. I'm a big fan of anything I can cook on fire and eat with my hands. Minimal seasoning and ingredients, cooked on a tripod over the fire. Pork chops, steaks, whatever. A whole chicken takes 4-6 hours over hot coals.

                                                    I recommend the BassPro "Tripod Campfire Grill"...best $18.99 I ever spent. Folds up small, easy cleanup.

                                                    1. I only do backpacking or horse packing, so its pretty hard to find decent recipes! One thing that I love is Indian Fry Bread. On my reservation growing up, it was always a camping staple. Its just flour, sugar, baking powder and powdered milk. Add cold water when you are at your campsite and ready to cook it up. Form the dough into little pancakes and fry up in a small amount of oil. So yummy.

                                                      For a savory alternative, leave out the sugar and add dried herbs and spices (especially garlic powder!)

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: thunderbug84

                                                        This may not be chow worth, but its camping so...beenie weenies. We use canned pork and beans and those little beef cocktail weenies and some brown sugar, cut up a chunk of bread and eat with it. We always make chili too. I do it up ahead of time so all we do is warm it over the fire.

                                                          1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                            2 Cans of pork and beans
                                                            1 pkg of cocktail beef sausage (cut in half for easier eating)
                                                            Brown sugar to taste (about 1/2 C) we like it on the sweet side

                                                            Mix it all together and heat

                                                            1. re: Kari

                                                              Cute, but I was hoping for the frybread mix.

                                                        1. I usually do the cooking on camping trips, and here is what I make for breakfast:
                                                          Fry in bacon grease and oil, diced potatoes, peppers, onion, add other veggies like corn, okra, peas, etc, and spice with salt, pepper, garlic. Use as a side with eggs, have salsa, hot sauce, and cheese available. Use whatever anyone doesn't want as a side to make a frittata.
                                                          Also, scratch pancakes. Flour, b soda, b powder, buttermilk, eggs, salt. Simple enough. Add chopped nuts, berries, etc, and have ricotta, syrup ( fruit and maple ), and real butter available.

                                                          1. The family used to enjoy what we called -- for no discernible reason -- "macaroni-cheesey-tuney-peasey-beanie." Cook a package of Kraft mac 'n' chese, add a can of water-pack albacore tuna and a small can of peas, a generous shake of soy sauce and some Tabasco. Stir it all together and serve. It is completely gloppy and inelegant, but dang good (at least in my rapidly-fading memory).

                                                            1. Wow, my idea of "camping" is way different from most of the posters here: I'm thinking back-packing and tiny little stoves. I take a hunk of Parm (lasts really well without refrigeration). Tiny pasta shapes, herbs and spices, freeze-dried meats and veggies. Forage mushrooms, etc. After a day spent on the trail, anything tastes good. I do wish that someone would freeze-dry wine, however!

                                                              1. I'm surprised noone mentioned couscous. My go-to camping meal is couscous with ratatouille. There's no meat to worry about spoiling and everything is fairly light. We also do chili with texturized vegetable protein (TVP). TVP is dried so once again, no worrying about spoilage. One ever camping trip we've ever done we always made what we've called "heaven" which is olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and a little salt. It's a great dip for bread and we sautee vegetables in it. Finally, vegetable fajitas are great. Using an empty jar you can make your own spice mix. Bring a lime, a bit of olive oil and you're set.

                                                                1. Camp grub:

                                                                  Scrambled eggs + molasses beans + cheese.


                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Jjjr

                                                                    I'm glad I'm not the only one to respond to 5 year old threads.

                                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                      *shrug* I saw it after clicking 'chowhounds discussions,' at the top of the page and replied. Didn't even notice the dates until you mentioned it.

                                                                      1. re: Jjjr

                                                                        Actually, my bad.

                                                                        I was reading the interesting posts and responded to paulj's note about making coffee...
                                                                        I'd been using French Press and loved the idea about Melita and filter papers.

                                                                  2. I love that people keep adding to old threads.... some of us are still reading them and appreciate the additional posts/ ideas!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                      Ditto! I'm looking at camping ideas as well!

                                                                    2. Surprised homemade beef jerky didn't show up.

                                                                      Take a good-sized sirloin roast. Cut into long strips. Cure or marinade with whatever overnight. Dehydrate by throwing in the oven on a rack at the lowest setting and cracking the door open. 8 hours later, you have imperishable, inexpensive, incredibly tasty homemade beef jerky.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                        I made jerky like this before we hiked the Appalachian Trail. Mostly kept well for the whole 5 months, just needed a baking soda wipe-down the last couple of weeks. I added lots of spices in the marinade, and it was delicious.

                                                                      2. Best thing I know if you are car-camping is to take the pressure cooker with you. In 20 minutes you can come up with a big pot of beef stew full of meat, potatoes, onions, carrots, and gravy.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                          When there are only 2 of us, I don't want a big pot of anything. Fortunately a small pressure cooker, 1.5 L Hawkins, works nicely with my little camping stove. I don't use it on all trips, but it has given me options when shopping at small town groceries. Now I can get something besides pricey steaks or hot dogs.