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Aug 5, 2008 06:53 AM

Dutch oven over campfire recipes for a novice?

I just bought a new 6 quart dutch oven that I thought I would christen on an upcoming camping trip. Any tips or favorite recipes to share with a Dutch oven novice? I know there are lots of posts on the home cooking board for Dutch oven cooking that I intend to explore, but I was hoping for any specific advice you might offer a nervous beginner...

Do you use charcoal or can you cook over wood?

Any other favorite camping recipes welcome, too.

Thank you muchly!


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  1. TDQ,

    Wanted to get you rolling. I'll check my old Boy Scout resources tonight but a Google of "Boy Scout dutch oven recipes" yielded:

    Just a note: The outdoor Dutch Oven difers in construction from the indoor. It has feet on the bottom and a lip on the lid. The lip is to hold the coals on the lid...You shovel hot coals onto the lid to ensure complete heating.

    You can certainly cook over wood, but let the fire burn down to coals, so that you have smallish coals for the lid.

    If anyone can get their hands on a Boy Scout Field Guide, you'll be in good shape.

    "A long-in-the-tooth Eagle Scout"

    1 Reply
    1. re: Monch

      Great info, thank you. But, now I think I don't have the right kind of D.O... There is no way to convert an "indoor" oven for outdoor use, eh? Seems a shame.


    2. Could you describe this DO more? What's the diameter? Most camp cooking recipes specify the size, such as 10", 12" etc. Size determines how much charcoal you use.

      Does it have legs, or a stand? How a rimmed lid? Is it seasoned?

      You many need flames to get a rolling boil, but baking requires coals. Skilled users make a separate fire pit, and then shovel coals into place under the DO and on top. But charcoal briquettes are easier for the novice. A common rule of thumb is 2 times the diameter of the DO (e.g. 20 for a 10"), placing more on top than below.

      Here's a relatively new forum for camp cooking, including DO use

      8 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        Oh my, I had no idea. Uh...maybe it can't be used for outdoor use. It's one of the Lodge Dutch ovens like this one.

        Not seasoned. No legs, no stand. Would you consider that a rimmed limmed?

        Should I give up on using this Dutch Oven and get an "outdoor" one better suited to the purpose?


          1. re: Monch

            I fear you might be right... I'm so disappointed, ! I might have to buy one of the cast iron ones instead... I should have done some more research, I guess.


          2. re: The Dairy Queen

            It is possible to set any pan over coals using some sort of stand, whether a metal one designed for the purpose, or bricks or a grating. But to bake in it you need coals on top, and for that you want a relatively flat lid with some sort of raised rim. Lodge describes these as 'camp ovens'.

            Usually camp ovens are plain cast iron. I haven't seen any discussion as to whether enamel case iron would work or not. I don't think I've ever seen enameled ware with legs and rimmed lid. However enameled steel has been used over campfires for years (e.g the blue speckled ware distributed by Coleman and GSI).

            1. re: paulj

              Hmmm...I think I may abandon this project with this particular Dutch oven and wait until I acquire the appropriate equipment.

              Thank you for all of the feedback everyone!


            2. re: The Dairy Queen

              You're a victim of modern English. Originally, Dutch ovens were made to pretend to be an oven. Believe William Safire once did a column saying it also meant "false," as also in getting invited out on a "Dutch" date. The Dutch Ovens were for cooking indoors in fireplaces. They were very useful to early American settlers who didn't have real ovens. Most of them had three legs and lids with a rim, allowing hot coals to be placed both beneath them and on top, thus baking whatever was inside. But they also used them for making stews, etc., usually by hanging them on a hook over the fire. When Americans finally began to get stoves, they still liked those old pots, and wanted them without legs so that they could cook with them on stovetop, where they also did not need the rimmed lid. So, manufacturers began making them without legs and the lids without rims. They continued to call them Dutch Ovens, even though they could no longer be used for their original purpose.

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                grab up three equal sized rocks that have a flat-ish side and use those for legs, and plenty of heavy duty aluminum foil rolled up the sides and formed on the lid for holding coals on top. The recipes will have to come from someone else -- I only know how to do apple dump cake on a campfire.

            3. I have a very fond memory of making one pot lasagna at camp as a child. Noodles, ground beef, tomato sauce, cheese... mmm! When camping I like to make the summer camp classics. To avoid the hassle of boiling noodles I cook them in advance and put them in a bag in the cooler.

              1lb spaghetti
              1lb ground beef
              1lb velveeta
              1 large can of whole cooked tomatoes, chopped
              1 medium onion chopped

              Cook ground beef, then drain. Add onion to beef and cook until onions are tender, add tomatoes, noodles and velveeta (in chunks) and let the cheese melt.

              This produces a large amount of food and is cheap!

              1 Reply
              1. re: lhb78

                Now, see, that's the kind of wonderful camp chow I had in mind! Great recipe, thank you!


              2. There are regional dutch oven societies that have instructional classes and gatherings
                Groups that are interested in colonial and pioneer life may offer demonstrations as well.

                This weekend there's a demo in the Rochester MN area

                Sporting megastores like Cabelas and Sportsman Warehouse also carry this equipment

                1 Reply
                1. re: paulj

                  WOW! I think I have to join a dutch oven society! Awesome, thank you!


                2. Here's a site that I found on Chowhound a few years ago that I saved. Looks very helpfull.