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Campfire Cooking

My husband and I are going camping next weekend, and I wanted some campfire cooking ideas from my fellow hounds.

My husband likes to "rough it". Last year we cooked our steak on a flat rock that he heated in the coals of the fire. We soaked our corn in the river before throwing both the corn, and some potatoes in the coals to cook. No dutch ovens or grill grates allowed for these camping trips.

So, with that in mind, what are some of your ideas? I need to come up with meals for 2 days.

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  1. Wrap meat (hamburger patty, chicken, fish, etc), veggies (we usually use corn on the cob) and potato in aluminum foil and cover with hot coals. 20-30 minutes later your meal is ready!

    14 Replies
    1. re: PotatoHouse

      If it's truly roughing it, is foil allowed? I agree fish cooked this way is excellent, and cooks quickly.

      I assume no pans or skillets are allowed, right? How about food on sticks? Hot dogs, steak tips.

      I would tote a lot of charcuterie and hard cheeses.

      I'd also make him cook if he was dictating the manner of cooking....but then, I'm a meanie :-)

      1. re: pinehurst

        <I'd also make him cook if he was dictating the manner of cooking....but then, I'm a meanie > Actually, that sounds quite fair :)

        1. re: mike0989

          I am wondering how the fire will be built. Will modern clothes be worn and - more importantly will there be a tent and deodorant allowed? bug spray?

          Just kiddin ya OP.

          1. re: Sal Vanilla

            Funny enough, I cheated and bought one of those pads that inflate a little when you roll them out and he had no issue with it. BUT when it comes to eating we have to be like cavemen.

        2. re: pinehurst

          Foil is allowed, but no actual cooking vessels. Food on a stick is a good idea.

          And yes, he cooks. He gets all puffed up..me man, me cook on fire. ;)

          1. re: krisrishere

            for food on a stick you can soak rosemary twigs and then skewer veggies. I also love Halumi on a skewer, holds it's shape, so tasty.

            bring a cedar plank to soak prior in the river, then cook any of your fish on that over the coals. You may need to raise it up slightly over the coals with rocks or it might burn. I like salmon with a maple syrup lime glaze on a bed of scallions.

            You could go really old school and fashion a rotisserie out of sticks and hang a whole chicken from it.

            Bannock is a good one, bread dough wrapped on a stick and cooked.

            For dessert my family is a huge fan of banana boats. Don't peel, but slice banana lengthwise in the curve, creating a boat, stuff boat with chocolate and marshmallows, wrap in foil and toss on fire until banana is cooked and stuffing melted, eat with a spoon.

            I have friends that always make taco in a bag, place cooked meat, cheese, salsa, lettuce into a small bag of dortitos and eat right out of the bag.

            1. re: cleopatra999

              Banana boats are awesome...I prefer them to s'mores. They are especially good with butterscotch chips :)

            2. re: krisrishere

              We used to do hotdogs and sausages on sticks. Also bread dough we would wrap around te sticks. We have also done shrimp that way too.

              1. re: krisrishere

                I would bring the phone number of a good divorce attorney. Guess that makes me a meanie, too. :)

              2. re: pinehurst

                I would do baked potatoes well wrapped in foil in the fire.

                1. re: juliejulez

                  Agree. I bake the potatoes at home, then just reheat them at camp. Not only way shorter cooking time and reduced chance of burning or uneven cooking, but good potato skin even when reheated in foil (I assume; I've always reheated on grill grate).

                  Also "chinese chicken wings" (first marinated for a day or two in soy sauce, ginger, garlic, lemon, veg oil) that can just be reheated. Can't understand no grill grate, and I wouldn't cook them from raw in foil, the flabby skin would bum me out. Next best is reheating in foil if that's allowed.

                  I also bring no-cook food like smoked trout/salmon with accoutriments, deviled eggs, crudite and dip, cheeses and charcuterie as mentioned by other poster. Without those sure bets, if the food in the campfire came out lousy I'd be one PO'd fellow-camper.

                  1. re: Niblet

                    Even I was surprised how well the heated rock seared the steak I brought last time. Rocks are where it's at! :)

                    1. re: krisrishere

                      Really! I'm intrigued, have to try it.

                      1. re: Niblet

                        Just be careful not to get a rock that gets soaked in a nearby stream--they can explode from the steam.

            3. As he seems to like a Quest for Fire style of cooking, how about doing a chimichurri to go along with the meat.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mike0989

                I like that! Freshens everything up.

              2. Cut the top 1/3 off an orange, scoop out the flesh. Fill w/ dough, put top back on, wrap in foil and put on the outside edge of coals for orange flavored rolls. You can also add cinnamon sugar, top w/ glaze (use orange juice from the orange) to make cinnamon rolls.

                Another dessert idea--peel sliver of banana. Remove 1/3 sliver of banana (down the center), add chocolate chips, nuts, marshmallows (I can't do marshmallows because it's too sweet for me), top w/ the sliver of banaa, wrap in foil. Heat at coals of fire. It's like a melted sundae.

                1 Reply
                1. A small note about rocks in the campfire: Make sure those rocks are not hauled from the river. Those are likely to explode.

                  You can cook fish from the river on those rocks or on a soaked (non toxic)green hard wood tree branch. Make sure the pit is deep and that you have cooked down that fire before setting the food on it. A rotisserie of sorts can be assembled by using 3 green sticks (2 with a y shape and one straight - impale (for example a whole chicken) on the straight one and have the two Y's staked into the ground on each side of the fire and the Y part holding the straight over the fire (about a foot and a half higher than the fire). Turn occasionally. Your man will love that. Very primal. Otherwise - make stuff ahead for sides,, bring corn and potatoes and let him do the ugauga ing. How fun.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                    Oops, just replied upthread about the wet rock thing. Hadn't seen your post.

                    1. re: pine time

                      Mr. Caveman husband is well aware of the exploding wet rock problem. :)

                      1. re: krisrishere

                        Does the pup get to join in on the campy fun? They make excellent protein scavengers if the caveman fails on the hunt.

                        1. re: Sal Vanilla

                          Yes actually he does..which should be interesting because it will be his first time!

                      2. re: pine time

                        We three are the safety monitors. No sense in ruining a good time with exploding rocks.

                    2. I've heard of cooking steak directly on the coals (no grate) a coupla years ago, but never got around to trying it:
                      and here on Chow with other links

                      I also saw this done with whole, head-on, non-peeled shrimp.

                      As a kid, we'd scrape mud outta puddles and "batter" apples, about 1/2" thick. We'd place them in the fire and cover with coals to bake. After about 15 minutes, the mud is hard and can be chipped off. The apple is baked goodness.

                      We'd also scale and gut a few perch or bluegills that we caught, skewer them whole onto sticks and cook marshmallow style.

                      You can skewer all kinds of stuff on sticks (beef/chicken/pork/veggies, etc etc) and set on two rocks on each side of the coals. You can even pack them in a marinade before leaving.

                      I cooked small trout in an empty soup can in the fire, but I guess this is a step above "rough it".

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: porker

                        <I've heard of cooking steak directly on the coals (no grate) a coupla years ago, but never got around to trying it:>

                        I saw Steven Raichlen do this once on Primal Grill. Here is a link to the recipe on his Site.


                      2. Years ago, on a Sunday school trip to cut down Christmas trees, we learned how to make *hobo pouches.* Basically, you put all the ingredients in small bowls on a table and let campers make their own. I put out diced potatoes, diced green, yellow, red or orange peppers, hamburger meat and/or diced chicken, steak, etc., diced onion and various seasonings -- seasoned salt, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, onion powder, etc. Make a square of double-layered foil, put meat down first and build up pouches. Seal completely and put on hot coals for a half hour to 45 minutes. For some reason, the steam causes the pouches to make their own gravy and these are beyond delicious. I put a piece of masking tape on each pouch and have campers, when finished assembling, write their names on their creations. Easy peezy and cleanup is a snap. Just unfold the foil and eat :=)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: pilotgirl210

                          These are fabulous; I had good success with them the first night of a big group camp out we do each year. I like 'em with sausage, onions, hash browns, a splash of beer...maybe some cheddar.

                          1. re: pilotgirl210

                            This was called "campfire din din" in my family when I was young, my wife and I still make it for camping trips and is always a hit.

                            I've found black beans or chickpeas (canned) make a very nice addition.

                          2. If you're camping in the tropics...
                            dig a pit, line with rocks, make fire on rocks.
                            Meanwhile wrap mutton/chicken/fish/goat in banana leaves, tie with leaf spline.
                            When fire dies down, place parcels on rocks, cover up with banana leaves then dirt.
                            Go swimming, walk on beach. Seek out cocktails.
                            Return to pit, unearth parcels, open, eat.

                            1. Season a pork butt and wrap with several layer of foil (or banana leaves and then foil). After your dinner campfire burns down, make a pit with hot stones and place pork in pit. Bury with hot ashes. In the morning, enjoy several slices of roast pork with eggs and potatoes.

                              After breakfast, rub the rest of the roast with a BBQ rub and wrap it up again. Stoke the oven and make sure it can still maintain a low heat. it only need to be 200 F. Put the pork back in and enjoy pulled pork sandwiches for lunch. .

                              1. A few more thoughts. If skewers or spits are allowed, perhaps you can push it a bit and use long metal ones. A butterflied leg of lamb on a couple of long skewers or spits would do nicely this way. Marinate it in olive oil, a little lemon, red wine and rosemary. Weave some sprigs of rosemary among the skewers and the lay it across the colas on a couple of rocks spanning the fire.

                                For foil packets, summer squash does nicely this way. You can go about any direction you want with the seasoning you add to the packets. Just cut it up, add oil (and or butter) salt, and another flavor or two like garlic, or Cajun seasoning. I also like to do this with cut up wax potatoes as well.

                                Lastly. If you have a GOOD cooler, a cole slaw is not out of the question. Make the dressing and assemble it about an hour or so before eating and then cool down in the ice chest. A blue chees cole slaw is one I like making.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: mike0989

                                  Speaking of cooler...typically what I do is put the meat in a marinade or rub before we leave and freeze it so it does double duty...it's a perfect ice pack and it's usually defrosted by the time we're ready to cook.

                                  Is that how everyone else does it? It probably should be a separate thread, but what the heck.

                                  1. re: krisrishere

                                    I have to smile about: <is that how everyone else does it?> re: ice pack. We hiked the Appalachian Trail many moons ago, and I pre-made most all of our dried foods and we mailed the care packages to ourselves for pick up at local post offices. No fresh anything for ages and ages and ages. So, fresh food, ice packs, just sans cooking equipment, sounds positively civilized! Have a great time.

                                    1. re: pine time

                                      One of daughters and SIL did that in the Central Sierra in CA. Fresh food? HA!

                                    2. re: krisrishere

                                      We freeze whole chickens and use them in the cooler. It is a keen idea I think. Double bagged of course - chickie blood in the cooler would make me very unhappy.

                                      1. re: krisrishere

                                        That's exactly how we do it and it's not off topic. I consider it the "how am I going to get all of this there" in the most efficient way possible. Have fun on your trip! If Mr. Caveman is cooking, does he come with a set menu or is it up to you to come up w/ that?

                                        1. re: krisrishere

                                          There's nothing wrong with doing that as long as there is another way to keep that meat cold such as ice or one of those manufactured cold packs. Simply taking the freezer bag of meat and marinade out of the freezer and letting it defrost at room temperature for an extended period of time is not safe. The core may still be safe, but the exterior will remain in a dangerous temperature zone that allows bacteria to flourish.

                                      2. You know we will require a trip report. : )))

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                          Definitely. You guys have awesome ideas as usual. I'll take some caveman campfire pictures too.

                                        2. I had beggar's chicken recently at Bovinova and it was fantastic! Bashing hot fired clay to reach your meal seems very cavemanish...


                                          1. I don't think anyone mentioned oysters. They are the easiest thing to cook over a campfire. They come with their own cooking vessel! Toss in some corn on the cob, maybe some sausages on a stick and cave man, woman and pup eat good!

                                            1. last summer my friend made "french onion soup" on the grill which was kind of interesting. He peeled and cored some onions (not all the way to the bottom though, leave one end closed). Then he added some beef bouillon and some butter into the hole (and maybe some water?) and wrapped each onion in foil. Left them on the grill for a few hours, and when you open them up the onions are all soft and caramelized.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. The Boy Scouts have a site with lots of simple, partially-make-ahead food ideas that are good, like a variety of rollup ideas that are cheap, easy and do not spoil.

                                                I go on a big camping trip every year with a friend from college.

                                                Basically, we allow ourselves to be comfortable, so we bring along a two-burner Coleman for coffee, frying up eggs. She's a vegetarian.

                                                Doing things in advance and preps at home before you LEAVE, in my humble opinion, allows for more fun at the campsite and less hassle.

                                                Here's what I do:

                                                Breakfast do-aheads:
                                                At home, make peanut butter (or Nutella or a mix of almond butter, whatever)) rollups using torillas. You sprinkle in things like coconut flakes, raisins, craisins, whatever then wrap up well in plastic wrap. Keeps for a few days, especially if you put them in a ziplock after pre-wrapping with plastic wrap.

                                                Granola bars: I make these in advance at home (Irecipe calls for 1 can of sweetened condensed milk which helps them set up really nicely) then roll up in plastic wrap and put in ziplock.

                                                Bagels. Hard to dry out. Filling. Won't mold up. Toast slices on a stick, slather with mustard and semi hard cheese which need no refridgeration.

                                                Couscous cooks up quickly at a campsite, and you can add in a can of drained black beans, a can of partially drained chopped tomatoes, a can of drained artichokes or black olives, heat, serve with parmesan cheese on top. Super easy and only need one pot.

                                                Here's one if you're pressed for time and requires only two cans. One can of Spaghetti O's (yes, it's good, trust me, stop laughing) and then you stir in one can of drained black beans, heat, and serve with chopped green onions and shredded cheddar on top. It's good after a very long day of hiking, trust me, and it's high in fiber.

                                                Pita pizza in foil packet-- pretty much self explanatory. I use 1-8 oz. can of tomato sauce per two pita pizzas for two people, cover each pita with half an 8-oz. can of drained sliced mushrooms, then sprinkle with shredded mozz or swiss. Put pitas on foil, making a light foil package, and put near the edges of the fire to sort of roast/bake until the cheese has melted. Watch that they don't burn.

                                                It should be noted, that we park-n-camp, not backpack. You're way more limited with cooking when you backpack. In fact, when the occasion arises that I DO backpack, I just opt for carrying plenty of trail mix and jerky and skip cooking altogether.

                                                I'd rather cook at a park-n-camp site where I have my grear, said stove.

                                                Having said that, we've whipped out some incredible vegetarian meals over the years that were amazing, wine and cheese on the side. All from cans/boxed stuff for ease and more enjoyment by the fire.

                                                Hope this helps.

                                                1. I am very intrigued by your thread - we're going on a camping trip next week (North Rim of the Grand Canyon). SO and I have camped quite a bit but I've rarely camped where there was water available other than what we brought with us. In regards to the cooking methods there are almost always fire restrictions so we usually haul a camp stove. Except for the time that SO forgot the freakin' connection. We had the stove and the propane, but no connection. That was fun. Not!

                                                  As far as getting back on topic, I like to do as much prep / cook before hand, in your case. I can't imagine cooking breakfast off of a stone if no cooking utensils are allowed - perhaps you can skewer bacon and potatoes but how would one cook an egg?

                                                  I'm going to make the awesome sounding cheesy / boozy dip in the recipes under camping recommendations. We'll be leaving 107○ and up at the Rim at night it'll be 32○ so I'm looking for cold weather foods to cook. No cold cereal for us! One more thought - how in the world do you make coffee in the morning???

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: JerryMe

                                                    Let me tell you..I brought metal skewers on our trip and they were so versatile. For breakfast we skewered some breakfast sausage and toasted some bread. Hard boiled eggs are an option if you bring a tin cup or do them ahead.

                                                    As for cold weather foods..I'm think something slow cooked with beans and meat. Coffee? Get a cheese cloth, fill with some grounds, boil water in cup and dip away!

                                                  2. Here is a method that will quite possibly give you the very best fish you've ever had in your life: filleted, seasoned with salt and pepper and smoked over your fire. Trust me, it's more than worth it.

                                                    Whenever I'm outdoors, this is how I cook fish. I learned it from Ray Mears. He is, hands-down, the most knowledgeable human being on the planet when it comes to all things outdoors.

                                                    Here are a couple of videos that will show you just how to do it:


                                                    Here's Ray on how to make an oven using your fire and rocks:


                                                    It wouldn't surprise me if after your husband watches Ray on these few videos, he'll want to watch Ray's many other videos on bushcraft. If he does, he'll learn a ton. The man is simply incredible.

                                                    1. Hi everyone! I just wanted to give a quick update on our camping trip. I went super simple because our goal was to bring the least amount of stuff possible...and that included our small size cooler.

                                                      Before we left, I put 2 chicken breasts in my favorite "Just Dip It" marinade from Temecula Olive Oil Co., and some chunks of petite sirloin in a marinade consisting of garlic, balsamic, oil and some pantry odds and ends. I also cut up zucchini, squash, red onions and red peppers. We also brought 2 sweet potatoes, 2 ears of corn and green beans.

                                                      The first night we skewered the beef and vegetables, and threw the sweet potatoes in the coals to cook (picture below). For breakfast we skewered some sausage and toasted a couple pieces of bread. The last night for dinner we cooked the chicken (double skewered), soaked the corn in the river for a few hours and threw that on the coals, and roasted some green beans in a foil packet. Dessert was nectarines or trail mix.

                                                      All in all, it was very satisfying and a ton of fun. We definitely felt like "foodies" with our meals when the people down the way from us were cooking hot dogs on sticks for dinner every night!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: krisrishere

                                                        Food looks great. Glad to hear you had fun.

                                                        Next time, save time and skip soaking the corn. It's not necessary.

                                                      2. I just wanted to jump in on the conversation and say thank you to all of you hounds out there. While I hardly ever post, I almost always scour this site before attempting new recipes. Anyways, this past weekend my husband and I took a camping trip and for me dried food that you add water to just won't do! We were at a "primitive" campground... so not backpacking, but it is a tent only place and you do have to haul all your stuff from the parking area about a quarter mile or so down a trail to your site so we tried to be minimal on what we carried. My cooking equipment that I brought was an iron skillet, heavy duty foil, extra long grilling tongs and a knife. That being said here was our semi foodie adventure:
                                                        Fridays menu: Rib-eye steaks and baked potatoes. I marinated the steaks prebaked the potatoes at home, wrapped in foil and threw in the coals to reheat/crisp while cooking the steaks in my 100 year old iron skillet over the fire. Worked out great, as they were both done in about the same amount of time. For a midnight snack I did the boozy cheese so many have mentioned on here with some really good bread that I wrapped in foil and just heated for a few minutes on the fire. OH MY! I'm not sure if it makes a difference as to the alcohol... I used a really good bourbon in my husbands collection and you really couldn't taste it and I used more than the 1 T. I prepared the cheese at home as well and was able to just toss into the embers. Saturday for brunch I cooked bacon in our skillet and made bacon and tomato sandwiches with a basil mayo that I prepped at home (Ina Garten's recipe). We aren't big on breakfast so this worked for us. Saturday night I did foil "hobo" packets with really tiny red, gold, and purple potatoes, corn, onion an homemade smoked sausage from a local place. I tossed butter, garlic cloves and fresh seasoning in each and cooked for about an hour over the fire before putting them in the edge to get all caramelized and yummy. For dessert I did the banana boats that I kept reading about on here. I had brought some extras such as some yummy trail mix, and some hard cheeses and grapes to go with wine... but with all the other food this barely was touched. All in all I think the trip was very successful and even though we ate really well everything was very simple and required very little to do while at the site. I am so thankful to all of you who have taught me how to really cook both at home and out in the woods! I have come so far from someone who didn't even know how to boil water for pasta two years ago!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: hheath9h

                                                          That sounds like a fantastic camping trip! Way to go!

                                                        2. Foil wrapped goods are easy, but then if you're bringing foil, you might as well bring a pan - when used that way, foil is really just a floppy pan. Parchment might be more "roughing it", and then you can burn your parchment waste.

                                                          A DIY rotisserie is a neat idea. You could also use some sticks to fashion a grate (using vines as binding material, of course), and (again using vines) fasten a splatchcocked bird to it, and lean it over the fire. You could use a similar concept to grill some eggplant slices, they don't take much time to cook.