As nostalgia goes, few experiences can match the outdoor romance of cooking over a campfire. Chances are you can recall a starry evening spent grilling hot dogs or s’mores over glowing embers.
But have you really extracted the full potential of your culinary abilities over an open flame? There’s so much more you could be enjoying.
Adding a few of these unique items to your campfire cooking repertoire will teach you new cooking techniques and expand your campfire menu to something you’d enjoy eating any night of the week, not just when you’re sleeping under the stars.
Coffee at camp is a welcome addition to any morning in the wilderness, but you’re probably used to mixing the powdered stuff into some boiling water and being done with it.
You can make delicious coffee over a fire using a percolator like you’d use to make a cup at home.
You’ll never want to look at crystallized instant coffee mix again once you’ve had a cup of the genuine article.
Dessert doesn’t have to be limited to s’mores if you’ve got a dutch oven and some baking essentials around.
In fact, you can get creative with this basic idea once you’ve tried it a few times and put together just about any take on a sheet cake that you’d make at home.
For an outdoorsy sweet treat, try adding some sliced fruit to a lighter cake mix, or prepare a warm topping like melted chocolate, caramel or butterscotch while the cake bakes and pour it on to serve.
Get a recipe here.
Seafood lovers can still get their fix when camping. If you’re near freshwater, you could even catch some fresh salmon to cook.
The challenge with fish is that it’s important to protect the delicate flesh from falling apart or being overcooked.
The fix? Our camp Salmon guru recommends packing sliced citrus and spices into a large leaf like a banana leaf and then wrapping it and coating the entire affair in clay.
The insulation makes sure the fish stays moist and is cooked thoroughly. Plus, what a presentation to unwrap!
Camping with a big group? How better to feed your hungry band of campers than with fire-grilled pizza!
But what’ll you do without a stone oven like the ones they build in Italy? Actually, you can cook pizza over a fire multiple ways.
You can use a grill grate placed atop the flames, cook a thicker pie in a dutch oven or bring your own pizza stone and set that on top of the grill grate.
Just make sure it’s not too heavy.
Apply your favorite sauce and toppings and get ready to enjoy a quick, delicious meal that can be customized to satisfy any pallet.
Find a recipe here.
5. Stuffed Peppers
An excellent way to pack some vegetable matter into what can turn into a meat-and-starch extravaganza, stuffed peppers can be packed in foil pre-loaded with delicious rice, beans, ground beef and seasonings.
To prepare, just unpack and set inside your dutch oven to cook over hot embers.
In about 15 minutes, you’ll have perfectly cooked complete meals that add a bit of an upscale feel to your camping expedition. Bon appetite indeed!
Learn how to make them here.
6. Baked Apples
Sometimes simple is best. Fresh, crisp apples baked on a grill grate over smoldering embers can make an exceptional dessert.
They’re a natural compliment to ice cream or gelato if you’ve got the conviction to pack it in, and are made even better when topped with cinnamon or warm, melty sauces like the caramel and butterscotch from the cake recipe above.
Grilled peaches and pineapple are also tasty nature-made treats.
This is a good recipe to use.
Grilled and stuffed isn’t just a Taco Bell technique. You can enjoy burritos that put fast food to shame and stand up to anything you’d make in the kitchen using a technique similar to our stuffed peppers from above.
Set your ‘burros on a griddle plate over hot coals and prepare to feast in 10-15 minutes. For a rustic touch, prepare some dutch oven salsa to top your meal with.
But be warned, you might need an extra handkerchief for this one. It can get messy.
Who doesn’t enjoy popcorn? But while it’s a popular healthy snack, today’s youth might not know how easy it is to make popcorn that doesn’t come from a bag.
And of course it’s delectable, too. Pack your preferred popcorn kernels complete with butter and seasoning into a tinfoil ball.
Make sure that the foil isn’t wrapped so tight that the corn doesn’t have room to pop.
Suspend the ball with string so that it’s just dangling in the hot breath of the coals. Listen for the sound of fresh popcorn…and enjoy. More info here.
It can be easy to forget about breakfast when you’re talking campfire meals, but when you roll out of your tent into a 30-degree morning, some hot food sounds like just the thing.
Pancakes are straightforward to make in a griddle pan or dutch oven and can be as simple or as complex as you’d like depending on where you get your batter.
Go with store-bought and save some time, or make your own at home, jar it and have a special treat at camp. Either way, it’s a definite upgrade from instant oatmeal.
Learn how to make them here.
10. Cornbread Tamale Pie
Chile and camping go hand-in-hand, but with this recipe you won’t be eating Hormel’s from a can.
Tamale pie is a hearty home-cooked combination of cornbread and meaty stuffing that translates beautifully into a campfire cookout.
Since the ingredients are bulky, this is a good solution if you’re planning on truck camping, or for night one of a backpacking expedition.
As flavor goes, there are few better ways to end a long day on the trail. This dish will have you energized and ready for the challenge ahead, and your cooking will be the pride of the trip.
Get the full recipe here.
Something for everyone really can be had over an open flame, and trying new things in the wilderness can be great fun. Why not branch out on your next expedition and expand your camp cooking horizons?
There are even more where these come from. How about some griddle-cooked chilaquiles or bacon-wrapped trout with orange peel brownies for dessert?