You’ve got your campsite picked out, a tent ready to go, and the 10 essentials in your backpack. But what about food? If you don’t want to be stuck eating trail mix and jerky, then it’s time to get creative with some campfire cooking.
So, what can you cook on a campfire?
On a campfire, you can cook meats, sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, bread, and just about anything you can at home. It’s all a matter of having the right equipment to get the job done. Equipment such as cast iron skillets, dutch ovens, or even spits will allow you to cook just about anything on a campfire.
Here’s what we will cover in order to get you eating like royalty during your camping trip.
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Things You Can Cook On A Stick
One of the easiest ways to cook over a campfire is to put food on a stick and roast it like a marshmallow. Fancy skewers aren’t even necessary if you’re backpacking or camping in the backcountry. Just find a firm stick or whittle a point on some branches found on the ground.
Make sure any stick you choose is long enough so you can sit a safe distance away from your campfire. It should also be firm enough to support the food on it, but not so brittle that it breaks or bends under the weight. Greener sticks and branches are better because they won’t catch fire very easily.
If you opt to cook on a stick, then all you have to pack are the items you plan to cook and any sides or condiments to go along with them. Certain items, particularly meats, will need to be kept chilled but you can always throw some ice blocks into your bag or freeze them the night before. Then let them thaw out in your backpack while you hike or do other activities, and cook them up for dinner in the evening.
- Hot dogs
- Corn Dogs
- Vienna Sausages
- Chicken Nuggets
Meats that are easy to cook on a stick include hot dogs, sausages, or any pre-formed meat that holds its shape. Try out corn dogs, mini canned sausages, meatballs, shrimp, and chicken nuggets. To make kebabs, marinate your favorite cut of meat and cook it up for dinner on a skewer.
Another popular meat that most people love is bacon, and you don’t even need a skillet to cook it. Just wrap it around a stick or fold it multiple times on a skewer and stick it over the flames. If you want to get even fancier, wrap your meat in bacon and cook it together.
- Any meat sandwich
- Grilled cheese
- Peanut butter
Any sandwich can be heated over the campfire to help warm up when the sun goes down. Take a lunch meat sandwich, a grilled cheese, or even that classic peanut butter and jelly and cut it in half. Put the halves on the skewer one right after the other and let the cheese melt in the fire while your bread becomes toasted and warm. If your sandwich has a lot of other toppings and you’re worried it will slip off, cut it into quarters and roast a few on each stick or skewer.
- Crescent rolls
- Cinnamon buns
- Stuffed tortillas
- Bread Slices
Bread can also be cooked pretty easily as well. Take a pre-made dough like crescent rolls and wrap it around the stick. Other store-bought options like cinnamon buns can be skewered and cooked until golden, then drizzled with icing. Alternately, take a tortilla, fill it with your toppings of choice, then fold or wrap it up and cook it over the fire.
For breakfast, you can put frozen waffles on a stick and warm them over the fire. Bread can also be toasted, though you may need to use several skewers or slice it in half, so it cooks evenly.
- Corn on the cob
Vegetables can be cooked pretty quickly and easily and make for a great side dish or addition to a sandwich or burger. Peppers taste delicious when roasted and can be cooked whole on a skewer. Onions and mushrooms are a great accompaniment and are often cooked along with peppers when making kebabs.
Corn on the cob is very easy to roast over the fire on a skewer, then rub it with butter or spices and eat it right off the stick. If any of your fellow campers like roasted tomatoes, then make sure to cook some of those too because they are perfect for skewers.
A less commonly ingredient to cook on a stick is any kind of fruit. Sturdier fruits work better, but you can always double up on skewers, so things don’t fall off into the fire. Bananas and pineapples taste great when cooked and can be dipped in Nutella or nut butter, which is a camping staple.
Some adventurous outdoor cooks take oranges, slice them in half, and then pierce the top part with a skewer. They say you can cook eggs inside that way, but it might take some practice and the perfect orange peel.
Things You Can Cook In Tin Foil
While cooking on a stick or skewer is definitely the easiest method, the next best is definitely tin foil cooking. All you have to pack is a roll of foil, and the sky’s the limit as to what you can cook. Foil is perfect for foods that take longer to cook because you can bury them in the ashes and not have to hold a skewer for hours on end. Make sure to pack some tongs to retrieve hot foods from the fire once it’s cooked.
For foil cooking, the trick is to use the foil to wrap your food and protect it from the ash and coals. Foil can also be used to create a packet or container around foods that are a bit messier. One other reason foil is so great is that, once it cools, you can eat right out of it without needing a bowl or plate.
The quintessential foil food is any kind of potato, whether it be golden, russet, or a sweet potato. Just poke it with a fork, wrap it in foil, and bury it in the coals. When it’s cooked through and soft, top it with chili or classic baked potato toppings for a filling meal.
Any meal can be combined together in a foil packet. Just take your protein of choice, add in some veggies, seasoning, and any other add-ins such as rice and beans. Then wrap it up and cook it in the coals until it’s ready to eat. It’s best to add sauces after so it’s not as messy.
Sandwiches can also be cooked or warmed in foil. Pre-made breakfast sandwiches or burritos are perfect for mornings when you wake up famished. If they’re already wrapped in foil, just toss them in the coals, build up your fire, and go back to sleep until breakfast is ready.
Cooking in foil allows you to get a little more creative and cook more things than you could on just a skewer. Bring along frozen fries, throw them in foil and top with cheese, onions, and hot sauce for your very own cheese or chili fries. The pre-made dough can be baked in coals to make fresh bread for sandwiches.
In addition to aluminum foil, another great option is foil baking tins. These are lightweight, very affordable, and come in a variety of sizes. Smaller tins can be used as personal bowls and allow you to portion meals up. Or cook in a bigger tin and then eat from the smaller tins to avoid packing heavy bowls and plates.
For trips where weight and space are not an issue, bring along some heavier cookware such as pots, pans, a griddle, skillet, or a Dutch oven. This option is perfect for camping with a big group when it’s necessary to feed a lot of people.
With the right cookware, it’s possible to cook any dish that could be made at home. The only question is how many different ingredients you want to bring along in order to recreate favorite meals in the outdoors. Look for one-pot recipes where all the ingredients are put into the pot or bowl and cooked together to save time.
For breakfast, make scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, frittata, or French toast. In a big pot, it’s easy to make a huge batch of soup, stew, pasta, or rice. Other options include meat loaf, chili, mac and cheese, any kind of casserole, and even cakes and cornbread.
If the only cookware you bring is a small grill or grate, you’ll still have plenty of options. Place it over the fire and make pizza, tortillas, quesadillas, and sandwiches. Almost any meat or vegetable can also be placed on top, but it may take longer for them to cook without being in direct contact with the heat.
For cooking with pots and pans, the most important thing will be to get them properly placed over the fire. Try balancing them on several rocks or, dig a pit to make your fire in and then use branches or poles to set the cookware on top so the fire can cook from beneath.
Makeshift cookware can be constructed using rocks or flat stones. If canned foods are brought along, these can be opened and cooked in the coals. However, the contents may not heat up evenly, and the bottom can burn. Still, it’s an option when in desperate situations.
As you can see, it’s possible to cook nearly anything over a campfire. There’s no reason to be deprived of your favorite foods and eating enjoyable meals will only enhance the camping experience. Unless you are backpacking and have weight restrictions, then your options are only limited by your imagination.