10 Easy Camping Dinner Ideas – a Beginner’s List

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At the end of a long day of hiking, everyone has got to eat. Camp food, though, presents a different set of challenges. If you want to make great camp food, you need some easy camping dinner ideas. In this article, you will get some delicious recipes to make.

Selecting a Meal

There are a lot of meals listed here, so it can be overwhelming to choose from among all of them. When selecting one, be sure to consider these questions.

  • What will I and everyone else enjoy? Everyone has different tastes and preferences, so we choose different food to eat. If you are creating a meal for everyone else, then be sure to select something that everyone will enjoy. It makes the camping experience much more enjoyable.
  • What is within my capabilities? When camping, you want to cook food that you are capable of cooking. It is better to prepare a simple meal well than to attempt a complex meal poorly. It saves you time and energy. The best things in life are simple and well done. It is no different when it comes to food.

Top Tips

When cooking, remember these tips to make sure you have a wonderful and memorable experience. If you do so, then you are sure to do well.

  • Know how to make a campfire. For a lot of these recipes, you need to know how to make a campfire. In a previous article, I discuss how to exactly that. It lays out everything you need to know.
  • Cooking is an art, not a science. Sometimes you mess up when cooking. It is okay. It probably does not cost more than $10. You just make the best of your mistake and move on. It is like a misplaced splotch on the painting. You adapt the painting to the error.
  • It is all about preparation. Cooking is a lot less stressful if you start early and take your time. As a college student, I want my food now, but I understand that it does not apply to cooking. Enjoy each step. You learn along the way and connect with your friends while you prepare.

Root Beer Apple Baked Beans Recipe

Ingredients

6 chopped thick-sliced bacon strips
4 cans (16 ounces each) baked beans
1 can (21 ounces) apple pie filling
1 teaspoon ground ancho chili pepper
1 cup shredded smoked cheddar cheese

Cookware

10 inch Dutch oven

Cook time

40 minutes

Instructions

  1. Prepare a campfire to cook at medium heat. This is around 300 °F (148 °C). It is a rough temperature. Use 32-36 charcoal briquettes or large wood chips.
  2. In a 10-in. Dutch oven, you want to cook the bacon over the campfire until crisp. Once done, remove the bacon and discard drippings. (You can save the drippings for use in a later recipe). After that, put the bacon, baked beans, pie filling, root beer, and, if desired, ancho chili pepper into the Dutch oven. Stir it all together.
  3. Next, cover the Dutch oven with its lid. When the campfire is mostly ashed, place the oven on top of half the briquettes. Place the other half on the pan cover.
  4. Leave it for 30-40 minutes. This lets the flavors blend. Once done, add the cheese on top. Wonderful! You are now ready to enjoy it.

Sausage and Bean Dutch-Oven Stew

Ingredients

1/3 cup of olive oil
2 cans of cannellini beans and chickpeas (garbanzos), rinse and drained
1/2 sliced red bell pepper
4 chopped medium garlic cloves
1/2 sliced yellow bell pepper
1 sliced poblano chile
1 1/2 pounds cooked Italian sausages (Saag’s or Aidells work) cut into 1-in. chunks
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
3/4 cup water

Cookware

10 inch Dutch oven

Cook time

45 minutes

Instructions

  1. Prepare a campfire. Use about 50 briquettes until they are mostly gray. Mix all the ingredients except for the oregano in the dutch oven and cover.
  2. Arrange the coals for bottom heat cooking (you flatten the coals to make a level layer) and place in the Dutch oven. Check the pot and stir every 15 minutes, adding more water if the stew gets dry. You know it is done when the sausages swell and the peppers soften. Serve with oregano sprinkled on top.
  3. If you need to turn down the heat, then scrape away some briquettes. The opposite is true for increasing heat. Just add more briquettes or wood if you think the fire is too cool.

Barbecued Salmon

Ingredients

1 fillet (3 1/2 lbs to 4 lbs)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Cookware

Aluminum foil
Cast iron campfire grates

Cook time

30 minutes

Instructions

  1. Make the campfire to medium heat 300 °F (148 °C) and place the grates on top of it. I usually use briquettes because they give off a lot of heat and do not give the flames that firewood would.
  2. In a bowl, put the brown sugar, white wine, melted butter, Dijon mustard, thyme leaves, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Whisk these ingredients together.
  3. Place the salmon in aluminum foil and then on the grates (like in the image but with foil). As it cooks, glaze every five minutes while cooking. Cook the salmon until it is opaque in the center and still moist looking. After 25-30 minutes, it should be ready.

Lime and Pepper Grilled Chicken Breasts

Ingredients

1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves

Cookware

Seran wrap
1 wooden mallet
Freezer bag
Bowl

Cook time

35 minutes

Instructions

  1. In a bowl or plastic bag, put in the sugar, olive oil, salt, and lime juice. Stir to dissolve all the ingredients and then set it aside.
  2. Start a medium heat campfire (300 °F/148 °C). You can tell it is at this heat when you can hold your fingers 1-2 inches above it for 3-4 seconds. Use either briquettes or firewood.
  3. On a flat surface, place each piece of chicken on its own seran wrap. Pound each piece with the wooden mallet until it reaches a thickness of 1/4-1/3 inch. Put each chicken piece in a seal able bowl or plastic bag with the marinade and let sit for thirty minutes.
  4. After the thirty minutes, your chicken is ready to be cooked. Each piece should take 3-4 minutes to cook. Once done, be sure to enjoy it.

Devilish Chorizo Chili with Hominy

Ingredients

1 pound ground lean beef
2 large onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (7 oz. each) diced green chilies
1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) ale or other hearty beer
2 1/2 pounds uncooked chorizo sausages
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chilies
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
2 cans (15 oz. each) yellow hominy, drained
Salt

Cookware

Cast iron pan

Cook time

45 minutes

Instructions

  1. Make a campfire or use a gas stove top. While under high heat, squeeze the sausages out onto the pan and then discard the casings. Throw in your beef, garlic, and onions. Stir it on occasion, breaking the meat into small pieces until the meat is browned and the onions are soft. 10 minutes is about average. After that, discard the fat.
  2. Add your green chilies, chili powder, chipotle chilies, oregano, and cumin. Stir for 1 minute.
  3. Then put in tomatoes, ale, and hominy, bringing it to a boil. Afterwards, reduce heat, cover, and forget about it for 30 minutes, coming back to stir on occasion. Add salt as needed.
  4. Once that is all done, then enjoy your meal.

Smoky Beef and Bacon Chili

Ingredients

1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon to 1 1/2 tsp. Cayenne pepper
Salt
2 finely chopped thick-cut bacon slices
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 can (14.5 oz.) pinto beans, drained
1 can (14.5 oz.) crushed fire-roasted tomatoes or regular crushed tomatoes
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 cup flavorful, medium-bodied beer, such as Anchor Steam
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
Sour cream, sliced green onions, coarsely shredded cheddar cheese for topping

Cookware

1 large, heavy bottomed pot

Cook time

1 hour

Instructions

  1. Make the campfire or put stove top at medium-high heat. Cook the bacon just before it starts to change color. Then add onion, put on medium heat, cover, and stir on occasion until the onion is clear. Then put in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the ground beef. Break up the beef with a spoon and cook until it is brown. Stir in the spices and add salt as you would like. Put in tomatoes, tomato sauce, Worcestershire, and beer, bringing it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, put on a top, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring it on occasion.
  3. After that, add the beans and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Great! Your chili is all done and ready to be served.

Italian Style Hobo Bundles

Ingredients

5 tbsp. Olive oil
1/3 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus shredded Parmesan for serving
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus whole leaves for serving
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus whole leaves for serving
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped Calabrian chilies or 1/4 tsp. Cayenne and more chilies for serving
1 pound ground turkey
1 pound ground Italian sausage (chicken or turkey)
2 pounds small red potatoes, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-in. chunks or halves
1 large onion, cut into slim wedges
4 medium carrots, sliced diagonally
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Cookware

Heavy duty aluminum foil
Long tongs
Grilling gloves
Campfire with grilling grate
Large bowl

Cook time

90 minutes

Instructions

  1. Start by building a fire about as wide as the grilling grate. It is ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grate for 5-7 seconds. After that, cut the 6 aluminum pieces into 18 inch squares. Then you want to rub a little oil on the squares so your food does not stick to it.
  2. In a bowl, place grated Parmesan, bread crumbs, milk, chopped parsley, and basil. Add salt and pepper as needed. Then add the calabrian chile. Next put in the ground turkey and sausage. Stir it well and then shape into meatballs.
  3. For each foil sheet, put in 3 meatballs. Divide potatoes, onions, and carrots evenly among the sheets. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup oil, 1/3 cup water, the cornstarch, and remaining 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper; spoon over
    ingredients on foil, stirring sauce as you go.
  4. With each bundle, bring 2 opposite sides of foil together across the middle and fold to make a seam 1 in. wide. Fold seam on itself again, then fold it flat on the packet. Fold ends on themselves about 1 in., then repeat to seal securely.

Turkey and Black Bean Chili

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
1 (1.25-oz.) package chili seasoning mix
1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes in sauce or crushed tomatoes in puree
1 cup chicken broth
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
Toppings: sour cream, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, fresh cilantro sprigs, diced avocado

Cookware

Dutch oven
Campfire grilling grates

Cook time

20 minutes

Instructions

  1. Prepare a campfire or stove to medium heat
  2. Heat oil in the Dutch oven. Add the turkey and salt, cooking until the turkey crumbles and is no longer pink. Next add your onion and garlic to the center of the pan. Cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Add your chili seasoning and cook for a minute. Add adobo sauce, chipotle pepper, tomatoes, and broth. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat, simmering it for 5 minutes. Add the beans and cook for as long as desired. Congratulations! You are now ready to serve it.

Beef Shish Kebabs

Ingredients

1 zucchini, cut into chunks
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 (15 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons steak sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 lbs beef sirloin, cut into 1 inch cubes

Cookware

12 bamboo skewers
Campfire grilling grates
Mixing bowl
Freezer bags

Cook time

30 minutes

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, place zucchini, bell pepper, and pineapple. Drizzle with olive oil and mix it all. Whisk the ketchup, salt, steak sauce, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and water together in the same bowl until smooth. Add the beef cubes, and toss until evenly coated. Divide the beef into freezer bags. Seal, and freeze the bags.
  2. To cook: take as many bags as you need from the freezer, and thaw in the refrigerator overnight, or at least 8 hours. Soak the skewers in warm water at least 30 minutes, or place into water when you begin thawing the meat and vegetable packets.
  3. Make a campfire or preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grates.
  4. Make the skewers by alternating beef, vegetables, and pineapple on the skewers. Discard any remaining marinade.
  5. Cook the skewers on the preheated grill, turning occasionally until cooked to your desired degree of doneness, about 10 minutes total for medium-rare.

Campfire Pepperoni Pizza

Ingredients

1 lbs pizza dough
1/4 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup sliced pepperoni
Flour

Cookware

Pizza stone
Cast iron grilling grates
Aluminum foil

Cook time

30 minutes

Instructions

  1. Start by making a campfire.
  2. Place the pizza stone on the grates. Sprinkle some flour on the pizza dough. You do this, so the pizza dough does not stick. Roll out the pizza dough to your desired thickness, cooking on one side for 10 minutes until golden.
  3. Remove the pizza stone and cooked dough from the fire. Spread the sauce evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch bare at the edges to let the crust rise. Sprinkle mozzarella on top and then the pepperoni slices.
  4. Cover with a foil tent and cook until cheese has melted, about 10 minutes more. Transfer pizza to a cutting board and let cool slightly before cutting and serving.

Final Thoughts

Cooking is quite the experience. You gather with your friends and family to share a meal together. The aroma, sounds, and taste bonds you together. It helps to tie the camping experience all together. With a good meal at the end of a long day, you are sure to enjoy yourself camping.

If you have any thoughts, your own modification, or a question, please do comment below and share this article. Otherwise, thank you for reading and I hope you make it a great day!

References

  1. Sunset
  2. Taste of Home
  3. My Recipes
  4. All Recipes

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18 Comments on “10 Easy Camping Dinner Ideas – a Beginner’s List”

  1. These are some awesome ideas for cooking while camping. This past summer I went camping with my family of 9, to include a newborn so, it was an adventure in itself. One of the problems I did have was what to cook while we were out camping being that we were newbies at camping. We camped at the lake but, never caught any fish so good thing we did not rely on fishing. Next, time I go on a camping trip I will have to try out one of these meals. Great Article!

    1. It sounds like you have quite a big family Lakisha. The trip must have been a blast. These meals would have been a great option for you and your family. Next time though, check out of these recipes. They should be quite the treat. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  2. Thanks for the great article! I am not much of a camper or hiker for that matter but my family love going. These are some great recipes that sound delicious that we will try.

    Thanks again!

    1. Hello Leah, even if you are not a camper, these recipes are great ones to try out. Your family will be sure to enjoy them. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  3. These camping dinner ideas are great. I want to try some of these at home especially the Turkey and Black Bean Chili or the Devilish Chorizo Chili with Hominy…I have a thing for chilis. I found the Italian Hobo Bundles especially interesting because I use to make something like this when I worked at a couple of camps but we called them Foil Dinners. We would take a meat or chicken. Ground beef works best because it doesn’t take long to cook. Add diced carrots, potatoes, onions, maybe tomatoes and spices to suit you. Mix all of the ingredients and add a little water, wrap the meals in serving sized portions in foil and freeze them. You can take them on your camping trip and then throw them on the campfire about 45 minutes before dinner. They will have defrosted by time you are ready to cook and when they marinate they are so much better. Just an idea.
    The meals you have here seem like they require a lot of campsite preparing. Could some of these meals be prepared before hand?

    1. Hey Shannon, it is nice to hear you found these ideas beneficial. A chili dish is quite delicious. 

      Your description of your version of the foil dinner sounds tasty. It looks like a great option for people who want something prepared beforehand.

      In regards to your question, yes, these meals can be prepared beforehand. You just have to consider how well the meal holds up as a leftover and how much time you are leaving before you want to eat it. I appreciate your question. 

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  4. Wow… Awesome recipes, especially for a camping trip.
    Sure beats the ‘ready meal’ approach.

    Do you have similar suggestions for a backpacking trip?

    Actually I like your overall site, so much useful information.
    Good job.

    All the best,

    ASG

    1. Hello Abdusalam, you are right that these recipes are different from the ready meal approach. It does take a bit to prepare them.

      When it comes to backpacking, I encourage you to check out this previous article I wrote. It should answer all your questions. I appreciate the compliment about my site. It is very nice to hear. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  5. Wow,
    Such an educational article on camping dinner ideas for beginners, I use to camp out a lot on fishing trips in my younger days but I never ate as good as you do.

    I am very impressed with your camp dinner recipes, you must be a very good cook? These recipes are so appealing and makes your mouth water for them, I plan on trying some of these at home as well.

    1. It is great to hear you found the article helpful Jeffrey. I appreciate the compliment about my cooking skills. These recipes are quite delicious. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  6. Going camping is so awesome because you get to enjoy the great outdoors while connecting with nature in a such an amazing way. But what is also great is sitting around the campfire and enjoying the many camp dinners while enjoying nature.
    Your post is well detailed and has a ton of great information that is helpful to all of your readers.

    1. Hey Norman, it is wonderful to hear that you found this article helpful. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  7. Interesting information. though I’m not a huge camper, I find it fascinating. I did go camping a few months ago, and there are some tips my family can learn from you! For example, the foods we ate weren’t appetizing; I want to show them the kabab and pizza recipe you displayed in the article. It’s going to be great going camping again now that we have recipes, Thanks!

    1. Hey Marques, you are right that you do not have to be a huge camper to find the value. With these recipes, you can have an even better experience. Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

  8. Those are some awesome recipes, but thats a lot of beans! I hope you have your own tent! Do you have any tips on how to keep meat cold while hiking? I’m looking to hike part of the Appalachian Trail, and could use some advice.
    Also, what about water purification? Thanks!

    1. Hey James, it is wonderful to hear that you enjoyed these recipes. To keep meat cold while hiking, keep the meat in a plastic bag. You want to store it in a small container filled with ice. That should keep it cold.

      When it comes to water purification, you can boil it, use iodine tablets, or filtration. Iodine tablets are the lightest option, but you need at least two containers and you need to remember which container is which. With boiling, you heat up the water, but then you have to wait for the temperature to come down. Filtration involves a system, making it the second lightest option.

      Thank you for your questions and I hope you make it a great day!

  9. Alex, this is another fantastic post. I can’t wait to try the Root Beer Apple Baked Beans Recipe, that just sounds awesome. I have been hesitant to try pizza over a campfire, but have always wanted to. We make pizzas all the time at home on the grill, but for some reason the campfire has been a roadblock for me. I might give that a shot next time out. Would the pizza recipe work with pre-made pizza crusts? I would definitely be on the side of trying a recipe that is simple and you know will be good, rather than trying something more complex while camping. Thanks again for sharing this, you have some great ideas here.

    1. Hello again Steve and Kris. It is great to hear that you have come back to the blog.

      When it comes to the pizza, a pre-made pizza crust is definitely an option if you can make it a work. It is certainly a simple recipe, perfect for beginners.

      Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

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