There’s no doubt that you can make a delicious meal over a campfire. Roasting over a flame or grilling over coals can infuse food with a delicious flavor that is only possible to achieve over an open fire. However, it sometimes seems like you need to carry a whole kitchen’s worth of special equipment, from a cast iron skillet to a tripod and turnspit, to make the really tasty meals.
The truth is all you need is a roll of tin foil. You should never go camping without some tin foil in your bag. With it and some spices and a few ingredients, you can easily make mouthwatering food at the campsite.
1. Hobo Dinner
This is the one that started it all. You may have first made up a foil packet dinner when out on a scouting trip or under the close eye of your parents. Simply put some beef, potatoes, onions, and whatever else you’ve brought along in a foil packet. Add salt, pepper, and a little oil, and toss it on some coals, and you’ll have a delicious meal in no time.
The basic recipe lends itself to any amount of elaboration. Add a variety of spices to create a more interesting flavor, or use steak or some other cut of meat, instead of ground beef. It all tastes good.
2. Jerk Chicken
Some people say the hobo meal can be a little bland. Well, this recipe is definitely flavorful. Toss some chicken wings in oil and seasonings, and grill it for around half an hour, turning it halfway through. Add some lime wedges, and this down island dish can be enjoyed anywhere you happen to be.
3. Spicy Olives
This is an unusual dish that is good for a different, healthy snack while sitting around the fire telling stories or watching the stars. Toss olives in red pepper and garlic, and then put it in a foil pack. Grill it for a while, and the olives will be warm, delicious, and have a bit of a kick.
4. Campfire Quesadillas
Everyone loves quesadillas, and grilling them in the fire gives the tortilla a crispy texture that adds a unique aspect to this dish. It’s easy and straightforward to make. Fill a tortilla with cheese and whatever else you’d like. Put each in its foil packet and grill for just a few minutes. The cheese will melt, and you’ll have a new campfire favorite.
5. Garlic Shrimp
This recipe is another spicy, flavorful one. It requires a few specific ingredients, but it is definitely worth a little extra effort.
Add softened butter, shrimp, garlic, and some spices. Toss it all together with lemon juice and some red pepper. Grill it for 8 minutes, flipping half way through. You can impress your campsite neighbors with some delicious, spicy shrimp.
Paella is a Spanish recipe that usually includes rice, pepper, and seasonings, such as rosemary or paprika. It can include seafood like shrimp, chicken, or beef.
This dish doesn’t get made much in most people’s kitchens, so making it at the campsite might seem a little nuts. However, it is a delicious dish that will add some variety to your campfire cuisine. The best way to make this dish is to bring a tin foil pie pan with you. Then you can put all the ingredients (rice and some chicken broth, meat, veggies, and paprika) in the pan.
Wrap the whole thing in tin foil and cook (without turning) for about half an hour. It is easier than it looks, and it will reward your effort with a great, single dish meal.
As we all learned in grade school, Native Americans first made popcorn over an open flame. It’s a fine camping tradition that is worth continuing, as popcorn is a great snack. It’s essentially like jiffy pop, except you can make the pack up yourself.
You may want to make this using a disposable tin pie plate. Popcorn and oil go in together. Grill it, shaking so that the kernels don’t burn until the popping stops. Add salt and butter, and you’ll never want microwave popcorn again.
8. Grilled Tomato and Goat Cheese Pasta
You’ll have to make the pasta first before you can grill it with all the other ingredients. Boiling water over a campfire can be difficult, so make the pasta at home before you leave and bring it with you. Toss it with cheese, sliced tomato, oil, and seasonings like rosemary and thyme.
9. Coconut-Lime Fish
It can be a bit more difficult to make this one, but it’s worth it for the delicious result. You could use another pie plate for this one, or just be sure to seal it carefully. Put some veggies such as corn, zucchini or onions on foil. Roll the edges up a bit, and then pour coconut milk over them. Coconut milk is nutritious, tastes great, and can be used to add a coconut flavor to a lot of dishes.
Lay a piece of fish over the vegetables, and season it with salt, pepper, or whatever you fancy. Seal everything up and grill. You’ll have to flip it once for it to cook evenly, which is when you’ll find out if you sealed it well enough. Then, enjoy your meal.
10. Lemon Herb Steak with Asparagus
Grilled steak is more of a backyard meal than a campsite one. But you can make a meal all in one foil packet with this recipe. Steak and asparagus are a classic combination.
An important point with every foil packet meal is to add either oil or butter. This keeps the food from drying out and burning, and also keeps it from sticking to the foil. With steak, you should probably use both oil and butter, which will give it the best flavor.
Season the steak and put it in the packet with the asparagus, lemon, and lemon juice. Add a sprig or two of fresh rosemary. Cook, flipping once, and then enjoy.
11. Shrimp and Kale with Mango Salsa
It’s pretty simple to make this great, one-dish meal with a foil packet. This one will seem like you spent some time making an elaborate dinner when all you had to do was dice some stuff up and throw it in the foil.
The salsa is simple diced mangoes, cilantro, peppers, and onions with lime juice. Dice some kale as well. Mix couscous or rice with water, and then layer everything else (the shrimp and kale, with whatever seasonings you like) and wrap the whole thing up. You can make up a bunch, and then grill a packet for each person.
12. Grilled Lasagna
It may seem ambitious, but making lasagna on a grill or campfire is not that hard. Make the filling, including peppers, spinach, cheese, such as parmesan and mozzarella, garlic, and seasonings. Oil the foil and place a lasagna noodle on it. Sprinkle water on the noodle so that it cooks in the foil.
Layer the filling and noodles (sprinkling each noodle with a little water), then wrap everything up in foil. Grill ten minutes on each side. All other lasagna will seem bland by comparison.
13. White Bean with Chicken
White beans with chicken is a healthy, one-dish meal you can make on your grill or over the campfire. Mix diced chicken, white beans, corn, diced tomatoes, and whatever seasonings you like. Mexican inspired seasonings, like cumin and chili powder, are the way to go.
Grill for about half an hour, turning once. Open it up, and cover it with cheese and green onions. Enjoy!
14. Grilled Packet Potatoes
This is a great way to make a side dish, either at the campsite or when grilling at home. Sliced potatoes with fresh sprigs of rosemary, salt, pepper, and whatever other spices you like are delicious, easy, and will please just about everyone.
15. Orange Thyme Grilled Shrimp
This recipe offers a meal that will seem like you labored all day but is pretty easy to throw together. Mix the shrimp with orange juice, zest, garlic, oil, chopped thyme, salt, and pepper. Let it marinade for a while, either in the fridge or cooler, for up to an hour.
Put it all in a foil packet, and then cook for about 10 minutes. Open the foil, and enjoy your meal.
16. Salmon with Ginger and Soy Sauce
There are lots of ways to cook salmon. You can cook it in a skillet, or grill it on a cedar plank. A popular way is to use soy sauce to give it a salty, savory flavor that combines well with the fish’s natural flavor.
Put the salmon in a foil ‘bowl.’ Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, and vegetable oil, then pour it over the fish. Add some garlic, ginger, and green onions. Grill the whole thing for about 10 minutes.
17. Peach Cinnamon Crisp
Dessert at the campfire is the main event. S’mores are traditional and delicious, but not everyone likes them and, in any case, they can get a little boring. There are, however, some great desserts that are easy to make and will impress everyone when you unveil them.
For peach crisp, mix oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Cut in cold butter until it is mixed and crumbly. Spread the mixture on the foil, and then layer with sliced peaches. Let it cook on the coals for 15 minutes. Then serve hot, with ice cream if you have it.
18. Bread Pudding
This dessert is popular in English pubs. Whisk together two eggs, milk, sugar, and cinnamon. Cut some bread (the denser, the better) into the bowl with raspberries, strawberries, or whatever you like. Soak it all together for about half an hour.
Butter some tin foil, so that the delicious mess doesn’t stick. Throw it all on the foil, seal it up, and cook it for about half an hour. It will be a sticky, sugary, wonderful desert.
19. Banana Boats
This one is straightforward and delicious. Better yet, none of the ingredients requires refrigeration, so it can be a ‘last night at the campsite’ dessert that you can be sure won’t have spoiled or melted.
Split a banana down the center. Fill it with chocolate chips (or butterscotch or peanut butter chips) and mini marshmallows. Any kids you’ve brought along can handle this step with ease. Seal it up and let it cook for about 15 minutes. Serve hot. It’s delicious, gooey, and sure to be a hit.
20. Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Baking over a campfire is a challenge, so you’ll want to bring along some white cake that you can cut up and use for this recipe. Donuts will also work or donut holes.
Oil the foil, spread the pineapple chunks out on it, and then cover those with the cake cubes. Cover with butter and brown sugar. You can also add cinnamon and nutmeg if you like. Seal the whole thing up and let it cook for about fifteen minutes. The butter should be melted, and everything is mixed. Serve it warm with ice cream.
Any one of these recipes is sure to impress at the campfire. Some of them you may even want to make on the backyard grill, just because they are so delicious.