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A Forever Favorite: Hobo Joes

Updated on June 18, 2015

Who'd a thunk it?

It's funny the things that manage to stick with you over the years. I didn't do much cooking growing up, but boy could I bake up a storm (chocolate chip cookies were my specialty back then - although I've long since graduated to a carrot cake from scratch - Yum! :o) My mom wasn't all that keen on baking or cooking, although she did cook supper every night, and always adhered to the balanced nutrition rule. Maybe my mom being none too keen on cooking is why I never developed an interest in it; until I married a Southern Boy that is...but that's a whole OTHER story.

I was a Brownie in elementary school and continued on into Girl Scouts. Who knew that my first (and only) camping trip in the sixth grade would provide me with a life long (and sometimes life saving) recipe??? But it did, and I've decided to share it with you here. Now before you get too excited, it's not exactly cordon-bleu cooking (you'll have to visit Chef Keem for that - see his link further down this lens :o) BUT it is very simple to make, can be easily adjusted to accommodate a change in the number of people and/or ingredients and it's also inexpensive. Does it get any better? Well yeah, but only if you can find someone ELSE to clean up the kitchen...

Canny cooking for campers

So who needs a pot anyway? Um, I do thanks :o)

Maybe it was the actual method of cooking this meal that had it sticking so well in my mind: we cooked it in a beat up old Maxwell House coffee can over an open fire. Of course I was just sure someone would keel over from something that night after eating out of that sorry looking old can, because...well, just because (no one did though :o)

I don't remember how the ground beef was browned, only that it went into the can, nor do I recall exactly who did what. I DO remember being in charge of the cheese - it was the sliced kind in individual wrappers - my job was to open them all and break the slices up into small pieces so it would melt better.

I also remember sitting down in the circle with my plate dreading the ordeal to come. I was (and still am) a ridiculously picky eater, so it was a given this food would probably be forced down and followed by a completely insincere, "thank you, that was very good". I didn't like Sloppy Joes, casseroles or Chili and since this appeared to be another one of those "mixed up" foods, chances were pretty good I wasn't going to like this either. Imagine my total surprise when I realized the microscopic bite I'd just eaten was absolutely DELICIOUS! I quickly cleaned my plate and asked the troop leader for the recipe.

Love collecting recipes? Me too! Jot 'em down the old fashioned way...

The Original Recipe - [Coffee can and open fire are optional]

That was then...

and this is now

For a number of years I cooked this meal in an electric skillet (do they still make those?) Now I make it in either a large deep skillet with a lid or a stock pot. I've also played with the recipe a bit and come up with a slightly different version (below this module).


Supereasy & Superquick - The biggest part of the cooking is just browning the ground beef and it's a simple matter to keep the ingredients on hand for a quick meal.

Economical & Easy to Increase - Purchase your ground beef on sale; you can also double or triple the recipe and freeze half of it for another meal (or two) in a jiffy.

Fun & Filling - One way to help persnickety kids get their veggies (and to this day it remains the ONLY way to get me to eat lima beans - blech! :o) It's also a "sticks to your ribs food" that fills you up, so you won't be hungry 20 minutes later.


Pretty - if you are looking for a culinary masterpiece to wow some hoity-toity dinner guests, this would not be it.

The new and [slightly] improved* version - *subject to diner's opinion of course :o)

Got a pot? Want a pan? - Look! I even found an electric skillet :o)

Here's all you need... - Not much to it, is there?

Pita Pockets or Hamburger Buns - Take your pick :o)

Handy Hint #1

Kitchen scissors are just perfect for tasks like this; use them instead of a knife to quickly and easily cut your pockets in two :o)

Kitchen scissors are super

Kitchen scissors are super
Kitchen scissors are super

Don't have any kitchen shears? - We can fix that :o)

I love my shears - I even have a spare pair in case mine are in the dishwasher. Yep, they go right in there with everything else (and who doesn't love that dishwasher safe stuff, right?)

Brown your ground beef - and drain it thoroughly

Handy Hint #2

Can't always afford to buy the "good stuff" like ground chuck? Take your kitchen sprayer and rinse off your ground beef [with hot water] as it drains in the colander. It will help to get rid of a little more of that artery clogging fat :o)

Wash away the fat

Wash away the fat
Wash away the fat

Add your soup - and mix it up

Sprinkle in your cheese - and cook on low until completely melted

Handy Hint #3

Not only does a lid cut down on stovetop splatter when browning your beef, it will help melt the cheese more quickly (and then you can eat sooner :o)

Put a lid on it

Put a lid on it
Put a lid on it

Fill your pockets - A lot or a little...

WOO-HOO! Let's eat - YUM :o)

Handy Hint #4

I sometimes double or triple my recipe and cook it in a big stock pot so there are leftovers to freeze for another day's dinner. Hobo Joes make great reheatables and you can even freeze 'em individually in the pockets (and how cool is that? :o)

Freeze it right in the pocket

Freeze it right in the pocket
Freeze it right in the pocket

Want to seal some extra meals? - I love my food saver! :o)

Hungry? - Before you run off to chow down, please stop to say hey :o)

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    • rebecca-mathews1 profile image


      5 years ago

      yummy lens :) thanks for sharing

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      It makes me hungry just visiting this lens again.

      I'll be over for lunch at your house! :)

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      7 years ago from Canada

      I've never heard of hobo joes...I guess they are a bit similar to sloppy joes, aren't they?

    • AlexandraHubbard profile image


      7 years ago

      The pockets and the simplicity...I don't know which is better! This is my kinda recipe.

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 

      8 years ago

      OMG! I love this. I am going to make your new and improved Hobo Joes this week. My family will love this. Thanks.

    • luvmyludwig lm profile image

      luvmyludwig lm 

      9 years ago

      looks great, I'm trying it tonight!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Very well done lens and the added pictures make it

      even more interesting.

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image


      9 years ago

      It has been a long time since I had a Hobo Joe. I need to put them on the list for next week.

      Thanks for sharing


    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      9 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      This sounds good -- and easy!

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Fantastic lens, I laughed when I read it.

      But alas, it made me hungry and now I must go mess up my kitchen.

      Thanks for including your personal story and your own photos. They always make a better lens.

      This one, by the way is blessed by a Squid Angel.

      And oh yes, before I forget:

      Welcome to the Culinary Favorites From A to Z group. Your lens is being featured under 'G is for...' Don’t forget to come back and add your lens to the link list so that it will appear a second time on the group page!


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      One thing I like to do when I don't want fat in something I'm fixing, is I'll boil the hamburger in water and than drain in. That works very well. - this sounds and looks like a recipe that I would like to try. - Thank you for sharing this! --- Susie

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Gosh -- I've never tried washing away the fat, but might have to give it a whirl. Hobo Joes sound yummy for sure. I love sharp cheddar cheese!

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 

      9 years ago

      You have to love the ease of this recipe. Comfort food, yes.. faved and starred!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wonderful lens. Read every word! I like the cheddar cheese improvement. Love your graphics!

    • verymary profile image


      9 years ago from Chicago area

      Hmm, I'm surprised I didn't know about this one! Anything with so few ingredients gets my attention. Love a simple approach! 5*****

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm a vegetarian, so this won't be on my menu, but it brings back fond memories of my Girl Scout troop's campfire specialty of Campbell's tomato soup over Wonder bread with cheddar cheese melted on top. Totally gross-sounding, but it was comfort food back then (and quickly followed by Some-mores). Angel Blessings to you!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      That's my kind of recipe! It looks fast and easy and delish! yummy!

    • drifter0658 lm profile image

      drifter0658 lm 

      9 years ago

      ummmmm,,,,,,,,,is there a word that beats spectacular? Wait.....Hobo Joes! Okay, so it's two words..........

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 

      9 years ago from Austin, Texas

      I'm so glad you stopped by my lens, hon. This is one of the most enjoyable pages I've seen! Comfort food - tasty and not too expensive - that's my kinda cookin'! I'm flattered that you would link to my lensography in your intro module already, but please "unlink" it or move it further down. I don't want anyone to possibly click away from this charming lens and then forget to come back, ok? 5*s and a hearty SquidAngel Blessing for this gem. :-)

    • EpicFarms profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      [in reply to athomemomblog] Yes, you're absolutely right. You have to be careful to let the hot water run before, during, and for a minute or two after you drain your beef. This is to make sure it washes completely through the pipes; you don't want it to solidify along the way! Thank you very much for pointing that out :o)

    • athomemomblog profile image

      Genesis Davies 

      9 years ago from Guatemala

      I`m hungry now. We`re going to be making that soon! One note though, rinsing grease or fat down your sink can totally plug the pipes and/or destroy your septic system . . . as I discovered the hard way. :(


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Oh yummy, minus the meat for me, but I could make a veggie version with your recipe and be a happy camper!! Awesome pics. :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Great lens. I love all the demonstration photos. I have not thought about Hobo Joe's since I worked at Girl Scout Camp. Now I am thinking of lots of other recipes we enjoyed, too.

    • EpicFarms profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      [in reply to Meghann] If it hadn't been on sale [at a great price] it would still be on my wish list too :o)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Oh YUM! Okay, I really have to try that! Thanks for sharing :)

      And btw, I am SO jealous of your Foodsaver - it is on my wish list, lol.

    • hlkljgk profile image


      9 years ago from Western Mass

      camping food!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      Great photos of a yummy looking meal!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I don't think we did this during my G.S. days - looks like I missed out on something!

    • MsSnow4 profile image

      Carol Goss 

      9 years ago

      That looks really good , I will have to try it.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Jen, this is great! I love it. I remember this recipe.5*

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wonderful lens! I really LOVE the photos. 5 Stars!


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