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Camping Life: Campfire Cooking Shortcuts

Updated on June 23, 2011

Ah, the camping life. It’s a great way to spend time with friends and family while enjoying the great outdoors. Camping can be enjoyed in all kinds of ways, ranging from primitive to ultra-modern RVs. Of course, you have to eat, and if munching on trail mix for several days isn’t your idea of suitable dining, you’ll be cooking.

If you’re camping in an RV, of course, you can cook pretty much like you do at home. Even many small campers, including pop-ups, have gas stoves. If, however, you prefer outdoor cooking over the fire, you’ll need the proper campfire cooking equipment and campfire cookware. These might include a grill top, a portable charcoal grill, an iron skillet, and an iron pot and lid for Dutch oven camp cooking.

Cooking over a campfire isn’t like cooking in your oven or on your stovetop at home. It’s hard to regulate the heat of a campfire or the campfire coals, so the heat often isn’t consistent. For this reason, some items take a long time to cook. There are some shortcuts you can do at home before you leave for your camping trip to cut campfire cooking times and to ensure that your food is properly cooked.

Below are some tips and recipes for cooking over a campfire. Do these at home so you can fully enjoy your camping experience:

Corn-on-the-cob – Shuck, silk, and wash ears of fresh corn. Place each ear in heavy aluminum foil. Smear with butter and sprinkle with salt. Tightly twist the ends of the foil, and place the ears in the coals or on a grill top over the fire or on a portable charcoal grill loaded with hot coals.

Potatoes – You can cook potatoes whole, but you’ll shorten cooking time if you slice the potatoes first. Slice the spuds and top with butter, garlic salt, and pepper. Wrap in foil packets and cook in the coals. For breakfast, you might enjoy some diced potatoes. Dice them at home and place in Ziploc bags. Place the Dutch oven over some coals, and melt a little shortening in the bottom of the vessel. Add the potatoes and cook until done.

Vegetables: Slice or dice onions, yellow squash, bell peppers, and/or zucchini and place in foil packets with olive oil and seasonings. Place the packets into the coals. Squash and zucchini can also be sliced into planks at home and placed directly on the grill top or the portable grill. As they cook, brush with butter or oil and sprinkle with garlic salt, pepper, and/or parmesan cheese.

Beans – What’s a camping trip without the baked beans? This is one of the most popular forms of Dutch oven camp cooking. To shorten prep time, dice a few slices of bacon and an onion at home. To shorten cooking time, use canned beans instead of dried. Get the Dutch oven hot, then add the bacon and the diced onion. Cook them for a few minutes by placing the pot on some hot coals. Add the beans, some barbecue sauce, and some brown sugar or molasses. Place the lid on the pot and place more coals on top. Check and stir occasionally.

Barbecued ribs – Boil ribs at home just until done. Cut rack into two-rib sections and place in a large jar or plastic container. Cover with your favorite barbecue sauce. Place the ribs over hot coals and brown both sides. The ribs are already done, so all you want to do is brown them and give them some smoky flavor.

Chili – Brown your ground beef and diced onions at home and place in a zip loc. At the campsite, place the crumbled meat and onions, two cans of red kidney beans, a can of tomatoes, and a pack of chili seasoning mix into the Dutch oven. Follow the instructions for Dutch oven camp cooking above.

Shrimp scampi – Purchase frozen shrimp that are already cooked, peeled, and deveined. Place them in foil packets with butter, minced garlic, salt, and lemon juice. At the campsite, the packets can be placed on the portable charcoal grill, on a grill top over the fire, or directly in the coals. This dish needs to cook for only a few minutes, until it’s piping hot.

Shish kebobs – These are always a favorite! At home, cube your chicken, steak, or pork and thread onto metal skewers with onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, pineapple, and/or cherry tomatoes. Brush with teriyaki sauce and place in a covered container. Cook on the portable charcoal grill or over the fire on a grill top. If you use pre-cooked meats like sausage or ham cubes, the kids might enjoy making the shish kebobs on long sticks so that they can cook themselves by holding them over the campfire.

Poached fish – Place each fish fillet on foil. Top with fresh dill, white pepper, salt, and a splash of white wine. Seal packet tightly. These can be cooked on the grill or directly in the coals.

Biscuits – Use refrigerated biscuits or make your own dough at home. Lightly grease the Dutch oven and preheat it over some coals. Place the biscuits in the pot, put on the lid, and follow the directions for Dutch oven camp cooking.

Grilled pound cake and peach topping dessert – This is a real crowd pleaser! Make your own pound cake or purchase a loaf type from the grocery store. Place canned peaches,butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar in the Dutch oven and heat. Meanwhile, toast cake slices over the coals in a wire basket. Serve the hot peach mixture over the pound cake slices.

Sausage – Buy fully cooked brats or other types of sausage at the grocery store. Since they’re already done, these are great for kids to cook over the fire on sticks. All they need to do is brown.

Coffee – You’ll probably be making coffee over the fire in a percolator. The problem with this is that the grounds usually get poured up into your cup. You can avoid this by adding clean egg shells to the pot. They make the grounds sink to the bottom.

I hope these tips and shortcuts help make your camping life more enjoyable and less hectic. If you do some of the food prepping at home before your camping trip, you’ll find that your vacation is much more fun!

To read more about camping life, campfire cooking equipment, camp cookware, Dutch oven camp cooking, barbecue cooking, charcoal cooking, and cooking on a portable charcoal grill, click the link below the camping products:


Pocket rocket stove:

Get the right campfire cooking equipment.
Get the right campfire cooking equipment.


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    • houseclearance profile image


      8 years ago from Preston, Lancashire

      camping food usually puts people off camping as they think of tins of bins and burnt offerings but you have some really nice ideas for camping food

    • Camping with Kids profile image

      GA Andereson (Gus) 

      8 years ago from Maryland, USA

      Great camping food ideas. I like to use campfires for cooking and it looks like several of your suggestions might be the next ones I try.



    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      So glad you enjoyed my camping life hub!

    • profile image

      luxury camping 

      8 years ago

      Hi Habee,

      at a fantastic hub here.

      Thanks for all the great ideas...

      I'm now feeling hungry!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Dolores, we've caught our own shrimp while camping at the beach! We seined for them.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      9 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Great tips for camp food, habee. But shrimp at camp! Whoo, that's livin' in style! (Going to link to my camp meals hub)

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Wow, Creek - I never thought of that!

    • thecreeksideangle profile image


      9 years ago from Nevada

      Great hub Habee! My Grandpa would make dutch oven popcorn over the campfire when I was a kid.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Yep, Chris, I think armadillo might even be good cooked like this! lol

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      9 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Yum... there's nothing better than foods cooked over a campfire!!! Great hub, Habee!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Funny! You gave me a giggle!

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Super suggestions, Habee. We used to have to camp out on the river for days when we were working cattle. It only took my cooking once to get voted out of the cooking crew. (Some folks have no sense of humor at all about their food!) Best, Sis

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Jen, the older I get, the more I like camping in a condo or hotel. lol!

    • JenDobson27 profile image


      9 years ago

      Awesome hub! I really enjoy camping, but I just don't seem to have enough time to go as much as I'd like to.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Sure, Veronica! Most work fine for charcoal cooking on a regular grill.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, JAmes, but I think I'll pass on the fried lizard!

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Great tips Habee. Could we use these tips for grilling as well? I think that's as close I'll get to campfire cooking.

      That grilled pound cake and peach topping dessert sounds so delish.

    • Unchained Grace profile image

      Unchained Grace 

      9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      Habee, this is one of my all time favorite Hubs because it deals with one of my most favorite things to do! I'm not an RV kinda guy. Too many years in the bush for all that luxury. I wouldn't know how to act and I probably wouldn't even enjoy myself.

      You put up some very helpful hints and solid tips. Care for a recipe for fried iguana? I got a few good ones!!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Sheila. You're a wonderful fan!

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      9 years ago

      All of your recipes and suggestions are so good!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Me, too, HH! I'm tired of winter, and I know you are!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a great hub, habee, and I am looking forward to that. Hot weather and eating outside.


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