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Cast Iron Camping Recipes - Cooking with Cast Iron Skillets

Updated on September 15, 2014

Cooking Campfire Recipes with Cast Iron Cookware Sets

The Cast Iron Skillet

Ask any veteran campfire cook and they will tell you their favorite campfire recipes are almost always cooked with seasoned castiron cookware; and most of the time it's a cast iron skillet, (Lodge makes a good one), Dutch oven, or even cast iron griddles.

They will also tell you they prefer camp meals cooked with an open-flame wood burning campfire , (not a propane campfire), and its coals, (or charcoal briquettes). The flame and smoke from a good hardwood campfire seems to add "something special" to the taste of any camp food you make.

Of course you can still get good results using a propane campfire, or a liquid fuel camp stove, (open flame campfires are not always allowed or available), but there's still something special about a cooking on a real campfire. *(don't forget about campfire safety, keep it confined to the campfire ring if you have one)

Camp recipes range from the very basic “meat and potatoes," to more complicated “fancy” cuisine having 3 or 4 courses and exotic seasonings. With the few exceptions of recipes that call for specialized cooking equipment, any recipe you can make in a kitchen can also be cooked using campfire cookware. It’s all up to the cook’s abilities.

Basic Campfire Meals and Cooking Techniques


The Cast Iron Skillet

The basic cast iron skillet
The basic cast iron skillet

The basics in camping cookware and recipes:

A good cast iron skillet is a camp cook’s most versatile and oft-used piece of cookware. It's can be used for everything from bacon and eggs at breakfast, and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, to a meat and potatoes combo for dinner. Add a good lid to that skillet and you can also make some pretty good stews and desserts.

If you are interested in buying cast iron cookware, Lodge Logic Cast Iron Cookware is the most recommended camper's choice.

You can also see a video on how-to seasoning your cast iron cookware here. (just use your back-arrow to return)

It may not seem that good campfire meals like breakfast would need much in the way of a recipe, but some of the more complex concoctions; using a mixture of hash browns, a meat, (bacon, ham, and sausage or game), peppers, onions, and spices, definitely used recipes ... and the talents of a good camp cook.

(*remember, we're talking real camp cookware here, not that pretty enameled cast iron cookware like mom had)

aahhh! Sizzling Bacon over a Campfire

Sizzling bacon in a cast iron skillet
Sizzling bacon in a cast iron skillet

Basic Camp Breakfasts with your Skillet

Waking to the smell of campfire smoke and bacon frying in a skillet is one of the joys of camping. The smoke, the sizzle, the aroma. Is there a better way to wake up? Before you can even get out of your sleeping bag, or get that first cup of coffee, your appetite is saying, “Feed Me!”, but as good as a bacon or sausage and eggs breakfast can be, just wait until you try some of these breakfast combos. (can't get that great smokey aroma from a propane campfire can you)

A campfire skillet breakfast "casserole"
A campfire skillet breakfast "casserole"

Campfire Breakfast Recipes

Breakfast Scramble

Best when prepared in a cast iron skillet

Serves 4 – 6 (easily doubled for more campers)

Ingredients:

  • ½ lb. bacon ( 6 – 8 strips)
  • 1 lb. sausage – patties are best
  • 2 cups hash browns – fresh or frozen
  • 1 ½ cup Sharp Cheddar cheese – shredded is best, crumbled will work
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 large onion – Spanish yellow is best, but Sweet works too
  • Optional – 1 small green pepper – diced
  • ½ stick butter (4 tbsp)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Pre-preparation:

  • If not already, form sausage into patties
  • Dice onion into ½ inch cubes/pieces
  • Mix eggs, salt & pepper (to taste) into a scramble mix

Preparation:

  1. cook sausage and bacon until crisp and well done, set aside
  2. drain away meat’s cooking grease, except for just enough to cover bottom of skillet
  3. cook hash browns until almost crispy, stirring frequently
  4. stir in onion chunks, (and green pepper if used) and crumbled or quartered sausage patties
  5. cook until onions are soft – about 5 minutes
  6. stir in eggs, cook & stir entire mixture until eggs are done (looks like scrambled eggs)
  7. stir in 1 cup cheese, and butter (sliced into chunks)
  8. crumble bacon strips, then sprinkle bacon crumbles and remaining cheese over top of skillet contents – do not stir or mix!
  9. cover and simmer just until sprinkled cheese is melted

You’re done! Best served from the skillet on the table-top where your camper’s can see the end result before diving in, but if not eating around a common table, just spoon onto plates. (the campfire song about your amazing talent will come later ... after dinner)

American Camping Ingenuity

This video is great. It's not about our cast iron skillet recipes, but I think you will enjoy seeing some real camping ingenuity put to use for a quick and easy camp breakfast. I bet you will end up trying these on your next camping trip, just to impress your friends with YOUR ingenuity when you show them how to cook camp meals with Ziplock baggies.

(just hope they haven't seen the same video)

Campfire Lunches

For most campers, lunch is the quickest and simplest meal of the day, not a meal that makes you think of campfire food. Camping activities usually make this a “grab what you can” meal. That usually means sandwiches, cold or grilled, and an apple or orange, but there are camp recipes for lunch if you are a really dedicated camp cook. Just don’t make a big deal of this meal if most of your campers have a full day of scheduled activities or things they came to do in the first place. (they might even be attending a campfire safety or map reading class)

camp lunch fruit and cheese
camp lunch fruit and cheese
Pizza Sausage Camp Lunch Sandwich
Pizza Sausage Camp Lunch Sandwich
Grilled Quesadilla Camp Lunch
Grilled Quesadilla Camp Lunch

Campfire Lunch Recipe - Mexican Skillet Pizza

Campfire Meals - Mexican Skillet Pizza

Again, using your trusty Lodge Logic cast iron skillet with lid

Serves 4 -6 (cannot be doubled, you’ll just have to repeat it for more campers)

Ingredients

  • 2 – packages Crescent roll dough
  • 1 – cup chunky salsa, (mild-medium-hot, your choice)
  • 2 – cups pizza sauce (16oz)
  • 1 ½ - pounds ground meat (hamburger or turkey)
  • 8oz – shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8oz – shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp – oregano

Preparation:

  1. brown ground meat and drain off cooking grease
  2. stir in salsa, 1 tbsp oregano, heat 3 – 4 minutes, then remove mixture and set aside
  3. wipe out your skillet bottom leaving just a light coating of cooking grease
  4. cover bottom of skillet, and approx. 1” up the sides of skillet with the Crescent roll dough, discard any leftover dough
  5. spread 1 cup pizza sauce over crescent roll dough
  6. add ground meat & salsa mix and spread smooth
  7. pour over rest of pizza sauce
  8. mix the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses and cover the skillet mixture, sprinkle remaining oregano over top cheese

Very Important: next steps must be cooked over low campfire coals for a slow heat. Skillet should not sit directly on coals, use your cast iron grill if you have one.

Cook: Cover skillet with lid and cook approx. 20 – 30 minutes. Rotate skillet ½ turn after ten minutes. Check crust on sides after 20 minutes. Cook until side crusts start to brown on top edges.



Traditional Camp Lunch - Grilled Cheese sandwich, made with another piece of cast iron cookware - The Pie Iron
Traditional Camp Lunch - Grilled Cheese sandwich, made with another piece of cast iron cookware - The Pie Iron | Source

Easy Campfire Pie Iron lunches

Another popular piece of cast iron cookware, (especially when cooking for kids), is the Pie Iron.

There are a lot of simple pie iron sandwich, (sometimes called "Pudgie" sandwiches), that are as easy as a basic grilled cheese or as exotic as a grilled flatbread and avacodo sandwich. A pie iron can even be used to make simple toasted bread fruit pies that kids love.

An added bonus is that with just a little adult supervision you can let the kids cook their own food.

The most common recipes use two pieces of bread, (one in each pie iron half), and whatever you want in the middle as a filler. Then the pie iron clamps closed and is slowly turned over the heat of hot campfire coals.

One of the reasons pie irons are so versatile is the availability of different sizes and styles, which include; singles, doubles, square, round, and even waffle-style. If you camp with kids at least one of these, (preferably one for each kid), should definitely be in part of your camp cooking gear.

Delicious Skillet Fried Chicken
Delicious Skillet Fried Chicken
An iron skillet combo camp dinner
An iron skillet combo camp dinner

Skillet Dinner Favorites – Campfire Food for Tummies

This is one of the campfire meals that really count. Your campers have had a full day of activities. They’re tired from hunting, fishing, hiking, climbing, or just playing, (big kids too), and since late afternoon all they have been thinking about is getting back to camp, getting some good food, and kicking back and relaxing. This is the meal that will elevate you to the status of genius, expert, world’s best cook, or, the bum that will never be allowed around the camp kitchen again, except to wash the pots and pans. (they might even make you the one that has to carry those heavy cast iron cookware sets)

Camp dinner time is also the beginning of what many campers know to be the best time of the evening. The time when you’re relaxing after a hard day’s activities, enjoying the campfire and company of your fellow campers, telling those scary campfire stories, singing a campfire song, socializing and just soaking up the whole camping experience. With a little planning the camp cook doesn’t have to be left out of this, slaving over dinner while everyone else has a good time.

A one-skillet combo meal is just what’s needed. With a little mid-afternoon pre-prep you can make a camp dinner that you just have to put on the coals to simmer-cook while you join the others, experiencing the good times that make camping so enjoyable. (yes, you even get to join in that campfire song)


101 Things to Do with a Dutch Oven

A Skillet Full of Traditional Southern Lodge Cast Iron Recipes

Once More… a Cast Iron Skillet Camp Recipe Masterpiece

Beef and Potato Combo

Serves 6 – 10 (easily doubled with a large enough skillet, or two)

Ingredients:

  • 2 - pounds cubed beef (add ½ to 1 pound more for hearty campers)
  • 4 – large potatoes
  • 1 – large sweet potato
  • 1 – medium green pepper
  • 1 – medium red pepper
  • 1 – large onion, Spanish is best, yellow will work
  • 1 – pack powdered Au Jus gravy mix
  • 1 - pack Brown gravy mix ( or jar ready-made brown gravy)
  • Salt & pepper to taste, best with lots of pepper

Mid-afternoon pre-preparation: (*only needed to save dinner cooking time)

  1. mix Au Jus mix with 2 cups water
  2. brown beef cubes, then add approx. ½ liquid Au Jus mixture and simmer about 10 minutes.
  3. remove mixture from skillet and set aside
  4. wash potatoes but do not peel them, then slice all potatoes into approx. ½ inch thick slices
  5. cut the sweet potato slices into quarters
  6. clean out peppers and slice into ½ ” x 2” slices
  7. dice onion into 1/2'” chunks
  8. dump all prepared vegetables into your cleaned skillet and add the last ½ of the Au Jus mix, salt & pepper to taste, (remember, best if heavy on the pepper), stir it all together to mix.
  9. Cover and set aside. You’re ready to cook it later.

Dinner Preparation:

  1. place skillet over a medium bed of coals, and cook 5 – 10 minutes, (until liquid gets hot) stirring to mix Au Jus liquid with vegetables.
  2. add beef cubes and the reserved Au Jus mix from browning, stir everything together, cover and slow-cook over medium to low coals.
  3. *if using powdered brown gravy mix, make your gravy in a separate pot while above mixture is cooking.
  4. join your camping buddies, just pop-up to stir the skillet contents every 10 minutes or so
  5. cook approx. 20 minutes for el-dente vegetables, or 30 – 40 minutes for well-done vegetables
  6. pour brown gravy over mixture a lightly stir in
  7. you’re done! Pop it on the table or serving plates and enjoy some great campfire food.

Print this recipe: Microsoft Word Doc or PDF file

Campfire Cooking Demonstrations

The videos on the right show some tips, tricks, and techniques of experienced camp cooks using cast iron cookware. *notice they're not using any of those enameled cast iron cookware sets)

As you will see, all the Dutch oven cooking is not done over a campfire or campfire coals. Charcoal briquettes are frequently used, and many times preferred, because of their more reliable burning rate, which gives a more controlled heat source.

A lot of Dutch oven cooking goes on in the kitchens of America too, illustrating the versatility of this piece of cookware. *(this is where an enamel cast iron Dutch oven is ok to use)

Particularly interesting is the video showing Dutch ovens stacked atop each other, not something I would suggest for a new camp cook.

Another thing that the videos made clear was the handiness of that iron Lid Lifter when working with a heavy Dutch oven. It should be included in your set of campfire tools.


Cooking Campfire Meals with Simple Camp Recipes

Being the camp cook can be gratifying, and a lot of fun, but it doesn’t mean you have to miss-out on the other activities you came to camp for. With a little foresight and planning your campfire meals can be delicious, and simple. That’s the beauty of cooking with a heavy cast iron skillet. Due to its heavy cast metal construction it will transfer heat more evenly without the danger of burning foods, as often happens with thinner cookware. There is more metal to protect food from the harshness of the heat source, it’s more of a gradual transfer of heat from the source to the food.

Think of your camping schedule and how much of your camping time you want to devote to cooking and preparation when choosing your camp meals. From simple to elaborate, the meal recipe choice is yours, and there are a lot of resources available to you for either choice. One source are the complete weekend camping meal menus available at CampingwithGus.com

If you haven't noticed, pre-seasoned Lodge Logic Cast Iron Cookware is the brand of choice for most experienced camp cooks. Their quality never lets you down.

A Few Nice-to-Have Camp Cook Accessories


Free Dutch Oven Camping Updates

Grab this link -

Free Outdoor Camping Updates, the latest ebay and Amazon deals will be included!



About the Author

G.A. Anderson was involved with Boy Scouts of America as an Assistant Scoutmaster for over six years.

One of our most valuable weekend camping tools was our standard camping checklists. Each patrol had to complete checklists for their patrol box and personal gear before they could load any gear. It works! It's amazing what simple basic stuff, like a camp saw, can be forgotten without a checklist reminder.


Cast Iron Camping Recipes - Cooking with Cast Iron Skillets Comments

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    • everlearn profile image

      everlearn 

      6 years ago from Greater New York Region

      Great article. Tons of options to try out - I'll be making the Beef & Potato combo for my wife and guests later this week! Thanks!

      Also, I just realized that you have the recipes in a ready to print word/pdf format. That's awesome!

    • Topnewhottoys profile image

      Topnewhottoys 

      6 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland

      That skillet recipe looks great. I'm a big fan of cast iron cookware, I have several pieces I use when I go camping, and one of them is a big cast iron skillet that will work great for that campfire recipe

    • Appletreedeals profile imageAUTHOR

      Appletreedeals 

      7 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland USA

      @Armysurplus365 - Thanks for the read and the comment

      GA

    • armysurplus365 profile image

      armysurplus365 

      7 years ago from Cornwall

      Wow ! I really enjoyed reading your hub, and the information that you wrote here was so helpful. I just had to stop by and say thanks for sharing your camping experience with me :)

    • Appletreedeals profile imageAUTHOR

      Appletreedeals 

      7 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland USA

      @Chris - Been there and Done that - you are so right. I like all camping activities, but campfire cooking is always a major part of my camp-outs

      GA

    • Chris Churla profile image

      Chris Churla 

      7 years ago

      Ah, reading this hub made me think of Dad cooking bacon in the cast iron pan over the campfire. I can't think of a better thing to wake up to! :)

    • profile image

      Luxury Camping 

      7 years ago

      Fantastic hub and great inspiration for camping cooking. Thanks.

    • sugarloaf10 profile image

      sugarloaf10 

      8 years ago from Kentucky USA

      Loved the recipe ideas! I can't wait to try them out this memorial day weekend!

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      8 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      I can't wait to try some of these. Great hub. I will bookmark

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks - now I'm hungry!

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Well done Appletree. I don't know how many cast iron skillet meals I've made, but it's been alot! We enjoyed them so much for a year or two a few years back, maybe a decade, we used them in our kitchen too! Also, while camping, they make a good weapon for mountain lions or bear!

    • martycraigs profile image

      martycraigs 

      8 years ago

      My family and I are always looking for new recipes we can make when we go camping (we go quite often during the summer and spring months). I think the Mexican Skillet Pizza would be a real hit with the kids.

      Great post. Thanks for sharing!

    • Appletreedeals profile imageAUTHOR

      Appletreedeals 

      8 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland USA

      Artemus - Thanks for visiting, let me know how that recipe works out for you.

      Mitch - you are right about cast iron, the skillet I use was my grandfathers

    • Mitch King profile image

      Mitch King 

      8 years ago from Wilsoville, OR, USA

      Cast iron is so good for cooking. They cannot be tore up and once seasoned rarely sticks. Thanks for the great recipes I can use camping.

    • Artemus Gordon profile image

      Artemus Gordon 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these recipes I am always looking to add some new stuff to the outdoor menu.

    • Appletreedeals profile imageAUTHOR

      Appletreedeals 

      8 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland USA

      Greetings Sue, I hope that was an "in general" question about the keywords as I didn't see any here.

      To answer: some SEO people say the search engines attach more importance to bolded words/phrases. I don't know. I do know that I went overboard trying it and it destroys the readability of your content. Thanks for the comment.

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 

      8 years ago from Andalusia

      Good hub. I see what you mean about no links till the end. What's the significance of a bold keyword?

    • Appletreedeals profile imageAUTHOR

      Appletreedeals 

      8 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland USA

      thanks for the visit and comment. Notice the lack of bold keywords? (LOL)

    • sunforged profile image

      sunforged 

      8 years ago from Sunforged.com

      Excellent, made me hungry, and now I have to go camping to try out the recipes

      To bad their isn't lightweight cast iron, to hike in

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