The best camping meals go far beyond simply providing nourishment for those enjoying a break. Preparing meals is the one task that can and should bring everyone in the family together.
Now, unlike hiking trips, where focus is on weight, and attention is given to packing dehydrated meals, camping meals are infinitely more sociable experiences. In short, the best camping meals are only really possible when you have the ability to load almost everything but the kitchen sink, into the car.
Whilst many campers will pre-prepare meals, or at least elements of meals, leaving just a few finishing touches before serving, many will take the view that the preparation of meals is an opportunity for campers to get together so that everyone can participate in preparing the meal.
That provides an awesome opportunity for people to connect with one another. After all, is this not one of the very important purposes behind camping? We are going to take a look at our best camping recipes, which are hopefully going to get you planning your next camping adventure.
We are going to set out some interesting, and easy breakfast options, a lunch option, and few dinner ideas, from something quick to snack on to something more complex, yet very tasty. But before we get in the recipes, let’s take a look at what you’ll need.
Camping Cooking Equipment
Many people think that they have to bring a lot of gear with them when they want to cook at their campsite.
It does require a bit of extra time to plot, plan, and pack, but many of these items are collapsible and convenient to have on hand, especially if you’re looking to have a fun time. Here are just some of the things you could consider bringing with you on your trip:
- A non-stick pan (easier and cheaper than purpose designed stackable pot sets, and you won’t burn your hands on the foldaway handles either).
- A deep cast iron pan or pot.
- A kettle, now this is probably something you won’t have in your kitchen, and you will need to head out and get one.
- Pie iron
- A trip-pod fire stand, a fantastically simple little steel frame
- Cooking utensils (metal or plastic)
- A selection of knives, and a chopping board.
- A cooler, why not partially fill a few zip-lock bags with water and freeze them, they make great ice blocks to pop into your cooler, especially if you plan to keep meat fresh for a few days – REMEMBER that both chicken and pork, should be stored at 5 degrees Celsius or colder.
- A plastic or enamel general purpose bowl, 40cm or bigger, for washing cooking equipment, crockery and cutlery.
- A set of stackable plastic containers.
- A barbecue grid.
- A hot water flask, you are likely to boiling water for tea, coffee, or simply to wash your cooking equipment, and when you do so, fill a flask.
- Assorted spices, cooking oil and butter.
- Paper towel roll, foil, and washing pads and clothes. Don’t forget to pack in a bottle of dish washing liquid.
Now that takes care of most what you could need to make all the magic around the camp fire happen.
Camping is a wonderful opportunity to take a break from our calorie counting everyday lives, and, dare we say, be a little decadent, and why not treat yourself by focusing on taste and flavors for a change. And surprisingly, all of this can be achieved over a camp fire, with consummate ease. Do check out the best backpacking cooking gear to help you prepare a great meal outdoors.
Delightfully Simple Breakfast Recipes
The pie iron breakfast sandwich
You will need:
- Bread – white works best.
- Cooked sausages
Butter one side of a slice of bread, place it on the open iron, buttered side against the iron, make small hole in the slice of bread, and drop in an egg (the yolk should fill the hole.
Spoon some diced precooked sausage onto the egg, and finish off with some grated cheese before adding spices to taste.
Place a second buttered slice on top (again buttered side on the outside, and gently close the iron. Place the iron on your grill or close to the coals, and let the magic happen.
After cooking each side for a few minutes over hot coals, you will have an awesome, and very easy to eat breakfast sandwich.
The pie iron French toast and bacon
You will need:
- Eggs and milk
Prepare your French toast mix by beating a few eggs with a dash of milk, add a shake or two of sugar, soak two slices of bread into your mixture, and place them on the open iron.
Gently close the iron and place near your hot coals. Just before you do cook your French toast, skewer some rashers of bacon on an espetada pin, and place these on your fire grill.
Bacon cooks pretty quickly over hot coals, and so you can go ahead and place your iron near the coals for a few minutes on each side. Serve your French toast with syrup for a particularly decadent breakfast.
The breakfast burrito
You will need:
- Flour tortillas
- Par-boiled, peeled, and chopped potato (1 per burrito)
- Sliced green onion
- Beaten eggs (2 per serving)
- A can of refried beans
- Browned and chopped sausage
- Salsa for serving
- Seasoning, and grated cheese
- Heavy duty foil
To prepare a single burrito; add about one table spoon of sliced onions and a serving of chopped sausage to your chopped potato, season the mixture to taste. Pan fry the mixture until the potatoes begin to brown and then add your beaten eggs and continue stirring until your eggs are cooked through.
Set out your tortilla on a piece of foil, and spread a layer of refried beans in the centre of the tortilla before adding your seasoned mix from the pan. Add some grated cheese, and then roll the burrito and wrap in the foil.
Your breakfast burrito will need a few minutes on each side over hot coals, and expect the tortilla to brown a little (or even char slightly) By this time the cheese will have melted and the burrito would have been heated through.
A Delicious Pizza for Lunch
Who would have thought you could prepare and enjoy a pizza at camp, and yes without having to take along your pizza oven.
You will need:
- 1 baked pizza base
- About 3 or 4 table spoons of olive oil
- Thinly sliced onions
- Chopped Italian sausage
- Seasoning salt and pepper
- About 2 tablespoons or dried thyme
- Half a cup of pizza sauce
- One and half cups of fontina cheese
- One table spoon of oregano leaves
- A few tablespoons of parmesan cheese
Heat your large frying pan (best to use a heavy cast iron pan), brush some oil on the bottom and sides, and then set your pizza base in the pan and return to the coals. If there is a cheese side, place this side down into the pan, a few minutes later you should have a slightly crunchy golden brown base.
Remove the base and place it on a board, and then add a couple of spoons of oil to the pan and cook the onions, sausage, and thyme until the onions are soft and just about to turn golden brown. Scoop out your mixture and store in a bowl.
Wipe out the pan, place your pizza base back into the pan, (cooked side up), and then add and spread your sauce, your onion and sausage mix, finishing it off with the cheeses and oregano.
Return the pan to the coals and cook for another 4-5 minutes (place foil over the top of the ban, this will retain some heat and melt the cheese.
Remove the pan from the heat, leaving the foil over the pan, for a minute or two, and you will have a delicious pizza.
Tasty Dinner Camping Meals
Thai Chicken (serves 3-4)
You will need:
- 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro (Chinese parsley)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce, and olive oil
- 1 tablespoon each of: balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic, turmeric, and ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 5 pounds of boneless and skinless chicken breasts (slice each breast into thirds)
- Salt and pepper
This is a really easy and very tasty meal. Simply throw the cilantro, sugar, balsamic vinegar, fish sauce, chopped garlic, coriander and turmeric into a zip-lock bag, finally adding a little salt and pepper.
Now add the chicken pieces, seal the bag and squeeze the bag gently to coat the chicken pieces.
Place the contents of the bag into an oiled pan (cast iron pan is best) and fry, turning frequently as the chicken breasts become slightly charred.
You now have a wonderful, slightly spicy chicken dish to add to a bed of salad or vegetables. This is meal is reserved for campers who need a little respite from fatty calorie rich foods.
Garlic and cheese bread
You will need:
- Round loaf (approx. 0.5 kg)
- 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
- ¼ to ½ a cup of garlic butter
Slice your loaf of bread into slices about an inch wide; stop short going through to the bottom of the loaf.
Rotate your loaf through 90 degrees, and repeat, and you will now have a series of cubes. Sprinkle the grated cheese gently separating the cubes to be the chees to settle into the loaf. Drizzle a few tablespoons of melted garlic butter over the loaf and use the rest to brush over the loaf crust.
Place the loaf into foil (heavy duty foil is best) wrap up tightly and place above your coals, turning occasionally. Your garlic and cheese loaf will be ready in about 20 minutes and ready to tuck in.
Jambalaya (serves 6-8)
You will need:
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil,
- 5 pounds of boneless and skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts, cut into cubes,
- Andouille sausage (smoked pork based sausage) – sliced,
- 1 onion and a red (sweet) pepper, chopped,
- A few celery sticks (chopped) and garlic cloves (chopped),
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste,
- 500ml of cherry tomatoes (1 pint),
- 2 bay leaves,
- A handful of fresh parsley leaves,
- 6 cups of chicken broth,
- 75 pounds of medium shrimps, de-shelled and deveined.
Heat some oil in large pan (preferably a cast iron pot or deep pan) add the chicken and sausage, season with some salt and pepper, and stir frequently until golden brown, this should not take longer than 5 minutes.
Now add the onion, celery, garlic and pepper, stirring frequently until softened (about 5 minutes). Then add the tomato paste, and cook for a further few minutes, then add the tomatoes, and the rice, seasoning and bay leaves. Now add the broth and bring to boil.
Once brought to the boil move your pot to a cooler area of the coals, and let it simmer until the liquid is all but absorbed, and this should take about 20-25 minutes.
Now season your shrimp with salt and pepper and add to your mixture, cover the pot with foil and cook for another 5-10 minutes and until the rice is soft, at this time your shrimp will be cooked. Lastly sprinkle some parsley and serve.
An Option for All Palates And Skills
We have touched on some options, which will make your camping experience even more enjoyable.
It’s surprising just how easy it can be to produce really tasty meals, and there is nothing better than gathering around the fire and participating in the preparation and cooking process.
And if you really are not in any way inclined towards preparing or cooking, you will almost certainly be nominated to do the washing up afterwards. After all, everyone should help out. To ensure freshness of your camping food, check out our list of the top backpacking cooler to help you
Do you have any camping recipes you’d like to share with us and other readers? Leave a comment down below listing some of your favourite recipes you’ve made while you were out in the woods with your friends and family. We’d love to hear some of the scrumptious delights you’ve made.