A mouthwatering campfire lunch can be one of the most sumptuous treats after a busy morning outdoors or a relaxing few hours around the campsite. But too many people resign themselves to cold sandwiches or poorly cooked hot dogs or hamburgers for a midday meal. Let’s take a look at our list of the best low-stress, high-flavor, minimal cleanup campfire recipes with something for everyone and every situation.
Tips for Campfire Cooking
Cooking a campfire meal isn’t difficult; it just requires the right mindset and equipment. For best results, you’ll generally want a cast-iron skillet, dutch oven, grill grate, and campfire tripod, along with assorted spatulas, tongs, and other utensils. You might need heavy-duty foil for certain recipes too.
If possible, do as much of your prep work (slicing veggies, cubing meats, pre-mixing sauces, etc.) ahead of time, or better yet, before you leave home. In most cases, you won’t have the best prep area while sitting around the campfire, so a little planning ahead can pay serious dividends.
When selecting campfire lunches, consider your camping style and the crowd you’ll be cooking for. Busy campers looking for a quick lunch before another hike will require a different meal than a group seeking a leisurely day around the campsite. You can also easily scale any of the best campfire recipes, depending on how many mouths you need to feed.
Additionally, remember you’re cooking over an open fire outdoors. That means regulating your temperature isn’t as easy as just turning a dial on your stove up or down. Light your fire well ahead of when you expect to start cooking and keep plenty of fuel handy so you don’t lose that precious heat.
In most cases, it’ll be easier to cook with coals instead of open flames. Coals provide more consistent heat throughout the cooking process and prevent the dreaded “charred-on-the-outside, raw-on-the-inside” meal.
Finally, and most importantly, make fire safety your top priority. Always make sure current conditions are safe for lighting a campfire, and keep an eye on your embers until you’re positive the fire is extinguished completely.
10 Best Campfire Lunch Recipes
If you’re ready to dig in to a tasty meal cooked over your campfire, try one of these easy and delicious recipes that can appeal to even the pickiest campers.
1. Chicken and Dumplings
Few things say comfort food quite like chicken and dumplings. This simple recipe is an excellent choice for hungry campers as it doesn’t require too much active cooking once you get started, leaving you more time to relax.
Simmer and cook your chicken in your dutch oven (or use pre-cooked cubed or shredded chicken), and then build layers of flavor with onion, celery, carrots, and spices. After about an hour, drop-in spoonfuls of your biscuit batter to create the dumplings, and let simmer for a few more minutes. All that’s left is to chow down!
2. Brats with Peppers and Onions
The image of a sausage roasting over an open fire is a classic image of campfire cooking. This recipe adds extra flavor and sophistication to this outdoor favorite. It’s also one of the simplest campfire lunches–just saute your chopped peppers and onions in your cast-iron skillet, and then add the bratwurst to cook with them. In less than 30 minutes, you’re ready to eat.
3. Steak and Cheesy Bacon Potato Hash
After a busy morning outdoors, few things hit the spot quite like steak, potatoes, bacon, and cheese. This sumptuous and low-stress recipe takes advantage of one of campfire cooking’s most tried-and-true techniques: the foil packet.
You’ll mix sliced steak with cubed potatoes and onions mixed with butter and garlic and fold it all up inside a tightly sealed foil pack. Cook these on your fire’s grill grate or nestled close to the coals. After a little more than 10 minutes of cook time, open them up, sprinkle on some cheese, and return to the heat to melt. Top this delicious mixture with your diced bacon and scallions.
With just 15 minutes of cook time and minimal cleanup, this could become one of your camping lunch go-to’s.
4. Blackberry Glazed Chicken
For a more unusual but flavor-packed meal, check out this twist on barbecue chicken. The recipe relies on a sauce made of smashed blackberries, white wine vinegar, butter, and whole-grain mustard. Mix this first and set it over the heat to simmer while you grill your chicken.
When your sauce has thickened, baste the chicken and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so. This sweet, sticky sauce will become a delicious glaze as your chicken finishes cooking. It’s a unique flavor experience that’ll quickly become a craving, even without the camping trip.
5. Campfire Nachos
Sometimes, it’s nice to eat healthily. Other times, you just want nachos! This one-pan meal is excellent for sharing and comes together in just a few minutes. Just brown your ground beef with jalapenos and green onions, remove them from the skillet, and then build your nachos right there. Top your chips with the beef mixture, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa, and your meal is ready to eat.
Don’t like beef? Swap it out for sliced chicken, sausage, shredded pork, or even crumbled tofu! This recipe can evolve and change with your tastes and available ingredients by mixing and matching your meats and toppings.
6. BBQ Chicken Quesadillas
Here’s another quick and crowd-pleasing campfire lunch. Heat a cast-iron skillet over your fire and cook your chicken first, or use pre-cooked chopped chicken. Toss the chicken with barbecue sauce, cilantro, and red onions for your filling. After that, it’s as simple as heating your tortilla, adding filling and cheese, and giving it a flip.
Hearty, cheesy, and easy – what’s not to like?
7. Southwestern Chicken Packets
If you’re in the mood for southwestern flavor, easy cooking, and minimal cleanup, this is the lunch for you. Just mix your corn and black beans with your taco seasoning and combine them in a foil packet with a chicken breast or tenders. Top it all with salsa and shredded cheese, and seal it for cooking. Set these packets on your campfire coals for 30 to 45 minutes, and you’re ready to eat.
This is truly one of the most effortless campfire lunches out there. There’s no chopping or prep work required–just mixing ingredients.
8. Dutch Oven Chili and Cornbread
Your trusty dutch oven is the star of the show in this mouthwatering one-pot meal. Start building your chili with onions, garlic, beans, tomatoes, and chiles cooked together with spices and seasonings. Once this thickens, pour your cornbread batter right on top, cover the dutch oven, and top it with hot coals.
This 360-degree heat bakes the cornbread directly on top of the chili in about 20 minutes. It’s an incredible meal and side brought together in one easy dish that takes less than an hour from start to finish.
9. Kielbasa and Potato Hash
When you need a campfire lunch ready fast, this could be your go-to recipe. Heat two skillets over your fire, and cook your peeled and diced potatoes in one while browning the kielbasa, followed by the peppers and onions in the other. Your meal will be ready in just about 10 minutes if you use these double skillets. All that’s left is to combine them and dig in!
10. Campfire Pizza
Who says you can’t have pizza while camping? You’ll need a little patience as your easy-to-mix dough rises, but good things come to those who wait.
While your dough rises, prep your favorite toppings and put together your sauce and cheese. Cook your crust in an oiled skillet for several minutes, and then flip it over before adding your sauce, cheese, and toppings. Cover up your skillet and let it all melt together for a few more minutes.
This recipe makes enough for two 10-12 inch crusts, perfect for groups that simply can’t reconcile their opinions about pineapple on pizza, whether delicious or disgusting. There you have it–one of the world’s greatest comfort foods transformed into a campfire-friendly form.
We sometimes short-change a good campfire lunch during a busy camping trip or even a lazy day where no one feels like cooking much. But with these easy, quick recipes, you’ll never be without something tasty that comes together over nature’s original cooking utensil–the open fire.