You planned day hikes, peaceful reflection, and the quiet, shaded ambiance of being far away from civilization. You packed a cozy sleeping bag, plenty of water, and sturdy, eco-friendly tools. But one of the real highlights of your camping trip will be the fire-roasted meals, well-earned and eagerly anticipated after wandering the woods and foraging for berries.
To make sure your camping trip is everything you were looking forward to all week, you want delicious, stick-to-your-ribs-satisfying food without requiring you to haul five campign cooking pots and 20 ingredients in your pack. Is this possible? We think so. From classic homestyle to far-east flavors to downright gourmet, find choices to fit every palate that only use one pot below
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The One-Pot Secret
You don’t need to be a seasoned camper to know that you’ll enjoy your trip much more if you choose your gear wisely and don’t overpack. A hefty portion of the items traveling with you are either edible components of meals or cooking tools. Although you’ll make your way through some of that bulk as you go through your food supply, you can cut down on the supplies you have to carry without sacrificing great food. If you want to reduce your camping cooking setup, one-pot recipes are the way to do it. And with these recipes, you won’t even need a camping cookbook.
Even for those who favor procrastination to planning ahead, taking care of any parts of the cooking process you can finish before you leave home is well worth it. It not only lightens your load but reduces after-dinner clean-up duty, leaving you with more time to enjoy s’mores and campfire tales. Combine dry ingredients to consolidate into one container, and do your dicing and chopping before you leave.
In addition, prepping at home also cuts down the chances of forgetting that one little ingredient that turns out to be a frustratingly integral part of the process. Getting the initial steps of the recipe done in the convenience of your own kitchen allows for more recipes to become one-pot, campfire-perfect feasts that may not even require a portable camping kitchen.
This versatile, crowd-pleasing meal might not have been originally designed for camping, but chefs quickly figured out that the ease of preparing and serving it from one pot made it ideal. A minimum of the 9 ingredients need to be kept cold, so you’ll want to store them in a camping cooler or camping refrigerator, and black beans provide enough fiber and protein to keep you full until breakfast.
- Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
- 1 cup tomatoes, diced
- ½ bag tortilla chips
- 1 (14 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- ½ lime, for serving
- Make your fire to medium-high, and place on your cast iron or aluminum pan. Add a splash of olive oil when the pan is hot.
- Evenly distribute ½ cup of the diced tomatoes into the pan, followed by ½ of the tortilla chips, ½ cup of the black beans, ½ cup of the grated cheese, ¼ cup of the diced tomatoes, and ¼ of the sliced green onions on top.
- Repeat all layers again until remaining ingredients have been used, except for the avocado, cilantro and lime.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil and let cook for 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts.
- Remove from heat, uncover, top with diced avocado, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
Just-baked, yeast-puffed crust beneath fresh cheese and toppings doesn’t sound like an affordable luxury on a camping trip, but it may surprise you to discover how doable it is. Iit’s even easier if you make the dough at home (or to save time, use store-bought dough). Plus, pizza is extra great while camping because you can make it to fit any taste, including vegan diets.
- 1 pkg rapid rise instant yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan
- 2½ cups spelt flour or whole wheat flour, plus more for kneading and shaping
- ⅓ cup prepared tomato sauce
- 1 ball buffalo (fresh) mozzarella, sliced into thin circles or 1½ cups shredded mozzarella
- Your favorite pizza toppings
- In a large bowl, mix the yeast in warm water and stir for a minute. Add the olive oil and flour and mix until a ball of dough comes together. Using your hands, knead the dough until a smooth ball forms. Add more flour to the bowl if the dough is too sticky.
- Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit, preferably in a warm place, for 15 minutes.
- Divide the dough in half and make two balls. Set one ball aside in the bowl.
Assembly and Toppings
- Get your fire going to high.
- Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with additional olive oil and spread one of the dough balls out on the pan. Use your fingers to push the dough to the edge of the skillet and cover the bottom evenly.
- Cook the dough on the fire for 3 to 5 minutes, until the dough forms a firm crust.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Carefully flip the crust over.
- Add half of all the toppings on the pizza and place the pan back on the fire. Cook for about five minutes, or until the cheese has melted. If you have lots of toppings, cover the pizza with aluminum foil to help them cook. Need inspiration for what to put on your pizza? Here is a list of popular pizza toppings to consider.
- Once the first pizza is ready, take it off the pan and repeat these steps with the second half of the dough and remaining toppings. Slice and serve.
Bringing along a blend of spices that can be combined into one small container elevates a campfire meal into something special. This dish gets its base from eggs, which are the main ingredient you’ll need to designate cooler space for, and also its richness. The list of seasonings includes salt, but feta cheese will also lend its own saltiness. This dish is also perfect for peoople on a keto diet or people who can’t consume gluten.
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 can (12.5 oz) butter beans, drained, or 3 cups home-cooked
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 medium tomatoes, diced (about 4 cups)
- ½ cup water
- 8 eggs
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- ⅓ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Freshly ground pepper
- Crusty country bread, for serving
- Once your fire is hot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Add the onion and sauté until translucent.
- Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.
- Add the green pepper and sauté until it has softened.
- Add the beans, paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, and salt. Gently mix to coat all the ingredients evenly with the spices. Simmer for two more minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, any juices that may have accumulated when dicing them, and the water. Bring the liquid to a boil, then continue cooking until the juice has thickened somewhat. It will have turned a darker shade of red.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Create divets in the sauce with the back of a spoon. Carefully crack the eggs—trying not to break the yolks—one at a time over the beans and sauce, spacing them evenly apart. Return the skillet back to the fire and cook for three minutes.
- Rotate the pan (to ensure that the shakshouka cooks evenly) and cook until the egg whites begin to firm up but the yolks are still runny.
- Remove the pan from the fire and let sit for a minute to settle the eggs. Garnish with the avocado, feta cheese, and cilantro.
- To serve, use a large spoon to scoop out the eggs with the beans, sauce, and garnishes, keeping the eggs on the top, unbroken. Season with pepper and serve with bread for dipping.
Dutch Oven Chicken Marbella
This restaurant-caliber dinner fits ideally with the prep work at home, save space on the journey system. Nearly all ingredients are combined in a freezer bag and will keep up to 48 hours, which also allows the marinade to sink in. The recipe provides detailed guidance on coal usage to reach the correct temperature, and close attention to it will help in achieving the desired crispy skin. Make sure to use a Dutch oven and a Dutch oven lid lifter for this recipe. It involves placing coals directly on the lid.
- 1 cup chopped prunes
- 1 cup olives, pitted and halved
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup capers
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 chicken thighs, skin on
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 teaspoons brown sugar
- Marinate the chicken: Place all ingredients except for the oil and brown sugar in a freezer bag to marinate. Place in your ice chest for at least six hours and up to 48 hours.
- Prep your campfire: Prepare 27 coals. You can use wood embers if you must, but you’ll have to guesstimate the proper heat ratio (you’re aiming for 425ºF). Once all the coals are ready, knock them into a flat pile and place dutch oven on top of all of them. This will produce the high heat required for browning.
- Brown the chicken: Heat one tablespoon of oil in the Dutch oven. The oil is hot and ready when a drop of water instantly sizzles when it hits the pan. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and dust one teaspoon brown sugar over the skin side of each thigh. Brown the thighs skin side down over high heat until the skin is crispy and deep golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Flip to brown the other side, and continue cooking for two additional minutes.
- Bake: Remove Dutch oven from heat. Add the marinade to the dutch oven and cover. Evenly distribute 18 coals on the lid and set the Dutch oven on a bed of 9 coals. Bake for 30 minutes, until the thighs are cooked through and their juices run clear when pierced with a knife.
With this recipe you’ll get all the essence of a Mexican dinner in a casserole consistency. Be sure to stoke your campfire to boiling heat to sufficiently cook your rice, but other than that this meal is easy to bring together. The foundational components–oil, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and rice–can go a long way in various dinners throughout your trip.
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 poblano, de-seeded and diced
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 3/4 lb ground beef
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup white rice
- 14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1/4 cup water
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and poblano peppers and saute 5-6 minutes, until soft and beginning to brown.
- Add the ground beef, taco seasoning, and minced garlic. Cook until the meat begins to brown.
- Add the rice, stirring to mix into the beef and veggie mixture. Add the tomatoes and their juices along with 1/4 cup water. Cover the skillet and simmer for 20 minutes. Avoid opening the lid until the end.
- Remove from the heat. Serve topped with cheese, avocado, cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and tortilla chips on the side.
For this entry the authors took a staple that campers often bring along in dehydrated form and designed a from-scratch version that pares down the ingredients to essentials. The mushrooms, onions, and beef are cooked first, then the sauce and noodles have the drippings to help flavor the base as they are cooked.
- 1/2 pound strip steak, sliced into bite sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 8 oz mushrooms, quartered
- 1 small brown onion, diced
- 1 1/2 cups broth
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- ½ lb wide egg noodles
- ½ cup full fat sour cream, divided
- Quarter the mushrooms and dice the onion.
- Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed 10-inch skillet until smoking hot. Salt the strip steak. Add the steak to the skillet and cook, until browned on both sides and cooked through.
- Remove from the skillet, tent with foil, and allow it to rest while preparing the vegetables and noodles.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add the mushrooms and saute 5 minutes, stirring infrequently. Add the onions and continue to saute an additional five minutes.
- Add the broth, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme. Use a wooden spoon or a spatula to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat.
- Add the noodles and cook according to package instructions (this will depend on the noodles you buy – ours took eight minutes), stirring occasionally to ensure the noodles cook evenly.
- Once the noodles are tender, remove skillet from heat. Temper half the sour cream with some of the sauce by adding a few spoonfuls of broth to the sour cream and stirring – this will raise the temperature of the sour cream and help prevent it from curdling when added to the pan. Mix the tempered sour cream to the pan, stir, then add the rest of the sour cream and stir to combine.
- Slice the cooked steak into bite-sized pieces. Season to taste, add to the skillet, and serve.
These dishes vary in prep time and ingredient load, giving you an array of choices based on how elaborate you prefer your campsite meal to be. For those who love to cook and enjoy trying new outdoor meals, this list is a good starting point to introduce some fun options.
Whatever you choose, planning ahead and doing as much prep work before you leave home pays off, such as slicing your base-flavor veggies like peppers and onions. A cast iron skillet, while heavy, can be a very worthwhile addition to your camping gear, serving as stock pot, griddle, and frying pan. When working with just one pot or pan, it cna also be helpful to have a campfire tripod to hold it over the fire.
Really, the most difficult skill you need to master for these recipes is building a fire hot enough to bring liquid to a boil, so there’s nothing to stop you from getting out there and trying some!