My 3 Favorite Camping Dinners

After the post on assembling a mobile kitchen I had several questions regarding what to cook. (PS I appreciate questions so thanks!)

You’ll notice these are all things you could/would cook at home. I do this for the sake of ease, if you know HOW to cook the meal, and you know your kids will eat it, it’s much less stress. Think easy. A jar of pasta sauce, some noodles and sautéed zucchini. Burritos. Homemade soup (made ahead of time). Or the ever popular hot dogs and hamburgers.

If you have something you love to cook when your camping please leave a comment. I would love to hear your ideas. In the meantime here’s three of our most frequently cooked camping dinners:

Mexican Haystacks
The beautiful thing about this dish is that it requires very few cooler items and can be served warm or cold. Think taco salad, but without the salad. Also, I’ve never made this from a recipe, so I guessed on the portions. Be creative depending on your tastes.

  • 1 can black or pinto beans (drained)
  • 1 can corn (drained)
  • 1 can sliced black olives (drained)
  • 1 cucumber diced
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro chopped
  • 1 bag grated cheese
  • 1 bag tortilla chips
  • salsa
  • ranch dressing
  • hot sauce
  1. Heat the beans and corn in a small pot (if desired).
  2. Take a hand full of chips, smash them up in the bottom of a bowl.
  3. On top of the chips pile on beans, corn, olives, cucumber, tomato, onion, avocado, cilantro and cheese.
  4. Top with salsa, ranch dressing, hot sauce or all of the above.

Pasta Carbonara
I like to make this camping because I love bacon, but refuse to cook it in my house (hate that lingering bacon smell).

  • 1 pound bacon, cut into small pieces (throw away all the fatty pieces when no one is looking)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (or milk will work in a pinch)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 16 ounces of whole wheat spaghetti (the whole wheat part makes you feel better about all the bacon)
  1. To make meat handling easier, cut the bacon before you leave home and freeze it so it stays cold longer.
  2. Cook bacon and onions until bacon is crisp.
  3. In a medium bowl or pot beat together the eggs and cream. Stir in cheese and set aside.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pan. While the noodles are still hot add the cream and egg mixture. Toss gently over a very low flame until the egg looks cooked.
  5. Add the bacon and onion. Add salt and petter to taste. Stir. Enjoy.

So easy. So delicious. And can easily be transformed into chicken and cheese quesadillas for the vegetably challenged.

  • 3 bell peppers of various colors
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 chicken breasts cut in strips (or replace the chicken with beans)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • fajita mix or favorite mexican seasonings
  • grated cheddar cheese
  • 1+ tomato diced
  • 1+ avocado diced
  • salsa
  • tortillas
  1. To make meat handling easier, cut the chicken before you leave home, stick it in a ziploc bag with the seasonings, freeze it so it stays cold longer.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Cook the chicken for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the bell peppers and onions. Cook until veggies are tender.
  4. If you have an extra frying pan warm the tortillas.
  5. Wrap in a tortilla. Top with cheese, tomatoes, avocados and salsa.

I’ve also had a few questions about dutch oven cooking. While I have a dutch oven I can’t say I’ve used it much. Most of our camping is either road trip style, or we’re out doing something (biking, hiking, climbing etc) and don’t typically have the time dutch oven cooking requires. I do however hope to make time for mine this summer and will definitely share what I learn.

Bon Appetit

21 Comments so far

Comments Feed
  1. Cris

    Great post! I once saw a friend make a muffin inside an orange wrapped in tin foil. Have you ever seen or heard of that? I’ve wondered about that ever since. It looked so good…

    • Cris- Wow! I’ve never heard of that, sounds interesting, I would definitely try that! I have a feeling there is this whole crazy world of camping food I need to find…

  2. Claudia

    What a handsome cook you have pictured there!

  3. Lacey

    To make the fajitas extra special add liquid smoke and brown sugar. mmm mmm!
    Of course tin foil dinners are an excellent idea and anything that can be made in advance and simply heated up.

    • I haven’t done a tinfoil dinner for a really long time! I need to remedy that…

  4. Love it. I add red pepper flakes when I make carbonara. Also I like the little table in the pictured up there….

    • Liv – I dare say you would add red pepper to all the above dishes. I know this because you’re the reason I fell in love with red pepper…

  5. Amy

    When we went camping over the weekend, the couple that we were with made donuts in a Dutch oven. All they did was poor oil in the Dutch oven, bring it to a boil, and then poke a hole in the center of pre made biscuit dough, and then cook it in the oil. When they pulled the donuts out, they rolled both sides in sugar. They were so yummy and very easy!

  6. Amy

    Excuse my misspellings…I didn’t proof read before I posted:)

    • Amy- Don’t worry about the spelling, miss spelling is allowed here anytime. Doughnuts are also one of those things I love but never cook in my house because of the smell. Cooking then in a dutch oven is genius! I have to try that, thanks for the tip. Where did you camp?

  7. Betty

    Hi, i just found your recipe for the Bacon Carbona, I work a BS camp and the scouts have to cook a meal at their campsite one night, and I think I will use it for that. Thank you forposting

    • Betty – You are very welcome! It’s my favorite camping dish… In fact now I want carbonara for dinner tonight. Yummm. Hope the cooking goes well, you also just made me miss my days as a BS camp employee. Sure miss those scouts!

  8. Morning C.

    One of my favorite camp meals is chili with cornbread dumplings. I add a few fresh veggies to canned Amy’s chili, drop spoonfuls of cornbread (from a mix) into the hot chili and cook until mostly done.

    Everything tastes better outside! Thanks for the post :)

  9. […] whatever veggies or other food items you need to prep early (see these dinner menus if you’re […]

  10. Amanda

    One of my favorite dishes camping is chicken and dumplings. But I also still love to make corn bread and brownies in a box while camping (line the box with tinfoil inside, put four soda cans in the box, a pie tin for the charcoal coals, a cookie rack on top. Put in one chunk of charcoal for every 50 degrees and you have yourself an oven).

  11. Amanda, I sooooo need to see pics of your oven. Sounds great. Our favorite tinfoil quickie dinner is pre-cut veggies and potatoes with meat (or you could use a can or cans of mixed veggies to cook faster, or a bag of “frozen” mixed veggies that you have stored at fridge temp in your cooler). We call it a hobo dinner, because we throw together whatever we’ve got. I cut veggies and put in ziploc baggies ahead of time; onions, potatoes, carrots, celery, etc. I love simple seasoning salt to spice it quickly, and we tend to use a lb of ground beef sprinkles among 5-6 packets that you lay on the bottom of the tinfoil packet, since it takes the longest to cook. Add the other items on top and spice, then make a rectangular closed packet of the tinfoil, and then make one more with the folded flaps facing the opposite direction (If the first packet’s flaps close on top, have the 2nd close on bottom) so your packet is sturdy enough to put in and take out of the fire coals.

    Here’s a link not only for tinfoil dinners, but also for those orange-skin muffins, etc:

    And Lindsey, we can’t wait to use your ultimate camping list/mobile kitchen/Olivia kit. I linked to it about a year ago when one of Rob’s cousins (probably y’all) posted about it on fb. But I was a little overwhelmed by it, even though I knew that once I did it camping would be simpler.

    But we’re having a go at it this week, and I’ll sort of start creating my mobile kitchen on this trip. I save sample-sizes of things, like dish soap, and already have that in my camping gear.

    I’m re-seasoning my dutch ovens as I speak (uh, type). How do you clean them out in between meals? Just put them upside down over the fire or coals? How often do you re-season yours? We have 3 (they were wedding gifts over 15 yrs ago, how cool was that?), a size 10 with legs, 9 inch w/out legs, and 12 inch with legs. For a family of 6 (oldest kid is 13 and youngest is 3), which size do you recommend we use?

  12. Cory

    Having a kid on the way has me thinking about camping with kids and, thus, browsing through your blog. Absolutely warmed my heart to see pasta carbonara on this list. It made me think back to that N. California road trip and making pasta carbonara in the rain.

  13. Amy

    I just love your site! My favorite thing to make while camping is just kind of a foil dinner. cubed beef, potatoes, veggies, butter and seasoning all rolling into tin foil and put in the HOT coals of the fire for 15-20 minutes per side (depending how big your wraps are). I’ve burn the beans out of it before but it is a great idea!

    • Thanks Amy! I love a good tinfoil dinner. I’ve never tried cubed beef however, sounds delish!

  14. Alissa

    Just wanted to offer a super easy breakfast for camping! Eggs, sausage (bacon too if u want) cut bitesized, shredded cheese, onion, sweetpeppers. 1bowl, whisk, serving spoon and 1 big pot! Precut whatever you want. Start with the meat in the pot. While meat is cooking mix eggs n some milk together. DO NOT DRAIN ALL THE GREASE. You need a little for flavor AND keeps eggs from sticking. Add all ingredients EXCEPT cheese. Save cheese for when eggs are almost done. I drain excess liquid when cooking eggs in a deep pot cause it doesn’t evaporate like normal. After u drain liquid add cheese and mix together!!! So gooie n yummy! We only make this 1time though while camping!


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

    I don't blog alone! Meet outsidemom contributer Olivia