Effortless Chef-Level Campfire Food

Blue tea water kettle and foil wrapped vegetables on grill in fire pit at campground with red flame fire burning in evening

For some, summertime means weekend or weeklong trips to our favorite camping spots, whether in a cabin or tent. Many families pack their gear and seek cooler lake shores to enjoy the sunshine or a campground getaway to spend time in nature with their loved ones.

Depending on your budget and where you go, options for cooking can be relatively limited, especially on campgrounds. In most cases, you'll find commercial-grade outdoor park grills with about 200 square inches of cooking space or in-ground fire pits with roughly the same grilling area. While eating hotdogs and hamburgers every night for a meal may sound great for some, it can be a bit tiresome to eat the same thing several days in a row, and traveling with picky eaters or kids can present another cooking complication.

You may be wondering: is there anything outside of the standard burgers and dogs you can cook over a campfire or grill?

If so, we're excited to present some inspiration for next-level campfire meals that may become your must-haves all summer!

Tips to Make Campfire Cooking Easier

Before we start sharing some of our favorite campfire meals, we thought you would appreciate these handy quick tips to make your vacation cooking more straightforward than ever:

  • Pre-prep. No matter what recipes or cooking you try, it may likely call for an ingredient to be mixed in, shredded, grated, or chopped. Additionally, you may want to make a marinade or dish with a sauce or dipping sauce. If that's the case, don't wait to try and do it all when at the camp! Pre-prep by chopping veggies shredded ingredients, and mixing marinades or sauces before you go.
  • Pre-mix meat blends with the desired seasoning and ingredients, such as ground beef, chicken, and breakfast sausages. If forming patties, do so before getting to the campground in an airtight container so you can grab and go.
  • Sauteed onions, peppers, or even cracked open eggs, can last up to 3-4 refrigerated days, perfect for weekend getaway camp meals.
  • If rising and kneading dough without a mixer sounds less fun than eating them, there's no shame in purchasing a tin of premade biscuits or premade bread dough.
  • Rice and grains are great, but cooking them over an unpredictable open fire or charcoal can be a chore. Consider premaking the rice and packing it to go, as fried rice is meant to use day-old, cold rice, so it's a perfect grain for cooking ahead of time.

Bring the Right Gear to Make it Easier:

  • A good Dutch oven is not just a fantastic investment for cooking at home but also ideal for soups, stews, or cooking dishes with tender and delicious sauces or marinades over an open flame.
  • Aluminum foil
  • A light-weight cutting board (optional, if needed)
  • A sturdy cast-iron frying pan
  • A sturdy camping pot with a lid
  • Metal tongs
  • Spatula and mixing spoon
  • Skewers (optional, if required)
  • Wood or charcoal
  • A hatchet (for wood)
  • A Firestarter and lighter

If you don't know if the campfire you are going to has outdoor grills or firepits with a grill, you may want to pack a portable Grill grate. You never know when a campground with a grill may end up missing it or in a condition you may not want to cook on. Having a backup is excellent.

Breakfast Inspiration

Homemade Tasting Maple Apple English Muffins

Turn store-bought English muffins into a woodfire delight! All you need is your favorite grocery store English Muffins (or make them by hand if you prefer!), an apple, maple syrup, ground pork, spices, eggs, cheese, and butter. To make your campfire breakfast cooking as simple as possible, pre-mix the meat, spices, and apple and form into patties before heading out.

Combine your ground pork with 1/4th tsp paprika, cinnamon, 1 tsp sage, thyme, fennel seeds, a teaspoon of salt, and a tablespoon of maple syrup. Grate your apple in a medium-sized bowl, cover in lemon juice (to prevent browning too much), and let soak for 5 mins. Squeeze all excess water from the grated apple after five minutes and combine it with the spiced ground pork; make patties, and all you need to do is cook and brown the sausage patties, place them on warm, buttered English muffins, and top with your favorite cheese over the campfire in the morning.

Breakfast Skillet

Cooking a mouth-watering, savory, meat-filled breakfast and potato dish doesn't have to be complicated. This recipe is about versatility; you can add anything you want, as its base is potatoes.

Before heading to your campsite, you can easily make this breakfast with some pre-prep. Boil baby or Yukon potatoes a night or two before heading out, and chop them into bite-sized pieces in an airtight, sealed container. Chop any vegetables you'd like to cook with it, such as red onion, peppers, and mushrooms, in a small container packed into your cooler. Aside from salt and pepper, you can spice this dish up as it's cooking with dried oregano, garlic powder, or garlic cloves, and a pinch of dried chili flakes for a splash of warmth.

Cook and brown the onions and meat first, then the cooked potatoes and spices, until golden brown. Feel free to crack or pour an egg over the hash brown mix before serving, and enjoy a hearty skillet meal!

Lunch and Dinner Inspiration

Easy Grilled Kabob Ideas

Kabobs are another fun, versatile, effortless, and mouth-watering camping food that should be on the camping menu. You can prepare many different proteins and veggies with spices or sauces to come up with something everyone loves.

Some Kebob flavor ideas:

  1. Pineapple Chicken Kabobs with cilantro, honey, ginger and lime
  2. Grilled Gyo-inspired Kabobs with lamb meat, cherry tomatoes, halloumi, or feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and toss in some premade tzatziki sauce
  3. Garlic butter grilled Shrimp skewers.

Other Next-Level, Easy Meal Ideas:

Foil Packet Meals

The wonderful thing about foil packet grilled meals is that they can generally be premade at home, tossed on the grill, and cooked with little mess afterward. Just make sure that all foil packets are well-sealed and stored correctly. Some delicious foil packet ideas to consider are:

Effortless, flavorful, filling next-level meals over an open fire don't have to be complicated to be delicious. We hope we've helped inspire your campfire cooking this summer! When it comes to falling in love with food again, no matter who you are or where you're cooking—Wholey's will have your back with the freshest ingredients and ideas!