Cooking over a campfire can be a major highlight of a camping trip. Or it can be a fun activity to do right in your backyard, a way to shake up your daily routine and give your kitchen a rest.
While staple campfire foods like hot dogs and s’mores are wonderful options, you may want to be more adventurous with your menu — especially if you find yourself campfire cooking often. After all, there’s only so many ways to serve a frank.
Here are four simple meat dishes you can cook over a campfire, along with videos that show some truly innovative and adventurous cooking methods.
While the easiest way to cook a burger over a campfire is to use a grate, one isn’t always readily available — or you may just want to try a more primitive approach. On the YouTube Channel “Kent Survival,” bushcraft specialist Andrew Davidson demonstrates cooking a burger and onions on a flat rock that’s heated from beneath with coals.
This method of cooking a burger takes patience because it requires you to build up the coals in your campfire over time so they can sufficiently heat a rock placed on top of them. However, that doesn’t mean you need to build a large fire — just a hot, well-established one.
Chicken and vegetable kabobs
Metal skewers are especially useful campfire tools. You can easily cook a whole meal on a skewer. Just cut some meat, such as chicken, into small chunks, then spear them with the skewer so the chunks form a neat line. Or you can cut up vegetables, such as peppers and onions, and spear those with the skewer as well. If you arrange the vegetables between the chunks of meat, the flavors will mingle. And voila, you have a delicious kabob.
On the YouTube channel “KOBLINI,” a voiceless instructional video “Cooking on a Campfire in the Forest – Primitive Cooking” shows a simple chicken, pepper and mushroom kabob recipe. For the recipe, the cubed chicken is soaked in a mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, rosemary and diced hot peppers, then wrapped in bacon and skewered among diced bell peppers and mushrooms.
The skewers are placed over the fire by placing the ends atop rocks on either side of the fire, with the rocks being tall enough to keep the food well above the flame. To cook evenly on all sides, the skewers are rotated. And once done, they’re served with a sriracha-wine vinegar-olive oil mixture.
A meat thermometer is a great tool to use when cooking meat over a campfire, especially if working with something like pork, which can make you very sick if undercooked. Plus, pork can quickly become dry if overcooked.
This is demonstrated by Mina Oh on her YouTube channel “Miss Mina.” In a video, she coats pork tenderloin with a marinade of garlic, rosemary, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, then wraps it in tin foil. She then cooks the pork on a grate over a campfire and uses a meat thermometer to check the temperature. At around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, she flips the foil package, and at 145 degrees, she removes it from the fire to rest for a few minutes before eating.
A cast iron dutch oven is a game changer, presenting endless possibilities for campfire cooking.
You can bake bread and desserts such as brownies and cakes in a Dutch oven. You can also make soups and stews, which are perfect meals for warming yourself up on a cold night.
On the YouTube channel “Woodswalker 1965” is a video that shows the process of cooking beef stew in a dutch oven over a campfire. In the video, the dutch oven is suspended on a chain from a wooden tripod that’s fashioned out of three sturdy branches or saplings and some paracord. The stew’s ingredients include beef, bacon, onions, celery, garlic, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, Guinness beer and beef broth, topped off with fresh basil and rosemary.
For this type of campfire cooking, you’ll need tongs or some other device to lift the heavy cast iron lid. Some heat-resistant gloves would also protect you from the heat of the fire when you stir in ingredients and move the dutch oven.
If not interested in wrestling with a heavy Dutch oven, you can always cook stew, soups and casseroles in a lightweight pot on a campfire grate. And to make the outdoor cooking process faster, you can chop up vegetables and measure ingredients indoors ahead of time.
Some campfire recipes take a little extra preparation and patience than hot dogs on a stick, but the end result is usually worth the extra effort. So try something new. Get creative. And when the meal’s done, remember to clean up after yourself — unless you want all sorts of wild critters showing up for the leftovers.