Main Dishes

After a day full of energy-sapping outdoor activities, nothing brings campers around the fire quite as fast as a tasty, satisfying meal. Unlike dinner in other settings, a good camping meal has a few more nuanced qualities than just satisfying hunger. It gives everyone in the camping party the opportunity to sit down, grab a bite, and enjoy the company of one another in the twinkling light of the campfire.

In times past, this simple pleasure was a nightly occurrence. Every meal was enjoyed and appreciated. But somehow, with the increased pace of life in the modern era, it was lost in the shuffle. The focus put on camping meals by both its preparers and consumers, however, provides campers the rare opportunity to bring back that slowed-down sense of community and appreciation during a great meal.

The following campfire recipes, guaranteed to fill the stomach and tantalize the taste buds, are great for restoring that lost quality. So round up the ingredients, get the cooking fire roaring, and gather around the fire for these campsite culinary feats.

Foil Dinner

  • 1/4 lbs Ground beef*
  • 1 Carrot, sliced*
  • 1 Potatoes, sliced*
  • Small onion, diced*
  • Seasonings
  • Butter
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil

Layer all ingredients in the center of a piece of aluminum foil. Season to taste. Top with butter. Fold foil and secure tightly. Leave room for expansion. Place packet on hot coals for approx. 20-30 minutes. Turn and rotate often.

Be Creative – Use various meats, vegetables, seasonings and sauces etc.

Camper’s Pizza

  • Bread
  • Butter
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Sauce
  • Pepperoni, sliced (other other)

Butter one side of two slices of bread. Place one slice of bread on your pie iron with buttered side down. Top with 1 1/2 tablespoons of pizza sauce, cheese and pepperoni. Place other slice of bread on top with buttered side out. Place pie iron on hot coals. Turn often until bread is toasted.


  • 1 lb of Sirloin steak, cut into 1″ cubes
  • Marinate seasonings ( Italian dressing, BBQ sauce etc)
  • Assorted vegetables, sliced
  • Ziplock bag

Place your marinate mixture in bag, add beef. Mix well. Refrigerate for a while for maximum flavor. Alternate beef and vegetables on metal or wooden skewers.* Grill over hot coals for 10-15 minutes until cooked. Turn and rotate often.

* Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes prior to using.

Baked Spaghetti

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cans tomato soup
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 lb uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheese

Cook onion and garlic in shortening in Dutch Oven. Add beef and cook. Stir occasionally. Drain excess grease. Mix in the soup, water and chili powder and cook a few minutes longer. Break spaghetti into inch pieces and stir into sauce until all covered. Bake for about 1 hour. Stir approximately every 15 minutes. Then add cheese to top. Bake another 15 minutes.

Campfire Stew

  • 1 lb Ground beef
  • 1 small onion
  • Garlic salt
  • Other seasonings
  • 1 can vegetable soup

In Dutch Oven, brown meat with onion, garlic and seasonings. When meat is thoroughly cooked add canned vegetable soup and simmer till heated through.

Serve with foil wrapped potatoes and biscuits.

Fish on a Stick

  • Piece of fish (trout, etc.)
  • Grilling fork or green hardwood stick

Thread fork through the fish. Cook over hot coals. Cook both sides until fish flakes at the thickest part. Serve with foil wrapped potatoes.

Have extra pieces of fish ready in case some fall into the fire.

Fabulous Pork Tenderloin – Submitted by Vicki Henderson

  • 1 pork tenderloin roast (boneless chicken breasts can be substituted)
  • 5 small red potatoes
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 medium onion (sweet if possible)
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/4 lb. of fresh green beans
  • 4 half-ears of corn (cobbettes)
  • garlic salt
  • olive oil
  • ground pepper

Spread 2 layers of heavy duty foil side by side, with middle overlapping. Drizzle olive oil onto foil. Place tenderloin in the center (lengthwise) of the foil. Cut potatoes into 1/4 inch slices and place on and around the meat. Cut other vegetables into large pieces and place on and around the meat. Sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper. Cover food with another piece of foil and fold the top & bottom foil together to seal the packet. Place on hot coals for 60 to 90 minutes.

As a variation, leave out the olive oil, garlic salt & pepper, and cover the meat & veggies with Italian salad dressing instead.

Rouladens – Submitted by Paula Sheagley

Use thin steak. Salt and pepper meat. Spread one side with mustard. Add chopped onion. Roll around a slender dill pickle (or half a large one, lengthwise).

Tie “bundle” with string. Put on stick to roast. Sear, then broil.

Grinders – Submitted by Paula Sheagley

  • 1/2 pound chopped bologna
  • 1 cup grated American cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup pickle relish
  • 6 chopped olives
  • Butter
  • 6 buns

Butter buns. Mix rest together and heap on buns. Wrap each in heavy foil. Seal. Heat on hot coals for 5 minutes each side.

French Toasted Sandwiches – Submitted by Paula Sheagley

  • 6 slices cheese
  • 12 slices Italian bread
  • Milk
  • Flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Dip sandwiches in milk, then flour, then egg. Brown on heated grill.

Easy Camp Pies – Submitted by a reader

  • Ground beef
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Butter
  • Dry onion soup mix
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil

Use a square of heavy duty aluminum foil for each “pie”. For each “pie” put one hamburger, thinly sliced potatoes, sliced onions, sliced carrots, a tablespoon of butter & some dry onion soup mix. Wrap up your “pie” and place in the coals. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes or until done.

Easy Chili

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 can large can peeled tomatoes, diced
  • 6 small cans tomato sauce
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 2 cans light red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 package McCormick Chili Seasoning

Brown hamburger in a skillet. Drain fat. In a large pot, combine all remaining ingredients. Stir in ground beef. Simmer for 1/2 hour. Stir occasionally.

Foiled Fish

  • 1 lb fish fillets
  • 2 tbsp margarine
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 sliced onion
  • salt
  • pepper
  • heavy duty aluminum foil

Place each piece of fish onto a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. In a saucepan, melt margarine. Add lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir well. Pour this mixture over the fish. Sprinkle with paprika and top with onion slices. Fold foil loosely and seal tightly. Grill for 5-7 minutes per side. Fish should flake easily when done.

Haystacks – Submitted by a reader

  • Bag of corn or tortilla chips
  • 1 can of chili
  • Onion – diced
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato – diced
  • Shredded cheese
  • Tobasco Sauce or Salsa (optional)

Warm chili in Dutch Oven or skillet. Crush corn chips. Top chips with chili, onion, lettuce, tomato and shredded cheese. Add Tobasco sauce or salsa.

Eye of the Round – Submitted by Sheri Montoya

  • (1) Eye of the Round (or boneless pork loin)
  • Kosher salt
  • Seasonings of choice
  • Wax paper
  • String
  • Good bed of coals

Coat the meat with a good layer of the kosher salt. Season the meat. Wrap meat in 7-9 layers of wax paper tucking in the end of each layer. Tie up the roast with the string making sure the wax paper stays in place. Place the roast directly on the coals. Turn the roast every 15 mins. (+/-5 mins.) a 1/4 of a turn. After the 4th side, check the meat using a meat thermometer for desired doneness.

Note: The wax paper does burn, but the salt and the wax seal the meat. The burnt paper can easily be pulled off before serving.

Coffee Can Supper – Submitted by Gabrielle


  • 2 large coffee cans (this is for several people)
  • Heavy duty tin foil


  • Hamburger, or small pieces of steak
  • Medium potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Mrs. Dash seasoning
  • Salt (optional)
  • Butter or olive oil

Put a small amount of oil or butter in bottom of coffee cans. Peel potatoes, carrots and onions. Cut into chunks and put into coffee cans. Add the meat, seasonings and a little more oil or butter. Cover tightly with foil. Set in coals to bake for about 1 hour or until meat is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender. Serve with fresh crusty buttered bread.

You can also make this without meat, or with fish or chicken, and any seasonings you desire. Experiment! This is also something you can make ahead of time. Refrigerate and/or keep in cooler until time for use.

Hobo Dinners – Submitted by Cameron McDougle

  • About 1/2 lb ground beef per person
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • About 4 spoonfuls per person of Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • Lawry’s seasoning salt
  • Tin foil

Divide the meat evenly between everyone- about 1/2 lb per person. Cut a lot of potatoes evenly & thinly slice & put in a pot. Do the same with the carrots. Have each person put their meat, carrots and potatoes in a 2.5 foot long piece of tin foil. Then put 3-4 spoonfuls of Cream of Mushroom Soup in & mix evenly. Season to taste. Wrap up & keep it thin so it cooks faster. Add another piece of tin foil around it. Put it in the coals and cook until it is done. Check on it every 15 minutes or so.

Other Main Dish Suggestions:

  • Hot dogs
  • Hamburgers
  • Soup
  • Steak
  • Grilled chicken
  • Pasta with Alfredo Sauce
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches

More Recipes

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4 Replies to “Main Dishes”

  1. Holy recipes! Cant wait to try all of these! We are going on a photography trip in Tahoe this weekend and staying in some pretty intense places. These will come in handy! Thanks!

  2. Outdoor camping recipe
    Side dish
    Stuffed jalapeños
    10-12( how ever many u like)( medium sized ones)Jalapeño peppers
    16 oz cream cheese ( May need more depending on amout of peppers )
    1-2 packages of bacon
    2 tea spoons
    Tooth picks ( no colored ones)
    Cut pepper in half but not all the way starting from the end cutting up toward the steam.
    Taking a tea spoon easily so not to hurt your self scrap out the seed on both sides. Hint to make more milder scrap out the vein as well.
    Taking other tea spoon stuff both sides of pepper with cream cheese( how ever much u want )
    Taking one slice of bacon wrap around the pepper.
    Using tooth picks carefully insert threw the bacon and pepper . This is to hold the bacon on the pepper. I use 2-3 tooth picks depending on the pepper.
    Once all peppers are completed place on grill either with or withou foil( taste better without).
    Turn them often.
    They are done once bacon is golden brown or crispy depending on how you like your bacon cooked.
    You can also add cooked shredded chicken inside with the cream cheese.
    Enjoy with meat or rice or beans. Great side dish.

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