the best campfire recipes for summer 2020

Updated: Aug 12

Ah, the sweet smell of summer.


Pine trees towering overhead, the fire crackling at your feet, campfire cooking, that snuggly feeling wearing socks and Birkenstocks ("socks 'n stocks" as we lovingly call it), and sipping on a hot whiskey apple cider. In our minds, camping is the epitome of summer. All year long, we anxiously await the season when we can pull out our cooler, Coleman stove, cast iron skillet, and sleeping bags.


Camping holds many deep traditions for Bre and I and we have been taking advantage of our Colorado mountain backyard since we were young kids. For us, camping as a kid is very different than camping as an adult. The wise adults that raised us did a good job of passing on the knowledge needed for spending nights in the wilderness, and learning the family camping recipes was a big part of that. As kids, our biggest concerns while camping were when we could eat the s'mores, how fast we could run as if we'd never been let out of the house, and being spooked after hearing ghost stories. As adults, we've had to learn how to start the campfire, set up the tent, wash the dishes, cook, and do all the planning.


Photos by Bryan Rupp Photography


We frequently ask ourselves why camping meals taste 75% better than cooking at home? Maybe it's the satisfaction of creating delicious camping meals over a campfire? It could be the rustic flavor combo of open flame and dutch oven or cast-iron skillet cooking. Or maybe it just tastes extra satisfying after hiking 15 miles during the day? Whatever the reason, eating while camping is our favorite thing. We find satisfaction in meal prepping, loading the cooler, and cooking outdoors. Below are some of our tried-and-true recipes that we've been cooking for years.

DINNERS


Campfire Nachos


Why we love them:

> easy to share with friends

> a perfect meal after a long day of hiking and adventuring

> super simple to make


Ingredients:

Tortilla Chips

1-2 Bell Peppers

1/2 Sweet Onion

3 Garlic Cloves

1 Can Black Beans

1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1 Can of El Pato Hot Tomato Sauce (with jalapenos)

2 Tomatoes

1 Bunch Cilantro

4 Green Onions

1 Avocado

1 Lime


Instructions:

In the cast iron or dutch oven, cook the onion and bell pepper for 3-4 minutes until soft. Cooking can be done on a portable stove or the campfire. Remove veggies from pan and set aside. Lay one layer of tortilla chips so that they fill the bottom of the pan. Then, layer cheese, black beans, and tomato sauce. If there's space in your pan or you're feeding a lot of people, layer chips, cheese, beans, and tomato sauce until full. Put a lid on to help melt all of the flavors together. After a few minutes of melting, add in the tomatoes and green onion. After the nachos are cooked (they should be sizzling), remove from heat and top with cilantro, lime wedges, and salsa.


Substitutions:

These nachos would be easy to make vegan by substituting in vegan cheese. Or, if you're a meat-eater, you could add some ground beef or shredded chicken to the nachos. However, we feel that the beans and cheese provide adequate protein and make for a filling dinner.

Vegetarian Foil Packets


Why we love them:

> Meal prep can be done at home before your camping trip

> It is an easy camping recipe and can easily be modified to match dietary preferences

> Aluminum foil acts as your plate, meaning no dish cleanup!


Ingredients (Serves 2):

Aluminum Foil

2 Cans of Cream of Soup (ie Mushroom or Celery)

2 Servings of Plant-Based Meat Crumbles (optional)

1 Onion

6 Garlic Cloves

1 Bell Pepper

4 Stalks of Celery

2 Potatoes

4 Carrots

1/2 Head of Broccoli

1 Zucchini

Salt

Pepper

Paprika


Instructions:

Chop up all vegetables into 1 to 1-1/2 inch pieces. This step can be done at the campsite or at home, prior to camping, if you're looking to make cooking a breeze. In a bed of aluminum foil, place all vegetables and meatless crumbles and season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Then, add in one can of cream of whatever soup. Mix everything together and wrap completely with aluminum foil. Make sure that the packet is sealed really well so that the soup doesn't drip out onto the fire. Place the foil packet directly onto the fire grate. Cook and flip halfway through for 30-45 minutes or until the potato is thoroughly cooked. Open up the foil packet and enjoy!


Substitutions:

Nine times out of ten, we don't include any plant-based meat in our foil dinners. However, it's an option if your belly is really grumbling. Also, any vegetables can be included or excluded in this recipe.

Southwest Frito Pie


Why we love them:

> Warm, cheesy, and spicy on cool summer nights

> Satisfying, delicious, and takes us back to our Southwest roots


Ingredients:

1 Package Fritos Corn Chips

1 Can Vegetarian Bean Chili

1 Cup Shredded Cheese

1 Onion

1 Tablespoon New Mexican Red Chile Powder

1 Head of Romaine Lettuce

2 Tomatoes


Instructions:

In a saucepan, saute the onion with olive oil over the fire (or stove) until translucent. Then, pour the can of chili (1 can per 2 servings) into the saucepan with 1 tablespoon of New Mexican red chile powder. Our favorite chile powder can be ordered online from a restaurant in Santa Fe called The Shed. Stir occasionally until hot and sizzling. In a bowl, combine a handful of Fritos, a scoop of chili, as much cheese as desired, and top with lettuce and tomato.


Substitutions:

We don't recommend any substitutions on this one. We know what you might be thinking -- do I really need the New Mexican red chile? Yes! Yes, you do and you won't regret it. New Mexican red chile definitely adds some spiciness to your dish, but it is also downright deliciously earthy in flavor. Nothing you can buy at the supermarket will replace it. We use it in so many recipes while cooking at home.

BREAKFAST


Breakfast Burritos


Why we love them:

> Who doesn't love a good breakfast burrito?

> A filling meal before a full day of adventuring


Ingredients:

Tortillas

1 Bell Pepper

1 Onion

Frozen hash browns or shredded potato

Eggs

Cheese

Salsa

Black Beans


Instructions:

This one is not an easy camping recipe with all the various ingredients, but there is nothing like a delicious breakfast burrito and a cup of coffee to start your day. To avoid the hassle, you can cook the burritos ahead of time at home, wrap them in foil, and then toss them over the fire to heat them up. This is also ideal if you're planning an early morning hike. One of the best grab-and-go camping meals!


First, we toss the hash browns into the cast iron skillet with some olive oil to obtain a nice golden crispy texture to them. This step can take a bit of time, so don't get impatient. For the remainder of the recipe, unless you have several pans to cook all items separately, we recommend you start from the bottom and build up. We start with the tortilla and cheese. After traveling Mexico, we learned quickly that it works so much better to melt the cheese on the skillet first and then place the tortilla on top. The cheese will melt to a slightly crispy texture and stick right to the tortilla. Yum!


After cooking the tortillas, wrap them in aluminum foil so they stay warm and fresh until you are ready to load them up. Then, cook either the scrambled eggs or the bean and veggies combo. Both are kind of messy in the pan and this is where the juggling can come in if you're like us and use one pan.


Once everything is cooked, assemble the burritos and top with salsa, cilantro, etc. We tend to over stuff ours so that they never roll up into a burrito and instead become an oversized quesadilla. Does anyone else have this problem when making burritos?


Substitutions:

Typically, we only include black beans if we're headed out on a long hike that day. Otherwise, the remaining ingredients create plenty of food. It's worth noting that the tortillas that require cooking (we buy Tortillaland Uncooked Flour Tortillas) taste 100% better than standard flour or corn tortillas. Feel free to add chorizo, bacon, or your meat of choice.

APPETIZERS OR SNACKS


Grilled Mexican Street Corn


Why we love them:

> The flavors take us right back to Mexico

> What is summer without grilled corn?


Ingredients:

Ears of Corn

Butter

Salt

Cojita Cheese

Chile Powder

Cilantro


Instructions:

Grill the ears of corn while in their husk directly over the campfire. Cook for 15-20 minutes, turning them as the husk starts to turn black and char. We usually try to get a nice char all the way around.


Peel off the husk of the corn, coat with butter, add cheese, salt, and top with cilantro.


Substitutions:

Tradition elotes (grilled street corn) in Mexico are made with mayonnaise but neither of us like mayonnaise so we use butter. Also, we just stumbled upon "Everything but the Elote" seasoning mix at Trader Joe's. We haven't tried it, but definitely will next time!

Vegetarian Jalapeno Poppers


Why we love them:

> If you haven't noticed yet, we are suckers for cheesy and spicy foods


Ingredients:

Jalapenos

Cream cheese (whipped or any type that comes in a tub)

A meatless bacon substitute (or real bacon)

Aluminum Foil

Toothpicks


Instructions:

Cut the tops off of the jalapenos and core out the seeds. Next, use a butter knife and fill the jalapenos with cream cheese. Wrap the meatless bacon around the outside of the jalapeno and skewer it with a toothpick. We like to create a little pan made of aluminum foil, with the sides rolled up, and place it on the fire. This lets the flames come over the edges of the foil and char the jalapenos a little bit more. Another option is to completely wrap them in foil and then toss them on the fire.


Cook for 15-25 minutes or until the desired char level is reached. They should be an ooey gooey mess when you remove them from the campfire.


Substitutions:

Jalapenos can get quite spicy so if you're looking for a less spicy option, choose a poblano pepper.

DESSERT


Banana Boats


Why we love them:

> A great substitue for s'mores

> Peanut butter and chocolate. Enough said!


Ingredients:

Ripe Bananas

Peanut Butter

Dark or Milk Chocolate Bars (but you should choose dark)

Graham Cracker

Aluminum foil


Instructions:

Either cut the bananas in half like a banana split or make a triangle shape and cut out the top 1/3 of the banana. Spread on peanut butter, chunks of chocolate, and crumbled graham cracker. Wrap completely in foil and place it on the fire. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until everything is beautifully melted together!


Substitutions:

We have heard of adding marshmallows, fruits, and nuts!


Grilled Peaches


Why we love them:

> Summertime flavors in a meal.

> Easy and customizable


Ingredients:

Peaches (not overripe)

Butter

Cinnamon

Brown sugar


Instructions:

Cut the peaches in half leaving the skin attached and remove the pit from the middle. Coat the meaty part of the peach with butter and place directly over the fire on a grate of some sort. If the grate is dirty or there is not one available, create an open-faced aluminum foil pan. The char is much better if you can place them directly on a grate.


Cook for 5-10 minutes until the peach is warm all the way to the skin.

Add desired toppings. We recommend cinnamon and a little brown sugar or honey.


Substitutions:

If you have a way to keep ice cream frozen, this adds a whole new level of delicious. Other variations we have tried are with balsamic vinegar and goat cheese (so good!). Be creative and enjoy the flavors of summertime in one dessert!


As the summer rolls on, we look forward to more camping trips and trying out some new recipes. Do you have a favorite campfire meal?


Share in the comments if you do!


For the love and adventure,

Daniel + Bre

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