Cooking and Camping

Cooking and Camping

I thought I'd do a round-up of some good camping recipe links - a bit of open-flame inspiration. It's the peak of camping season and Wayne has been on a quiet campaign to encourage me to embrace my inner camper. This has involved the purchase of a new tent, the acquisition of an inflatable Aerobed (I swore off Thermarests long ago), and a shiny red camping stove. We've logged four nights in the "wild" this year and I suspect his personal goal is to get that number into the double digits before the end of the season. I'm still not sure how I feel about that, but I will say the tent and Aerobed is a knock-out combination (back-packers need not apply). I added a pair of earplugs to the mix and slept until 11am(!) last Saturday beneath a grove of California redwoods. Beyond that, if you add a couple great camping recipes to your repertoire, you're all set.

I'll lead with my favorite book on the topic. If you are serious about open-flame cooking, seek out William Rubel's The Magic of Fire: One Hundred Recipes for the Fireplace or Campfire. Published by Ten Speed Press in 2002, this is a beautiful, large-format, hardback volume I stumbled across years back while browsing the stacks at the San Francisco Library. It immediately sparked fantastic visions of fire-baked breads and ember-roasted Russets. Alternately you can visit William's website here. You'll notice he mentions the Joy of Cooking: 75th Anniversary Edition as having "the best introduction to hearth cooking of any book that I know of anywhere." He contributed that section to the book.

Other Helpful Camping Recipe & Technique Links:

- Campfire Cuisine article by Marcia Kiesel, Food & Wine (1998). A for the dedicated car campers, don't miss the sidebar - Tips for Packing your Cooler

- Martha Stewart shows us how to do campfire potatoes.

- Wikipedia: Campfire Cooking. Check out the photo of the oven made from scraps!

- An interesting round-up of assorted campfire cooking techniques - coffee can cooking, cooking on leaves, cooking on rocks, etc. Be warned there are an irritating number of ads cascading through the content on this page.

- Lots of good prep and packing tips in this Associated Press article by Annmarie Timmins. Spice up Campfire Cooking with a Little Prep Work

- Todd at Get Your Grill On demonstrates how to make a portable firepit out of a Weber Grill. Clever!

- Cooking in the Wild. Some good recipes here including Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes, Herb and Cheese Omelette, Sweet Potato Hash Browns, and Peanut-y Girl Scout S'mores.

- The GORP community food section. Sections include - Making Good Joe, Top Trail Recipes, GORP-Tested Stoves, Campfire Staples. (registration required)

Happy cooking and camping!

Photo credit: Wayne Bremser, Butano State Park


I send an email roughly once a week, sharing new recipes and cooking inspiration. - xo heidi
Heidi Swanson


I love camping! I cook the same simple meals on the camp stove as I do at home.

Recently, while camping at Yosemite, I made the garbanzo bean brown rice that I learned from this blog. It was a huge hit. I had to make 3 batches to satisfy the demand.


Great post! For some reason, I always like fajitas when camping. I chop up all the meat and veggies beforehand, so once there, all I have to do is throw it in a pan. Some friends of mine turned me onto foil wraps, too. Put your choice of meat, along with potatoes and vegetables, cheese if you wish, into a tin foil pouch, and throw it into the fire. When you're ready to eat, unwrap and wallah!

Also if you're looking for any wine recommendations to go with your camp food, check out Dan's "What to Drink?" post at in the Uncorked and Decanted section.


I like your idea, Kelly!


I've been camping with my family in the N.C. mountains - along with a huge group of friends; sometimes up to 70 people (!) - for many years. We attract a lot of attention because of our food ... we bake pies, have fish fries ... everything! Camping food is awesome! Great post. It brought back a lot of memories!


Nothing connects me with Nature the way cooking over a fire in the Rockies does... thanks for reminding me. I may have to get out my thermarest sooner. Great post!


Wow talk about a naturous meal. Hickory - Mountains - Cooking. Can't get any better than that.

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I have grown up camping. My favorite recipe would have to be campfire chocolate bananas. Just make a long cut into the banana peel and stuff it with chocolate and marshmallows. Wrap the entire banana in foil and put in the coals of the campfire for a few minutes. Its an ooey gooey treat that is sooooo good with ice cream. And you can eat it right out of the peel!


My brother's an avid camper AND chef, so I'll be linking him to this. Thanks for the recs!


Great ideas, thanks for sharing....


I do a Thai green curry and rice that's super easy and good in a campground or the backcountry. For car camping, I like black bean chili and cornbread cooked in a cast iron skillet.


Don't forget your Dutch Ovens, y'all!


I was never much of a camping fan - although my partner loves it - until I took over the cooking side of things and started getting inventive with our one-ring gas burner. Now I've become addicted to the challenge of finding new one-pot and easily provisioned recipes...thanks for all the links!


I love camping, but won't do it without a aerobed. Not anymore. Too old.

Nancy Liedel

Thanks Heidi. Exactly what I've been looking for.


Yum- cooking out is so healthy too. Heidi- do you have any good marinade recipes? I'm sure you do!

Jennifer Iserloh

I am not much of a camper myself. But I haven't tried making much beyond hot dogs and marshmallows. How have I been so misled? Thanks!


I like making pizza. Either my own dough or store bought (or frozen bread dough works too)
cook one side, flip it, put on toppings and return it to the fire with a "tent" over to melt the cheese. I like using the bottom of a large ceramic planter but foil will work.


My family and I love going camping...apparently the last time my parents went out camping their neighbours kept drooling over their food. They always make the steak dinner with potates done in the fire, garlic shrimp over the steak and a ceasar salad, they also make pesto pastas topped with sundried tomatoes and pine dogs just dont sound as good anymore...


My family and I love going camping...apparently the last time my parents went out camping their neighbours kept drooling over their food. They always make the steak dinner with potates done in the fire, garlic shrimp over the steak and a ceasar salad, they also make pesto pastas topped with sundried tomatoes and pine dogs just dont sound as good anymore...


There's nothing better than cooking over an open fire in the woods!!


I think it's about time that somebody finally thought of putting down on paper for everybody. I hope people will be able to add their favorite receipes to it.

John Dombrowski

ok lng!


I love "The Magic of Fire" too. Took it with me recently when I went "camping" with my eight and a half year old nephew and my 82 year old mom, and did a little experimenting.

Mind you, the nephew still preferred sacrificiing marshmallows...


Back where I am from (Israel) we have something like a religious festival for camping.
It is called “Lag B'Omer”.

On that day, I eat an enormous amount of camp fire baked potato and grilled corn.

I think I am going to have baked potato for lunch :-)


For the first time in seven years I haven't gone camping. Camping is one of the most popular choices in Europe because hotels are overpriced for the average budget. A good tent, tools necessary for a good night's sleep (Heidi's got the low down there, I see, with air mattress and earplugs), along with a decent campground -- surrounded by neighbor-worthy campers, are the keys to decent camping.

Roughing it? Not us! Here's our baby: the Salerno prestige. Camping can be great, but you have to know what you're doing. Decent camping should be natural, but comfortable at the same time.

And you shouldn't have to suffer in the eats department, either. Don't be afraid to get to the local restaurants if they're available, each region has their own cooking style. Try it, learn from it! Whether it's a campfire, grill or stove, cooking outside your own kitchen isn't just about cooking, it's about living!


Wow! I camped this weekend and was wondering if there were any cookbooks about 'cooking in the wild' -- so this is great! I will have to check some of them out (fire baked bread??) for sure.




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