Yummy Camp Food
Camp food can be so much more than s'mores and hot dogs.
This article was originally published in TulsaKids’ May 2017 magazine. It was updated July 2021.
My kids have been begging to go camping.
We bought a tent and lantern, gathered the sleeping bags and have been planning. For weeks, we have talked about where to go, when to go and what we’ll bring with us.
This is such a contrast to my friend, Maggie Penny, who at any moment can load up with her husband and four children and camp anywhere. She’s gone fly fishing with her youngest on her back, she’s set off for the Grand Canyon with just a few days planning. And, miraculously, she feeds her family well while doing it.
I wish I had more of Maggie’s adventurous spirit and ability to take a few ingredients and make them taste great over an open fire.
Unlike me – who has planned a camping trip since March and will likely end up packing nothing better to eat than a package of hot dogs and buns.
Or not. I have been pouring over the book The Outdoor Adventure Cookbook, which romanticizes the great outdoors enough to inspire even those who have never seen the inside of a tent.
Some of the recipes in the book are elevated versions of classic camp food – like a s’mores cookie cake. Others seem impractical to pull off for novice campers like myself…. Cast-iron skillet gnocchi with pesto? It sounds fabulous to me, but I think my kids would actually prefer hot dogs.
Here are a couple of recipes from the The Outdoor Adventure Cookbook (Oxmoor House, 2017) to try on your next campout.
Consider this a campfire twist on monkey bread. It would be great as a late-night dessert under the stars.
Cinnamon Biscuit Bites with Brown Sugar–Caramel Sauce
- 10 tablespoons salted butter, melted, divided
- 2 cups all-purpose baking mix (such as Bisquick)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- 1⁄2 cup whole milk, divided
- 3⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
- Heat a camping stove to medium (about 350° to 375°F), or fit a grilling grate over the direct heat of glowing embers. Cut 6 (18-inch) squares of aluminum foil; crumple each square into a 1 1⁄2- to 2-inch ball. Arrange the foil balls on the bottom of a 7 1⁄2-inch quart cast-iron Dutch oven. Cover with the lid, and preheat on the camping stove or grilling grate directly over the heat source 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, grease a 9-inch round cake pan with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Stir together the baking mix, egg, 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, and 1 1⁄2 teaspoons of the cinnamon in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and 6 tablespoons of the milk; stir until a soft dough forms. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon on a plate. Shape the dough into balls, using about 1 heaping tablespoon of dough for each. Roll in the sugar mixture on plate, coating all sides. Place the coated dough balls in the prepared cake pan.
- Using tongs, lower the greased cake pan onto the foil balls in the preheated Dutch oven. Cover with the lid, and bake until the biscuit bites are done, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Stir together the brown sugar, remaining 7 tablespoons butter, and remaining 2 tablespoons milk in a saucepan. Bring to a boil on the camping stove or grilling grate, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Serve the warm sauce with the biscuit bites.
Start the morning with something delicious. Doesn’t it sound so much better than an energy bar?
Good Morning Cheddar Drop Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, divided
- 2 cups all-purpose baking mix (such as Bisquick)
- 2 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1⁄2 cup)
- 4 1⁄4 cups whole milk, divided
- 1 pound pork breakfast sausage
- 1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1⁄8 teaspoon dried sage
- Heat a camping stove to medium (about 350° to 450°F), or fit a grilling grate over the direct heat of glowing embers. Cut 6 (18-inch) squares of aluminum foil; crumple each foil square into a 1 1⁄2- to 2-inch ball. Arrange foil balls on the bottom of a 4 1⁄2- to 5-quart cast-iron Dutch oven. Cover with the lid, and preheat on the camping stove or on a grilling grate directly over heat source 10 minutes.
- Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Combine the baking mix, cheese, 3⁄4 cup of the milk, and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter in a medium bowl, stirring just until combined. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls into the greased cake pan. Place the pan on top of the foil balls in the preheated Dutch oven; cover with the lid. Bake until the biscuits are browned on bottom and done, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium on a camping stove or on a grilling grate directly over the heat source. Add the sausage, and cook, stirring until the sausage crumbles and is no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture; stir to combine, and cook 1 minute. Slowly stir in the remaining 3 1⁄2 cups milk until combined. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture begins to thicken, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, and sage. Serve the gravy over the biscuits.
5 Ways to Make Campfire Cooking Easy
- Mix up pancake batter at home, then store in a glass jar in the cooler. That way, it’s mixed and ready to go for early risers.
- Foil packet meals are super easy and, a bonus, great for picky eaters. Everyone can make their own foil packet with sausage or fish, carrots, potatoes or green beans. Use your imagination – and simply leave out anything your kids don’t like.
- Banana boats carry major “wow” factor for kids. Slice an unpeeled banana from top to bottom, leaving the bottom peel intact. Gently open, then let the kids fill them with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. Wrap loosely in heavy-duty aluminum foil, and cook over hot coals for about 5 minutes. Eat with a spoon. Yum.
- Mini pizzas are as popular on a camping trip as they are at home. Pack English muffins or pita bread, then top with a little marinara sauce and your favorite pizza toppings. Loosely wrap in aluminum foil and heat until cheese is melted and crust is crisp.
- Don’t forget the ingredients for s’mores. It’s a camping classic for a reason. When a bad mood strikes anyone from toddlers to teenagers, you can pull out your arsenal of marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers. Or, get creative and add new fillings, like Rolo candies, peanut butter or bacon.