18 Essential Recipes Just for the Great Outdoors

By , SparkPeople Blogger
As comedian Jim Gaffigan says, "My wife said camping was a tradition in her family. It was a tradition in everyone's family—until we invented the house!" Love it or hate it, there's no better way to step back from the hustle and bustle of "real life" and reconnect with nature than taking a camping trip. When you're sleeping under the stars, surrounded by the sounds and smells of the great outdoors, all those demands and stresses that seemed so important last week suddenly become trivial in comparison.
There’s no doubt the great outdoors is therapeutic—and it may be the cheapest therapy around. Studies have shown that simply getting outside can spark a myriad of mental health benefits, including reduced depression, improved concentration and a more positive outlook. It's also a great way to bond with family away from the distractions of screens, schoolwork and soccer practices.
And if you’re looking for a little extra exercise on your excursion, you’re in luck: Camping can moonlight as a weight-loss tool. There are plenty of active aspects that burn major calories, from setting up camp to gathering firewood to hiking the surrounding trails.
In the midst of all that family fun and bonding, don’t cancel out the benefits of all that outdoor activity by succumbing to s'mores, hot dogs, chips and other unhealthy fare. The key is coming prepared with the right gear, ingredients and recipes to prepare healthy, yet satisfying, campfire meals.

Camp Cooking Hacks

Unless you want to live on trail mix and peanut butter sandwiches during your outdoor adventure, you'll likely want to do some prep work and bring along some campsite cooking gear to prepare hot meals.
  1. Bring a camping stove. If you're not crazy about the idea of cooking directly over a campfire, you might want to invest in a portable camping stove. There's a wide range of sizes and features, from a tiny backpacking stove to a classic propane stove to a standing three-burner model.
  2. Plan on pots and pans: Although not a requirement, many avid campers like to invest in a set of lightweight, easily packable pots and pans designed for outdoor use. Another essential is  a cast-iron skillet, which can be placed over a campfire grate for baking, frying, searing and stir-frying.  A two-burner aluminum griddle fits nicely over most camping stoves, making it a breeze to cook pancakes, bacon, eggs, veggies and more. We also like the Lodge Drop Biscuit Pan for cooking biscuits, eggs, muffins and mini meatloaves.
  3. Dish it out: Again, you can always bring plastic dishes from home, but you might want to grab some affordable camping tablesets designed for outdoor use.
  4. Make breakfast your main squeeze. Morning meals will be a breeze when you bring pancake mix and eggs in a clean squeeze bottle, so you can easily squirt them on the griddle without worrying about cracking or mixing.
  5. Don’t forget the foil. Foil packets will quickly become any camp chef's best friend. They're great for grilling everything from veggies and potatoes to chicken and steak.
  6. Let nature dry the dishes. Bring along a mesh dunking bag to hold washed dishes, then hang it to dry.
  7. Try making a Swedish torch. This self-contained, self-ventilating fire doubles as a cooking surface, and will slowly burn itself out.
  8. Conquer cooking clutter. Use an affordable over-the-door accessory organizer to keep spices, utensils and other cooking items organized and easily accessible.
18 Camp-Friendly Recipes

Breakfast Recipes
  1. Campfire Breakfast Burger: Start off your day with a powerful protein punch, fueling all of those trail hikes. Sausage and eggs are the stars of this easy, satisfying breakfast burger, which is a cinch to cook in a biscuit pan.
  2. Breakfast Scrambler: Made with ham, bacon or sausage, this one-dish meal can be cooked in an aluminum pan over the fire.
  1. Campfire French Toast: This thick, hearty and kid-friendly breakfast can be served with diced strawberries and sliced almonds.
  2. Banana Whip Oats: Heart-healthy oats are sweetened with ripe bananas and almond milk for a low-sugar, gluten-free breakfast or snack. Top with granola, nuts or seeds for an extra energy boost.
  3. Orange Cinnamon Rolls: Fruit doubles as an eco-friendly bowl in this sweet citrus treat, which is great as a breakfast, snack or dessert.
Snack Recipes
  1. Campfire Parmesan Popcorn: Keep it simple but satisfying by tossing some kernels, oil and parmesan cheese into a foil packet or popcorn pot, then popping them over the campfire or grill. Add some dark chocolate chips and/or walnuts for a flavorful twist.
  1. Baked Apples: These warm, cinnamon-flavored apples can be eaten alone or sliced on top of oatmeal.  
  2. Roasted Chestnuts: You don't have to wait until the holidays to roast chestnuts on an open fire. In addition to being warm and delicious, they're also loaded with vitamin C.
  3. Bear's Toast: Named for its bear-y appealing ingredients, this tempting toast is layered with peanut butter, blackberries and honey, with equally tantalizing (optional) toppings.
  4. Grilled Brussel’s Sprouts with Whole Grain Mustard: A weekend in the woods is the perfect time to go green with this deliciously healthy snack or side.

Image via Rosemarried

Lunch & Dinner Recipes
  1. Chipotle Sweet Potato and Chicken Sausage Foil Packets (Gluten Free): Glazed sweet potatoes, spicy chicken sausage, onions and zucchini are seasoned and then tossed in a foil packet for easy grilling. Optional toppings include cheese, sour cream and cilantro.

Image via Neighbor Food Blog
  1. Campfire Vegetables and Quinoa: Prepare these veggie-and-quinoa foil packets ahead of time, keep them in a cooler and then toss them on the campfire grill at mealtime.
  2. Salads to Go: Looking for an easy way to meet your veggie quota in the woods? These make-ahead salad cups serve as a healthy, hassle-free lunch on the trail.
  3. Grilled Margherita Sandwich: Italian garlic bread is layered with fresh tomato slices, mozzarella cheese and basil, and then grilled in a skillet over the campfire grate.
  1. Cedar Plank Salmon: Cooking a salmon filet on a cedar plank over the campfire gives the fish a delightfully woodsy flavor. Complete the open-air meal with a sweet potato and veggies.
  2. Whole Wheat Pasta with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes: Pasta might not come to mind when you think of camp-friendly foods, but when it’s pre-cooked and wrapped in foil packets, it’s a breeze to toss it with tomatoes, garlic and basil and then warm it over the fire.
Dessert Recipes
  1. Campfire Banana Boats: A split and grilled banana is topped with dark chocolate chips, coconut, cinnamon and hazelnuts for a sweet treat made from whole-food ingredients.
  1. Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Bliss Balls: These vegan and gluten-free snacks hit the sweet spot, while also providing a power-up energy boost for all of those hikes.
Do you enjoy outdoor cooking? What are some of your favorite camping recipes?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


The Lodge drop biscuit pan is no longer available - please update this. Report
BLOND1E 3/5/2021
Good stuff Report
ELRIDDICK 2/6/2021
Thanks for sharing Report
CECELW 12/20/2020
that campfire breakfast looks really good Report
DXTECH 12/19/2020
We did the banana boats when i was a kid--(lonnng time ago, LOL) but i still make them occasionally now too. They are awesome.
We also scooped out halved oranges, mixed the pulp in with gingerbread mix, 1/2 filled the orange halves, carefully wrapped in foil and back then, on the edge of the coals. Now I do it wrapped in foil but in a cast iron pan on top of teh edge of coals. Yumm Report
LEANJEAN6 9/22/2020
The meals look delicious! Report
ELRIDDICK 9/13/2020
Thanks for sharing Report
LOSER05 8/5/2020
thanks Report
FISHGUT3 6/9/2020
thanks Report
thanks Report
I've been camping since I was born (my parents have pics of me playing in a cardboard box while camping at less than a year old). I've carried that over to my own family and it's been there happiest experiences of our life. There are so many levels to camping. From backpacking up a mountain to a travel trailer with all the amenities. I think these recipes are great! It just depends on what kind of camping your doing. Thank you!! Report
TY. We have a large propane camp stove with a flat grill on one side. It makes cooking easy, DH is expert with the flat grill for eggs, meats and sandwiches. I really only need one pot for steamed veggies and boiling water for cereals on the other side. I agree with simply recipes and limited ingredients when camping. I did like the make ahead salad idea, I like taking prepared veggies for snacks. Report
Thanks, some great ideas. Report
Thanks for sharing Report
I agree that the author has very little experience camping.

From the "Swedish Torch" link:
"For a self-contained outdoor fire with built-in cooking posts, the Swedish torch can't be beat. All you need is one log and a chainsaw."

Yes, you need to have a chainsaw and know how to use it safely.

And even if the Swedish Torch "will slowly burn itself out," as the author wrote, leaving a fire to do so is very irresponsible. Report
Great recipes. Thanks for posting. Have not camped in a while but I would try these recipes for a cabin get away. When I camp with a tent , I hike and pack lite. Don't want to pack the entire kitchen.
Thanks for sharing. However, as a westerner, I'd urge folks coming out here to camp NOT to try the Swedish torch. Forest fires are a constant danger here and leaving anything burning for a long period is a recipe for disaster. If the place you're camping allows you to build a fire (and some no longer do, so please check), please build a small one and make sure it's COMPLETELY out before you go to bed, or pack up to leave. Report
I agree with many of the other comments. The author of this article has obviously never been on a "real" camping trip. We make meals very simple and pack as lightly as possible, because the whole idea is to relax and have fun. Camping trips are the one time I don't sit and worry about every little morsel going into my mouth. If I eat too many calories from hamburgers and hot dogs, I make sure I take an extra walk around the campground or find a trail to burn those calories. Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Great Article
Great comments on the article Report
I think almond butter sandwiches and trail mix make way more sense than these camping recipes. Otherwise, Mom is constantly on duty except for the little bbq someone else might volunteer to do. Report
Thanks for the great recipes! :) Report
Some great ideas. Report
I love camping. I will be using some of these recipes! Report
Love camping but hate the cooking, LOL. We stick to easy things like big breakfasts, roasted hot dogs, steaks, potatoes, sandwiches for lunch. Report
thanks! Report
Some of these look good Report
Thanks for all of the great recipes. Report
These recipes look good! Report
These are great ideas!! I love camping and 2 of my favorite smells are coffee and bacon in the morning fresh air!! Now I can see not waiting around to camp to try out these scrumptious recipes, they are going right into my back yard! Thanks! Report
I agree. These do not sound easy if you camp more than a weekend. Off the subject my problem is not eating but not eating. I spent 30 years eating one meal a day and the last 5 eating 2 meals a day so it is really hard trying to force myself to eat breakfast. And water, that is the hardest. I have spent my whole life just drinking coffee (90%) and some milk and juice on the side. I am up to a bottle of water a day now and still trying to drink more. I don't eat a lot just tv dinners mostly but I have been told it is my metabolism that isn't helping me. Report
Some great recipes for backyard barbecues, too! Report
Tail gaiting, maybe. But who on earth camps with sour cream, cheeses & fresh strawberries? "I have the bear bells; did you grab the Brussel Sprouts, dear?"

I'm not much into roughing it, but this article is simply laughable in spots! Report
The author of this article is obviously not a camper, or at the very least she is a weekend camper only. Try going out for a week or more with no access to electricity or a store. You will find that meat will keep a maximum of 2-3 days from frozen and veggies, apart from potatoes will also start to go after a couple of days in the open air. As for taking a chain saw; this is just plain nuts. Imagine if, like I do, you camp in a forest and the rangers saw you with a chain saw. They would not be happy, to put it politely. You can still eat healthily on a camp but recognise that you have to go onto canned foodstuffs after a maximum of 3 days. In order to get a fire going, if you wish to take the easy way out, take a ready to light fire log. This will burn for up to three hours so will enable you to really get a good fire going and one that will last. If you have to then make a fire pit for safety but instead of taking a bbq, just take the rack. You can then grill those burgers or steak on the first day. Potatoes wrapped in foil and cooked in the fire itself are really delicious and, if you have kids, do not forget the marshmallows. Thread one onto a stick and simply toast in the fire. For use on a camp cooker you can always buy a toaster. I have one and it works quite well with a little effort. These days there is even a toasted sandwich making machine which can double up as a grill for use on a camping stove. The one essential you should never forget to do though is to plan for taking enough water to do you the whole time you are away with some in reserve. Take fresh lemons with you as well. Cut one in half and rub around the door of the tent and also onto your skin. Its a natural insect repellent although remember that nay insect repellent, even a natural one, is not 100% effective. The only real way to ensure no bites is to keep covered up as much as possible. I could go on with many tips but when it comes to camp cooking, you can only do the best you can from what you can get, and this is certainly not from 100% fresh foods. Report
Good luck putting an "essential Cast Iron Skillet" on a "tiny backpacking stove"....!! 90% of what the author considers essential campsite cooking gear has never gone camping with me....and never will.... (Spark: am getting tired of all the articles that are simply links to advertising in the guise of helping people do things....!!) Report