There's nothing like cooking over an open campfire. Upgrade from plain ol' hot dogs with these 10 campfire cooking tips that'll impress your camping party.
When most people complain about camping, they tend to whine about two things: the food and the bathroom situation. We really can't change the latter, but we can totally help you out with some campfire cooking tips that'll turn any nay-sayer into a campfire believer.
1. Your best meal happens on the first night
Planning your campfire meals should be priority right behind gear. Go for the most intricate meal on the first night, and follow each night in order of difficulty afterwards.
This is so you can bust out that bacon-wrapped elk tenderloin with potatoes you prepped two days before and it'll be cooked to perfection on the campfire grill on the first night.
2. Pack your cooler wisely
It's easy to throw everything in there haphazardly, but if you pack the items you'll need last on the bottom and build the cooler from there, you'll save yourself an awful lot of rearranging. And a cooler that is opened less keeps cool the longest.
3. Plastic storage bags and aluminum foil are your new best friends
Aluminum foil will keep food on the campfire grill steamed and toasted without burning, like grilled banana boat desserts. You can even turn a campfire grill into a smoker by building a tent with foil.
Pop two eggs in a plastic storage bag with your favorite omelet ingredients, place said bag in boiling water, and in a few minutes, you'll have an omelet on the go!
4. Live off the land
Before heading out, do a little research on what edible food will be available for foraging in your hiking area. Boil freshly picked clover for a salad course before the main campfire meal, or add some dandelions to the mix.
5. Don't be afraid to pack cooking essentials
A drizzle of olive oil makes anything taste that much better, and salt and pepper are easy to transport in their original grocery store box packaging. If you have the time and the room to pack the spices you'll need, your campfire meals will taste 1000x better.
Even cumin and paprika are easy to transport and elevate every meal by color alone.
6. Be confident over the campfire
An open flame can be intimidating, but a good rule of thumb is to treat every campfire like a 350-degree oven. Everything from crescent rolls to chicken breasts will react over a campfire on a very similar time frame to your home oven, so don't let the fire fool you.
7. Try the dump
Cake, that is. If you're carrying a dutch oven in your gear, learn how to heat it up here. Then, start dumping for a delicious dessert that will really shock. An easy dump cake ratio to remember is one can of selected fruit, one box of cake mix, and one stick of butter.
Peaches and vanilla cake mix is delicious, as is cherry and chocolate. No mixing required! Just make sure to use that butter, it'll turn the cake mix into something crazy delicious.
8. All hail the Dutch oven
While we're talking about Dutch ovens, you should probably consider one if you're not going on a serious backcountry camping trip. Sear meat, like chicken, over the open flame for a crispy char, then pop it right in the Dutch oven to cook all the way through.
Use onions and carrots as your base, and you'll end with a delicious broth without extra effort.
9. Consider the pineapple
Canned pineapple is an all-purpose food that will make any meal you make taste so much better. The heat from the grill caramelizes the pineapple, and the citrus smoky flavor works well with everything from freshly caught fish (shore lunch, anyone?) to chicken fajitas.
10. Campfire bread is the most impressive thing you'll make
Start your dough early with a mixture of warm water, active yeast, and salt. Let it rise in a sealed container in your pack all day. Make sure your friends see you mixing the dough early in the morning, and watch the surprise on their faces when you unveil fresh, risen dough ready to be made into campfire pizzas for dinner.
This is a great 'last day of the trip' recipe as most cured meats like pepperoni and summer sausage last without refrigeration. We said start with most intricate to least, remember?
Don't forget to pack some delicious homemade moonshine for your trip! It's great because a swig or two is really all you need to get the warm feelings flowing, so you don't have to pack that much at all.