If you’re new to camping (or even if you already have a few trips under your belt), we’re excited to let you in on a secret: food tastes better outdoors! Whether it’s the fresh air, the smell of the pines, or the kitchen with a view, there’s just something about enjoying a camp meal that can’t be beat.
And, the good news is that camp cooking is probably way less challenging than you might think! Armed with a few solid camping recipes and a willingness to go with the flow, you’ll be a camp cooking pro in no time—without having to rely on basic things like PB&J’s or hot dogs.
In this post, we’re sharing some of our best camp cooking tips and fail-proof camping recipes to help you navigate mealtime during your first few camping trips. Then, once you’ve gained some experience, the sky’s the limit as to what you can cook up at your campsite!
Camp Cooking Tips for Your First Camping Trip
- Make a menu, write out your grocery list, and go shopping a day or two before your trip. We find it way less stressful to go about it this way, rather than showing up at the grocery store without a plan on the way to the campsite. If needed, print out any recipes you need so you don’t have to rely on cell service in the woods.
- Prep as much of your food ahead of time as possible—you’ll appreciate not having to chop veggies or put together marinades or sauces at the campsite.
- Learn how to pack a cooler so you can safely transport perishable items like meat and eggs—a lot of your cooler’s performance comes down to how you pack it, not which cooler you use!
- Try out your camp stove before your first trip (this was our first camping stove, and this is the one we own now). Set it up out on your patio or other outdoor space and cook a dinner or two on it. This way, you can get a feel for how it works without the high stakes of being at a campground.
- Organize your camp kitchen in a bin before your trip, referencing your camping checklist, so that you don’t forget a critical item at home. If you plan on going camping a lot, you may consider picking up duplicates of common items, like spatulas, knives, and a can opener, so that they are always in your camp bin and never left behind.
- Start cooking a bit earlier than you think you need to. If all goes to plan, you’ll just eat dinner a little early, but if there are any hiccups along the way, at least you won’t be eating and cleaning up in the dark!
- Everyone’s least favorite camp chore is doing the dishes, but you should think about how you’ll take care of washing up after meals. Some campsites will have dishwashing stations, while others will require you to rig up your own using a wide pot or shallow bucket, so be sure to check the campground facilities before you arrive.
- Double-check ahead of time whether your campground will have running water! Many forest service campsites will require that you bring your own water. If that’s the case, we recommend a durable water storage container like the Sea to Summit Watercell.
Our Best Fail-Proof Camping Recipes
These French Toast Sticks are a fun breakfast for kids and adults. What we love about this recipe is that you can arrange the sticks in your pan in a way that really increases your French toast production—so you’re done in less time than if you were to use whole slices of bread.
You could make regular pancakes while camping, but why not step it up a notch and make Banana Bread Pancakes?! By adding a mashed banana to the batter, you’ll infuse every bite with great banana flavor. Chopped walnuts add a bit of crunch. This is a low-effort upgrade to a camp classic.
This Dutch Oven French Toast is a great starter Dutch oven recipe. Just mix up some eggs and milk and toss with cubed bread. Layer into your Dutch oven (line it with parchment paper for easy peasy cleanup!) with fresh berries and bake it over your campfire embers. The result is breakfast that requires no stirring, flipping, or fussing, so you can help yourself to that second cup of coffee and kick up your feet.
Quesadillas are a great lunch or dinner to cook on your camp stove. Everyone loves them and they are so simple to make! This recipe calls for chicken that is cooked in a skillet and tossed in BBQ sauce—a step you could totally do at home. Then in camp, you just have to reheat the chicken and melt the cheese in a big tortilla and you’re done!
Another one-pot favorite, Chili Mac is a camp meal that you just can’t go wrong with. Brown some ground beef (or use meatless crumbles to keep it vegetarian!) with spices, then add beans, noodles, and broth and simmer until the noodles are tender. Stir in some cheese and you have a homemade chili mac on the table in under 20 minutes.
In this baked sweet potato recipe, you just need to wrap sweet potatoes in foil and place them on the grill or in your campfire embers. While they are baking, you can cook up this easy vegetarian chili, or simply reheat it if you made it ahead of time—or bring along your favorite canned chili!
This creamy one-pot pasta is reminiscent of risotto, but so much easier to make at camp! Simmer orzo, chopped asparagus, and sun-dried tomatoes in a pot, then stir shredded cheese into the leftover pasta water at the end to make a cheesy, creamy sauce. This is a great meal on its own, but would also make a nice side dish for grilled fish, chicken, or steak.
When we say “easy” we mean it! This Campfire Apple Crisp requires such little prep–just slice apples, stir them together with the sauce ingredients and simmer over your campfire (or camp stove). Top it off with your favorite granola and mayyybe some whipped cream if you’re feeling decadent.