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On-Trend: Cooking Over an Open Fire

On-Trend: Cooking Over an Open Fire

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One Vail, Colorado, restaurant is taking it to the extreme

Wikimedia Commons/ Nettie


While it might sound a bit silly to say that something humans have been doing for thousands of years — cooking over an open fire — is "trendy," it’s indeed something that more and more restaurants (in addition to campers) have been experimenting with in recent years, and it’s something we’re beginning to see a lot more of in the culinary world.

For example, one recently opened restaurant in Vail, Colo., Mountain Standard, is utilizing the open fire for at least one component in nearly every dish on the menu. Each menu only has a few components, in line with chef Paul Anders’ simple, rustic strategy.

"Almost every menu item tries to feature an element prepared over the grill or from the rotisserie," Anders told The Daily Meal. "The protein component of every entrée on the menu is prepared over wood fire."

Even elements of the appetizers, like root vegetables in a salad, bone marrow, onions for onion soup, and lemons for shellfish, have gotten a turn on the open flame.

"There are in fact only like five items out of 35 that do not have some element of wood fire represented on the dish," said Anders. "If we could figure out how to do french fries on a grill, we would!"

How to Cook Over a Fire with a Dutch Oven

Perfecting the technique of using a Dutch oven over an open fire gets you cooking outdoors, keeps your fire-building skills sharp, and, well, just feels like a good skill to have in the event of the End Times.

Dutch ovens work effectively because they retain heat and cook evenly in the imperfect environment of an open fire, says Emily Rahravan, an editorial assistant at America&rsquos Test Kitchen, where she&rsquos also known as the camp cook extraordinaire. For four years she did much of the cooking for her outdoors club at Allegheny College, including many big-batch meals in Dutch ovens.

A cast-iron Dutch oven will also unequivocally survive the apocalypse. &ldquoI love Dutch ovens because they&rsquore basically bulletproof,&rdquo says Matt Carter, chef and partner at Fat Ox, The Mission, and Zinc Bistro restaurants in Arizona. When Carter takes river trips, he packs two cast-iron Dutch ovens. They&rsquore no worse for wear after getting a little banged around, he says, and when he&rsquos done cooking, he simply scrubs them out with a little river sand.

Here&rsquos how to put yours to work.

On-Trend: Cooking Over an Open Fire - Recipes

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30 Dutch Oven Recipes That Work Great for Campfire Cooking

There's one tool that we always bring when car camping, RV camping, or glamping &mdash a campfire Dutch oven! (Campfire Dutch ovens are different than the enameled Dutch oven in your kitchen. If you need one, we like Lodge's version.) With the lid on and nestled in coals, a Dutch oven can simmer, stew, and braise! With the lid off, it sears meat and chicken like a cast-iron pan. It's great for soups and stews, and it works with camp stoves and open fires alike. Here are more than two dozen delicious Dutch oven recipes that can easily be made over a campfire.

First things first, get the basics on what this versatile piece of cookware is, and learn a little about why it makes such an essential piece of camping equipment!

This hearty stew is just the thing to warm you on a cool mountain evening, or replenish your energy after a long day of hiking.

Here's a one-pot stew that is packed with flavor. You can grab a rotisserie chicken on the way to the campsite, or just use some precooked chicken breast meat.

Cooking Over an Open Fire

With not electricity, and no gas, we cooked our meals on a wood-burning stove, or over an open fire. It takes planning, gentle tending, and quiet observation. Soups, stews, pot roasts are well-suited to open-fire cooking, for, as they boil, more liquid can be readily added to the pot as needed.

Cooking over an open fire requires intention and attention. My husband gathered the wood for the fire first, light the kindling and watched the fire as the logs broke down into hot coals. I prepared the vegetables and meat, peeling and chopping potatoes, slicing leeks, and then he'd hang the cauldron over the hot coals, where it simmered and steamed. Our son played.

This dangerously drinkable infusion is made with moonshine, a.k.a. "white whiskey," which is enjoying a comeback these days. Substitute it for vodka, if you like.

Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.

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6. Apple Pie Foil Packets


  • 1 apple (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of cranberries
  • Chopped nuts

A fairly healthy twist on dessert, the apple pie foil packet is like eating pie filling. In a sheet of aluminum foil, place a sliced apple, 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 ½ tablespoons of brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of cranberries and a sprinkling of chopped nuts.

Fold the aluminum foil over the ingredients so that all of the ingredients are enclosed in a packet of foil. Place the packet on the grill over the campfire and let it cook for about 15 minutes, then remove from the flame and enjoy.

23 Things to Cook on Your Fire Pit

You heard it here first: This is the summer that fire pit cooking becomes a thing. If you don’t have a fire pit, we suggest you get one — and then get cooking! It’s the easiest and most fun way to escape without leaving your home.

As a rule, anything you can cook on the grill you can also cook on a fire pit — as along as you’ve got a grill grate. More often than not I find my own fire pit gets lit late in the evening without any forethought, meaning anything I’m going to cook on it needs to be tasty, easy, and short on ingredients. Here are the 23 recipes I lean on for easy entertaining meals from the fire pit.

Snacks or Apps

A fire pit can warm dips, melt cheese, and pop popcorn with ease, but when you want an appetizer that’s just a little bit fancier, reach for one (or more) of these.

Easy Meals

Here’s what happens with my family: We are lingering around the fire after a day on the beach and suddenly everyone is hungry (and the adults are at least one beer into the evening). These recipes are perfectly satisfying and super easy.


My late-night sweet tooth always gets the best of me. The safe answer around the camp fire is s’mores, so try one of these 14 ideas. Or try my favorite skillet cobbler that bakes up beautifully on a grill grate over the fire.

Meghan is the Food Editor for Kitchn's Skills content. She's a master of everyday baking, family cooking, and harnessing good light. Meghan approaches food with an eye towards budgeting — both time and money — and having fun. Meghan has a baking and pastry degree, and spent the first 10 years of her career as part of Alton Brown's culinary team. She co-hosts a weekly podcast about food and family called Didn't I Just Feed You.

Best Dutch ovens for camping

Certain Dutch ovens are made specifically for camping.

Unlike a home Dutch oven, which has a flat bottom and sealed in enamel, a camping Dutch oven is made entirely from cast iron, has support legs on the bottom, and comes with a flat flanged lid. Coals or embers can be placed underneath and on top of the lid, allowing you to heat from both sides.

Camping Dutch ovens also come in two different depths. Shallow Dutch ovens are the most versatile option and are best for baking, while deep Dutch ovens are best for making large amounts of soups, stews, or anything else with a lot of liquid.

Lodge 10” 4 qt: This Dutch oven is the size and dimension as the one that we own. It’s relatively inexpensive, comes pre-seasoned, and is great for somebody just getting into Dutch oven cooking. Ideal for 2-4 people.

Lodge 12” 6 qt (shallow): A slightly wider version, this Dutch oven is ideal for 4-6 people.

Lodge 12” 8 qt (deep): This is a deeper and wider Dutch oven that is great for making larger quantities of soups and stews. Ideal for 6-8 people.

Campfire Recipes to Give the Outdoors the Feel of Home

1. Bacon Baked Beans

Want some bacon and baked means? We’re in! Here’s a classic campfire dish that will surely be a crowd-pleaser.

This is one of those slow-cooker recipes where you simply add BBQ sauce and let it do its thing.

2. Roasted Cinnamon Rolls

All you need is a tube of cinnamon rolls, a stick, and a campfire to enjoy this easy roasted cinnamon rolls recipe.

It is great for breakfast, brunch, or dessert. Mix it up by using biscuits or rolls for a dinner side dish.

3. Cheesy Dutch Oven Potatoes

Grab some potatoes, bacon, cheese, and onions, and soon, you will be salivating over this dish. Make sure to bring your cast iron dutch oven, too.

If that’s not convenient, you can also make these cheesy potatoes in tin foil over the campfire.

4. Sunrise Breakfast Bowl

Take the hassle out of campfire cooking with this easy breakfast dish. Bring together bread, eggs, bacon, and butter, and this breakfast bowl is complete.

5. Campfire Muffins & Cinnamon Rolls in Oranges

Get ready to transform an orange into a tasty treat that will surprise the whole family. In this magic trick, you bake a blueberry orange muffin within an orange after it has spent time in tin foil over the fire.

6. Biscuit Campfire Donuts

Turn your favorite biscuit dough into sweet and satisfying campfire donuts. In just a few simple steps, this dish can be your go-to breakfast on any camping trip.

7. Coconut Curry Soup

Prepare this meal before your camping trip, and throw it in a ziplock bag. When you’re ready to eat, just add water and boil.

It’s a simple main dish recipe that tastes like a home-cooked meal.

8. Campurritos

You can make this dish before you head out into the woods or prepare it once you have picked your camping spot. Either way, this campurritos recipe makes for a hearty dish that leaves everyone satisfied.

What are campurritos? It is the combination of the words “camping” and “burritos.”

9. Campfire Paella

With one pan, you can create this flavorful dish while camping outdoors. Use your favorite protein and spices for the best campfire paella dish.

Quench your fired-up appetite outdoors with this one-dish meal for lunch or supper.

10. Hot Whiskey

For cold nights camping, we recommend a drink recipe that will warm your insides. This simple hot whiskey recipe from Jamie Oliver is simply perfect for cold nights outdoors.

It requires whiskey, boiled water, lemon, and clover. Add honey if you want to add sweetness.

11. Curly Dogs

It is not a true camping trip without everyone’s favorite quick campfire recipes – hot dogs roasted over the fire.

Mix it up a bit by wrapping your hot dogs in dinner rolls to create fire-roasted pigs on a blanket. Your little campers will be delighted with this tasty treat!

12. Sausage and Fennel Grilled Campfire Pizza

Pizza may not be the most common camping food, but it can be done. You will need dough, sauce, cheese, and your favorite toppings.

Cook a delicious pizza over the fire in a cast iron skillet and enjoy something better than delivery pizza.

13. Mixed Mushroom Hobo Pack

Quick campfire recipes are great for outdoor trips. With parchment paper and foil, you can cook just about anything over a fire.

This delicious mixed mushroom recipe will complement any night in the great outdoors.

14. Dutch Oven Caramel Apple Pie

If you want to go all out, give this caramel apple pie a try. It’ll be a tasty treat the whole family enjoys around the campfire.

15. Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Use tin foil to make this pineapple upside down cake after dinner. This recipe requires just a few ingredients and bakes quickly right in a tin foil packet!

You can also add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

16. Poundcake S’mores

It’s not a camping experience without campfire s’ mores. Mix it up with this pound cake s’mores recipe.

These easy camping meals will definitely put your campers at ease after a long hike!

17. Campfire Chicken Stew

You don’t have to leave all the comforts of home behind when you go camping. With this chicken recipe, you can have a bowl of warm chicken stew heated over the fire.

It will turn into a crowd favorite for supper on your camping trips.

18. Lamb Kebabs with Mint Pesto

Looking for a unique recipe to make on your next trek into the woods? Give this lamb kebabs recipe a try.

It is a camping skewer recipe you can’t skip.

19. Apple Pie On A Stick

20. Campfire Cone

Add a little marshmallow, chocolate, and even peanut butter to create this tasty campfire cone treat, a fun take on the classic s’more. No camper can turn away this fancy outdoor snack.

21. How to Make Campfire Nachos

Nachos are the ultimate camping comfort food. It is quick and easy to prepare and can be served at any time of the day.

If you have a hankering for some good ole Tex-Mex food, follow this campfire nachos recipe!

Watch this video from Buzzfeed Nifty for 5 camping food hacks:

Campfire recipes do not have to be limited to burgers and corn on the cob every night. We clearly like to mix things up and try out exciting campfire recipes.

These are easy campfire meals sure to please on your next camping trip. Plus, if you can master cooking while camping, you will have an invaluable skill when the SHTF.

Master these quick and easy campfire recipes, and you will certainly become the designated campsite chef.

Do you have other campfire recipes for occasions like St. Patrick’s Day or Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you’re looking for useful survival gear that you can’t make at home, check out the Survival Life Store.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 2014 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.


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