If you’ve ever used a Dutch oven before, then you know it’s one of the most versatile pieces of cooking equipment you can own. In fact, it allows you to bake, fry, simmer, steam, sauté, and boil, so it’s definitely an important piece of camping gear. If you don’t want to limit your cooking to what you can do in a frying pan on your camp stove, then this guide on outdoor Dutch oven recipes will be invaluable on your next camping trip.
To get good at cooking in your Dutch oven, it’s going to take a little practice, since you’ll need to learn how to cook in one over a campfire, however, the process itself can be pretty fun. You’ll also enjoy experimenting with new recipes or old favorites. Once you get the hang of cooking outdoors in your Dutch oven, you’ll be able to quickly and easily prepare some great dishes that your family and friends will love.
The Camping Dutch Oven
The best Dutch ovens are made specifically for camping. A home Dutch oven has a bottom that’s flat and sealed in enamel, while a model that’s designed for camping is usually made entirely out of cast iron and comes equipped with support legs and a flat flanged lid. The embers or coals can be placed on top of the lid or underneath the oven, to allow for heat from both sides.
These ovens will also come in a couple of different depths. Shallow models are the most versatile and the best for baking. A deeper oven is the best for making large quantities of stews, soups or any recipes that calls for a lot of liquid.
Cooking with a Dutch Oven
There are many ways to cook in a Dutch oven, however, below, you’ll find the most common.
When baking, you’ll need to create an even ambient temperature inside the oven. This can be achieved by placing hot embers or coals under the oven and on the lid. Cast iron does an excellent job of distributing heat, so, by heating from the bottom and top you can easily distribute the heat evenly through the inside. You’ll need significantly more heat coming from the top than the bottom, due to the insulating properties of the ground.
The Dutch oven can also be placed directly on a campfire, thanks to it’s fire-resistant, heavy-duty design. Because it’s made out of cast iron, it will not warp or melt. It can also be used on a camp stove, just like a regular pot, if the oven’s legs can fit through the grate.
Accessories You’ll Need
- Instead of using lighter fluid, get a chimney starter. Charcoal chimneys provide a natural and quick way to light coal. Collapsible models are perfect for camping since they come in a carry case and lie flat.
- A lid lifter will definitely come in handy. Four-in-one models can function as a lid stand, pot stand, bail hook, and lid lifter.
- If you’re using briquettes, then you’ll need a pair of long metal tongs, which will allow you to reposition and move the coals easily and safely.
- If you normally camp out in areas that don’t have grates over the campfire, then you should purchase a tripod to hang the Dutch oven over an open fire. This allows you to adjust the height so you can move the oven further away or closer to the fire, depending on the temperature you’re shooting for.
- When you’re cooking with a Dutch oven, try to use liners whenever possible. You can purchase pre-cut parchment liners and use them for certain dishes. This will prevent food from sticking to the bottom and sides of the oven, making serving and cleanup a cinch.
Now, let’s start this recipe guide off with one of the all-time favorite camping dishes: chili mac.
Chili mac combines the creamy and rich texture of mac and cheese with the spicy and smoky flavor of chili. Making this dish in one pot will save you from having to deal with draining pasta water from another pot and also builds layer upon layer of cheesy smoky goodness.
This dish features many complex textures and flavors that come together quickly.
To make this dish, begin by cutting up a medium-sized onion and adding it to the pot with some olive oil, over medium heat. The onion should be sauteed for a few minutes until the onion becomes translucent and soft. Add some spices, tomato paste, and ground beef. Cook until the beef is nice and brown, stirring frequently during this time.
Add the elbow noodles and one cup of kidney beans. Add broth and stir. Bring the pot to a simmer, then cover. The cooking time depends on the type of noodles you use, so make sure you read the package’s directions carefully. Usually, it will take approximately ten minutes.
Once the noodles are done, take the lid off and add the cheese, then serve.
- One cup of shredded cheese
- One cup of beef broth
- One cup of kidney beans
- Eight ounces of elbow noodles
- Two cloves of garlic
- One teaspoon of salt
- One teaspoon of cumin
- Two tablespoons of chili powder
- Two tablespoons of tomato paste
- Half a pound of ground beef
- One onion
- One tablespoon of olive oil
These enchiladas are very simple to make, so this recipe is perfect for the beginner. The beans and veggies are rolled in tortillas and are topped with cheese and enchilada sauce.
This dish should be prepared over medium heat. Add the peppers, sauteing for three minutes or until the peppers begin to soften. Add the onions and cook until they’re transparent. Add the salt, cumin, garlic, and saute for one minute. Remove the pot from the heat, transferring the veggies to a bowl. Add half a cup of enchilada sauce to coat the bottom of the pan. To create the enchiladas, place the peppers and onions in a line in the center of a tortilla. Add a couple of spoonfuls of black beans and top with cheese. Roll up the tortilla, then place the enchilada in the Dutch oven, seam down. Repeat this process with each tortilla, until you’ve used up all of the ingredients. Return the Dutch oven to the fire, placing it over indirect heat. Allow the food to cook for ten to fifteen minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
- Six flour tortillas
- One cup of cooked black beans
- Two cups of grated cheese
- Fourteen ounce can of enchilada sauce
- Two teaspoons of salt
- One tablespoon of cumin
- Four cloves of garlic
- Half a red onion, diced
- One red bell pepper
- Two tablespoons of olive oil
Another fun classic camping recipe is Dutch oven pizza. If you don’t want to make the dough from scratch, you can purchase premade pizza dough, or if you’re feeling more creative, you can make the dough yourself. When cooking pizza in a Dutch oven, you want to reduce the chances for steam as much as possible. Try to use as little sauce as possible. Additionally, you’ll want to use a low-moisture mozzarella and steer clear of certain veggies that have a high water content, such as zucchini.
Begin making the pizza by preparing the charcoal briquettes or coals. You’ll need to use about thirty. Once the coals are ready, preheat the oven to 450-degrees, using twenty coals on the lid and ten coals underneath it. During this time, as the oven is heating up, you can make the dough. Dust a cutting board using cornmeal or four and water. Roll the dough into a circle and dust some cornmeal onto a piece of parchment paper, transferring the dough to the paper. Add the sauce and your toppings of choice. Next, remove the oven from the coals carefully and take the lid off. Add the pizza and parchment paper, cover and return the oven to the bed of coals. Bake for fifteen to twenty minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
- Toppings of choice
- Eight to ten ounces of pizza dough
- One tablespoon of cornmeal
- One tablespoon of flour
Baking an apple cobbler in your Dutch oven is the perfect recipe to try if you’ve never used a Dutch oven before. You can mix the dry ingredients for the recipe at home, so you won’t have to bring along any measuring cups or bags of ingredients. Mix the salt, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar, and flour in a container, shaking well to mix.
When you’re ready to cook the cobbler at camp, prepare twenty-one coals and line the bottom of the oven with parchment paper to prevent the cobbler from sticking to the bottom.
The apples will need to be sliced into wedges. Place the apples on top of the parchment paper inside the oven. Add the cinnamon and sugar and mix until all of the apples are evenly covered.
Grab a stick of butter and slice it into cubes, working the cubes into the dry ingredients. Slowly add small amounts of milk to the dry ingredients and work it into the flour mixture until a dough forms. Break off pieces of dough and place it on top of the apples. You’ll want small pockets of dough spread evenly across the surface, not just a large single blob. Once the dough has been evenly distributed, cover the oven and arrange the bottom and top charcoals. You should place fourteen of the coals on top and seven on the bottom. Bake for thirty to forty minutes.
- 1/3 cup of milk
- ¼ cup of butter
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ cup of granulated sugar
- One cup of flour
- One tablespoon of cinnamon
- ¼ cup of sugar for topping
- One and a half pounds of apples
On a cold night, a big pot of stew is the perfect meal. It contains deep, rich flavors, combined with hearty ingredients. Stews are also a great one-pot camping meal since they can be adapted to include any type of leftover ingredients that you might have on hand.
While you can easily make this type of stew in a large pot, cooking in a Dutch oven is a better option since cast iron does an excellent job of retaining heat, making it easier to maintain the correct temperature.
A Dutch oven is also a great choice because you can slow cook the stew to bring out a variety of complex flavors.
To make this stew, begin by heating up a tablespoon of olive oil, over medium heat. If you’re cooking over a campfire, place the oven on top of a grill plate. Add some mushrooms to the pot and saute until they’re brown. Next, you’ll add some salt, potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions. Once the ingredients start to brown, you can add some tomato paste, stirring for one minute before you add the flour. Stir the contents of the pot, then add soy sauce or liquid aminos, and red wine. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the oven as you add the liquid to remove any fond that has developed.
Simmer the stew until the wine has evaporated, then add the bay leaf, thyme, and vegetable stock. If you’re cooking with a tripod, then now is the time to hang the pot. Cover the oven and allow it to simmer for approximately fifteen minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook. Doing so allows the liquid to evaporate, causing the sauce to thicken. Once the veggies are nice and tender, the stew is ready to eat.
- One bay leaf
- One teaspoon of thyme
- Two cups of vegetable stock
- One tablespoon of soy sauce or liquid aminos
- Half a cup of red wine
- Two tablespoons of flour
- One tablespoon of tomato paste
- Two cloves of garlic
- Ten baby potatoes
- One celery stalk
- Two large carrots
- One onion
- One teaspoon of salt
- Eight ounces of mushrooms
- Two tablespoons of olive oil
No camping trip will be complete without cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Fortunately, making them in a Dutch oven is simple enough, although I recommend preparing the dough at home, then freezing it for the trip. To make the dough, you’ll mix butter and milk in a small saucepan over low heat. As the butter starts to melt, mix it well with the milk. Next, remove the pot from the heat and use a standard mixer to combine four cups of flour with salt, sugar, and yeast. Use a dough hook and mix the ingredients on low. Add one egg at a time, then add the milk and butter mixture. Knead the dough on the lowest speed until the dough is no longer sticky. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, covering the top with a towel. Allow the dough to rest in a warm spot until it’s doubled in size. This will usually take about an hour.
For the icing, beat butter and cream cheese using a hand mixer. Add powdered sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is nice and creamy. Mix in almond extract, orange zest, and sour cream until smooth. Place the icing in a jar or a releasable plastic bag.
For the filling, you’ll combine orange zest, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a bowl. When the dough is almost finished rising, melt half a cup of butter in a small pan.
Lightly flour a work surface and start punching the dough. The dough should be rolled into twelve by eighteen-inch rectangles. Using a pastry brush, you can spread the butter over the dough, sprinkling the filling evenly on top. The dough should be rolled lengthwise, into a nice tight log. To seal, crimp the dough along the edge. Take a tape measure and a paring knife to mark one and a half inch rounds, then use some fishing twine under and cross the ends of the twine above the log, pulling firmly to cleanly slice each roll. Wrap the sliced log in plastic and place in a plastic container.
When it comes time to cook, grease the Dutch oven with butter, arranging the rolls slice side up. Cover the oven and allow the rolls to rise in a warm spot. Prepare the coals during this time. Seven coals will go on the lid, with eight coals under the oven. Bake the rolls until golden brown. This should take approximately half an hour. Remove the rolls from the oven and allow them to cool slightly. Next, you’ll add the icing and the rolls will be ready to serve.
For the dough:
- Two eggs
- One teaspoon of salt
- ¼ cup of sugar
- One package of active dry yeast
- Four cups of flour
- Six tablespoons of butter
- One cup of milk
For the icing:
- 1/8 teaspoon of almond extract
- One teaspoon of orange zest
- Two tablespoons of sour cream
- 1/3 cup of powdered sugar
- Two tablespoons of butter
- Four ounces of cream cheese
For the filling:
- Half a cup of butter
- Two teaspoons of orange zest
- Two tablespoons of cinnamon
- One cup of light brown sugar
These outdoor Dutch oven recipes will allow you to cook some of your favorite foods out under the stars. If you’re new to cooking in a Dutch oven, it can take some time to learn how to control the temperature, how many coals to use, and how long to cook each dish. Make sure you stick close to your oven as it cooks, checking on it periodically to avoid overcooking. Each of the recipes that I’ve included here are very beginner friendly and great options for your next camping trip, especially if you need to feed a large group of people on a tight budget.