Cook’s camping guide: best camping recipes and tips
Cooking with a camping stove can be a challenge, but that’s all part of the fun. From setting up on the day you arrive through to breakfast and one-pots meals for the duration of your stay, we’ve brought together our best camping recipes – as well as a couple of menus, in case you want to up the camping ante.
Whether you’re cooking on a barbecue, camp stove or a fire you’ve made yourself, you’ll find all bases covered in our cooking guide.
How to make the cooking hassle-free
The best camp cooking is the easiest camp cooking. There are enough practical challenges when making meals outdoors as it is, so don’t add more to your plate by trying to make an overly complex feast. Recipes with fewer steps are preferable – this isn’t the time and place for triple-cooked chips or a crème anglaise. Choosing a mix of dishes, including cold salads or dips alongside the hot elements, means you don’t need need to worry about keeping everything warm.
A practical point: if you’re gearing up for a great meal, there’s nothing more frustrating than running out of fuel when you’re cooking outdoors, so it’s important to match your recipe choices to your fuel levels. Whether you’re cooking on a butane gas stove and need speedy solutions or are going low and slow with a proper camp fire, here are the options to see you through.
Essential kitchen kit: don’t leave these behind!
The essentials are a cooking pot and a frying pan. Choose a pan or casserole that stays hot and retains the heat – one made from cast iron is the best choice (as long as you don’t have to carry it far on the journey). If you’re cooking on a campfire, take a couple of pots that can withstand open flames – again, cast iron is king here, and don’t forget to take lids. Here are our utensil essentials for camp cooking:
- An ice box plus plenty of ice blocks
- Sturdy pans with lids (see above)
- Tin foil for covering/keeping things warm and for wrapping and cooking jacket potatoes in the embers
- 2 sharp knives, large and little
- A spatula, slotted spoon and serving spoons
- Two chopping boards so you can employ a helper
- A colander, sturdy tongs and a cheese grater
- A jug and several serving/salad bowls/plates (enamel is great if you have it)
- Enough plates, bowls and cutlery for your crew
- Kitchen roll – and lots of it!
The best make-ahead food to prep and take with you
Make life easier by pre-preparing snacks and sauces before your trip. Not only will it save time once you’re there, but it also means you’ll have good things to hand when hunger calls. Below are a selection of our favourite recipes to make ahead, pack carefully and take with you.
Whip up a batch of this fragrant green sauce with your favourite soft herbs and you’ll have a tasty accompaniment to any number of meat, fish or grilled veggie dishes. It’s also lovely over mozzarella or burrata as a glammed up camping starter, or with your breakfast eggs. Pack in a screw-top jar and keep it cold alongside your milk and so on.
Our plum and almond tray bake serves 16, so it’s ideal to bake and pack. Keep in an airtight container in a cool/shady spot. If plums are hard to come by, we’ve many more tea time tray bakes that double up as camping puddings or sweet snacks.
Our ultimate ginger loaf cake keeps for up to a week in a cool place, so whip one up to take with you for a squidgy, gently spiced treat while you’re away. We’ve plenty more loaf cakes to choose from too (avoid recipes with chocolate or icing as they’re prone to melting).
Our classic flapjack recipe make 36 squares, can be whipped up in no time and will keep for a couple of days or more in a sealed container.
Wake up to the camping breakfast of dreams by preparing a batch of these legendary cinnamon buns before you go. Not only will you be the hero of the trip, you’ll also have a beautifully cinnamon scented car for the journey – win, win.
These can be made with a myriad fillings and flavoured with countless spices, but we love this classic mix of paneer and peas (swap the paneer for potato if ice-box space is an issue).
Do the simmering before you go and you’ll have the base for many a meal with this hearty tomato and vegetable sauce. From pastas to stews or a quick campstove casserole. A good tip here is to pack the sauce in a sealable freezerproof container, freeze it, then put the frozen pot of sauce in your ice box to take with you. Do that and it will last a couple of days.
Spicy and oaty, these muffins are a tasty, wholesome breakfast for kids and adults… Great snacks to have on hand for when little ones get hungry, too.
A favourite ways to make an easy dinner when camping is to prepare a big batch of pesto before the trip. Make whichever is your favourite, but you can’t go wrong with classic pesto alla genovese. You need to keep it cool, though, so pack carefully in a big lidded jar, then store in the ice box.
15 of the best camping recipes
Use that pesto you made in advance in this pesto and sausage pasta recipe. You can also boil florets of broccoli along with the pasta when you’re cooking and have yourself a healthy balanced meal in about 10 minutes. I can vouch for the fact that this recipe is absolutely doable by torch light, too!
It makes sense to limit pan usage when the washing up tap is a walk away. Our shakshuka offers a tasty, warming, healthy meal that works for dinner or breakfast. Pack some flatbreads to dip into those egg yolks and you’re sorted.
If the recipe has “quick” in the title, you can bet it’s a good one for camping. Our easy sausage casserole with chickpeas takes less than 30 minutes to cook, so you can have it prepped and in bowls before sundown. Serve with fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon for a glamping vibe.
Make sure you have bacon and eggs on your list, then you’ll have the ingredients for both carbonara AND breakfast the next day.… Good planning! Just add a side salad to balance up the food groups and you’re sorted. This recipe is quick, easy and affordable.
Potatoes are an ideal side, not least because they stay warm while you get on with the rest of your meal. These charred baby potatoes have zing from capers and lemon zest, a comforting hum from the chilli butter and a satisfying crispiness.
When it comes to breakfast, something filling and nutritious is a good bet to keep everyone going until lunchtime. Our breakfast eggs with chorizo, avocado and feta is a one-pan breakfast everyone will love. And it can’t go wrong.
Couscous is ideal camp food because there’s no stove required – it cooks in a bowl with just some boiling water poured over. In this recipe, the couscous is topped with flavour-packed grilled mackerel and fresh herbs for a complete meal, but you could use any fish you can get hold (cook the fish while the couscous soaks). Or cut out the cooking altogether and serve it with ready-cooked smoked mackerel fillets or chicken breasts. Use any nuts or dried fruit you like.
For an easy win, a foil-wrapped sweet potato (or any potato) cooked in the embers of a fire is a simple and satisfying dinner. Try it topped with feta and spring onions and a side salad or with a classic chilli…
A camping classic for a reason, this is the quick chilli recipe you need when the troops are hungry. Serve with coriander, lime wedges and soured cream if you have them (if you don’t, it will still taste brilliant). And when it comes to carbs, you could go down the rice, tortilla or jacket potato route… The choice is YOURS.
Give your camping trip a luxe moment with this recipe for steaks with anchovy and caper butter. All you need on the side is some salad and a few spuds. Bellissimo.
Dips and breads are ideal camping food, not least because they don’t need keeping warm. Baba ghanoush can be made by setting the aubergine over the campfire embers to roast until blackened and soft inside, and the quick flatbreads cook in a griddle pan. The addition of rump steak elevates the meal to a truly lip-smacking affair.
An Australian campfire bread that’s cooked over an open fire. Tear off and enjoy with the marinated feta for a hands-on lunch or starter.
Cooked whole and packed with flavour, this spatchock barbecued chicken recipe is seriously good. Marinated in hot sauce and lemon, it’s an easy win served with a fresh green salad.
You can’t beat the fun of a jacket potato in foil tossed in the fire. Just be sure you bring tongs long enough to ease it out again. We love this recipe, with smoky bacon beans, but keep it simple with a can of Heinz finest if you prefer (you can always add a pinch of smoked paprika to up the ante).
Using shop-bought gnocchi means this full-of-flavour dinner is ready in no time. The sauce of sun-dried tomato pesto and black olives is a store-cupboard winner… Plenty of space left in the ice box for drinks, in other words!
These chicken shawarma flatbreads need only 15 minutes of grilling time on your portable barbecue or stove and they’re good to go. Grab a pack of pittas and you’ve got yourself a Friday night camp kebab of dreams.
Campstove dinner menus
The speedy menu
If getting dinner ready quickly is your goal, this feast can be prepared in under an hour. The starter of fennel and courgette salad is followed by chestnut pesto penne with sausages. It’s a doddle because you can make the pesto before your trip (pack in a jar and keep cool in your ice box). These balsamic strawberries with burrata take just 5 minutes to prepare – a wonderful side dish or palate-cleansing finisher.
The campfire menu
For a more elaborate take on the camping dinner, we’re going all out with fire. Our lamb chops with griddled flat breads are served up with simple ‘fire-baked’ potatoes. The salsa and sour cream dip are winning accompaniments. Finish things off with our maple and rum-baked bananas which can be baked in a dutch oven, then sprinkled with chopped nuts and a dollop or two of greek yogurt. Hungry yet?
Want more ideas? Check all our camp stove cooking recipes here.