Make the open flame your best friend when it comes time to cook at the campsite. From roasted nuts to seared steaks, campfire food can be more mouth-watering than the meals you cook at home. Here are 10 recipes to try on your next camping trip.
Don't buy roasted nuts. Instead, make them yourself. Most store-bought brands roast their nuts with a variety of oils that are far from heart healthy, but you can make a personalized batch that's both tasty and better for you.
- Spicy: Raw almonds, light canola oil, paprika, chili powder and cayenne
- Sweet: Raw pecans, canola oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar
- Indian: Raw peanuts, olive oil, cumin, yellow curry and turmeric
Tomatoes wrinkle beautifully over an open flame. Cooked tomatoes are better for you, too, because the heat releases lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. You don't have to eat them plain either; roasted tomatoes are delicious in a number of campfire meals, especially when smothered over pasta.
- Tomato sauce: Rub your whole tomatoes with olive oil and place them on the grate. Turn them frequently to give each side an even cook. Once finished, let cool and give them a rough chop. Add the chunks into low sodium vegetable or chicken broth. Toss in Italian seasoning, garlic and fresh basil for a light, roasted tomato sauce.
Roasted peppers cook similar to tomatoes, but have a much different flavor profile. With a little sweetness and a little bitterness, this campfire food is the perfect vehicle for a healthy and hearty dinner.
- Stuffed Peppers: Rub the peppers in light olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast each side evenly, while you warm up rice and meat to stuff inside. Let the cooked pepper sit for 2 to 3 minutes to cool, then put your ingredients inside and top the stuffed pepper with fresh vegetables like tomatoes, green onions or corn.
Steak was made for grilling, especially over an open flame. Plus, this protein can be paired with a variety of salads and sides for a complete meal.
- Campfire Steak: Marinate the steak with your favorite rub or seasonings. For steak, it's not so important what you cook it with but rather how you cook it. Steve Johnson of FineCooking.com says to avoid flipping it, which will disrupt caramelization. But, don't avoid checking it. Johnson explains, “Over a hot grill, the steaks will cook quickly, going from very soft (very rare) to somewhat soft with a bit of a spring (medium) to quite firm (well done). Get in the habit of touching the steaks often and cutting into them when you think they're done.” Let sit before cutting and serving.
Perhaps pineapple isn't considered a campfire food—yet—but heat caramelizes this exotic fruit making it a delicious addition to many meals.
- Pineapple sticks: This is a simple side dish. Simply slide long, moderately thick pineapple pieces on a stick and place over the fire. Turn every 3 to 5 minutes, until the fruit has caramelized. Eat with coconut ice cream for dessert or have it as a side with grilled chicken or steak.
This kitchen-pantry staple is the perfect campfire food. With little prep you can use these as a side dish or to bulk up your soup.
- Mexican black beans: Take your beans out of the can and place them in a pot directly over the flame. Add corn, diced tomatoes, a chopped jalapeno, salt and pepper. Put your beans in a taco with meat or serve it as a side.
Using only pre-made biscuit dough and regular hot dogs, both of which are easy to transport, you can make your own campfire corn dog. Try this unusual camping food on your next trip.
- Campfire corn dogs: Roll out each piece of biscuit dough while hot dogs are roasting over the fire. Before cooking all the way through, wrap biscuit dough around the dogs, stick them on a skewer and let the dough and the hot dog cook. Serve with ketchup and a salad.
Chicken is a versatile protein that many people rely on at home. This simple campfire food can be used in a variety of dishes from casserole to sandwiches.
- Chicken tacos: Grill your chicken the over open flame, and get a good char on both sides. Slice the meat into strips and wrap them in a hard or soft taco shell. Add tomatoes, lettuce, onion and cheese for a quick and easy dinner.
A potato makes for hearty campfire food, and is loved by many. This low-maintenance ingredient can be served with almost any protein, at breakfast or dinner.
- Cheesy roasted potatoes: Dice the potatoes and place them in tin foil with butter. Let them sit over the fire for 35 to 40 minutes. When they're just about done, add minced garlic and cheese. Put the packet back over the flame to finish. Serve with eggs for breakfast or protein for dinner.
Apples are the perfect campfire food for dessert. Their starchy makeup holds well over open flame, and the heat gives them just enough sweetness. Pair it with something creamy and you have the perfect dessert.
- Baked apples: Slice your apple into medium-thick pieces and coat them with a rub of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Let them sit over the open flame and cook until the apples have softened. Serve with a side of vanilla ice cream.
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Jessica Sanders is the Associate Online Editor for ReserveAmerica.com. After many years of camping and hiking in the Northeast, she's exploring what the West has to offer and sharing all of her knowledge with you. She's a s'mores master, campsite connoisseur, writer, runner and lover of all things outdoors. Follow her on Google+.