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13 Easy Eats and Treats for Camping or Backyard BBQs

Hungry campers of all ages will love these tasty (and simple!) recipes

Shar Petit

Published on: June 28, 2024

family cooks a meal over a fire while having fun camping

Whether Pacific Northwest camping for your family means a luxury yurt in Friday Harbor or lighting up the Hibachi next to a tent in your backyard, there’s something about summertime meals cooked outdoors that always hits the spot. Plus, the heat stays outside and dinner can be transformed into an event the whole family can help prepare.

Here’s my roundup of 13 easy and delicious recipes that will make you feel like a grill master, all while keeping the kitchen spotless. 

Campfire mac and cheese

This one-pot campfire mac and cheese from Simple Bites is the ultimate outdoor comfort food for the whole family. Using a heavy-bottomed pot like a cast iron Dutch oven, this creamy, cheesy delight comes together effortlessly over the campfire. Perfect for your next camping trip or backyard cookout, it’s a guaranteed hit that will have everyone asking for seconds. 

Grilled fruit with flavorful toppings

There’s never a better time to make sure your kids are getting their daily share of fresh fruit than in the summer when treats like watermelon and nectarines are at their peak. Throwing these familiar favorites on the grill will introduce your family to a whole new taste experience. Ambitious Kitchen offer two ways to grill fruit and also a few tasty ideas for toppings. My family likes our BBQ’d watermelon with a honey yogurt drizzle or simply sprinkled with coarse salt and fresh lime juice. 

Summer fruit never tasted so good. Photo: iStock

Grilled and loaded “baked” potatoes 

Sure, oven baked potatoes are good, but have you tried them on the grill? This easy recipe from Delish works for both backyard barbecues and campfires, resulting in potatoes just as fluffy as their oven-baked counterparts, but with a delicious smoky flavor. Adding a big pile of cheese and broccoli on top is always a hit with the kids. Hot potato tip: microwaving the spuds a bit at home before heading out to your nature adventure (or to the BBQ on your porch) will speed up grilling time. 

Apple cinnamon pancakes

These triple-apple pancakes from Fresh Off the Grid are perfect for dinner or breakfast around a campfire. If you have a camp stove, even better, as you’ll have more precise heat control for even cooking. These warmly fruity pancakes are bursting with flavor from apple juice (or cider) and shredded apples in the batter, and an easy apple-cinnamon compote topping. 

Dutch oven stuffed peppers

The Dutch oven: single-handedly making camping food into true cuisine. This recipe for stuffed peppers by The Dirty Gourmet takes basic ingredients such as bell peppers, ground meat (or vegetarian substitute), rice, tomato sauce and cheddar to make a meal hearty enough to hold the family over until the a.m.

Walking campfire tacos

This idea for a camp version of family taco night by Dine and Dish is so simple that it may sneak its way into the weeknight dinner lineup. Single-serving chip bags topped with the usual taco fixings make it easy to walk about the campsite or huddle around a fire. We love the addition of fresh avocados and a chipotle or southwestern-flavored dressing.

Campfire banana boats

We’re soooo on board with this idea for campfire banana boats by Classy Clutter. It’s just a split banana, stuffed with your favorite chocolate delights and mini marshmallows, wrapped in some foil and thrown on the coals.

Campfire banana boats are always a hit with the whole family. Photo: iStock​​​​

Campfire pizza

Picky palates don’t disappear on a camping vacation. Let everyone choose their own pizza toppings using this idea for campfire pizzas by The Dirty Gourmet. Pre-made flatbread and toppings packed ahead of time make this pizza party a cinch to plan and prepare.

Campfire lasagna

The Dutch oven, part deux: still the hero of the family camping trip. Bring your crew’s favorite homecooked meal on the road with this campfire lasagna recipe by Fresh Off the Grid. More than just a delicious take on lasagna, the post gives you a breakdown of how to layer the coals just right so that you’ll be a master campfire engineer.

Camp Stove Chilaquiles

These stove-top chilaquiles from Fresh Off the Grid are a camping breakfast or dinner dream come true. The recipe uses store-bought tortilla chips, jarred tomato sauce, and a few eggs to create a meal that's quick to make and a favorite with kids. As a bonus, this filling meal is vegetarian and you won’t need any fancy equipment – just a non-stick skillet with high sides, and you’re all set. 

Campfire cones

S’mores will always be classic, but these campfire cones by The Girl Who Ate Everything are sweeter (more candy toppings), gooier (filled cones thrown right into the fire) and just as fun to make (mini mallows!). Forget foil dinners — it’s all about the foil desserts.

Foil paella

Setting out to make camp meals with only an open flame, foil and skewers, chef Christie of Zestuous nails this chorizo and chicken paella recipe and gives us critical tips for mastering the foil dinner. Prepping ahead of time, doubling up on the foil layers and shaping the pouches using a bowl are some of her time-saving techniques.

Ice cream in a bag

Homemade ice cream at your campsite? Who would have thought this would work, let alone be tasty or fun to make! Fresh Off the Grid gives us the rundown on how to do it. Half-and-half or vegan coconut creamer make up the base, while zip-top bags, ice and salt provide the science to make the mix nice and frosty. Head over to the full post for a step-by-step tutorial.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published several years ago and was updated most recently by senior editor Kristin Leong in June 2024 with additional camping recipes, we think your family will love. 

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