When top chefs go camping, it’s a culinary adventure in the great outdoors. They trade burgers and hot dogs for bone-in ribeyes with a side of buttery, herb-crusted potatoes. Or they make fresh halibut, crisping the skin in a skillet then topping with a scratch-made strawberry relish. And you can, too. But the key to elevated camping recipes is a little planning. (You know this if you’ve ever tried to dice peppers on a wobbly picnic table).
“Some simple prep work before heading to the campsite can make the more complicated recipes approachable,” says chef and entrepreneur Rōze Traore, who creates unique dining experiences for brands. When he camps, he preps a marconi pepper sauce ahead of time for a smoky, slightly sweet steak sauce (recipe below).
Here, top chefs share their go-to camping recipes. These are meals their friends and family request ahead of every epic trip. From chilaquiles with homemade tortillas for breakfast to sea salt s’mores as a late-night snack, here’s how to elevate your dining experience in the wilderness.
Camping Recipes Top Chefs Make in the Great Outdoors
1. Pork Ragu and Gremolata
If you haven’t already, invest in a can cooker and consider it an essential for camping recipes. This workhorse appliance is great for making one-pot campsite meals like this pork ragu and gremolata, says Mark Musial, executive chef at Kimpton Armory Hotel in Bozeman, Montana. The gremolata in this recipe (a green sauce made with herbs, lemon zest, and garlic) adds a ton of brightness to the pork ragu. You can also use your can cooker to make rice or pasta to round out the meal.
- can cooker
- Coleman stove
- cutting board
Ingredients for the Pork Ragu:
- 2 pork butts
- 1 can (28 fl oz) San Marzano
- 2 small diced yellow onions
- 5 sliced carrots
- 1 quart shaved shallots
- 1 pint shaved garlic
- 1 bottle white wine
- 1/2 gallon chicken stock
- grip of rosemary
- grip thyme
- salt and pepper, to taste
Ingredients for gremolata:
- 2 bunches parsley
- 6 cloves garlic
- lemon zest 2 lemons
- 2 oz extra virgin olive oil
- Rice or pasta, which you can make ahead of time at home or in your can cooker.
How to make it:
- Cube the pork into large chunks and sear until golden brown in the can cooker on the Coleman stove at high heat .
- Remove the pork and set aside, then add all the vegetables in the cooker and deglaze with white wine and reduce by half. When the wine is reduced, add San Marzano tomatoes, seared pork, chicken stock, rosemary, and thyme, then bring to a simmer, cover, and seal. Keep the stove at a medium/low heat, and cook for about an hour or until pork is tender.
- While the pork is cooking, prepare the gremolata. Rough chop the parsley and garlic, add the zest of the lemons, and combine with olive oil.
- When the pork is finished, serve with rice or pasta, and garnish with gremolata.
2. Chef Roze’s Campsite Ribeye
Leave the bottle of steak sauce at home. Chef and entrepreneur Rōze Traore shares how you can make tender bone-in ribeye with a pepper sauce and golden-brown, buttery potatoes at your campsite. File under camping recipes you’ll make again and again.
- 2 skillets (one with a lid)
- cutting board
- 1 pound bone-in ribeye
- few sprigs of rosemary
- few sprigs of thyme
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 pound baby potatoes
- 2 marconi peppers
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- grapeseed oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 shallot
- lemon wedge
How to make it:
For the pepper sauce (make this at home prior to arriving at campsite):
- Rinse peppers, pat dry, and de-seed. Peel shallots and cut into medium dice.
- Turn your burner’s heat on medium-high. Once hot, drizzle enough grapeseed oil to coat pan.
- Add peppers and shallots, then season with paprika and salt. Cook for 6 minutes.
- Place peppers in the blender with a squeeze of lemon and red wine vinegar. Blend until smooth.
For the potatoes:
- Cut potatoes in half and add to a large bowl. Proceed by drizzling oil (enough to coat), then season with salt, black pepper, and dried oregano.
- Once seasoned, place a medium-size skillet on low-to-medium heat. Drizzle some oil (enough to coat the pan). Place potatoes flat-side down. Make sure your pan isn’t crowded and each potato surface is on the pan, then partially cover the skillet with a lid.
- Cook for 6 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
- Proceed by adding thyme and 1/2 tablespoon butter. While the butter is melting, swirl the pan so all your potatoes are fully coated.
For the ribeye:
- To prepare the steak, heat a cast iron or medium sized sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, add enough oil just to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Season both sides of steak with kosher salt and black pepper.
- Add ribeye to pan. Cook for 5 minutes each side, depending on desired doneness (medium-rare preferred).
- Add butter, 1 clove garlic, thyme, and rosemary to pan and baste steak for 2 minutes each side.
- Remove steak and set aside, allowing it to rest 6 minutes before slicing
3. Chicken Chilaquiles Rojos
When you think of camping recipes, chilaquiles probably aren’t top of mind. It’s traditional Mexican comfort food, with recipes that vary by region and family, says camp chef Marco Hernandez, aka @OvrlndX on YouTube and Instagram. For the version he makes at camp, Hernandez uses canned chicken and asadero or Oaxaca cheese with homemade tortilla chips. You could take a shortcut and use a hot tomato sauce for your salsa, but roasting chiles, jalapeños, tomatoes, onion, and garlic will give your salsa a smoky, complex flavor that’s worth the extra work. (You can watch Hernandez make the chilaquiles recipe here).
- power station (Hernandez uses Jackery E1500 portable power station)
- portable blender
- Tembo Tusk Skottle for cooking (portable stove and a skillet/pot will also work)
- Hernandez uses a Patriot Campers X2 trailer for transport
- 5 New Mexico dried chiles
- 3-5 chiles de árbol
- 1-2 fresh jalapeños
- 3 tomatoes
- 1/3 white onion
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 12 corn tortillas
- 3 cans of white meat chicken
- sour cream
- cheese (asadero or Oaxaca)
- optional fried egg
- optional avocado
How to make the chilaquiles salsa:
* You can make this salsa at home in advance. Or, if you have a portable blender and power station, you can make it at the campsite.
- Clean the chiles with room-temperature water, remove all seeds, and devein.
- In a pan, add a little bit of olive oil and bring to medium heat. Add dry chiles, garlic, tomatoes, jalapeños, and onions. Remove dry chiles once they change color and put them aside, making sure not to burn. Fry or roast the rest of the ingredients to desired doneness.
- Put all ingredients in blender, add a little water, salt, and a pinch of cumin. Blend them until you get the right consistency of salsa, not too runny, not too thick. Run this mix through a colander and set it aside for later use.
How to make the tortillas:
- Cut your tortillas into triangles, just like chips.
- Pour cooking oil in a pot just enough to cover a batch of tortilla triangles. Heat up the oil, and start frying your chips. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot with chips.
- Remove first batch and put them in a container with paper towels to remove excess oil, and continue frying the rest of the tortillas.
How to make the chicken:
- In the same pot where you fried the tortillas, add contents of three chicken cans, a little oil, salt and pepper, to taste, and a pinch of cumin. Bring the chicken to a golden brown finish and remove from heat.
How to assemble the chilaquiles:
- In a pot or a Skottle (cooking disc) add oil, and bring to low heat, add chips, salsa, and chicken. Mix it without breaking the chips.
- Top with asadero or oaxaca cheese, and let melt without burning the chilaquiles. Add sour cream.
- As an option, add a fried egg or diced avocado.
4. Citrus Fish and Strawberry Relish
Celebrity chef and restaurateur Brian Malarkey, who’s appeared on Top Chef, likes to make chimichurris, pestos, or relishes before camping so all he has to do is grill some vegetables, meat, or seafood once at camp (camping recipes really don’t have to be complex). Malarkey, who launched Chefs Life, a line of custom blended cooking oils for home chefs, shared this citrus fish recipe that’s topped with a strawberry relish.
- cast iron skillet
- portable cooker (or you could cook over a campfire; pack some firewood and starter).
- fish spatula
- 2 pieces fish fillet (trout or salmon recommended)
- 1/2 pint strawberries, chopped
- 1/2 shallot, chopped
- 1/2 cup smoky almonds, chopped
- zest 1 orange
- 1/3 cup Italian parsley and chives, chopped.
- 1/2 cup Chefs Life blending oil
- 1 lemon
- salt and pepper
How to make the strawberry relish:
- At home, combine all the ingredients (except lemon juice and fish), but reserve a small amount of parsley, chives, and orange zest to rub on your fish at the campsite. Put the strawberry relish in a Tupperware container; the more you hike, the more you’ll mix it up, which is a good thing. The oil will preserve the relish for a few days, but you’ll want to keep it in a cool place at your campsite. Note: You’ll need to keep your fish cold in a well-insulated cooler. Pro tip: You can pre-chill your cooler with ice the night before your trip to make it extra cold.
How to make the fish:
- Preheat a cast iron skillet with Chefs Life Blending Oil; get the pan hot.
- Lightly rub the fish fillets with salt, pepper, remaining parsley, chives, and orange zest.
- Grill fish until just cooked, about 7 to 10 minutes depending on how hot the grill is or how big the fillet is.
- Squeeze lemon over relish, then serve a generous spoonful on fish.
5. Grilled Trout With Sweet Potatoes and Braised Greens
Kelly Vogelheim, executive chef at Oak Steakhouse in Highlands, North Carolina, loves camping recipes like this because a lot of the ingredients can be foraged. Cooking the trout directly over the fire adds a smoky flavor that pairs nicely with the sweetness of the sorghum and richness of the mushrooms. “This is an easy dish to execute out in the elements,” Vogelheim says.
- cast iron skillet
- portable grill grate
- firewood and starter
- fish spatula
- Optional: empty soda or beer cans
- 2 trout fillets (or your own if you had a successful fishing trip!)
• 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
• 3-4 cups braising greens (like Swiss chard, kale, or mustard greens)
• 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 2 ounces sorghum syrup
• 1/4 cup butter, divided
• 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
• salt and pepper, to taste
How to make it:
- A hot fire is key. Be sure to let it burn for a while, creating a nice bed of coals underneath. Place the grill grate over the fire and allow it to get nice and hot.
- Toss diced potatoes in 1 tablespoon olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place in cast iron skillet over fire. Alternatively, cut the top of whatever canned beverage you’ve been enjoying and place the seasoned potatoes into the empty container, setting the can directly into the coals. Cook until tender.
- Season fish on both sides with butter, salt, and pepper. Place skin-side down on grill. Cook until skin is crispy. Depending on thickness of the filet, you may not need to flip. Remove from grill grate and set aside.
- Place cast iron back over fire, and add cooked sweet potatoes, sorghum syrup, and braising greens. Season with salt and pepper, then cook until greens are slightly wilted, but still hold integrity. Finish by stirring in 1 tablespoon butter and remove from pan.
- In same cast iron, add last of your butter and minced garlic. Stir frequently and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Add chanterelle mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender.
- Plate by placing sweet potatoes on the bottom, followed by trout, and finish with chanterelles on top.
6. Campfire Sticky Buns
- campfire grate
- firewood and starter
- 4 King’s Hawaiian Rolls
- Hershey’s Chocolate Bars
- mini marshmallows
- sea salt
- powdered sugar
How to make it:
- Cut Hawaiian buns in half, then place the bottoms on foil.
- Top the bottom of the buns with mini marshmallows, then add chocolate bar squares, and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Place top bun on to create a sandwich. Fold up the foil to ensure the marshmallow and chocolate mix doesn’t run out
- Place foil pack on top of a grate to cook over the fire for optimal roasting. Let cook for 2 minutes.
- Unwrap, then coat with powdered sugar.
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