Camping, What's for Dinner??

Camping Tin Foil Dinners

June 3, 2012

I decided to save the best for last. I know camping Tin foil dinners are huge in Utah, but a lot of other states may not have heard of these genius meals. {It’s quite possible that I just was majorly out of the loop, but humor me and pretend that no one else had heard of these things!}

My younger brother in-law was in charge of this meal, and I have to say… he was a food bloggers dream! He laid everything out so perfect for pictures, and even made sure that there was great lighting for me! This is one of the things that make most people think that I am bonkers, but he totally gets it! Actually, most of my husband’s family is pretty good sports about it. I can’t tell you how many times I yelled at my father in-law to STOP eating, and hold the food in a pose for a picture!

{Thanks guys!!}

This meal is great for two reasons. All of the prep work can be done at home, and everyone is in charge of making their own, which means you are sure to stuff yours full with all of your favorites, and won’t have to worry about picking out the not-so-great things.


Tin Foil Dinners
{Keep in mind that this is just a suggested list of ingredients. You can change it up to please your family’s tastes!}

{we used carrots, peas, and tomato’s}
Chopped onion
Creamed soups
Tomato soup
Thinly sliced potato’s

PREP WORK: At home, chop up your carrots, chicken, onions,  and whatever else you think you can get away with pre- dicing.  Toss them in Ziploc’s and in a cooler.


MIX IT UP: Lay out all of your ingredients in a buffet style. That way everything is easily accessible to build-your-own type of assembly line. Rip out a generous piece of foil, and let everyone go to town.

TIP: You want the items that take the longest to cook to towards the bottom of your tin foil. Also, the cream soups are there to create a gravy. Don’t skip them. They help keep your  meats nice and moist.

When you are all done, you should have something like this:

{Thanks Tim for unwrapping yours to let me snap a quick photo. Seriously… you made it look like a culinary masterpiece!}

GET COOKING: Double, or triple wrap your dinner in foil. The thicker the better. Especially if you are using a shovel to flip them.

Head out to the camp fire and get some nice hot coals going. Push the main fire to the side, and lay each meal on the hot coals.


Cook for 10-15 minutes, then flip. Cook until your meats are done.


Talk about the ultimate one pot meal! Check out all of that hot juicy goodness!!

Now, at this point, you can top it off with the sauce of your choice, or eat it as-is. Either way, you are sure to be satisfied with the results.

This also tends to be a huge hit with the kiddo’s. They get to build their very own, and watch as it cooks in the fire pit. Something about it is just fun!

One little tip I like to toss out there… Double up on your foil if you are planning on using it as the container or plate. If you’re looking for some great inspiration on what kind of meals to add to your camping menu make sure to check out my cookbook! Foiled! Easy, Tasty, Tin Foil Meals is packed with great ideas from breakfast to desserts! Make sure to give me a shout out on social media if you give any of them a try! I’d love to feature you and your cooking adventures!



Comments (60)

  • Kellen Hallows Reply

    June 4, 2012 at 12:00 am

    A quick note, sometimes these Tin-Foil Dinners are called Hobo Dinners. You basically throw whatever you can find into the mix. Obviously certain foods go better together (such as the list provided) but you can add anything that your heart or stomach desires (pinneapple works great with these too!). Great post Jesseca!

    • nick ******** Reply

      August 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      thanks i kept seeing hobo dinners and was wondering what they were

  • Heather Lynn Reply

    June 5, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Thanks for the marvelous tip to make them before leaving home! What a huge time and space saver.

  • melody Reply

    June 5, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    I like to cut potatoes, onions, green beans, and a couple sliced links of sausage into mine. I season it, put a spoon full of garlic and a dab of butter on top, and go to town! Its delish! So delish, in fact, that sometimes I make this at home on a regular, non-camping night. I mean, who doesn’t likeeasyclean-up even at home, right?!

  • Andrea Urban Reply

    June 8, 2012 at 4:38 am

    These are also a favorite at our house. I must admit that for a while there I got lazy when Reynolds company were still making their “Hot Bags” It was a large family size heavy duty foil bag that was sealed on 3 sides. We’d dump the fixin’s for the whole family in that bag, fold down the unsealed side and cook away. I was so sad when they discontinued the product. I would love it if they would make some smaller single serving sized ones, that would solve the leaky bundle problem that I always seem to have when making tin-foil dinners.

  • Sherron Reply

    June 9, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    I like to use disposable aluminum pie plates and wrap with tin foil (cover the entire pie plate, not just the top). This eliminates the need for a plate, and keeps the juices from spilling out. They take up more space, but we will often times place a handful of coals on top of one and stack them.

    • Jesseca Reply

      June 9, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      SO smart. My husbands entire family was trying to think of a better way to wrap them! I’ll have to tell them about pie plates!

      • Rita Boyle Reply

        July 10, 2012 at 10:53 pm

        We use the 6 X 8 tin pans from Dollar Tree…..there is 3/1.00 in a pkg. Cover whole pan with heavy duty foil. (They come with a lid…but ours is usually too full to use the lids! LOL)

    • Andrea Reply

      November 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      Brilliant! Absolutely Brilliant Jesseca. That was an aha moment for me. I don’t turn my tinfoil dinners in the fire so that would work perfectly. Thanks for sharing that tidbit.
      Rita, Good tip, The dollar store is great for things like that.

  • Kimber Ryan Reply

    June 15, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Another tip is to lay out a big leaf of cabbage on top of your foil piece prior to layering your yummies on it – and once you have all the goods stacked up add another cabbage layer on the top. This prevents any burning of the food. The cabbage is dense and moist enough to create the perfect non-stick barrier.

    Some of our favorite fillings are ground beef with onions, sliced sweet potatoes, green beans and a variety of bell peppers. YUM!

  • Stacie Reply

    June 16, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    What a laugh, “STOP EATING, I have to take a picture first! ” Can we all relate to that?
    I love this idea and would love to go with a theme, Italian (pizza sauce and mozarella cheese), Mexican (cumin spiced chicken, monterey jack cheese, salsa, pinto or black bean), Hawaiian (pineapple, pulled pork, onions, cooked rice).
    I also found a great deal on foil products at the dollar stores…great for camp meals.
    thanks for the great ideas.

  • Susan Reply

    June 19, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    We’re taking our kiddos on their first camping trip with my sister and her family. We were talking about making hobo dinners…what a great reference! And I love the idea of themed dinners from Stacie.

  • Lori Reply

    June 26, 2012 at 4:04 am

    For our tin foil dinners we put in a hamburger pattie, top with cut up potatoes, carrots, and onions then season. Then add a couple of spoonfuls of canned corn and cream of chicken soup. Then all you need is ketchup to go along with it.

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  • hiking/camping/outdoors | Pearltrees Reply

    July 10, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    […] Camping Food: Tin Foil Dinners I decided to save the best for last. I know Tin foil dinners are huge in Utah, but a lot of other states may not have heard of these genius meals. In the quest to streamline your camping trips , foil packet meals can be one of your greatest allies. It’s cooking at its simple best; you take some ingredients, wrap them up in a foil parcel, and place the pouch in a campfire’s coals to cook. You can prepare these foil packets before you head out into Mother Nature, and they require no pots and pans, no plates, and no clean up. […]

  • Rita Boyle Reply

    July 10, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    We make these meals often when camping. We use the small 6 X 8 foil pans found at the Dollar Tree and cover the whole pan with heavy duty foil. No need for turning, everything steams. Our favorite is ground beef with all the veggies….and dont forget the zucchini! Our favorite seasoning is Italian Dressing (from the bottle)sprinkled all over the top, and maybe a shot or two of soy sauce. We also like smoked sausage with cabbage, onion and potatoes! Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomach!

    • Michelle Reply

      May 15, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Hi, when cooking the tin foil campfire dinners, do you pre-cook the meat first (so it is basically just getting warmed up/simmered with the other stuff? I’m preparing for a first-time family camp trip and I have no idea how to do this campfire cooking. Thanks! The tips are really helpful.

      • Jesseca Reply

        May 16, 2014 at 5:28 am

        We don’t precook the meat. Just fold it up and put it on the hot coals with all of your preferred add ins!

        • Maria Reply

          May 16, 2014 at 10:36 pm

          I couldn’t figure out the meat part either – so thanks for the response to that question. With respect to the soup, do you just add a few spoon fulls on top of the food once you have it assembled? I’m a bit confused about that part – and I don’t cook, which isn’t a good combination!
          Your blog is so helpful – thank you for the work that you do!

          • Maria

            May 16, 2014 at 10:39 pm

            Never mind : K Hunt answered my question below.
            I’m excited to make these!

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  • Bev Reply

    August 3, 2012 at 4:38 am

    Our favorite tin foil meal:

    Roasted Potatoes, with Onion and Garlic…add butter inside, season it. Cook on the grill, (we place ours inside our castiron pan to be able to grab it easy)…serve with sourcream…yummy.

  • Kathy Reply

    August 17, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    We make these with our Girl Guide unit all the time. One trick is to actually dip the foil packet in water before added your second layer of foil. The trapped water helps steam the food and prevents the food from burning. Happy camping!

  • Kathy Reply

    August 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Lovely blog.
    We make foil dinners with my Girl Guide unit all the time. One trick I learnt, when I was a young Guide, is to dip your foil packet in water before adding the second layer of tinfoil. This helps steam the food and prevents the contents from burning. Happy camping!

  • Monica Mooney Reply

    August 25, 2012 at 12:39 am

    When making these ahead of time, how do they not leak everywhere?

    • Jesseca Reply

      August 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm


      I’m not really sure how you could do these ahead of time. The only thing I can think of is getting the meet chopped/divided in the foil and freezing it before you go. You can also chop some of the ingredients and keep them in ziplocks. I hope that helps!

      • KS Reply

        May 5, 2013 at 10:31 am

        A little late but I always make them ahead of time t home.

        I love convenience of the full kitchen. Prepare meal double wrapped and sealed well . Lay flat in zip lock and freeze. I am headed camping memorial day week year for 6 nights. Four nights we are doing foiil dinners. Three mornings we are doing foil breakfast.

        I cook them in a little smokey weber grill with charcoal versus fire coals. I can control temp much better.

      • Jodi Reply

        May 22, 2014 at 5:33 pm

        Originally the recipe called for a hamburger party, frozen tater tots, frozen peas & carrots, and a teaspoon of dry onion soup mix. You can keep these in the freezer until it’s time to go camping, and they help to keep items chilled, and there isn’t anything to leak, especially if you have double wrapped in heavy duty foil. Just pack the dinners all together in a zip lock bag. The burger will get “fried”, while some of the tots get crispy too, but peas & carrots will steam. This is the original Boy Scouts of America recipe.

    • K Hunt Reply

      May 23, 2013 at 8:51 am

      We’ve made them ahead of time as well. We use the heavy duty aluminum foil and double wrap it them. So far we haven’t had leaks. But when we make them ahead of time, we eat them the first day of our camping trip.

      KS, I would love to hear the variety of tin foil dinners and breakfasts you are doing. I assume you aren’t eating the same dinner 4 nights and the same breakfast 3 mornings….although maybe you are.

    • Ani H. Reply

      June 22, 2013 at 9:33 am

      HI there! When I make mine ahead of time, I place each packet into a Ziploc bag. I’ve never had one leak before but I’m always worried they might. The bag also allows me to write whose dinner it is and what dinner is it. Also, if you’re still worried about leaking, I recommend taking all the “liquid” items (i.e. – soup, ketchup, etc.) and freezing them into individual ice cube trays. This way they “melt” slowly while in the fridge/cooler and won’t leak before they cook. 🙂

  • paul Reply

    August 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    While we made these type meals camping. My father also took the idea further and would cook food on the exhaust manifold of our family car during long trips. I don’t remember exactly what we used to cook or how long (many miles) it took, but I can remember eating manifold dinners at rest areas more than once as a child.

  • Jaime Reply

    October 3, 2012 at 2:07 am

    This is a fabulouse idea! Im from australia and discovered your blog on pinterest {someone pinned a pic of yours} we are going caravaning in the next week and im searching for simple meal ideas…thanks for this. Its kinda like mini caseroles, lol.

  • Valerie Reply

    January 13, 2013 at 10:08 am

    My son is has been in Cub Scouts and now Boy Scouts and foil dinners are a favorite! They especially like to add Ramen Noodles instead of potatoes.

  • Christina Scott Reply

    February 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I am going to use this one….My husband and I are taking 9 kids camping in little over a month and this is a God send. Yes, it’s early….with 9 kids I need to be prepared

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  • K Hunt Reply

    May 23, 2013 at 8:54 am

    On one of our camping trips last year we decided to use frozen steak fries and/or tater tots in place of the potatoes. It was WAY easier than peeling and slicing potatoes at the campground and was delicious! We do a hamburger patty, vegies (potatoes/fries/tots along with carrots, onion, and sweet peppers). Then we top it with a dollop of Cream of Mushroom Soup. So yummy! We’ve also made tin foil dinners with a slice of ham, sweet potatoes, and pineapple or marshmallows on top. I haven’t tried chicken fajitas in a foil pack yet but that’s on my “to try” list.

  • B. Dean Reply

    May 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    My mother use to fix the hobo dinners in a large coffee can.. she would layer the food of choice such as onions, ground beef (season to taste) tomatoes, potatoes etc. Yummy. Note to reader–this was 50 + years ago.

    • Kari Reply

      April 16, 2014 at 9:15 am

      I am not a healthfood nut but I can,t help but be concerned about health issues with some of the things suggested. Manifold meals: toxic fumes; coffeecan meals: 50 yrs ago probably lead poisoning from the sealing of the can; and today I worry about aluminum in things since aluminum is known to be an issue for causing alzheimers(which my dad died from). I even use aluminum free deodorant.

      • Craig Reply

        July 2, 2014 at 10:33 pm

        Well then, you better stay locked up inside that bubble of yours…

  • Brandy Reply

    June 3, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    We’re going on an overnight camping trip tomorrow and I was trying desperately to think of something I could do for dinner and breakfast and then viola! Stumbled on this idea! Thank you. I think instead of hamburger I’ll use a sliced up veggie patty (my honey is a vegetarian), some frozen peas, corn, onion, garlic, carrots, broccoli, rice and black beans. We’ll see how they turn out! I’m thinking I might want to prepare them tonight but am not sure if I should just refrigerate or freeze the packets…hmm…don’t have a whole lot of time to prepare them in the morning before I leave for work and our trip. Has anyone just prepared them the night before and stuck them in the fridge until you left? I’m assuming it would be fine after all, when I make meatloaf I wrap the rest in tin foil and stick it in the fridge and it seems to stay pretty fresh. Anyways, happy camping and thank you so much for the tips!

  • Craig Riecke Reply

    June 8, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Wow! I’ve eaten a lot of tin foil dinners in my time … half-eaten is more accurate. I have never had one come out well. It’s absolutely impossible to judge how long to put one on the fire. And once you’ve opened it … it’s game over. If it’s underdone, you’ll never be able to close it back up without getting ash in it. If it’s overdone, you’ll need power tools to get it off the tin foil. And there is no in between.

    Actually … statistically, there will always be someone who gets a good tin foil dinner – they got the perfect part of the fire. You never know who that person will be … except, it won’t be you!

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  • Jane Morris Coons Reply

    July 25, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    We did these in Girl Scouts – I actually took a Gourmet Outdoor Cooking class and they taught us the trick with the cabbage leaf on the top & bottom. Really works to add moisture and prevent scorching. My favorite meat to put in them is kielbasa – it’s already fully cooked so you don’t have to worry about undercooking meat or poultry. Also, partially cook chicken in your microwave and then put it in a heavy duty plastic back with a bottle of Italian dressing. Flavors it and again, no worries about undercooked poultry. You can freeze the chicken at that point and put them in the cooler to thaw.

    I learned from the BOY Scouts how to make a proper foil packet – take a large piece of Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil, and fold it in half. Fold again the opposite way (first, top to bottom; next side to side). Make three narrow, crisp folds on each of three open sides. Fill the packets with meats and/or veggies (they are great with just potatoes and onions for a side). Add some butter, some fresh herbs, salt & pepper, and a tablespoon of water. Seal top by folding over three times. Cook on grate or in coals – flip with tongs. The packets will “puff up” like Jiffy Pop from the steam. This manner of folding packets makes all the difference!

  • Viki O Reply

    July 27, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    I have tried thinly sliced chicken (be sure it gets cooked all the way thru), sweet potato slices, pineapple, onions, frozen peas, with soy sauce.. We love foil dinners. They are a must on campouts. I saw on pinterest a s’mores post where they put the chocolate, marshmallows and whatever else you felt like adding into a sugar cone and wrapped it in foil, then cooked it on the coals like a foil dinner. Yum!

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  • Victoria Reply

    June 7, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    A group of my friends are going camping in two weeks my boyfriend and I are in charge of most of the meals. Freezing them until were ready to eat is genius. But how long does it usually take to cook hobo dinners on the coals are there signs where I will know when they’re done?

  • Mary Pearce Reply

    August 13, 2016 at 9:47 am

    How do you tell the individual dinners apart? I want to do this for my sons birthday, but all the boys will make individual dinners and will need to tell them apart… Any ideas?

    • Jesseca Reply

      August 13, 2016 at 10:50 am

      Use a permanent marker to write their names or initials on the outside.

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