Whether you are on a camping adventure with the family or enjoying a campfire with friends and family in your backyard, summer cooking over the coals is a great opportunity to try some great foods while making memories.

Cooking over campfires especially offers many hands-on experiences that kids will enjoy and cherish. Getting kids involved in the cooking process can teach important lessons and life skills.

Using healthy campfire recipes is best and teaches kids about the importance of good nutrition.

Planning outdoor meals

Think variety, color and nutrition when planning your meals for the outdoors. Incorporating servings from each of the food groups is a good way to incorporate good nutrition. Eat your rainbow — choosing a variety of colors among vegetables and fruits provides an assortment of flavors and good nutrition to your meals.

It’s also important to remember that appetites increase with outdoor activities, family members may want more than one serving.

Food safety

As summer’s temperatures soar, so can your risk for getting sick. Remember to always keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

If your menu includes perishable food ingredients, be sure that they are kept cold until they are used. Coolers and insulated bags are necessary to help accomplish this. Perishable leftovers (meats, most dairy products and cooked egg dishes) are hazardous if they cannot be chilled.

The CDC advises that leftovers be refrigerated within 2 hours; if temperatures are 90 degrees or above, 1 hour is the limit.

If soap and water are not available, packaged hand wipes are a good way to ensure that everyone has clean hands when preparing the food or before eating.

Campfire safety

Acknowledging campfire safety will make the experience more enjoyable for everyone involved:

Do not wear flammable or loose clothing near campfires.

Always supervise children; absolutely no running or playing near campfires.

Do not leave the campfire unattended, and always have a bucket of water close by; a responsible adult must be present at all times.

Have a safety circle around the campfire.

Have a first aid kit and cell/land line phone close by before campfire activities begin.

Safety first, always.


When cooking is complete, make sure that the fire is out. Spread out the coals and sprinkle with water.


Foil Packet Potatoes

Recipes that involve putting a mix of ingredients together into a foil packet allows kids to pick and choose ingredients for their very own creation.

Diced potatoes

Sliced onions

Shredded cheese

Bacon bits

Butter or oil such as olive, canola, etc.

Herbs (basil, chives, etc.)

Salt and pepper to taste


Place the potatoes on pieces of heavy-duty foil. Sprinkle desired toppings over potatoes; dot with butter or lightly drizzle with oil.

Fold foil up around potatoes. Seal the edges of foil well. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 30-40 minutes or until potatoes or tender.

Note: Try to prepare as much in advance such as shredding cheese and dicing onions. Place ingredients in plastic bags and keep cold in coolers until ready to use.

Recipe Source: University of Nebraska Extension Service

Camper’s Pizza

Biscuits from a can or English muffins

Bottled or canned pizza sauce (about 14 ounces)

1 package (3½ ounces) sliced pepperoni or other cooked meat

8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Mushrooms or vegetables of your choice

Dried oregano


Place English muffins on a greased grill 5 inches from medium coals, or place biscuit dough on a sheet of aluminum foil on the grill. Cook until lightly browned underneath.

Turn each circle over and spread with sauce; top with the meat, cheese, veggies, and oregano. Cook 12 to 15 minutes longer or until sauce bubbles and edges of dough are browned.

Note: Kids have fun choosing from a variety of ingredients, thus creating their very own creation.

Recipe Source: Iowa State Extension Service

Upside Down In a Can

1 white or yellow cake mix

2 cans pineapple slices

Brown sugar


1 jar cherries

12 6-oz. tuna cans


Follow directions on cake mix. Grease small tuna cans. Place one pineapple slice with cherry in each can. Sprinkle with brown sugar and dot with one tsp. margarine.

Put a few spoonfuls of cake batter in each can (1/2 to ¾ full) and cover with foil. Place a few inches over fire on grill for 10-15 minutes until cake is done. Invert on serving plate and wait 5 minutes before removing tuna can.

Recipe Source: Outdoor Cardiac fun, WVU Extension Service

Apple Cobbler

1 box cake mix (plus all ingredients listed on box) 

2 cans apple (or peach) pie filling

2 Tbs. butter

2 tsp. cinnamon


Using a dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Pour in apples or peaches, add cinnamon. Dump dry cake mix on top. Add all the other ingredients. Mix lightly but not deeply. Bake in coals for 25-30 minutes.

Recipe Source: Outdoor Cardiac fun, WVU Extension Service

Favorite Pork Chops

4 pork chops, 3/4-inch thick

3/4 c. Italian dressing

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce


Place all ingredients in a self-sealing bag; seal bag and place in refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (or as long as overnight). Remove chops from bag, discarding marinade, and grill over a medium-hot fire, turning once, until just done, about 8 to 11 minutes total cooking time, until internal temperature on thermometer reads 160 F.

Recipe Source: NDSU Extension Service

Barbecue Chicken Packets

4 sheets (12-by-18 inches each) heavy duty aluminum foil

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 to 1-1/4 pound)

1 c. barbecue sauce

1 package (10 oz.) frozen while kernel corn or 1 can (15 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained

1/2 c. chopped green pepper


Preheat grill to medium-high. Center one chicken breast half on each sheet of aluminum foil. Spoon barbecue sauce over chicken. Top with vegetables.

Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Repeat to make 4 packets. Grill 12 to 15 minutes in covered grill. Chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 F.

Recipe Source: NDSU Extension Service

Honey Pork Tenderloin Kababs

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

½ c. honey

½ c. mustard

1 tsp. dried tarragon

3 to 4 sweet potatoes, cut into 24 1-inch cubes

1½ lb. pork tenderloin, cut into 24 1-inch cubes

4 medium ripe peaches, unpeeled, pitted and quartered

4 green peppers, each cut into 8 2-inch pieces

8 yellow onions, each cut into 4 2-inch pieces

Olive oil, for grilling


Soak wood kabob skewers in water prior to adding meat and veggies to prevent burning the sticks on the grill. Mix first 4 ingredients in a bowl; stir well and set glaze aside.

Steam or boil sweet potatoes until crisp-tender. Thread 3 sweet potato cubes, 3 pork cubes, 2 peach quarters, 4 green pepper pieces and 4 onion pieces alternately onto each of eight 10-inch skewers.

Brush kabobs with honey glaze mixture. Lightly oil grill. Grill over medium-hot coals 5 minutes on each side or until thoroughly heated, basting occasionally with glaze.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe Source: NDSU Extension Service 

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