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How to Make Tasty Foil Packet Camping Meals – Recipes & Tips

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Foil packet meals make it easy to enjoy real, hearty food outdoors with good company. This cooking method combines all of your ingredients in individual, folded foil packets that you can roast over a campfire, on the grill, or in the oven.

We’ve been making these dinners on our trips for decades and they’re always a hit! We love that they’re quick to prepare, pre-portioned so they’re easy to serve, and they make the chore of dishwashing in the backcountry almost nonexistent.


What’s in a Foil Packet Meal?

There are a ton of variations out there, and the possibilities for foil packet meals are only limited by your imagination. Foil packet cooking works well for almost anything that you’d normally put on a grill or in the oven as long as it contains some moisture.

Here are some ingredients you’ll find in a typical foil packet meal:

  • Hearty veggies (potatoes, onions & carrots)
  • Meat (ground beef, sausage, plant-based meat)
  • Seasoning (salt, pepper, Italian)
  • Oil and/or sauce for added flavor & moisture
  • Toppings or garnishes

How to Make a Foil Packet Meal

We’ll go over this in more detail in the recipes below, but the basics of making a foil packet meal are simple. Wash and dice veggies (you can do this at home or at the campsite) and divide them into individual portions on foil sheets that are oiled with non-stick spray. Layer on meat, oil or sauce, and seasonings on top of the veggies. Then neatly fold the edges of the foil over multiple times to seal the packet. After that, you can choose to cook your meals over a bed of embers in a campfire, on a grill, or in an oven for about 25-45 minutes.


The Benefits of Foil Packet Meals

Foil packet meals are a great way to provide a warm meal for a hungry bunch of campers, and they’re also easy to prepare, portable for serving, and simple to clean up.

  • Can be made with healthy whole foods
  • Minimal cookware required
  • Affordable
  • Easy cleanup
  • Can be prepped ahead of time
  • Easy to store in the fridge or cooler in Ziplocs or containers

Kitchen Items You’ll Need to Make Foil Packet Meals

How to Fold a Foil Packet Meal

We’ve found that it’s much easier to wrap a foil packet meal properly with wide (18-inch) heavy-duty aluminum foil. For most meals, a section that’s about 18×30 inches works well. Regular-width foil works fine if you already have it on hand, but keep food portions small so you’ll have enough material to fold over and tightly seal the packets.


Foil can become brittle when cooked on a grill or over a campfire, so we like to double-wrap foil packet meals and serve them on plates.

  1. Position food in the center of the foil, keeping it as compact as possible
  2. Bring edges of long side up to meet in the center
  3. Fold and crease first ½ inch of foil, then continue to roll down, leaving a small amount of space for food to expand while cooking
  4. Fold short sides of foil inward tightly
  5. Wrap with second layer of foil for added durability

What Kind of Beef is Best for Foil Packet Meals?

Ground beef with some fat content is best to add flavor and moisture to the meal so it isn’t too dry. We usually go for standard ground beef with a ratio of about 80 percent lean meat to 20 percent fat since it’s affordable, widely available, and easy to cook. You can also amend leaner ground meats (like chicken and turkey) with oil, butter, lard, tallow, or bacon grease to make your meals juicier and more calorie-dense for long hiking days.


How to Cook a Foil Packet Meal

Over a Campfire

Get your campfire going about an hour before you want to start cooking your dinner. That way, you’ll have time to create a bed of hot embers to cook over. You’ll need plenty of dry wood to build a hot fire. After your fire’s been burning strong for at least 40 minutes, use a fire poker or sturdy stick to layer hot coals near the side of your fire ring, creating a hot bed of embers.

Place the foil packets directly over the coals, away from direct flames. Alternatively, you can use a campfire cooking grate that hovers a few inches above the embers.

Cook for a total of 25-40 minutes, turning midway using bbq tongs or a fire glove. There are multiple variables when cooking over a campfire – coal temperature and evenness, outside temperature, wind – but your meal should take about 12-20 minutes per side (25-40 minutes total). If it’s taking a lot longer than that, your coals aren’t hot enough.

On the Grill

Preheat your grill to about 600°F. Place foil packets on the grill and cook for 10 minutes. This gets some color on your meat and veggies. Then, reduce the heat to about 400°F and continue cooking for 40 minutes to an hour until meat is done and veggies are tender, turning occasionally with BBQ tongs. Note: Higher temperatures than a conventional range are necessary because a grill is not insulated like your oven at home – the air around your food doesn’t stay nearly as hot for as long.

In the Oven

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray foil with nonstick spray, place veggies and potatoes on the foil and top with meat. Seal the foil well and place them on a large baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes.


How to Tell When a Foil Packet Meal is Done

Remove one foil packet from the fire, grill, or oven and check for doneness, being careful to avoid steam burns – contents will be hot!

  • Ground meats (beef, sausage) should reach an internal temp of 160°F on a meat thermometer.
  • Poultry (chicken thighs, turkey) needs to hit 165°F at the center.
  • Fresh steaks, chops, and roasts should be at 140-145°F for a nice medium doneness.
  • Potatoes and other veggies should be fork tender.

If the first meal is satisfactory, remove the rest of the packets from the heat and let them rest for 5-10 minutes before opening. The food will continue to cook for several minutes, so you may want to pull it off just a touch early. Our recipes have more specific suggested cook times based on ingredients.


The Best Foil Packet Meal Recipes

Classic Foil Packet Dinner Recipe

Serves 4, measurements approximate

  • 4 medium potatoes, diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (or 4 hamburger patties)
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 packet onion soup mix
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil (olive or vegetable)
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper
  • ½ can condensed mushroom soup
  1. Mix beef with soup mix and form patties
  2. Toss diced veggies with oil, then garlic powder, salt & pepper in a gallon Ziploc or large container
  3. Separate 4 sheets of foil (about 18×30 inches) and rub with oil or use non-stick cooking spray
  4. Divide veggies evenly between foil sheets and top with meat patties
  5. Spread about 2 tbsp mushroom soup on top of each hamburger patty
  6. Fold packets and seal them well
  7. Cook using one of the following methods:
    • Campfire – over hot coals for 30-40 min., turning once
    • Grill – medium heat for 10 min., then low heat for 45 min.-1 hr.
    • Oven – 375°F for 35-45 min.
  • It’s done when: hamburger is 160°F and potatoes are tender
  • Serve with: hot sauce, ketchup, or additional dipping sauce
  • Drink pairings: excellent with beer or soda

Meatloaf & Roasted Veggies

Serves 4, measurements approximate

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • ½ c breadcrumbs
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 jar marinara / red pasta sauce
  • Honey
  • 4 potatoes, diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Optional additions/toppings:

  • Other veggies, chopped: beets, brussel sprouts, parsnip, etc.
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh parsley, minced
  1. Toss diced potatoes, carrots, and other veggies with olive oil, then divide among 4 lightly-oiled foil sheets
  2. Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Use your hands to combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl
  4. Form meat mixture into patties and place on top of veggies
  5. Spread a thick layer of red sauce over each patty and drizzle lightly with honey
  6. Cook using one of the following methods:
    • Campfire – over hot coals for 30-40 min., turning once
    • Grill – medium heat for 10 min., then low heat for 45 min.-1 hr.
    • Oven – 375°F for 35-45 min.
  • It’s done when: beef reaches 160°F and veggies are tender
  • Serve with: extra red sauce, parmesan cheese, and chopped fresh parsley
  • Drink pairings: excellent with red wine, pomegranate/cranberry juice, or club soda with lemon or lime

Country Boil

Serves 4, measurements approximate

  • 4 large (or 8 small-medium) red or gold potatoes, diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 large sweet onion, quartered and sliced into thin wedges
  • 4 andouille sausage links, sliced into ½-inch rounds (2 each for big eaters)
  • 2 ears of corn, broken into halves
  • 1 lb. shrimp (raw, peeled, deveined, tail-on)
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 beer (cheap lager is fine)
  • Butter
  • Cocktail sauce
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 small baguette, sliced
  1. Oil large foil sheets
  2. Layer potatoes, onion, sausage, corn, and shrimp
  3. Start folding foil upward, then pour a small amount of beer (or a bit of water) over ingredients to add moisture for steaming
  4. Sprinkle generously with Old Bay seasoning
  5. Seal and double-wrap packets to hold in the liquid
  6. Cook using one of the following methods:
    • Campfire – over hot coals for 20-30 min., turning once
    • Grill – medium heat for 10 min., then low heat for 30-40 min.
    • Oven – 375°F for 25-35 min.
  7. Wrap bread in foil and heat with meals for the last 10 min. (fire) or 20 min. (grill or oven)
  • It’s done when: shrimp are pink, potatoes are fork tender, and bread is lightly toasted
  • Serve with: pat of butter, lemon wedge, cocktail sauce, additional Old Bay, and slice of bread
  • Drink pairings: white wine, light bubbly beers or IPA, lemonade, and citrusy seltzers

Surf & Turf

Serves 4, measurements approximate

  • 2 large or 4 small steaks (beef tenderloin, New York strip, ribeye, or top sirloin)
  • 1 lb. shrimp (uncooked, peeled, deveined, tail on)
  • Pinches of salt & pepper
  • ½ stick unsalted butter
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (or crushed)
  • 4 potatoes, diced into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, tips removed
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Optional additions/toppings:

  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Lemon, cut into wedges
  • Horseradish
  1. Toss diced potatoes with light cooking oil and distribute on 4 foil sheets
  2. Arrange a large handful of green beans next to potatoes
  3. *Slice steaks crosswise in ½-inch sections and place on top of veggies
  4. Surround the steak with shrimp (9-11 small-medium shrimp or 5-7 large to jumbo shrimp per adult)
  5. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper
  6. Top steak with a pat of butter, ½ sprig of rosemary, and garlic
  7. Cook using one of the following methods:
    • Campfire – over hot coals for 20-30 min., turning once
    • Grill – medium heat for 10 min., then low heat for 30-40 min.
    • Oven – 375°F for 25-35 min.
  • It’s done when: beef reaches 140-145°F, shrimp are pink, and veggies are tender
  • Serve with: chopped parsley, a lemon wedge, and horseradish
  • Drink pairings: excellent with white wine, lemony beers (hefeweizens, IPAs), gin cocktails, and citrusy seltzers

*Alternatively, you can take this extra step to make the steak even better; sear all sides of each whole portion on an oiled, ripping hot cast-iron pan on your camping stove. Transfer steaks to individual foil packets and cook them whole on top of the veggies. Provide a knife for each person to slice their own steak.


Teriyaki Chicken with Noodles

Serves 4, measurements approximate

  • 4 chicken sausage franks, cut into chunks
  • 8 oz. pineapple rings or chunks (canned or fresh)
  • Bell peppers, sliced (we like to use mini red, orange, and yellow)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 jar teriyaki sauce
  • 2 packages Yakisoba noodles*
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  1. Coat 4 foil sheets in oil
  2. Layer bell peppers, onion, pineapple, noodles, and chicken franks
  3. Drizzle each serving with teriyaki sauce and a bit of extra pineapple juice to help steam the noodles
  4. Cook using one of the following methods:
    • Campfire – over hot coals for 20-30 min., turning once
    • Grill – medium heat for 10 min., then low heat for 30-40 min.
    • Oven – 375°F for 25-35 min.
  • It’s done when: everything is hot and noodles are soft
  • Serve with: additional teriyaki sauce
  • Drink pairings: excellent with fruit-forward beverages such as sake, ginger beer, and juices like pineapple, mango, or watermelon

*Alternatively, you can omit the noodles and make with pre-soaked minute rice or rice cooked separately in a pot on your camping stove.


Vegetarian Foil Packet Meal Recipes

Any of the above foil packet meal recipes can easily be made vegetarian by subbing in rinsed canned beans, more veggies, or plant-based meat. With a little extra prep work, Tempeh, lentils, tofu, Seitan, or jackfruit could also work well for vegetarian foil packet meals.



Serves 4, measurements approximate

  • 2.5 cups tortilla chips
  • 1 oz. packet taco seasoning
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 c Mexican shredded cheese
  • ½ bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • Jalapeño, sliced
  • Sour cream
  1. Mix black beans with taco seasoning in a bowl or Ziploc bag
  2. Separate 2 extra large sheets of foil and spray with cooking spray
  3. Place half of the chips in each packet
  4. Sprinkle each with beans, onion, and cheese
  5. IMPORTANT: Seal foil packs, but cut a hole so steam can vent and chips won’t get as soggy (but still expect a tender chip), do not flip this one or the cheese will stick to the foil!
  6. Cook using one of the following methods:
    • Campfire – over hot coals for 10-20 min.
    • Grill – medium heat for about 12-15 min.
    • Oven – 375°F for 12-15 min.
  • It’s done when: cheese is melted and onions are tender
  • Serve with: sliced jalapeños, sour cream, and cilantro
  • Drink pairings: Mexican beer, margaritas, or lime seltzer

Herbed Mushrooms & Rice

Serves 2-4, measurements approximate (2 big plates or 4 small)

  • 1 c vegetable stock
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or crushed)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, stripped from stems
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 c uncooked instant white rice
  • 1 lb. button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • Lemon wedges (optional)
  • Balsamic glaze (optional)
  1. Separate 4 sheets of heavy-duty foil and spray with cooking spray
  2. Mix broth, brown sugar, garlic, thyme, and salt in a bowl
  3. Add instant rice to the broth mixture, then stir and let it absorb the liquid for about 10 min.
  4. Divide mushrooms and carrots evenly among sheets of foil
  5. Top with rice mixture and a good size pat of butter
  6. Fold foil packets, allowing a bit of extra room for rice to expand
  7. Cook using one of the following methods:
    • Campfire – over hot coals for 20-30 min., turning once
    • Grill – medium heat for about 25 min., flipping once
    • Oven – 375°F for 45-50 min.
  • It’s done when: rice is soft and everything is hot
  • Serve with: parsley, a lemon wedge, and balsamic glaze
  • Drink pairings: citrusy drinks, pinot noir (light-bodied red wine), amber ale, or porter

Greek Chickpeas

Serves 4, measurements approximate

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced into rounds
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 cans sliced black olives
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 4 tsp garlic, minced
  • Italian salad dressing (oil and vinegar)
  • Feta cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Divvy up onions, zucchini, chickpeas, and tomatoes onto four large sheets of foil
  2. Drizzle each portion generously with italian dressing
  3. Add a small amount of garlic to the top of each meal
  4. Sprinkle with greek seasoning, salt, and pepper
  5. Seal foil packets
  6. Cook using one of the following methods:
    • Campfire – over hot coals for 20-30 min., turning once
    • Grill – medium heat for about 25 min., flipping once
    • Oven – 375°F for 25-30 min.
  • It’s done when: everything is hot
  • Serve with: feta crumbles
  • Drink pairings: iced coffee, herbal teas, light and dry white wine, or ouzo (an anise-flavored spirit)

Make Up Your Own Foil Packet Meals

If you’ve made it this far, you’re well on your way to becoming a foil packet meal chef de cuisine. There’s a lot of flexibility in this method so we hope the recipes above inspired you to start translating your favorite foods into camping meal sensations.

A few more foil packet variations to get your wheels turning

  • Try using cabbage leaves under and over ingredients to keep food from sticking to foil
  • Add 2 hamburger patties side by side for bigger appetites
  • Use seasonal veggies like green beans, peppers & brussel sprouts
  • Mix it up with the meat – try shrimp, ground turkey, sausage, pre-cooked links, or meat alternatives
  • Base your recipe off of a sauce or spice you love

Basic Foil Packet Meal Grocery Checklist:

(make up a recipe on the fly!)

  • Meat
  • Veggies
  • Sauce, soup, or condiments
  • Oil or non-stick cooking spray
  • Salt, pepper & other seasonings

Creating a Camp Kitchen

You don’t need much to make foil packet camping meals. That said, a well-equipped camp kitchen is essential if you want to be able to prepare a variety of outdoor meals on trips. Here are a few of our favorite things that make our camp kitchen hum:

For a complete list, check out our Ultimate Camping Checklist.