The dutch oven is one of the quintessential camping appliances for anyone who likes to cook outdoors. This handy cooking device has been used for over 300 years by people from all over the world. There are a few variations of the dutch oven; the materials used and shapes have shifted across the years and cultures. For outdoor uses, the cast iron dutch oven is hands down one of the best tools.
For both indoor and outdoor kitchens, the dutch oven has been a staple used to roast, bake, fry, boil, stew, and simmer delectable meals. Depending on what you are making and how you plan to use the oven, there are a few important techniques to note.
North Dakota State University shared a great snapshot of how different techniques for cooking with a dutch oven:
Cooking Techniques Roasting: The heat source should come from the top and bottom equally. Coals should be placed under the oven and on the lid at a 1 to 1 ratio.
Baking: Usually done with more heat from the top than from the bottom. Coals should be placed under the oven and on the lid at a 1 to 3 ratio, having more on the lid.
Frying, boiling, etc: All of the heat should come from the bottom. Coals will be placed under the oven only.
Stewing, Simmering: Almost all heat will be from the bottom. Place the coals under and on the oven at a 4 to 1 ratio with more underneath than on the lid.
Using the Lid: The lid can be placed on the fire or stove upside down and used as a skillet or griddle. Using the lid in this fashion, you can make virtually error-free pancakes and eggs that don't run all over. This is because most lids are shaped like a very shallow bowl so things naturally stay in the center, even if the lid is not level.
Since we are talking about a cast iron dutch oven here, it’s important to note two key points to taking care of it.
Unlike most of our modern appliances, you shouldn’t use soap on cast iron. Instead, you can use a clean sponge, or metal chain link, to scrub the inside of it and rinse with water. Save yourself a lot of headache by placing water in the cast iron immediately after cooking so that the hot water can loosen up anything left over.
Depending on how often you use it, how often to season your cast iron will vary. Definitely season new cast iron, and generally after a heavy cleaning. To season your cast iron dutch oven, you will coat the inside with oil (I typically use olive oil) and bake it in your regular oven. This will keep it well conditioned and ready to roll when it’s time to take it out for camping.
Without further ado, here are six of our favorite cast iron dutch oven recipes for camping.
When camping, it’s all about making as little clean up as possible. This one-pot meal is filling and perfect for coming back to camp after a long day hiking, biking, or floating. This is a great recipe, and we love to make the chili ahead of time, for a super simple set up. You can make chili sometime through the week and pack it up in mason jars to throw in the cooler, shaving about 20 minutes off the prep time.
The tried and true-- Dutchoven Apple Cobbler. We keep yellow cake mix on hand in our camping gear for whenever the craving strikes! This recipe can also be dressed up a bit using fresh apples, especially if you make your way to the local orchard, by simply coating fresh apples in butter and brown sugar with some spice mix.
Monkeybread is just a fun name for unraveled cooked dutch oven cinnamon rolls ( a scout’s fav!). This is a perfect way to make a quick breakfast or dessert for the whole family that warms the belly, and the soul. We like the play on this traditional campside favorite. If you’re more of a traditional cinnamon roll kind of family, you can just bring the cinnamon rolls along, which shaves most of the prep time off
This is a cool weather favorite for us! This Jambalaya is ready in about an hour, and there’s nothing quite like hanging around the fire on a chilly evening, and warming up with something delicious from the dutch oven. With the cajun spices in here, you’re sure to warm right up and be ready for a night’s rest being serenaded by the forest. Also, if you happen to be fishing on your camping trip, you can always use some of the day’s fresh catch in here.
Beef Wellington has always been one of my favorite dishes. There’s something just plain fun about making it and putting fun shapes in the dough. At first glance, the recipe for Beef Wellington seems a bit complicated to take out camping with you, but there are some great workarounds that make it totally doable with the help of your dutch oven. We used this recipe from Kent Rollins, but instead of using biscuits for the pastry dough, we substituted filo dough and it turned out perfect.
Stuffed peppers are one of our family’s favorite meals, and we hadn’t quite figured out how to make them when we were out in the woods, until recently. The clean up for this one is super simple, since everything cooks inside of the peppers. This can be a minimal ingredient dish, making it a simple and lightweight pack-- and the stuffing can either be made ahead of time, or you could use any leftovers from the previous night, spruce them up a little and then use them for your stuffing.