Easy Camping Recipes for Father’s Day or any Campout (with Party S'mores)
Looking for some good Father’s Day recipes for camping? Start with these easy upgrades for your hot dogs and s’mores.
Article and featured recipes and photos by Ashley Strickland Freeman
Camping is one of my husband Chris’s favorite things — let the guy be outside, using his pyromaniac ways to build a campfire, and he is happy as a clam. When we first started dating, we would go camping often. We’ve camped along the Kalalau Trail on Kauai, Hawaii, in Yellowstone after a friend’s wedding in Montana, at various locations in Florida (the most memorable being in the Florida Keys during a monsoon of a rainstorm), and in the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Over the years we’ve just about camped in it all, and Xour supply kit has grown to include the perfect things for a camping trip no matter the weather or terrain.X
Ever since our son has been out of diapers, we’ve taken him on camping trips, too. But these days we trade our backpacks for the car, driving right up to the campsite, Xand instead of the gourmet camp fare I used to create, we tend to go for family-friendly options that will please the five-year-old in the group.X
This Father’s Day I thought we’d treat my husband to a camping trip and all of us to new spins on campfire favorites: hot dogs and s’mores. My Father’s Day camping recipes don’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, but they’re customizable so everybody can have the flavors they want, from plain to fully loaded.
And here’s another bonus for these recipes. While campsites usually come with a fire pit and grill grates, meaning you can cook anything you’d normally throw on the grill, sometimes the weather is less than ideal for a fire. I’ve got a solution for that! Both these recipes work beautifully on a camp stove, too.
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Camp kitchen essentials
In my family, the boys are always in charge of set-up — the tent, sleeping mats, and hammock — and our son also enjoys collecting small sticks and pinecones to get the fire started. I’m usually in charge of the camp kitchen and our meals. Over the years I’ve honed my packing list to these essentials:
• 12-inch cast-iron skillet (this is my workhorse for the camping trip and I use it at every meal)
• Camp stove and propane (for coffee in the morning and in case we have trouble lighting the fire)
• Enamel and/or metal plates and cups
• Sheet pans (a couple) for food transport to and from the campfire
• Assorted camp cutlery, including sporks, tongs, and a knife
• Camping forks for roasting marshmallows
• Camping-style French press (coffee for the parents, so we can function in the wee hours of the morning)
• Paper towels and wet wipes (especially for sticky s’mores!)
• Portable sink or large bus tub and dish soap for washing dishes
Campfire hot dog bar
There’s nothing quite like the salty, smoky flavor of hot dogs roasted over a fire or browned on a camp stove. When planning your Father’s Day camping recipes (or even a backyard cookout), why not take your hot dogs to the next level with a hot dog bar?
My easy recipe gives you options for three sets of toppings: ketchup and mustard only (for anyone who prefers a classic), and pepperoni pizza and BLT (for anyone looking for an adventure). You can make all three versions or pick your favorite.
If you like, you can prep toppings at home and store them in travel containers. Shred the lettuce and dice some tomatoes (keep those separate in case they’re super juicy). You can also go ahead and wrap some of the hot dogs with bacon slices; then in a separate container, stash shredded mozzarella and miniature pepperoni. Once you arrive in camp, just pan-brown or grill the hot dogs, heat up some marinara sauce in a small pot over the fire (or camp stove), and set out all of the toppings for your hot dog bar.
Cast-iron skillet s’mores
For me, no camping trip is complete without a s’mores finale. Sure, the original handheld treat is delicious, but I like to take the idea to the next level with Campground Party S’mores. All you do is layer cinnamon-and-sugar graham crackers, two sizes of marshmallows, and milk chocolate in a cast-iron skillet. Then set the pan over low coals on the campfire or low heat on a camp stove, and drizzle with salted caramel sauce.
Everybody’s favorite part about s’mores is roasting the marshmallows over a fire, so I couldn’t omit that part from the recipe. You’ll top the pan of party s’mores with large marshmallows that you roast on skewers over a campfire or over a camp stove. Then scoop out the works onto little plates or cups and drizzle with extra caramel if you like.
Fair warning though, these s’mores are still messy, so be sure to pack lots of wet wipes to clean sticky hands!
More Father’s Day camping recipes
Looking for additional ideas for a Father’s Day camping trip? Thankfully, the Yummly recipe box has plenty of options. And try a couple of my no-recipe ideas:
• Mix up some boxed pancake batter the day before your trip and store it in a squeeze bottle. Make sure to leave a little room for the batter to rise — otherwise you may have a mess. I’ve found the batter is best after it has time to sit in the cooler, so all you have to do the next morning is squeeze it into the hot cast-iron skillet.
• Take a can of refrigerated cinnamon rolls, set them in a cast-iron skillet, and “bake” them (covered with aluminum foil) right over the fire.
This skillet dish is a great all-in-one meal. It’s a take on the British classic, but with breakfast flavors — kind-of like a giant pancake with sausage links. This one is cooked in that handy dandy cast-iron skillet, and the batter can be made ahead of time.
Breakfast potatoes are always a hit in camp. The great thing about this recipe is the veggies can be chopped up the day before. I like to serve them with fried eggs and bacon to round out the meal.
If you’re looking for something to serve with the hot dogs from the hot dog bar, I love these baked beans. The recipe calls for homemade ketchup, but store-bought should be fine. You’ll need that cast-iron skillet for these, so plan to make this recipe first once you arrive. Cover the skillet with foil to get that same effect you would if you made these in an oven, and keep a close eye on the beans as they cook — even placed over low, glowing embers they could cook faster than the 1 hour the method mentions. After everyone’s had their share and scraped the pan clean, you can give the skillet a quick rinse to be ready for your S’mores Nachos.
Aluminum foil is your friend for camping trips, and meals wrapped up in foil packets make for super-easy dinners with no-fuss cleanup. With only four ingredients, these Chicken Campfire Packs are the ultimate easy camping dinner and can be cooked right over the campfire.
Like the chicken campfire packs, these can be cooked right over the fire and provide something a little different. The recipe does include andouille sausage, which can sometimes be on the spicy side, so this recipe is best for family members who aren’t sensitive to heat.
Fajitas are so easy to prepare for a camping trip, and are always a hit. You can set up a fajita bar much like the hot dog bar with toppings you’ve prepped back at home. Everyone can build their own with the cast-iron skillet-sauteed chicken and vegetables topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and other favorite toppings.
If you’re looking for something totally unexpected, try this lasagna. This recipe requires a Dutch oven, so you’ll want to make sure you have room for that when packing, but the results are amazing, and perfect for when you crave a comforting pasta dish. Pack up a bagged salad mix with bottled dressing (or homemade, stored in a glass jar) so you can toss together a quick side.
Finally, if you’ve had your fill of s’mores one night, this apple crisp is the perfect ending to a busy day outdoors. Bring along some refrigerated whipped cream if you’d like, or see if the campground store sells vanilla ice cream. (Definitely worth the walk to get some, in my opinion). This dessert is made in my favorite pan: Yep, you guessed it— that cast-iron skillet.
More Father’s Day food ideas
Looking for other Father’s Day food ideas or camping inspiration? Check out the following: