It’s pretty much summer. And it’s almost Memorial Day. Meaning, we’re about to get a nice, long weekend. So a camping trip is likely to be on the horizon for plenty of Americans. Going on a hike, finding that perfect spot to make camp, and lighting a campfire under the stars is a connection with the natural world we all need at least a few times a year. And once your fire is roaring, mug of whiskey in hand, it’s time to cook some food.
Cooking over a campfire has its advantages and drawbacks. You don’t have access to a full kitchen with sinks and appliances, so you have to use that to your advantage to pare things down and dial in recipes. Go simple, picking hearty flavors that stand on their own without a lot of fuss. You need items that require nothing more than a knife, some hot coals, and a pan.
So which delicacies should you be schlepping into the wilderness over the weekend? We decided to find out what foods the masses choose for the perfect camping trip. After thousands of votes, a top ten emerged on Ranker.
10. Baked Potato
This is a very solid choice. First and foremost, baking a potato in a campfire is a breeze. Simply wrap up a spud in foil and place it around the fire in the coals and ash. Wait a couple of hours and you’ve got a nice smoky, baked potato to nourish you. It’s filling and completely customizable.
9. Beef Jerky
A pack of beef jerky feels like a good fail-safe to have on hand. It’s a great snack full of protein that’ll keep you going while you hike in. It works well as a light-weight filler in case dinner or lunch goes awry. Maybe you burnt the beans or weren’t able to snag a fish from the stream? Well, there’s always plenty of beer jerky to tide you over.
This is an easy “yes.” Sausages are simple to grill over a flame either in a skillet, on a makeshift grill. You can even throw them on a stick in a pinch. Bake some potatoes, slice the fire-roasted sausage over top, and tuck in.
If there was ever a time to eat fatty, smoky bacon for breakfast, it’s when you’re about to spend a day hiking in the backcountry. You will work those calories off and your body will thank you for the fat. So, consider indulging in a double order during your breakie throw in a couple of eggs on the side.
6. Trail Mix
Trail mix is another fail-safe. The mix of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate, and, hopefully, peanut M&M’s, gives you a nice fuel boost to keep you going during the day. It also makes for a nice snack if you’re gathered around the campfire passing around a bottle of whiskey while the flames dance their dance into the dark night.
This doesn’t feel super camp-ish. But, hey, a pack full of sandwiches is a good go-to. You never don’t want a sandwich. It’s an easy out if you’re not into cooking a full meal over the campfire (and that’s okay) — perhaps you’re the one who brought a guitar. We all have our skills. Either by making a stack at home or stopping by a deli to stock up, a sandwich will always get the job done when you need a quick calorie boost.
The great thing about a campfire burger is its simplicity. Campfire “chefs” are more apt to keep things down to basics: Fire-toasted bun, campfire grilled patty, maybe a little sauce (ketchup, mayo, mustard), and cheese. Sure, you can haul heads of lettuce and bunches of tomatoes and onions out into the woods with cutting boards and kitchen knives. But for our money, a simple burger in the wilds is the best. Bring good quality meat and really, that’s all you need.
3. Grilled Corn
Corn, like baked potatoes above, is a breeze to cook over a flame. If the corn is still in the husk, simply put it into the ash and coals next to the potatoes. As the water evaporates from the corn, it’ll steam the kernels inside the husk. If you have a grill, pop them on there and baste with plenty of salty butter. Maybe use some of the mayo and cheese from your burgers to make some elote street corn. Mmmmm.
Are s’mores really that good? They feel like a mess to eat. Yet, here they are in the number two seed position. The combination of Graham cracker, chocolate bar, and campfire-roasted marshmallow is a sugar rush with a sticky creaminess. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, this may all be a bit much. Or, maybe it’s the perfect end to a campfire meal.
1. Hot Dog
Could the number one food to make while camping have been anything but the hot dog? No. The hot dog is a damn near perfect camping food. Again, it’s versatile. You can grill them, sear them in a skillet, or roast them on a stick (meaning you don’t need any kitchen equipment). Warm some buns next to the fire, squeeze on some condiments, and enjoy your night. Just make sure you bring in enough. Hungry campers are always going to want more than one.