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Campfire Cooking with a Dutch Oven - Cast Iron Camping Recipes

Campfire Cooking and the Lodge Logic Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Campfire cooking with a cast iron Dutch oven is a tradition that every campfire cook understands. From early pioneer and chuckwagon cooking, to the modern Boy Scouts of today, campfire cooking recipes almost always involve a Dutch oven. Good seasoned cast iron cookware sets can be campfire tools for survival or "badges of rank" for a .seasoned campfire cook.

For many outdoor campers, a heavy cast iron camping cookware evokes visions of early Americana, cowboys and chuckwagons, and sitting around a campfire cooking their favorite Dutch oven cobbler, or maybe a slo-cooked pot roast. Most outdoor campers have their own favorite camping uses and campfire recipes for their Dutch ovens.

The durability and versatility of the Lodge Logic cast iron Dutch oven make it one the most basic and useful camping tools a campfire cook can own.

Anatomy of a Dutch Oven


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A note about quality vs. price

Why buy Lodge cast iron products instead of a cheaper competitor? Dependable quality! 112 years in business, recognized as the industry standard.

If you want the quality of a Buck knife, would you buy a cheap look-alike from the dollar store?

You don't buy cast iron cookware for one use. You buy it for a lifetime.

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The Lodge 8 qt. Cast Iron Dutch Oven

The Lodge 8 qt. Cast Iron Dutch Oven

There are variations of Dutch ovens that have evolved as their uses changed with the times, from campfires to stove tops, and from campfire cooks to kitchen cooks. You can find Dutch ovens with smooth round tops and no legs, (blasphemy!), and even enameled cast iron cookware in bright colors, but for us, with our outdoor and chuckwagon cooking, we’re going to stick to describing the traditional cast iron camp Dutch oven. Cooking with a campfire is an art, and a good Dutch oven cobbler from a heavy cast iron camp Dutch oven is all the proof you need.

A traditional Dutch oven:

  • Is black and made of heavy cast iron
  • Has 3 stubby legs for use over campfire coals
  • Has a rimmed top for holding wood coals
  • Has a strong metal bail attached to the bottom “cast iron pot”


The Lodge Logic 10 qt. Cast Iron Dutch Oven

There are two important aspects of a quality cast iron Dutch oven, uniform wall thickness of the cast metal, and a secure tight-fitting seal between the lid and the pot. If either of these are sub-standard you get a poor final product. It is because of their manufacturing process that Lodge has become the “brand of choice” among campers world-wide.

The Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned 10 - Qt Cast Iron Dutch Oven with Iron Lid, a 14" dia., and 5" depth, is the standard camping Dutch oven used by most outdoor enthusiasts, and the Boy Scouts of America. It has all the features you want in a good camping Dutch oven; a tight lid to pot seal, sturdy stub legs for support, a rimmed top to hold the wood coals, and a strong and secure bail handle attached to the cast "ears" of the pot. With the 10 qt. model you can make a main dish recipe for 8 to 20 people and a side dish for up to 25 - 35 people.

Comes with a Life-Time Guarantee from Lodge Manufacturing.

(ps. this is the model we use for all our Boy Scout Troop camp-outs)

Located in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, the Lodge Manufacturing brand is the recommended cast iron cookware of campfire cooks worldwide. Lodge has perfected the sand casting process used to make the same Dutch ovens that were once imported from Europe 300 years ago and sold to American colonists.

The video below is a little "dry" in places, but it does show the manufacturing process at Lodge.

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A Note About Amazon

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The Lodge Logic manufacturing process

Campfire Cooking with a Dutch Oven

Methods of campfire cooking with a Dutch oven may have many variations, but there are really only two ways to do it, over the flames, or with the coals in a campfire ring. Campfire cooking recipes that are cooked over the flames can usually also be cooked using the coals, but it doesn’t work the other way around. Recipes and foods that are cooked using the coals are typically baked or slow-cooked preparations and won’t work the same if you try to cook them using the campfire flames. You just don’t get the oven effect of the Dutch oven with open flames.


Dutch oven cooking with a tri-pod

Dutch oven cooking with a tri-pod

Dutch oven cooking on campfire flames

Dutch oven cooking on campfire flames

Dutch oven cooking with a "keyhole" campfire layout

Dutch oven cooking with a "keyhole" campfire layout

Over-the-flames cooking – for cooking and heating foods

Using your Dutch oven to cook over or in the flames is just like cooking something on the burners of your stove. You are using the campfire to heat your food until it is cooked or hot. This method is as simple as just setting your Dutch oven directly on the campfire, on a cast iron grill, or hanging it over the fire with a tripod. (pictured on right). You see this method a lot in chuckwagon cooking scenes in old Western movies. Other than just keeping a good fire going, there are no special techniques involved.Just keep campfire safety in mind when working over flames.

Hot Coals cooking – for slower cooking and baking foods Cooking with the coals, on the other hand, does require a little more thought, especially about how to layout your campfire. The most efficient method is to make a “keyhole” campfire. The layout looks just like its name, a keyhole, the main fire is a big circle, or campfire ring, with a smaller area of just coals pulled out from one edge of the circle forming the keyhole look.

Season your Pre - Seasoned Cast Iron Cookware

Just a short note about seasoning your pre - seasoned cast iron cookware sets. One of the benefits of the Lodge Logic cast iron cookware is that it is Pre-Seasoned at the factory, which means you can use it to cook right out-of-the-box. But like aficionados of anything will tell you, it's just not the same until you do it yourself. Let's take a look at seasoning your cast iron cookware so YOU know it's been done right.

Basic steps to season your cookware:

  1. remove all labels and wash with warm water and mild dish soap*
  2. heat your item until it is warm to the touch, but not too hot to handle
  3. smear all surfaces with Crisco or lard, (or vegetable oil, if you must)
  4. place in 300 degree oven, upside down, for one hour **
  5. remove from oven, wipe off any excess oils, store with paper towel or cloth between lid and pot (for airflow)

* after seasoning, never clean with soap again

** turn on your vent fan, things will get smokey

Below is a video demonstration.


How to Season Cast Iron Cookware Video

Campfire Dutch oven main courses

Campfire Dutch oven main courses

Dutch oven campfire meals

Dutch oven campfire meals

Campfire Cooking – Old Favorite Outdoor Dutch Oven recipes

Cooking with an outdoor Dutch oven is so easy that anybody can do it. From breakfast to dinner, main course to desert, or breads and pies, you can do it all with a cast iron Dutch oven. But like anything else, to do it well requires a few tips and tricks. Good Dutch oven campfire recipes are sometimes guarded like state secrets. Everybody has their favorites, and it seems like everybody is also publishing books or articles about Dutch oven recipes.

I’m going to give you my favorite Boy Scout campfire desert, for the rest you’re on your own to Google to your heart’s desire

This old-time favorite was a “required-dish” on our Boy Scout camp-outs:

The Devil’s Cherry Cobbler – a 1-step, 1-pot desert

Ingredients:

  • 2 - boxes Devils Food cake mix
  • 3 - 22oz cans cherry pie filling
  • 1 – 20oz bottle Dr. Pepper
  • 1 - stick butter


Preparation:

  1. Open Dr. Pepper several hours early so carbonation fizzes out, you don’t need it.
  2. pour cans of cherry pie filling into Dutch Oven
  3. pour approx. ½ bottle Dr. Pepper over cherries
  4. drink ½ bottle Dr. Pepper, it’s not needed for recipe
  5. pour dry cake mix over contents of Dutch oven
  6. DO NOT STIR MIXTURE!
  7. slice butter stick into patty pieces and lay around on top of dry cake mix
  8. Place on medium bed of hot coals and cover lid with layer of hot coals

Cook time:

Approx. 40 minutes, after 20 min. rotate lid ¼ turn one way, and rotate pot ¼ turn other way.

After 40 minutes test with clean twig*. If it comes out dry, it’s done. *(must use a twig to test, otherwise it’s not a campfire recipe)

The end result will be a delicious true campfire cobbler that will serve approx. 15 people. And I bet most of them will be asking for seconds.

Print this recipe:    Microsoft Word doc   or   PDF

That was an extreme example of an easy campfire recipe. You can also cook examples from the other end of the spectrum, perhaps a Crown Roast of Pork with Rosemary Baby Red Potatoes, and in the middle you will find recipes for things like campfire Pizza, and Chili Cornbread Pie. As you can see, the range of a cast iron Dutch oven of is only limited by the creativity of the camp cook using it. If you are good enough, they may even sing a campfire song about you. If not maybe it will be a scary campfire story. And to be sure you don't forget anything you need - check out these camp meal planning tips and checklists.

Campfire leather gloves

Dutch oven Lid hook

Lodge Camp Dutch Oven Tripod

Lodge Camp Dutch Oven Tote Bag

Campfire Tools and Dutch Oven Accessories

There are only a few accessories you would need for Dutch oven cooking, but at least one accessory that is a must-have, is a pair of very heavy-duty loose fitting leather gloves. Heavy-duty because a cast iron Dutch oven can transfer a lot of heat, it's not like handling normal kitchen cookware, your usual kitchen hot-pad won’t help much. And loose because when the heat does start coming through, you want to be able to get the gloves off quickly and easily. This is experience telling you this; campfire cooking using cast iron and hot coals is nothing like what you work with in a kitchen. This is an important part of campfire safety.

Dutch Oven Iron Lid Hook

A couple “nice-to-have” accessories would be an iron lid hook and a campfire tripod. A good campfire cook can do without these by improvising with what nature offers. Some knarly camp veterans might even scoff at a “store-bought” lid hook or tripod. (but they will use them if available)

A nice Lid Hook can be one of your multi-purpose campfire tools you'll use all around the campfire. besides the obvious purpose of lifting the lid of a hot Dutch oven safely, it can also be used to stir the contents of the pot, (it's not real camp cooking without a few pieces of ash or leaf in the recipe), or stir the campfire coals. And if your gloves aren't handy, you can use it to lift the entire Dutch oven from the fire or coals.

Heavy-Duty Campfire Tripod

The campfire tripod is also a really handy piece of camp equipment to have, It is one of those items that, maybe you could do without, but having one really makes your camp cooking a whole lot easier. Now don't think "high-tech" with telescoping legs, or light-weight construction, you want a durable and dependable workhorse, solid metal and secure joinings. A hot Dutch oven full of steaming ingredients, crashing into a flaming campfire can be a very dangerous situation. Stick with strength here, Lodge has a good tripod made from 1/2 inch bar steel and galvanized chain.