Coloradans are lucky to live in a state of splendor, adventure and a wealth of natural resources. The mountains, deserts and beyond are constantly calling, prompting camping excursions that make the heart flutter. And while the natural beauty and serenity of a camping trip are rewarding enough, elevating the experience with satisfying campfire eats will make it even more unforgettable.
While some of us are seasoned camp cooks—well-equipped with the latest outdoor cooking gadgets and a collection of tried-and-true recipes—others are experiencing the delights of preparing a meal over a campfire for the first time. Regardless of how often you camp, one fact holds true: There’s something special about a well-made, flavorful meal enjoyed in the Colorado wilderness. The following recipes, and tips from expert Colorado chefs who also adore the outdoors, combined with local, seasonal ingredients will ensure your next camp-site feast will be your most memorable and savory one yet.
Simple Grilled Veggies
This simple, quick recipe will serve as a full meal for one or two veggie-loving campers or a colorful side for four to five. Whether you’re plucking a few vegetables from your own garden or shopping for them locally, make sure they are good quality. Pre-washed and pre-cut them before you leave home. Toss all the vegetables and seasonings together in a large storage bag to save time and space. Bonus: Because they are pre-washed, you won’t use any of your camp drinking water. This recipe is based on seasonal summer vegetables that taste great roasted over an open fire, but feel free to use any of your favorites!
Savory Campfire Steak
Crafting a deliciously filling meal while camping doesn’t need to be complicated; sometimes the tastiest dishes are the simplest. Case in point: a perfectly seared steak. A choice cut, a pinch of seasoning and a little TLC will delight everyone on your trip. (Just keep the un-cooked steak in a sealed container up high, away from hungry bears!)
Palisade Peach Skillet Cobbler
Nothing says “Colorado summer” more than fresh peaches. Better yet: warm, sliced, Palisade peaches prepared as a cast-iron skillet cobbler. This easy dessert will take you from basic toasted marshmallows to a meal-ending sweet fit for royalty. Be sure to stock up on local peaches (apples and seasonal berries work, too!) and have them pre-washed and sliced prior to your trip to keep your outdoor preparation to a minimum.
- Executive Chef Sarah Cloyd of Steuben’s Arvada:
Get into foraging. There are tons of wild herbs in the mountains free of charge if you know what to pick. Mint, peppermint, bergamot, and dandelion are easy to use and pretty common. Wild onions, garlic, and amaranth are also a treat when you happen upon them. I stress the importance of being 100% sure of your identification before eating anything you forage.
Pack some of your favorite wood chips, presoaked, so you don’t use your drinking water. Even your hot dogs will taste better.
You can cook on a grate above the fire, or directly in the embers. If you’re willing, learn to cook directly in the smoldering embers—some of the best roasted veggies happen here.
- Chef Bill Espiricueta of Smōk:
Cook the steak on a cast iron pan (if car camping). It’s the best way!
When you are cooking, rig up a couple big rocks in the fire to cook on. The rocks get super hot, and you can put your pan right on them to cook.
Keep it simple: more complicated doesn’t mean more taste. The steak is super simple: you just season it and grill it quickly and easily over the fire.