Camping Gluten Free and Dairy Free – Foil Dinners

by angelaskitchen on July 25, 2012

It is time for another installment of the Camping Gluten Free series from Becca of Going Free and myself about camping food cooked up gluten and diary free!  This week it is my turn to share about foil dinners.

Foil dinners are a classic camping staple.  Wrap some food up in foil, toss it on the fire, then eat a delicious meal, how hard can it be?  BUT you can end up with undercooked potatoes or a burnt meal which is no fun in the woods.  There are a few things you can do to minimize any problems with your meals:

  • Use heavy duty foil and double up.  Yes, it is a lot of foil, but you don’t want any ashes migrating to your chicken or any delicious juices from your dinner leaking onto the fire.
  • Don’t want foil touching your food?  No problem!  Simply place a piece of baking parchment on the foil, add your food, the wrap the parchment around your food before sealing the foil.  Easy-peasy!
  • When placing your food on the foil, you will usually place the meat on the bottom as it takes the longest to cook.
  • Par-cook any potatoes (unless very thinly sliced) you are adding to the packet.
  • Cook your foil packet over a hot bed of coals, preferably on a grate, NOT in the fire itself.  If placing foil packet directly on the coals, you want a bed of coals about 2″ thick.  I often need to cook over fire, but use a grate and wait for the fire to die back a bit from the initial giant flames, placing the packets on the grate over the areas of the the most red-hot coals and lower flames.  Flames should not be surrounding the packets.
  • When cooking meat, be sure to include some high-moisture veggies like tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, summer squash, etc.  This keeps the meat from drying out.
  • Cooking times depend on how hot the fire is and the kind of food in the packet.  I generally err on cooking longer, starting at 15 minutes on the first side, then 10 on the other before I open the packet to see how the food is cooking.
  • When opening the packet, BE CAREFUL!  Don’t let small children open the packets by themselves as the packets are full of HOT steam.  Ouch!
  • Whenever possible, pre-assemble you packets at home.  (However, do not pre-assemble packets with eggs.)  This is so nice for clean up.  After sealing the packets, place in gallon sized-freezer bags with the contents labeled on the bag.  You can also assemble and freeze the packets ahead of time (however, do not freeze packets with potatoes or eggs).  If we are gone for a long weekend trip, I will have the packets for a couple days in frozen and in a bag before adding to the cooler.  This helps keep the cooler cold, and the meat in the packets from getting to an unsafe temp.

Making your foil packs:  Properly constructing your foil packets ensures cooking success.  I generally make a flat pack for even cooking and browning.  To make a foil pack tear off 2 sheets of heavy duty foil twice as long as your estimated finished packet (it is better to overestimate the length of foil needed then to start wrapping your food and find you are coming up short).  Layer the foil pieces then place the food on the center of the foil.  Bring the ends of the foil together over the food and start folding down until the folded foil is flat next to the food on the top center of the packet.  Flatten out the ends o the packets, if needed and fold those in until they meet the edge of your food.  Press down on the seams ensuring a tight seal to minimize leaks.
What to put in your foil packets?  I bet you want some ideas of what to put into the packets!  LOL!  Below is a collection of meals we make.  Some don’t have very specific amounts, because it is camp cooking and I toss in what we feel like.  🙂
Hash-Brown, Sausage and Egg Foil Packet
one small potato per person
2 gluten free sausage links per person (I usually use turkey, but any is fine)
1 egg per person
salt & pepper
Grate potatoes.  Drizzle a bit of oil on potatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Toss grated potatoes to coat.  Place potatoes on the foil.  Push into a flat square with the edges slightly raised to keep the egg in.  Put one sausage on each end of the potatoes.  Crack open an egg and place onto of the potatoes.  Close the foil.  Place over hot coals and cook for about 15-20 minutes.
Chicken Fajitas Packet
1 boneless skinless chicken breast per person or 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
2-3 tablespoons gluten free salsa (as hot as you like it) per person
1/4 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips per person
1/4 medium green bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips per person
1/4 medium to small onion cut into strips per person
Pound the chicken to flatten (flattening will help the chicken cook more evenly and quickly) then place in center of foil.  Top chicken evenly with salsa.  Top salsa evenly with peppers and onion.  Seal packet.  Cook over hot coals for about 30 minutes.
Hamburger and Potatoes Packet
1/4 pound ground beef per person
1/2 small potato, thinly sliced per person
one slice  of onion per person (cut the onion into rings and use a whole slice that isn’t broken apart)
salt and pepper to taste
Shape ground beef into a patty and place in the center of the foil and season with salt and pepper.  Place potatoes on top of the patty (overlapping slightly) then put the onion on top.  Seal packet.  Cook over hot coals for 25-30 minutes.
Ranch Chicken “Casserole”
1 boneless skinless chicken breast per person or 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup cooked rice per person
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms per person
1/2 to 3/4 cup brocoli florets or chopped summer squash per person
3-4 tablespoons dairy free ranch dressing or dip per person
salt and pepper to taste
Pound the chicken to flatten (flattening will help the chicken cook more evenly and quickly).  Top chicken with cooked rice in an even layer.  Mix together the mushrooms, broccoli and dairy free ranch dressing.  Place broccoli mixture evenly on top of rice.  Seal packet.  Cook over hot coals for about 30 minutes.
Pizza Chicken
1 boneless skinless chicken breast per person or 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 tablespoons gluten and dairy free pizza or spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup chopped zucchini
1-2 tablespoon gluten and dairy free cheese substitute of choice, optional
Pound the chicken to flatten (flattening will help the chicken cook more evenly and quickly) then place in the center of the foil.  Top chicken evenly with pizza sauce and zucchini then sprinkle with cheese substitute if using.  Seal packet.  Place over hot coals and cook for about 30 minutes.
“Hobo meals” – from Girl Scout Camp and Laurentian trips
1/4 pound ground meat or cubed stew meat per person
1/4 cup cubed par-cooked potatoes or sweet potatoes per person
1/4 cup cubed par-cooked carrots per person
1/4 cup cubed other veggies of choice (peppers, summer or winter squash etc.) per person
salt and pepper to taste
I also like thyme, rosemary and garlic in this
In the center of the foil, break up the meat into equal sized chunks.  Season with salt and pepper (and thyme etc, if you have it). Top with veggies and season again if needed.  Seal packet, keeping everything in an even layer.  Cook over hot coals 25-30 minutes.
1 banana with peel still on per person
1-2 tablespoons mini marshmallows per person
1-2 tablespoons gluten and dairy free chocolate chips per person
Lay out your double layer of foil.  Cut the long way into a banana (with peel still on!!) almost, but not completely through.  Stuff with chocolate and mini marshmallows.  Fold foil around your creation, sealing well.  We fold and crimp the edges.  Put on grate over fire.  Roast for a few minutes, then flip.  After a couple of more minutes, carefully remove foil packet from fire and check if marshmallows and chocolate are melted and banana cooked.  If they are, scoop the resulting yummy-ness out with a spoon and eat!
And for another really cool dessert to make while camping, check out Becca’s Gluten Free Dairy Free Orange Brownies.  What an awesome idea!  I think you could make muffins in the morning like this also.  So fun!  Thanks, Becca!

Need other camping food or camp food ideas?  I have more here.

Do you backpack, car camp or head to a camp-type facility with a kitchen?  What are your favorite camping foods?

Camping Gluten Free – Gluten Free/Dairy Free

Camping never tasted so good!

Pie Iron Cooking with recipes at Going Free

Fire Grilled Pizza, Shortcut S’mores & S’more Kits at Angela’s Kitchen

Dutch Oven Cooking with recipes at Going Free

Foil Dinners with recipes at Angela’s Kitchen

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

What was I cooking…

A year ago:  Taco Corn Fritters

Two years ago:  We now return you to your regular scheduled program…

Three years ago:  No menu plan Monday today, just the 3-day walk training schedule

Four years ago: WCCO story on the gluten and dairy free diet.

Five years ago: Girl Scout Camp 2007

Six years ago:   GFCF Girl Scout Fun!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

KarolS July 27, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Fantastic ideas!! I LOVE that you give so many different recipes!


Naomi July 8, 2013 at 9:05 pm

These are great! I was wondering, do you have any tips on converting this for the oven? I’m not much of a camper but I love foil dinners because they are so easily customizable, but I always end up having to cook them for at least 45 minutes in the oven, even on 400. I would love to do more if I could cut the cooking time down. Thanks!


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