One of the best parts of camping is the time spent in nature as a family. And, of course, time spent outside makes kids hungry! Those three meals a day (plus dessert and snacks, of course!) roll around with frightening regularity when you’re feeding hungry, active children on camping trips. But don’t worry! Camping food can be easy, fun, and delicious. And meals can involve the whole family (yes, even the kids). Today, Leslie Alvis, Ohio homeschooling mom of four, is here to share with you some of her family’s favorite camping foods and easy recipes you can make with your kids, adding even more fun and memories to your camping experience.

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Camping food ideas kids will love (beyond hot dogs)

Many people think that camping food for kids begins and ends with hot dogs. And although we consider a crispy hot dog cooked over an open fire a delicacy hard to beat, our family also has many other yummy campfire favorites. 

Pretty much anything can be cooked over a campfire, with the proper tools and a little patience! Frying homemade donuts, baking bread, cooking steaks—you name it, you can cook it over an open fire. If you think about it, you’d have a hard time coming up with a food that can’t be cooked outside or wouldn’t taste better over an open campfire! You can cook things in a skillet, on a grate, on a camp stove, or in a foil packet directly on your campfire. With so many ways to cook, it can be overwhelming even to know where to begin. 

Today, we’re focusing on easy camping meals and simple recipes that your kids will love helping with AND eating. The camping foods for kids below, include meals, snacks, and desserts. These recipes are our tried-and-true favorites and are destined to become the stuff of magical memories made by my kids over the campfire. I hope you’ll add a few of them to your camping menu on your next camping trip! Because the best camping food is made and enjoyed together, outside. 

open fire cooking

Cooking that involves the whole family

I’ve learned that if I try to do all the camping food on my own, I quickly start to feel stressed and overwhelemed. Everyone else is relaxing and enjoying themselves, while I’m busy trying to cook food over an open fire without burning it, balancing utensils on a nearby log, keeping things from falling in the dirt, and making sure no one gets burnt. Campfire cooking is a juggling act for sure.

But, one of the ways to make camping meals easier is to have help from the rest of the family! Many hands make light work, and if you include your whole family in the meal prep and cooking, it makes a huge difference.

Luckily, this doesn’t take a lot of prodding or begging for help on my part. Kids naturally love to help, and they love to try food that they’ve made themselves. Even if it’s a new food or one they don’t eat regularly, they’re much more likely to be excited about eating it if they’ve helped prepare it. It’s a win-win! 

kids eating hobo pies - best camping meals and foods for families

Safety first

Just like with any other kind of cooking, the most important thing is to make sure everyone is safe when you’re campfire cooking with kids. Make sure all your children understand the importance of being careful around a campfire and know what to do in case of an emergency. Remind them of some basic safety rules: no running near the fire, be careful of any hot pots or utensils, keep a respectful distance from the fire, and no waving the hot dog sticks in the air. (There are few sights more terrifying to me than several children waving flaming marshmallows on hot sticks around a campfire!)

It helps to have a strong visual boundary around your campfire, like a metal or rock fire ring. As adults, we have to remember that our kids are often unaware of potential dangers. Part of the beauty of cooking together is that you can teach them these things firsthand. Kids are more than capable of learning how to safely function around even potential dangers like a campfire.

kids campfire cooking

Basic equipment for camping food

When you’re gathering equipment to cook camping food and assemble your camp kitchen, you want to keep your supplies and equipment as simple as possible. Everything we’re sharing today can be made with three key items: (1) a hot dog stick, (2) a cast iron Dutch oven, and (3) a hobo pie iron. These three pieces of equipment have become our go-to campfire cookware. Let’s take just a minute to look at these three items and all the possibilities they represent.

open fire dutch oven cooking

Cast iron Dutch oven:

From bread to soup and everything in between, the Dutch oven is a camping food workhorse. Make sure to get one with a lid and a handle, if possible. You can hang it from a tripod over the fire, set it on top of a grate, or nestle it among the coals. With a dutch oven, you can cook biscuits, then bacon, then scrambled eggs for breakfast – all in one pot. You can simmer soup in it for lunch, and then cook our delicious kielbasa, beans, and red potatoes dish in it for supper.

A cast iron dutch oven really makes any kind of cooking possible over an open fire! I’m still working on consistently not burning the biscuits…but one day, I’d really like to master them and move on to bread!

campfire hobo pies

Hobo pie iron

Hobo pie irons are an incredibly fun way to cook camping food and make the perfect kid-friendly camping meal. They elevate any sandwich to an experience of crispy, melty goodness. They can also be used as mini skillets to reheat leftovers, cook hashbrowns, make pancakes, and much more.

If you have a large family, it’s nice to have a couple of pie irons in order to keep the hobo pies flowing. We currently just have one double pie iron for our family of six, and it makes for a slower meal experience, but it’s still doable. Sometimes our extended family makes hobo pies for large family gatherings, and it’s a bit of a hectic event, with multiple irons in the fire and assembly-line sandwich prep going on. But it’s always a ton of fun.

camping food

Hot dog stick

I feel like these go without saying. If you’re planning camping food, you’re going to want some sticks to roast hot dogs or marshmallows on at some point! They’re certainly the tool that’s easiest to improvise out in the wild. All you need are some straight sticks and a knife to sharpen a point at one end. A wooden skewer could work, but you’ll want something with a large handle that won’t burn. It’s nice to have these sturdy wood and metal ones that can balance your hot dogs better and cook multiple marshmallows at once.

toasting marshmallows

Other equipment for camping food

There are so many different ways to cook when you’re camping. We like to bring a foldable cooking grate when we’re camping because it makes it a lot easier to cook over a fire. Some campgrounds provide a fire ring with a grate built in, but not all of them. Foldable grates are fairly compact when folded up, lightweight enough to carry around easily, but reasonably tough and sturdy.

Some thick hot mats or cooking mitts are also important for camping food, especially when you’re handling cast iron or if you’re letting your children help with hot items. It’s nice if they’re extra-durable because cookware can get REALLY hot over a fire.

You want to be sure to pack some sturdy cooking utensils, preferably ones with long handles for cooking over a campfire. You don’t need a bunch, but I always bring some cooking tongs, a spatula, and a couple wooden stirring spoons.

Lastly, tin foil is great to have on hand when camping over an open fire. Foil-wrapped meals can be customized to suit all tastes and make great healthy meal options. You can make your own aluminum foil packs for quick and easy meals with zero clean-up! 

cooking camping food

Breakfast hack for camping mornings

There’s nothing quite like waking up in the morning to singing birds and the relaxing sounds of nature all around. Slow mornings camping are one of my favorite things. But, we all know that mornings with kids just don’t stay slow for long! It’s inevitable that someone is asking for breakfast before you’re even out of your sleeping bags. Suddenly that vision of peacefully sipping your coffee around the campfire evaporates, and you’re scrambling to assemble breakfast ingredients before the water is even hot enough for coffee.

So, before we even discuss breakfast, here’s my best morning camping hack: pack a bag with a variety of granola bars, protein bars, breakfast biscuits, etc. While you’re getting the fire going and making that coffee, let the kids grab a snack from the bag. Mom and Dad get a few minutes to enjoy their coffee, and no one starves before the bacon is cooked. You can thank me later for that one. 

campfire coffee

Breakfast over the campfire

I really believe that simple is best when you’re camping. At home, I typically make most of our food from scratch and emphasize healthy meals. But, that requires plenty of ingredients, time, and dishes. If you’re able to juggle that all on a camping trip, I commend you! But, in order to make our camping food easy and fun, I often rely on more pre-made foods when we’re camping for ease and convenience. 

For breakfast, one of our favorite meals is cinnamon rolls, sausage, and hash browns. These are all favorites for the kids to help with. (Other favorites include make-ahead breakfast burritos, but we’ll save that recipe for another day.) 

hobo pie iron hash browns

Campfire cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon rolls are a great camping food for kids. Refrigerated cinnamon rolls are a great way to experiment with Dutch oven baking over a campfire and are one of my favorite easy breakfast ideas. When we’re camping with limited prep space and trying to keep ingredients as simple as possible, pre-made cinnamon rolls straight from the can make everything soooo much easier! Let your kids open the package and separate the cinnamon rolls into a greased Dutch oven. Give them a little space to rise and allow some room in between them to flip them.

Put the lid on the dutch oven and set it over a hot section of slow-burning coals on a grate or a tripod. You don’t want these over open flames or they will burn very quickly! We’ve found that the best way to not burn them at first is to check the bottoms often. Of course, they bake better if you keep the lid on. But, if you aren’t confident with your fire’s temperature, just keep an eye on them. When they are golden brown on the bottom, use a spatula to flip each one over. Then watch the bottoms again. 

Learning to cook over the fire by trial and error

If your fire has a pretty nice spread of coals, they will probably take about the same amount to brown the second time. This whole process usually takes about 10-15 minutes. Every fire is different, and the kind of wood you are using affects how hot it is…which is why campfire cooking is such a trial-and-error thing.

Remove them from the fire and let your kids spread the icing on them (remember, cast iron holds heat for a long time, so you may want to set the cinnamon rolls on a plate first if you’re concerned about small hands brushing the hot pan) and enjoy! Even when we’ve burnt the bottoms a little, these little treats have been a huge hit around our campfire.

open fire sausages

Camping breakfast sausages and hash browns 

While the cinnamon rolls are cooking, pull out the hot dog sticks and the hobo pie irons. If your kids are old enough to handle a hot dog stick safely, let them cook their own sausage links just like a hot dog. This is such a fun activity for little people.

Pro tip: buy precooked sausages! This easy food takes all the fear out of making sure the sausages are cooked enough. All the kids have to do is get the sausage heated through. And they can munch on them as soon as they are cool enough to eat.

Meanwhile, separate the halves of the hobo pie iron and let the kids lay the hash browns on them. Lay these across a grate or prop them between rocks to use them as mini skillets to cook the hash browns. Once again, minimal prep and fuss involved! You can remove them from the fire and let an older child flip them once one side is browned.

Let everyone help with camping food

I’ve discovered that letting our kids help with simple tasks like these has really increased their confidence and ability to work safely around a campfire. They know things are hot and take care not to burn themselves. Each time they try, they are a little more capable of flipping things, handling things with hot pads, and working safely around a fire.

making hobo pies

Lunchtime around the campfire

Easy, adaptable, and delicious, hobo pies are our family’s favorite campfire meal! They require minimal cooking skills and very basic ingredients. Our favorites are sandwich hobo pies: the pizza sandwich (mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and pizza sauce), the classic sandwich (all varieties of lunch meat, cheese, and condiments), and the dessert sandwich (any flavor of canned pie filling, topped off with marshmallows).

Once the flavors get melted together in a sealed pie iron over a campfire, the taste is unforgettable! Making an entire meal of hobo pies is entirely acceptable. So is eating the dessert pies for breakfast. But, we usually round out hobo sandwiches into a healthy meal by adding fresh veggies and fresh fruit, like grapes or apples.

hobo pie making

Making hobo pies

Get your kids involved in the process of making hobo dinners and lunches by letting them help build their sandwiches. Set out the ingredients and let them create! Kids have so much fun layering on their chosen meats and cheeses for hot sandwiches or smearing a piece of bread with pie filling to create an amazing camp pie. Just remember to help them not fill their hobo pies TOO full (especially the fruit ones), or they will be hard to eat! 

making camping food

Cooking with pie irons with kids

After you assemble your sandwiches, cooking them is pretty simple. Preheat your pie iron over the fire, grease it lightly with butter or cooking spray, and then center your sandwich on the iron. Close the pie iron tightly and be sure to clip the little clasp on the handle closed, so the pie iron seals shut. We like to use a knife to trim off any bread crusts hanging off the edge before we start cooking them.

Then, cook the hobo pie until it is lightly browned on each side and the center is nicely melted. You have to pay attention to the heat of your fire to get it right—but it’s not hard. It works best to cook them slowly over a moderate fire or section of coals. When they’re finished, be sure to have a plate or clean surface ready to flip them on to (not styrofoam or plastic, because it will melt!) so they can cool before everyone dives in!

camping food

Snack time: kid-friendly trail mix

Whether you’re spending your day hiking, swimming, or just hanging around the campfire, the kids are sure to be ready for a snack before too long. Before you head out on your camping trip, have your kids help you put together this super easy, kid-approved trail mix to add to your stash of camping food! This is the easy way to make camping snacks ahead of time. 

My favorite part about trail mix is that it’s totally adaptable to your kids’ tastes and preferences. Even picky eaters can customize their trail mix to their exact likings. You can even just open your pantry cupboards and add whatever you find. The idea is to add enough nuts for protein, some dried fruit for nutrition, and some sweets, just for fun.

camping trail mix

Kids’ trail mix recipe:

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup honey-roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup M&M’s
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 2 cups Cheerios

Mix together and store in an airtight container, or divide into snack-size bags for individual portions to stash in backpacks.

kids trail mix

More kid-friendly camping snack ideas

  • Tortilla chips and salsa
  • Beef jerky
  • Granola bars
  • Fig cookies
  • Cheese, sausage, crackers
  • Fresh fruit
  • Pre-cut veggies
  • Mixed nuts

Camping supper idea: kielbasa, beans, and red potatoes

After a full day of outdoor adventures, everyone is always starving for dinner! Make-ahead meals and foil-pack meals are great for camping. But, my favorite camping supper is this one-pot meal because it’s so quick and easy to throw together, and then you can relax while it simmers over the campfire. In my opinion, it’s the perfect camping food. It requires a minimum of refrigerated ingredients and can feed large groups of people, which makes it perfect for camping, too. The yummy sausage-like meat is always a favorite of kids everywhere.

Memorable camping food

This was the meal I packed for our family’s first-ever camping trip, when our oldest was a toddler, so it’s a personal favorite. We were traveling home from somewhere and planning to stop over for a night in a campground in the Appalachian Mountains. I stashed a couple of cans of beans and a bag of potatoes in the back of the car somewhere and a package of kielbasa in our cooler. We arrived at our campsite in the middle of nowhere right at suppertime, with the ominous rumbling of thunder across the mountains. 

Somehow, in the midst of gathering firewood, building a fire, and trying to set up our borrowed tent, we also managed to chop the potatoes and meat and get this meal cooked over the campfire. We burrowed into our tent with our pot of kielbasa just as the storm broke loose. It was a long day and this meal hit the spot. It has remained a favorite meal for our family over the years, and one I often rely on when traveling or camping because it’s so easy. Sometimes a great camping meal will bring back memories and make you smile. 

Kielbasa, beans, and red potatoes recipe


  • 1 package (1 lb) Polish kielbasa
  • 6 large red potatoes (or feel free to swap out a few for sweet potatoes)
  • 2 cans of green beans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt, pepper, and seasoned salt (I use the Bearded Butchers Blend Original seasoning. It’s a local favorite, made right up the road from our home, but its great flavor and clean ingredients have made it popular everywhere!)


Mince garlic and saute in 1 T. butter or olive oil in a Dutch oven. Wash and cut potatoes into medium-sized cubes, then add to Dutch oven. Slice kielbasa and stir in. Add green beans and salt/pepper to taste. Saute for approximately 5 minutes, then add a cup of water and put the lid on the Dutch oven. Let simmer on the hot coals until the potatoes are tender. You want to make sure to keep just enough liquid in the pan to keep everything from sticking to the bottom, but not too much (this isn’t a soup). When it’s finished cooking, there shouldn’t be excess liquid in the pot.

dutch oven biscuits

Add some biscuits to any meal

Freshly cooked biscuits go perfectly with any good camping meal (and are sometimes the best part of the meal!). If you’re ambitious, you can make biscuits from scratch. Sometimes I mix my dry ingredients together before we leave to create my own “just add milk” biscuit mix. Other times, it’s WAY easier just to use canned biscuit dough! The good news is that both options taste great!

You can bake biscuits in the Dutch oven the same way you do the cinnamon rolls—check them often and flip them when the bottoms are browned. If you only have one Dutch oven, it’s a good idea (and probably easiest) to bake the biscuits before you do the Kielbasa, Beans, and Red Potatoes. Just wrap them in a towel to keep them warm until supper is ready…if they last that long!

smores buffet

Camping dessert: s’mores buffet

Let’s be honest – you just can’t beat s’mores for a favorite campfire dessert for every age! S’mores are the classic camping food for kids. This easy crowd-pleaser is the quintessential campfire dessert. But, in case you’ve gotten a little tired of the classic version, or if you’re just looking for an extra-fun variation, try a s’mores buffet!

Mix and match to try all kinds of new flavor combinations, and be sure to add your own favorites, too!

The base:

  • Classic graham crackers
  • Chocolate graham crackers
  • Round chocolate cookies
  • Round mint chocolate cookies
  • Oreos
  • Fudge stripe cookies

The middle:

  • Basic marshmallows
  • Square marshmallows
  • Flavored marshmallows

The toppings:

  • Milk chocolate bars
  • Reese’s Thins
  • Peanut butter
  • Sprinkles
  • Mini chocolate chips

kids cooking smores

Mom hacks for s’more fun

  • Set all your ingredients out on a tray, so they’re easy to access! Every parent knows how quickly s’more-making gets out of control once the marshmallows start melting.
  • Even if your kids can toast their own marshmallows, keep at least one adult with both hands-free until all the kids’ smores are made. That way, someone is available to help when a kid’s marshmallow is slipping off their stick or catches on fire.
  • Always have a wet cloth or a bucket of warm soapy water handy before you start making smores with kids! It makes all the stickiness just So. Much. Easier.
  • Don’t give in to the temptation to buy the giant “campfire” marshmallows. I know they look amazing and fun. But they’re just too big to fit into a s’more, and the mess that ensues is EPIC. Ask me how I know…
  • If you want to make s’more even more fun, put your marshmallow and toppings inside ice cream cones, wrap them in foil, and cook slowly over the campfire for a warm, melty delicious treat. Great option for little kids that aren’t ready to cook over the fire on their own. 

kids eating smores

Camping meals made simple

And there you have it! One full day of fun, easy campfire meals that you can make with your kids and that they will love! Some of our family’s best camping memories are centered around simple meals like these and the time spent cooking them together. I hope your family will enjoy them as much as we do!

What’s your family’s favorite camping food?

About the author

Leslie is an Ohio farm girl and chaser of light, children, and sometimes chickens. She’s a lover of Jesus, wife to her high school sweetheart, and a homeschooling mom of four wild rascals who love the great outdoors as much as she does. As a family, they love hiking, camping, fishing, and just about any outdoor activity. She and her husband are just beginning the process of building a homestead from the ground up, doing most of the work themselves. Leslie has a lifelong obsession with writing and capturing everyday life from behind the lens. Follow along with their homesteading, homeschooling, and everyday adventures on her Instagram account.

You can find more from Leslie in the following locations:
Instagram: @c_l_allofus
Leslie’s RWMC posts: Leslie Alvis