3 super easy winter camping cooking meals to try

by | Nov 20, 2022 | Food

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Winter is a great time to go camping. No, seriously!

It’s never too cold to go camping, and we’ve been known to venture out in extreme cold in the middle of February.

But what to eat? And how?

Roasting a sausage on a stick just doesn’t quite have the same appeal to it in the wintertime.

But with a few winter camping cooking hacks, you can make your winter meals just as enjoyable as in the summer—if not more!

Here’s what we recommend.

Winter camping foods to favour

When you’re planning to cook while winter camping, you want to strike a good balance between the effort you need to put into your meals and the satisfaction you’ll get from them.

Hearty soups, stews, and chilis

Soup in a pot cooking over hot coals in a campfire.

These dishes will fill you up while also keeping you warm in the cold winter months.

It’s easy enough to throw all your ingredients in a pot and let it simmer over the campfire until your meal is ready.

Seasonal veggies

Winter vegetables.

Think squash, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, and rutabagas.

You can roast them over the fire or cook them into a winter stew for added depth of flavour.

They’re also great when paired with winter meats like venison or elk.

Warming herbs and spices

Warming herbs and spices for winter to cook with.

Nothing says winter like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, black pepper, horseradish, and cardamom.

Throw a teaspoon or two of these spices into your winter soups and stews for an extra-warming touch.

If you’re looking for something more savoury, herbs like oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and basil can do the trick.

Healthy fats

Foods high in healthy fats.

Foods rich in healthy fats like cheese, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil, eggs, and cold water fish will digest slower and help keep you warm from winter’s chill.

Make a chowder with fresh caught fish (if you’re ice fishing), sprinkle some shredded mozerella over your roasted winter veggies, or add a dollop of natural peanut butter to your oatmeal in the morning.

When choosing dairy products like cheese, milk, cream, and Greek yogurt, go for whole or full-fat options.

Fresh baked breads

Fresh baked bread in a Dutch oven.

Bread is the perfect addition to hearty wintertime meals and serve as a quick source of carbohydrates for extra energy.

Try baking a no-knead artisan loaf over the campfire in a Dutch oven and serve it with winter stews or soups for a comforting winter dinner.

Other baked goods

A close-up of a glazed cinnamon bun.

A winter camping trip is a great excuse to enjoy muffins, pies, pancakes, French toast, cinnamon buns, and scones.

The best part is you can prepare the batter at home and just mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients on site.

Next step: Get yourself a camping cast iron Dutch oven to cook with

A cast iron Dutch oven.

A Dutch oven is basically a large, heavy pot with a lid.

It’s perfect for winter camping cooking because it’s built for retaining and distributing heat (literally like an oven).

This is especially the case if you choose one made of cast iron—the material is a great conductor and will make winter cooking much easier.

The other benefit of using a Dutch oven is that you can place hot coals on top of the lid to help distribute the heat and cook your food more evenly.

We have a very specific camping Dutch oven from Lodge, which we love.

It’s a 5-quart deep Dutch oven and like all of Lodge’s cast iron products, it comes pre-seasoned so it’s ready to be used right away.

The lid is also inverted, which makes it easy to stack hot coals on it without having them slide off.

The two biggest downsides to using a cast iron Dutch oven is that it’s really heavy and if it isn’t dried properly after getting wet, it will rust.

Other than that, it’s a must-have for winter campers hoping to enjoy great food while out in the snowy wilderness.

Cooking over a campfire with a Dutch oven

A Dutch oven in a fire pit with coals on top of the lid.

If you plan on using your Dutch oven over an open campfire, you’ll want to make sure the heat is evenly distributed.

You’ll need to:

  1. Make sure your fire pit is well built—ideally with a wall of rocks on the sides and back to help protect the fire from the wind and direct the heat towards the Dutch oven.
  2. Start your fire early—as early as 2 to 3 hours before you plan on cooking. (Generally, the bigger your fire, the earlier you should start it.)
  3. Keep feeding the fire until you get a thick and even bed of coals.
  4. Rake the coals using a stick or a fire poker and make sure they’re even, then rake them into a mound where you plan to put your Dutch oven.
  5. Place your Dutch oven over the coals and then using your winter shovel or fire pit shovel, scoop some more coals on top of the lid.
  6. Adjust your coals as necessary and rotate your Dutch oven every 15 minutes using fireproof work gloves to ensure that everything is cooking evenly.
  7. Keep your coals burning hot by raking them over to one side first before adding more fuel to the fire.

Dutch oven cooking: 3 cold weather camping recipes try first

If you’re just starting out with winter camping and maybe even Dutch oven cooking in general, you’re going to want something easy to cook before you get into any recipes that are more elaborate.

We recommend starting with some simple wintertime favourites like:

Beef and vegetable stew recipe

Beef and vegetable stew in a Dutch oven.


  • 2lbs beef chuck, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

At-home prep:

  1. Cube the beef and marinate overnight in the Worcestershire sauce.
  2. Pre-chop some or all veggies and store them in resealable bags in the refrigerator.
  3. Optionally freeze the beef cubes overnight to let thaw while on your way to camp.

On-site cooking instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add the beef, onion, carrots, bell pepper, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.
  2. Cook until vegetables are soft and beef is browned.
  3. Add in the beef broth and diced tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour.
  4. Serve with some crusty bread for a winter camping meal that will warm your soul!

Whole roasted rosemary chicken with vegetables recipe

A whole roasted chicken with vegetables in a Dutch oven.


  • 1 whole roasting chicken (around 4 lbs)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 potatoes, quartered
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, diced

At-home prep:

  1. Mix together the oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  2. Rub this mixture all over the chicken before wrapping it in plastic wrap and storing in your cooler.
  3. Pre-chop some or all of the vegetables and store them in resealable bags in the refrigerator.

On-site cooking instructions:

  1. Pour the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add the potatoes, carrots and onions.
  2. Lay the chicken on top of the vegetables, cover with lid and bake over a bed of hot coals or on top of your wood stove with coals also placed on top of the lid.
  3. Bake for about 1½ hours or until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 165°F.
  4. Serve with an optional side salad for an easy winter camping meal that’s sure to be a hit!

Three-bean winter chili recipe

Chili in a Dutch oven over a campfire.


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14oz)
  • 1 bag elbow macaroni (16oz)

At-home prep:

  1. Pre-chop the onion and garlic and store them in resealable bags in the refrigerator.
  2. Optionally freeze the ground beef overnight to let thaw on your way to camp.

On-site cooking instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat and add the onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper.
  2. Cook for about five minutes until vegetables are softened.
  3. Add ground beef and brown until fully cooked, using a wooden spoon to break up into smaller chunks.
  4. Add beans, broth or water, and diced tomatoes.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  6. Serve with some cornbread for an easy winter camping meal that will warm your belly!

Pro tip: For even easier and more convenient winter meals to cook, consider prepping, cooking, and dehydrating everything at home first.

Extra considerations for cooking food while winter camping

A winter camper cooking over a campfire.

Food storage, prep, and cooking is different in winter than it is in summer (or even the shoulder seasons).

Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your meals for your next winter camping trip.

Some foods might freeze. If the temperature drops below 32°F (0°C) for an extended period of time, you’ll need to take extra precautions to prevent certain foods from freezing.

Melting snow to drink or cook with isn’t very efficient. A full pot of packed down snow will melt down to a very small fraction of its size.

You’re much better off getting water from a water source—even if that means bringing an auger to drill a hole in a frozen lake.

Your hot food (and drinks) could get cold very fast. We always recommend bringing thermoses for hot beverages and making DIY pot cozies for every non-cast iron pot you plan to bring.

Don’t count on it being easy to find tinder and kindling. Given the cold and snowy conditions, it’s wise to your own, or make sure to bring a fire-starter.

Don’t plan to rely on just your campfire. In the winter, or any time of year for that matter, it’s always smart to bring an extra camp stove and enough fuel to last your trip.

We bring our Bushbox titanium XL, which works with both twigs and our alcohol-based Trangia stove.

You’ll need need more fuel than you think. Cold temperatures mean you’ll need to use more fuel, so make sure you bring more than you typically would in mild weather.

Eat out of the pot whenever possible. Doing dishes in winter is a pain, but you can limit dishwashing by eating directly out of the pot you cooked your meal in.

Be extra careful around the fire. Always wear fireproof work gloves when handling firewood or your cookware, and make sure to keep gear and clothing several feet away.

Go hot tent camping to cook on a wood stove instead of over a campfire. This is our favourite way to camp in winter!

You can place your Dutch oven directly on it and shovel coals onto its lid.

Let it snow, let it simmer!

Cooking winter camping meals doesn’t have to be a hassle.

With some pre-planning, the right gear and ingredients, winter can actually be a great time for cooking up delicious campfire meals.

So grab your winter weather gear and get outside—it’s time to go winter camping!

Next up: 29 fun winter camping activities to keep busy and download your free winter camping checklist!

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About Us

Elise & Ross

We’re Elise and Ross, avid backcountry campers and outdoor adventurers! We started Gone Camping Again as a way to share our knowledge and experience about wilderness living and travel. Our hope is that we inspire you to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer!

Read more about our story.