Dutch Oven Cooking for Beginners – Camp Cook Week Day 1

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Welcome to Camp Cooking Week! We’ll be cooking outdoors all week long so come back tomorrow for more outdoor cooking tips and tricks.

Day 1 – Dutch Oven Cooking for Beginners

Dutch Oven Cooking makes some tasty outdoor food. I mean real good. Setting a cast iron pot directly in the coals is a great way to get some delicious dinner (or breakfast or lunch) and once you know the basics it’s a fairly straightforward process.

But before we get to the food, we’ve got to talk heat. Dutch ovens are great at staying warm for a long time, but getting them warm takes a while. We start our charcoal briquettes in a chimney, a nifty metal tube with space at the bottom for a small fire. This heats the coals quicker – in 15 to 20 minutes – just enough time to get your ingredients together.

So the coals are heating, the ingredients are prepped, now it’s time to crunch the numbers. Anything you can bake in an oven or cook on a stovetop you can make in a Dutch Oven as long as you heat things up right. A quick guide I’ve heard for how many coals you need – take your diameter and multiply by two. One third go on bottom, two thirds on top. Our dutch ovens are 12 inches so we need 24 coals total, 16 on top, 8 on bottom. Here’s a convenient chart from Dutch Oven Mania that gets more precise.

Photo from www.dutchovenmania.com

You put down some hot coals, put your dutch oven on then add more coals to the top. How long until you can eat that mouthwatering meal? Dutch oven cooking is for the patient. Most recipes require at least 45 minutes of cooking time, rotating the oven and lid every 10-15 minutes for even heating. You may not want to wait so long for dinner, but there’s a benefit for having your food cooked this way – it stays warm for hours. The cast iron in a Dutch Oven holds its heat well so going back for seconds is never a problem.

You’ve waited patiently but now your ready to eat! How do you get those coals off without getting ash in your food? Trust me, it’s happened. Dutch Oven Cooking works best if you have the right tools. We suggest a Lid Lifter, Tongs, Chimney and Fireproof Gloves to make Dutch Oven cooking a burn free, ash free process. Dutch Ovens get hot!
Dutch Oven Cooking is a great way to eat outdoors because the food is so delicious, but it takes a while and those ovens can be heavy. 
  • Baking – not many outdoor cooking options can do this easily.
  • Food stays warm a long time.
  • Delicious food. Really, really good.
  • Heavy – you’ll be getting a work out.
  • Clean up can be messy, a food scraper helps.
  • Time. Dutch ovens are the original slow cookers.

Now you’re ready to try for yourself! Here’s our favorite Dutch Oven Potatoes recipe. We make it at our home fire pit several times every summer.
Dutch Oven Potatoes
1 onion, sliced
1 lb bacon
4-6 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 T butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 c shredded cheese
Cut onion and bacon. Fry in uncovered dutch oven* until onions are translucent and bacon crisp. Add sliced potatoes, butter, salt and pepper. Stir. Cover and place coals. Cook for 40-50 minutes, rotating frequently until potatoes are tender. Add cheese and serve.
*Sometimes I cook the bacon and onions in a frying pan on my stove if I’m trying to speed things up.

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Author: Mountain Mom

Hi! I'm Mountain Mom. I live with my husband and three young kids in the mountains near Sundance, Utah. When we're not hiking, biking, skiing and camping, I spend my time doing Mom stuff and reading. Summer of 2016 we traveled over 7,000 miles along the US National Park to Park Highway.

1 thought on “Dutch Oven Cooking for Beginners – Camp Cook Week Day 1”

  1. I love Dutch ovens as they offer the best food and when combined with the great outdoors, the feeling is irreplaceable! 🙂 But, what I don't like about them is that they are heavy and leave a real mess after the cooking is done. There are some other cooking alternatives that are nearly as good as the Dutch ovens, but are lighter and don't leave such a mess. Here is an artile that explains a lot about these outdoor cooking elternative gadgets and adventures 🙂 http://survival-mastery.com/reviews/best-camping-stove.html

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