At Aardvark, camping out is one of our most beloved rituals. Whether at a festival or taking over a campground with our family and friends, something about sleeping out in nature brings out the best in us. #Facts.

And here’s another fact: At no time does food taste better than when you’re chowing down outdoors. All that fresh air and play time makes whatever’s on the menu… Just. That. Much. Tastier.

That said, despite meal-sharing being a centerpiece of any campout experience, lots of folks like to “keep it simple.” Nobody wants to babysit a camp stove when they’d rather enjoy camping. That’s why we’re sharing these camp cookout hacks (plus a few bonus recipes) with you! Because camp cooking does come with certain challenges:

Limited Food Options:
There’s no Instacart or a quick trip to the mini, brave explorer. Your palette of ingredients will be inversely proportional to the total weight of non-perishables you’re willing to lug down the trail, along with the few fresh items you can fit in your cooler on top of the beer. Or whatever you catch/forage if you’re badass.

Limited Cooktops:
Picture that classic Coleman two-burner stove in your garage. If you’re lucky, that stove has two burners… enough space to fit a couple of saucepans if they’re small enough.

Of course, you can also cook over the fire itself, but doing so is no small feat. It takes a grate, careful balancing, and a bit of fire know-how to ensure your food comes out thoroughly cooked but not scorched. That goes for your pan, too. Flames are a lot harder to control at a campfire than that gas grill you’re used to using at home. 

Limited Time:
Camping is made for doing fun camp stuff. By which, we mean lying in the hammock gazing at the clouds and wiggling our toes in the breeze. But whatever your favorite camping pastime, you want to be out there enjoying that, not cooking for hours. And let’s not even get started with camp dishwashing. Just, ugh.

Campsite Cooking Hacks

Hack 1: It’s All about the Prep!

If you can wrap up meat or veggies to store in the cooler, you can sure dunk them in a top-rate marinade. Check out our Recipes page and find great, simple options that star our Drunken Jerk Jamaican and Drunken Garlic Black Bean marinades. Both are ridiculously delicious on the catch of the day, too, if we do say so ourselves.

Bonus Hack: Invest in some silicone food storage bags. They’re thicker than standard Ziplocs and reliable at the seams. They should not be submerged under water, so do siphon off any ice melt in your cooler. But if these are handled properly, you can have a cook-ready series of awesome marinated entrees without having a cooler full of marinade-flavored ice!

Hack 2: Broaden Your Cooktop Horizons.

If fire season and campground rules permit, you can supplement that Coleman situation with a classic charcoal grill for some added charred, smoky yum. Or go with a simpler, yet still drool-worthy, option of a portable Weber-type propane grill and toss on those marinated beauties to get full-on grill-marked flavor.

Still want to cook over the campfire? Go old-school and invest in a nice cast-iron Dutch oven. Yes, it will weigh more than all the rest of your camping gear combined – but if you’re car camping, one of these babies can really add to your repertoire.  Also, we’re talking about one cooking vessel to clean here. Just one!

Want even one less dish to clean? Our last recommendation is perhaps the simplest…toss your pre-prepped ingredients into a well-wrapped tin foil package and cook it on a grate right over the fire. Or toss it onto the coals. Just be sure to have loooong tongs and oven mitts in your camp cooking gearbox. And then let the fire die down a bit before cooking, so it’s primarily the heat from the coals doing the job.

Hack 3: Top it Off with Sauce.

Finally (and you probably saw this coming), we recommend you pack the Aardvark. Our hot sauces are a surefire way to add some furious flavor with zero hassle. Much easier than juggling a bunch of spice jars that will probably roll away under the picnic table, in the dark. Plus, our bottles are made of cooler-friendly plastic.

Bonus Hack: If you’re looking for classic, smoky camp-food flavor, bring along our Smoky Chipotle hot sauce.

Easy Campout Recipes

Here are a few of our favorite camping recipes from around the web. Just don’t forget to add the secret ingredient: the camp-tastic taste of Secret Aardvark!