Cooking while camping can be an incredibly daunting task. Without the ease of a stove with instant and even heat, cooking at a campsite is definitely more difficult. But it isn’t impossible!
Anyone can cook at a campsite with the correct tools, a bit of practice, and a little (ok a lot) of patience.
When it comes to cooking chicken, however, some extra precautions need to be taken to avoid making everyone sick. Don’t worry, though. Just make sure you packed have a cooking thermometer and all will be well.
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How do you cook chicken when camping?
A few methods are available for you to cook chicken while camping. Here are a few easy options:
Foil is a camper’s best friend when cooking. Whether using the campfire coals, a camp stove, or a portable grill, foil will always come in handy.
Basically, you’ll add a bit of oil (so the chicken doesn’t stick to the foil) and seasonings, throw in your chicken breasts, wrap and cook.
Here is a list of a whole bunch of campfire foil recipes, some which include chicked.
2. Cast Iron Skillet (or pan)
Having a cast iron skillet on-hand at the campsite is, for many, an essential tool for cooking when camping. Cast iron can be put directly over campfire flames or on a camp stove. Its versatility is what makes it a great camping item. Although, if you are backpacking, the weight of cast iron makes it much less ideal!
Cooking chicken in a cast iron skillet is simple: heat your pan, add some oil and seasonings, then throw in your chicken. Cover and cook.
If you’re using a regular pot or frying pan, the process is the same. Just know that a pan will receive and transmit heat in a less uniform fashion than cast iron and you’ll want to keep a closer eye on it while cooking.
Portable grills are very handy. Many are fairly compact and will pack well to take along to the campsite. Grills are easier than campfires since you can get an even heat, thus cooking your food faster.
When using a grill to cook chicken, you’ll want to heat the grill, add your oil and seasoning, then cook your chicken to your liking
How do you store raw chicken when camping?
This part is essential for not poisoning your whole crew. Be sure to pack your chicken well so that you won’t have raw chicken juices all over your cooler… because, believe me, this is a very yucky mess to have to clean at the campground!
You’ll want to make sure your chicken stays frozen or cooled until cooking. If we are needing to cook chicken at the campsite, we usually bring it in the cooler frozen and use it the first day, if possible.
Here is a post with other tips for handing foods when you don’t have electricity and refrigeration.
Here are some helpful ideas:
1. Pack raw chicken in multiple, disposable, zip lock bags
If you’re bringing raw chicken, be sure to package it well. Zip top bags will allow you to keep the juices contained. I recommend double bagging, just to be safe. Or, use a well-sealing container, then put that into a zip top bag.
2. Freeze chicken ahead of time
Prep is so helpful for the campsite. The less you have to handle raw chicken, the better. So if you’re going to use small chunks? Do the dicing at home.
Freeze the chicken in the zip top bags and they will double as ice packs for the day. But be aware, depending on how good your cooler is, the chicken will likely thaw completely within a day or two.
3. Cook chicken from frozen
If you’re worried about the chicken turning rancid before you get a chance to eat it, go ahead and use still slightly frozen chicken. The cooking time may be a smidge extended, but it may be worth the extra time to keep everyone healthy.
4. Pre-foil your chicken
If you know the meal you’re cooking takes foil packs of the chicken and veggies (see one of the recipes below!), go ahead and prep those bad boys before heading to the campsite!
Put the premade foil packs in a zip top bag and toss them in the cooler.
This definitely helps with the idea of handling raw chicken less at the campsite! Plus, having the meal pre-packaged and ready to toss on a fire is a great first night meal.
Camp Kitchen Tip: Bring along some of those disposable disinfecting wipes if you do happen to spill some chicken juice anywhere, or it does leak into your cooler. Soap and water will help with the cleaning too, but these wipes can be super handy if you spill on something that is a challenge to clean.
Can you pre-cook chicken for camping?
If you have zero desire to handle raw chicken at all at the campsite, go ahead and precook that meat. It may not taste as fresh (more like leftovers, since it will be the second time cooking it), but chances are, with all the excitement and nostalgia of camping, you won’t even notice the taste difference!
Be aware that you don’t want to use precooked chicken in a meal that the chicken is supposed to cook with the rest of the food. Overcooked chicken will be dry and icky. Go for meals that you can cook everything else and just toss the chicken in at the end to heat it a bit.
Just like at home, reheating chicken in a broth is the best way to keep it from being super dry. So precooked chicken may be best in soups or stews. Try not to let it sit in boiling broth for too long, or you’ll definitely overcook it.
These meals are also good for using pre-cooked chicken:
- Chicken added to stirfry or noodles
- Chicken tacos
- Chicken with pasta
- Chicken over rice and veggies
How do you dehydrate chicken for camping?
A great way to ensure you won’t have dry chicken and you don’t have to handle raw chicken is to dehydrate it!
The best part about dehydrated chicken is that it lasts a long time. If you don’t refrigerate or freeze it, dehydrated chicken is good for up to two weeks. Using a refrigerator or freezer will extend the life of your chicken to up to a year.
Even better news, you don’t have to buy a fancy dehydrator to dehydrate chicken! Your oven will work just fine!
5 steps to dehydrate chicken for camping:
- The first step is to cook your chicken until the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Start by cutting off any fat and dice or slice your chicken. Marinate it, if you want, then place it in the fridge for a few hours.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge and place it all on paper towels. Also dab it with paper towels to absorb as much moisture as possible.
- Once dry, place all the chicken pieces so they aren’t touching on a baking sheet.
- Set your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and cook it until the internal temperature reaches 165. Please note that you should crack your oven door and place a fan in front of the door to help circulate the dry air. This process will take about five hours.
- Chicken is dehydrated when it is not flaky or brittle, just dry. Let it cool down then put it in an airtight container.
When you’re ready to eat it, pour warm broth or water over the chicken to rehydrate it. This is perfect for soups!
If you prefer your meat as a snack while camping, Chicken Jerky is another great option!
What are Some Easy Camping Chicken Meal Ideas?
Foil Packets are some of the easiest meals to make at a campsite. If you aren’t great at making a campfire and maintaining it for cooking, a portable grill works wonders.
This is the prep-ahead foil dinner I mentioned earlier. Prep makes everything easier!
A simple and delicious foil option, other than cooking the chicken, it uses California Blend frozen veggies, a little Italian Seasoning, and Velveeta cheese…. Yumm!