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Dutch Oven Cooking: Tips and Recipes

Dutch Oven Basics

Dutch oven cooking is one of my favorite ways to make meals and desserts at camp. Put the ingredients in, put some charcoal on the top and bottom, come back later, and voila! you have a delicious dish.

Why are Dutch ovens so good for camp cooking?

A Dutch oven is a very versatile piece of camp cooking equipment. It’s ability to hold heat means that it can really function as an oven without any electricity or gas. By heating the top and bottom with charcoal or coals, you can bake things as you would in an oven.

So it is perfect for making casseroles or baking bread at camp. You can also bake a tasty dessert. On top of that, it can also function as a vessel to cook stews and soups.

Can any recipe be baked in a Dutch oven?

Yes, almost any recipe you would make in your home oven can also be made in a Dutch oven. Instead of setting the oven temperature, you control the heat by using the appropriate amount of charcoal (see below).


How do you set the temperature when baking with a Dutch oven?

The temperature is controlled by the number of charcoal briquettes you use. Your Dutch oven size is also a factor. A good rule of thumb is

350 degrees is the most common temperature for baking and will work for most recipes. A common rule of thumb to achieve this temperature approximately is to subtract three from the diameter of your Dutch oven and put that number under the oven. Then add three to the diameter and put that on top.

  • For an 8-inch oven, use 5 on bottom and 11 on top
  • For a 14-inch oven, use 11 on bottom and 17 on top
  • For a 16-inch oven, use 13 on bottom and 19 on top

If you want a different temperature, add or subtract from the number of briquettes. An estimate is that each briquette adds 25 degrees to your heat.

Keep in mind that this is just approximate. And factors such as colder air temperature and wind can impact the actual temperature inside your Dutch oven. So be prepared to check inside and make adjustments if it is cooking to quickly or too slowly.

How many charcoal briquettes should I put on the top of my Dutch oven and how many on the bottom?

If you are baking, then generally you want to put approximately 3/4 of the charcoal on top of the oven and 1/4 on the bottom.

If you are roasting, then put half the coals on top and half on bottom.

If you are cooking a soup or stew, then 4/5 of the coals go on the bottom and 1/5 on top.

Remember that Dutch oven cooking is not an exact science. You will learn by doing it. Start with recipes which are tried and true, like the ones below.

Do you have a Dutch oven recipe you’d like to share? Contact me and I’ll share it on my site.

Main Dish Dutch Oven Recipes

Hearty Minestrone Recipe

Hearty Minestrone

Although this recipe has “minestrone” in the name, it is more like a stew than a soup. So if you are looking for a traditional minestrone recipe, keep searching. If you are looking for an easy to put together camp meal, then try this.

Green Chili Stew

The Sweet Corn Bread recipe I posted last week got me thinking about Green Chili Stew. Serve a nice green salad with it and you have a meal!

Loaded Campfire Potatoes

Loaded campfire potatoes variation of campfire potatoes which is hearty enough to serve as a main dish.

Quick Jambalaya

Quick Jambalaya Recipe

This jambalaya recipe is not very authentic, but it is easy enough to prepare at camp.

Camp Chicken and Dumplings

A little modification to a basic chicken and dumplings recipe combined with some preparation beforehand at home makes this an easy camp meal.

Stew and Mashed Potatoes

Easy Stew Topped Mashed Potatoes

This recipe is a good recipe for when you have time to let a stew simmer. Serve some fruit on the side and maybe some bread and you have a full meal.

Hoppin John

One Pot Hoppin’ John

Hoppin’ John is traditionally served on New Year’s Day to bring luck through the year. You can have in anytime though. This recipe works at camp or you can cook it at home on your stove.

Camp Chicken and Stuffing

LC earned his cooking merit badge at our second summer camp this past summer. Meals at this camp were served in a dining hall, but the counselor brought lots of ingredients and they cooked something every afternoon. So at about 3 or 4PM we would get invited over to the campsite to sample dishes for an afternoon snack. Camp Chicken and Stuffing was LC’s favorite.

Dutch Oven Breakfast Quiche

Dutch Oven Breakfast Quiche

This Dutch oven breakfast quiche is an easy camp breakfast recipe for those who enjoy some eggs in the morning. I really enjoy Dutch oven recipes at camp because you can put all of your ingredients in and relax while it cooks. And relaxing and enjoying the moment is part of what really makes camping great.

mountain man breakfast

Mountain Man Breakfast Casserole

Mountain Man Breakfast Casserole is a hearty breakfast recipe with meat, eggs, and hashbrowns. This recipe includes instructions for cooking outdoors with charcoal and indoors in an oven.

Dutch Oven Sides

Herb Casserole Bread Recipe

Herb Casserole Bread

Fresh baked bread tastes wonderful when you are out on a chilly campout. This is a casserole bread which is pretty easy to make.

Spinach Rice Casserole

This camp spinach rice casserole can serve as a vegetarian main dish or a side dish. It is cooked in a Dutch oven.

Sweet Corn Bread

This is a very sweet corn bread. In some areas, this would be called corn cake. The sweetness of the bread goes well with spicy foods like chili or ham and beans with lots of hot pepper sauce.

Dutch Oven Dessert Recipes

Lemon Berry Dutch Oven Cobbler

Lemon Berry Dutch Oven Cobbler

This cobbler recipe is lighter than some of the other ones I make which have a lot of butter. It got rave reviews from the Scouts and Scouters. The Dutch oven was empty pretty quickly.

Ding Dong Cherry Cobbler

This is a twist on the Dutch oven cobbler. Scouts like making this just because of the novelty of the ding dongs in the cobbler. You can see a photo of this Ding Dong Cherry Dutch oven cobbler and more information on my personal blog, Empty Nest in the Midwest.

Pumpkin Crunch

This is one of our favorite Dutch oven recipes. This recipe also won first prize at a Camporee cooking contest, so I guess it is an “award winning” recipe.

black forest dump cake

Black Forest Dump Cake

There are lots of different dump cake combinations out there. Chocolate and cherries is one of my favorites.

Webelos Cast Iron Chef Adventure Cub Scout Helps and Ideas

Webelos Cast Iron Chef Adventure

Webelos learn about meal planning, budgeting, and shopping while working on the Cast Iron Chef adventure. They also prepare a nutritious meal and make a cooking fire. This adventure is required for the Webelos badge.

Cooking Merit Badge

Cooking Merit Badge

Scouts learn about food safety, nutrition, and cooking techniques. They also have to plan , prepare, and cook meals at camp, at home, and on the trail. The Cooking merit badge is one of the merit badges required for the rank of Eagle.

Cooking troop program feature for Scouts BSA

Cooking Troop Program Feature for Scouts BSA

The Cooking feature teaches Scouts how to make their favorite food and discover new recipes for use at home and at camp. Scouts learn the satisfaction of preparing their own meals.

Camping Recipes

Favorite Recipes for Scouts and Camping

Don’t just limit yourself to Dutch oven cooking at camp. See more ideas including foil packs (hobo meals), cooking on a stick, and cooking over an open fire.


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