My cousin Bruce recently threw a going away party for my brother Will who is heading off to college. We all wanted to get together to say goodbye to Will and celebrate the quickly approaching end of summer. Bruce in all of his “I don’t want to break my back preparing for this party” wisdom decided to have a campfire cookout in his backyard. This worked wonderfully because everyone loves campfire food but can rarely find the time to pack the family up and head out to the wilderness.
To throw a successful campfire party, you need a great place to build a blaze. For our party, my cousin used a portable fire pit in the center of his smaller, suburban backyard, but, of course, a traditional fire pit would work just fine. Bruce made the party a perfect place for people to socialize by setting up a ring of campfire chairs and deck furniture (including a couch!) around the fire. Twinkle lights on the deck added a warm glow to the backyard gathering. Family and friends stayed long into the night roasting marshmallows and staying warm by the fire. It was a simple, no frills affair that was driven by great food and great conversation. Here are some tips to make your camping getaway a success:
- Make sure there are plenty of roasting sticks ready to go around the fire. Sharpen the ends with a pocketknife to make it easier for guests to skewer marshmallows.
- Keep far enough away from the fire so guests aren’t burned by flying sparks. Don’t have campfire seating? Try a few bales of hay clustered at a safe distance from the blaze.
- Set up a food station near the fire so guests can apply condiments to crispy hot dogs and prepare pie iron pizzas for the coals.
- Stack logs close by that guests can add to the fire as it burns low.
- Have a bucket of water handy in case of a fire emergency.
Bruce served hot dogs, pie iron pizza and pies, and s’mores (of course)! The fact that people made their own dinners by picking and choosing their favorite fill-ins made this menu not only fun but personal. Everyone got what they wanted in the end! Plus, it took a lot of pressure from the host to cook an elaborate meal. He just needed to make sure he had fix-ins neatly set up on the buffet. I compiled a few more recipes from my childhood campouts that would be instant favorites at a summer campfire party. Check out our other summer party ideas to make your get together a hit!
Summer Campfire Menu
- Bread on a Stick: With a can of croissant rolls, anyone can make this traditional campfire recipe! Just take a section of dough (one triangle), and wrap it around the end of a roasting stick (spiral the dough up the stick). Roast the dough over the fire until it is toasty brown, making sure to keep the dough well above the flames so it does not burn. Delicious!
- Hobo Pie Tins: My personal campfire favorite and also works well as a main course! Provide each guest with a disposable campfire tin (most come with fire retardant cardboard tops) and spray each with non-stick cooking spray. Set up a buffet with chopped and peeled potatoes, shredded cheddar cheese, diced carrots and onions, and frozen ground beef patties (which guests can chop up in their tins). Have guests fill the tin three-fourths of the way with what they like, and close the tins. Place each tin in the coals for 15-20 minutes or until the ground beef is thoroughly cooked. After carefully removing the tin from the fire, allow it to sit for five minutes (If you can!) before eating. It’s very hot!
- Bacon Wrapped Corn on the Cob: This is as delicious as it sounds! Remove the husks and silk from the corn. Coat the corn in softened butter and then wrap two pieces of thick cut bacon around each. Wrap each cob individually in aluminum foil and cook in the hot coals, flipping the packets periodically with tongs. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the bacon is thoroughly cooked. When finished, don’t remove the corn from the aluminum foil; allow guests to use it as a plate to catch the grease. Yum!
- Pie Iron Pizzas: For this recipe, you’ll need at least two campfire pie irons to accommodate numerous guests. Before cooking, heat the pie irons in the fire to prepare the cast iron. Then, spray the inside of the pie iron with cooking spray or coat with butter. Take two pieces of white bread and put one on each side. On one piece of bread, put your pie fillings: tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, sausage, pepperoni, onions, olives, pineapple and ham, etc. Then, close and lock the pie iron. Make sure to tear off any bread that sticks outside of the iron so it doesn’t burn. Place the iron in the coals and cook for a couple minutes on each side. (The bread burns quickly!)
- Banana Boats: This classic dessert recipe will leave everyone in a chocolate and marshmallow coma! Peel a banana but leave the peel just barely on. Cut a slit down the center of the banana, and fill the slit with marshmallows and chocolate chips. Rewrap the banana in the peel, and then wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil. Cook the package in the coals for 5-10 minutes or until the banana is soft. For this recipe, have a station so guests can pick and choose their fill-ins.
- Brownie in an Orange: This creative recipe is as smart as it is delicious! Cut off the top of an orange and remove the fruit. Fill the orange with prepared box brownie batter and put the top back on the orange. Wrap the orange securely with aluminum foil and place the package in the coals (right side up) until the brownie is thoroughly cooked (see the bake times on the brownie package). If you’re unsure if the brownie is cooked, test the brownie with a wooden skewer. If it comes out clean, it’s done!
- Campfire Cones: Fill a large waffle cone with a variety of mix-ins – chopped bananas and strawberries, blueberries, chocolate, marshmallows, etc. Wrap the cone in aluminum foil and cook in the coals until the contents are melted. Enjoy this gooey dessert with a spoon straight from the cone!