Foil packet meals are so much fun to make! They are excellent over a campfire, a BBQ grill, or a backyard fire pit. And you can cook them with propane, charcoal, or wood. They’re easy to prep ahead of time for camping trips when you have your full kitchen at your disposal. And they’re easy to customize for each individual’s taste preferences. If you haven’t tried this method of cooking before – you need to!
I call this version Creamy Chicken Surprise…because you never know exactly what you’ll end up putting in there! I’ve heard these foil packet dinners also referred to as hobo dinners because folks tend to use up whatever is in the house.
This recipe fed my family of 5 for dinner with enough left for lunch the next day.
- Raw Chicken (about 1.5 pounds)
- Spices (I used paprika, but it would have been excellent with thyme or rosemary)
- Onion (1 medium)
- Carrots (2 large)
- Potatoes (2 large) – would also be excellent with sweet potatoes
- Biscuits in a can
- Cream of Mushroom or Chicken soup in a can
- Other veggies (celery, broccoli, etc)
What Else You’ll Need
- Foil Containers
- Heavy Duty Foil (has to be heavy duty – if you try this with regular – you’ll end up with a ripped packet on your fire and no dinner)
- Knife and Cutting Board
- Zip-top plastic bags (if prepping at home before camping)
- Can opener (if your soup isn’t in a pop top can)
To make this dinner at home, I used our fire pit with charcoal. However, I’ve made these camping with wood and I’ve also done these on the gas grill at home. They turn out pretty great no matter your cooking method. Also, I like to use these little loaf aluminum tins, but they are optional. You can just as easily create an envelope of sorts with your heavy duty aluminum foil.
Before You Leave Home
Cut raw chicken into 1-2 inch pieces. Place into separate zip-top plastic bag (it’s okay to combine veggies, but keep that raw chicken all by itself.)
Dice onion and carrots (and other veggies if you’re using them.) Place into zip-top plastic bag.
Wash potatoes thoroughly and slice into thin chips (I’d suggest as paper thin as possible to help speed cooking.) Place into zip-top plastic bag. The potatoes might turn brown despite being in a plastic bag. They look ugly, but will taste just fine. If this really bothers you – simply slice them up at the campsite.
At the Campsite
Your first step is getting your cooking site hot – so if you’re doing wood or charcoal – get a fire going. You’ll want to cook these dinners by placing them on top of nice hot coals, not flames. If you’re using a gas grill, go ahead and get it turned on since the assembly of these packets doesn’t take long at all.
If you’re using the aluminum tins I suggested above, simply start placing your ingredients in the bottom of the tin. You’ll want to place the things that take the longest to cook at the bottom (in the case of the pictures above – the chicken.) If you aren’t using the tins – you’ll want to create an envelope out of your aluminum foil and then place your chicken inside.
Continue layering solid ingredients and spices until you have created your ideal dinner. The order I used was chicken, potatoes (on the non-biscuit pans), mushrooms, veggies, and biscuits (on the non-potato pans.)
Once all your solid layers are in place, simply open your cans of soup and dump them on top. I used cream of chicken on the biscuit pans (sort of a chicken and dumplings) and cream of mushroom on the potato pans.
Wrap your tins in heavy duty aluminum foil OR wrap your foil envelope in another layer of heavy duty foil. You want to create an air tight pocket so that the veggies and potatoes steam cook over the coals.
Cook those packets! Place your packets directly on top of the hot coals you’ve prepared. Your total cooking time will be about 35-40 minutes for packets that are the same size as the ones in the images above. I rotated the packets after 15 minutes (moving those that weren’t as close to the middle and those that were to the outer layer of coals) and checked for doneness at 30 minutes. They ended up needing about another 5 minutes for a total cooking time of 35 minutes.
Before you dig in, make sure your chicken is cooked through and your potatoes are soft. You can easily pull one packet off the coals, do a quick check, and if necessary – put it back in for more cooking time.
If you’re camping – make sure you bring tongs or something else to pull these packets out of the coals with. They will be VERY hot!
The biscuits are sort and sort of doughy, much like traditional dumplings and the potatoes are soft and mouth watering. It is delicious!! My family was digging in while I was trying to take pictures. I made my husband stop a second so I could get a shot of the finished meal.
Guest Post by Robin Laulainen. Robin writes about camping and other outdoorsy stuff at Trek Southwest, pets every dog she meets, and drinks more coffee than she should. She blogs about her other passion - creating - at Make It Yourself Girl.
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