Trek Southwest - Hiking and Camping the Desert Southwest

Shepherd’s Pie – Foil Packet Cooking

in Foil Packet Recipes

When my family does outdoor adventures – we’re usually pretty active. So we really love something hearty when it’s time for dinner. I love dinners that are easy to prepare, delicious, and fill up those hungry tummies. Shepherd’s pie is one of those perfect meals. When you do your prep for this meal at home before your trip – all you do is assemble, heat, and eat!

Shepherd's Pie


Potato Layer

  • 5-7 medium potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ½ Cup sour cream
  • ½ Cup shredded cheese (optional but delicious!)
  • ½ Cup cracker crumbs (optional)

Meat/Vegetable Layer

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 1 teaspoon of jarred minced garlic)
  • 1 ½ Cups chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon 21 Seasoning Salute (optional, but delicious if you can find some – as you can guess from the name it’s a mix of 21 different seasonings and I seem to put it on everything!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package (12 oz) frozen veggie mixture (I recommend peas, carrots, corn, and green beans)

What Else You’ll Need

  • Foil Containers (one large pie plate or two loaf tins work well)
  • Heavy Duty Foil (heavy duty or your dinner might stay in the fire!)
  • Knife and Cutting Board
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Zip-top plastic bags (for prepping and storing the foods at home before your trip)
  • Pot holders or tongs (to pull your tins out of the fire)

Before You Leave Home

Shepherd’s pie can really be broken down into two main components – the potatoes and the filling. I really like to prep everything ahead of time and simply pack it in our cooler in zip-top plastic bags. Campfire meals that only require assembly at the campsite are my favorite.

Potato Prep

The top layer of your shepherd’s pie is simply mashed potatoes.

Step 1

Peel and cube your potatoes.


Peeled potatoes

Cubed potatoes

Step 2

Boil them in water until they’re very soft. Drain the water off.

Boiling potatoes

Step 3

Add in the butter, sour cream, and milk. Whip them up! You can do this by hand with a potato masher or if you like your potatoes extra creamy – use an electric hand mixer or stand mixer. When your potatoes look like clouds, add a little salt and pepper. Now they’re ready to cool and be bagged up ready for your trip.

Ready for mashing


Filling Prep

The filling of shepherd’s pie is a delicious mix of beef and veggies with a gravy of sorts. Feel free to substitute the beef for ground turkey or lamb and any mixture of veggies is equally delicious – but I tend to stick to the old standby of corn/peas/carrots/green beans because it’s easy to find a pre-mixed frozen bag of this.

Step 1

Brown your ground beef in a large skillet. You’re going to need a large-ish skillet here because you’ll cook the meat and veggies together.

Ground beef

Browned ground beef

Step 2

While your beef is browning – dice up your onion. Once your beef is brown – add the onion to the hamburger and cook until the onion is translucent (usually only takes a few minutes.)

Step 3

Once your onion is translucent, add your flour. You’ll want to try and coat your beef and onion as much as possible. Get that flour all nice and mixed in.

Step 4

Now add your garlic, chicken broth, tomato paste, and seasonings. You’ll want to bring this mix to a boil and cook for a few minutes until the mixture thickens.

Step 5

Last but not least – add your frozen veggies and cook mixture until they’re crisp, but not soggy (usually no more than 5 minutes.)

Beef and veggies

Step 6

Turn off the heat, let the mixture cool and bag it up to take with to the campsite.


At the Campsite

If you didn’t do your prep at home – simply complete the ‘Before You Leave Home’ steps at the campsite. Then it’s time to assemble our pie and get it on the fire.

Step 1

Get your fire going with either wood or charcoal briquets. Just like with most campfire recipes – this one works best when red hot coals or white hot briquets are used to do the cooking. Let your fire mature while you do your pie assembly.

Step 2

Spread your filling into each of your foil containers. Ideally they should be about halfway full. Try and make the layer nice and level.

Empty containers

Filling added

Step 3

Now spread your mashed potatoes on top of the filling. Do this a bit gently because you don’t want your filling coming up into your mashed potatoes – you want two distinct layers. Spread those potatoes out until they’re an even layer. I like to sprinkle a teeny bit of cracker crumbs or shredded cheese on top.

Potatoes added

Cheese added

Step 4

Cover your containers in your heavy duty foil. Make sure you really crimp the sides down so that no pie bubbles over when it’s heating up on the fire.

Sealed and ready for the fire

Step 5

Place your tins on the hot coals. If you can get a hold of some coals or briquets – put a few on the top of each foil container. Now we wait for the pie to heat up and the cheese to melt (if you added some on top). The timing on this step will depend on how cold your filling was to start with and how hot your coals are. I usually wait about 30 min and then do a quick check to see how it’s heating up. Most of the time – it’s ready at that point. But it might need a bit more time (I’d hazard a guess of 5-20 more minutes.)

Out of the fire

Eat up!


RobinGuest 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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