Cooking Chili On A Campfire

campfire chili recipe

Campfire Chili Recipe

There’s nothing better than a hot bowl of campfire chili on a cool autumn evening. It’s even better when cooked over a campfire. Cooking is part of the fun for us while camping. Cooking over a campfire is fun and one our favorite is this campfire chili recipe. Campfire chili is perfect for those fall and winter camping trips when there’s a nip in the air and the smell of snow lingers. This recipe is quick, easy and delicious, three prerequisites for a campfire chili recipe.


2 lbs. hamburger (venison burger works great

2 (14 oz) cans chili-ready diced tomatoes 

1 (15 oz) can Bush’s red kidney beans

2 (15 oz) cans Bush’s chili magic 

2 pints of tomato juice

1 large sweet onion chopped

1 clove of garlic chopped

Jalapeno to taste (optional)

The first step to this campfire chili recipe is to slowly warm your pot over the fire. Add the hamburger when the pot is hot and cook until browned. Cook the hamburger until all the water and fat has cooked out. Then pour the hamburger into a strainer to remove all the liquid and put back on the fire. Cook your hamburger until it begins to brown. This browning process adds a lot of flavor to your chili. This step can be omitted if you are using a lean package of hamburger or venison. These are lean and void of water, if packaged yourself. You can also use venison for this recipe without grinding it into burger just cut the meat into very small pieces before cooking.

Once your meat is browned and your pot is nice and hot add the chopped onion and stir. The onion will reduce the pots temp and keep the meat from burning but watch for too much heat and move your pot accordingly because at this point the meat and onions are dry and will burn if the pot is too hot. Once the wet ingredients are added there is much more forgiveness in the temp department. Cook the onions until translucent. This is when the onion loses a lot of the sharp onion flavor and mellows out this point should be reached within five or so minutes. Add the chopped garlic during this process to help infuse the meat with the flavors.

Once you have the meat, onions and garlic cooking it’s time to add all the other ingredients. Just open each can and dump its contents in the hot pot. Stir each canned ingredient thoroughly allowing it to heat up before adding the next can. There is no particular order in which to add these ingredients but I like to start with the tomato juice and let that begin to simmer before adding more. Allowing each ingredient to heat up isn’t a requirement but it allows you to gauge the temperature of your pot as you go. If you dump all of the ingredients in at once it could take awhile for it to begin cooking again if the pot is not close enough to the fire. This tip will help you determine where to place your pot to maintain optimal temperature which is a slow simmer.

Jalapenos are a personal choice. You might not even notice a couple jalapenos in your pot of chili while someone else might not even be able to eat it because it is so hot. With this in mind I suggest leaving the jalapenos on the side unless you are cooking the chili for yourself or friends that like it hot. This will keep you from ruining the whole pot of chili that deserves to be enjoyed by all.

Cooking on a campfire is fun when you’re camping. Food seems to taste better when cooked with fire. The cast-iron pot that I use most has cooked many meals for me and my family over the years. It has become part of the memories we share. Cast iron is best for cooking over a campfire. Cast iron can withstand the high temps and the heat is distributed evenly throughout the pot. This allows you to regulate the heat more precisely by moving it around the fire. If you are new to campfire cooking or have just never really tried cast iron you should give it a shot. There is a lot to learn about cooking with this ageless vessel as well as cooking over a fire and that is always a big part of the fun.

About Ken McBroom 306 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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