Part of the fun of camping is in the meal planning. If you’re a super lightweight backpacker, you might be inclined to opt for a quick and easy breakfast, like a protein bar. If you’re used to packing the car full of gear, you might be making camp meals with multiple pots, pans, and skillets. No matter where you are on the spectrum of camping breakfasts, there’s a nice middle-ground that’s worth trying on your next trip. With just two tools—a cast iron skillet and a small coffee percolator—you can make any of these breakfasts below, and many more.
Granola might sound like a not-so-impressive camping breakfast. After all, you can just buy a bag pre-made to bring along as an easy snack, so why spend the time making it? The answer is twofold. For one thing, there’s nothing like fresh granola still warm from the skillet. Secondly, having the option to customize your granola lets you mix it up each morning.
This recipe gives a simple description of how to cook granola on a skillet. You’ll use your cast iron skillet for this, warming it to a medium-high heat over the fire. The ingredients for DIY campfire granola can be prepared ahead and stored together in a bag for quick, prep-free breakfast.
This recipe is a pretty basic granola combination, with flavors like raisins and cinnamon, but it can be fun to get a little more adventurous. Consider grabbing the coffee grounds in your small coffee percolator left over from your morning coffee to create a skillet version of this maple mocha granola. Enjoy your granola over yogurt or with milk, and make some extra to enjoy as a trailside snack later.
Oatmeal is another one of those things that might sometimes get underrated. Bland instant oatmeal packets have given it a bad rap in some cases. But actually, oatmeal is a filling, versatile, and delicious breakfast that’s easy to jazz up. The light weight of the oats and the nonperishable nature of many potential ingredients make it an excellent breakfast for both backpacking and camping.
This blog gives a short tutorial on how to prep instant oats with the fixings in a jar ahead of time. Essentially all that’s required are instant oats and your preferred combination of ingredients like nuts, seeds, dried fruits, brown sugar, cinnamon, and perhaps a dash of salt. For camping purposes, it’s probably better to prepare your instant oats in a ziplock baggie. When it’s time to make them, your only step will be to empty the oats into a bowl, then boil water in your small coffee percolator to pour over the mixture.
These campfire oats get even fancier when you whip out the handy cast iron skillet to make a fresh, warm fruit compote for on top. Fresh fruit, sugar, a little butter, and a dash of salt come together to make this warm berry compote.
If you have a really big day ahead of you or just enjoy a heartier breakfast, a campfire Toad in the Hole might be just the thing. It’s a classic British meal that’s traditionally made with Yorkshire pudding batter, but this version turns it into a simple, single-skillet breakfast meal that can be mostly made ahead.
Campers need only prepare the cornmeal batter ahead of time and store it in the cooler along with some breakfast sausages. When it’s time to eat, you can warm the sausages in the cast iron skillet, then add the batter to make a nice savory pancake that serves four. A fresh, piping hot percolator of coffee would be a great addition to this camping breakfast.
Two recipes are combined in order to make these delicious, fluffy, syrupy treats. The first is a basic recipe for campfire pancakes made with batter prepared ahead of time in mason jars. These made-from-scratch pancakes ask the cook to combine the dry ingredients in one mason jar and the wet ingredients in another. When it’s time to make the cakes, the wet gets added to the dry ingredient jar, from which you can pour the batter straight onto a piping hot cast iron skillet.
In order to take this amazing outdoor breakfast one step further, one does what any logical person would do—one adds coffee. This recipe for coffee pancakes uses cooled coffee as part of the wet ingredients in a homemade pancake recipe. It’s a perfect and easy alteration for the coffee-obsessed camper. You can brew some hot coffee over the fire in your small coffee percolator first thing, and enjoy a hot cup while you set aside another cup to cool for the pancakes. If you’re camping near a stream or creek, you can place the mug of coffee in the water to expedite the cooling process.
A tasty hash is another versatile meal that’s great for breakfast any day, but especially nice prepared over a fire in the open air. As with all of the best camping recipes, this one can be prepared ahead of time so you won’t have to worry about getting out a knife and cutting board.
Technically speaking, a hash is a meat and potatoes kind of dish. However, these days brunch menus everywhere are reinventing the traditional hash, adding more vegetables and meat substitutions, and playing with a wide range of flavors. You can do the same for your own menu. Prep the vegetables you like best, whether that be onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, asparagus, or all of the above.
This campfire-ready recipe uses chickpeas as a major protein source in its hash, along with summer squash and peppers. Adding a protein of some kind, whether it be meat or beans, is great for providing fuel for a long day in the outdoors. Most hashes, this recipe included, add eggs at the very end. You can scramble them right in with the vegetables, or just let them fry sunny-side up on the cast iron skillet. Serve your campfire breakfast hash with a hot coffee or tea straight from the small coffee percolator for an unforgettable start to the day.
What’s your go-to for a delicious, easy camping breakfast? Let us know, and we’ll be sure to try it the next time we’re out in the woods!
Katrina Eresman worked for over a decade as a barista in Ohio. Since she left to write full time, she has become a compulsive traveler. If she's not touring with one of her bands, she's scheming her next backpacking trip or a flight to a new part of the country where camping and coffee sipping will both surely occur.