Skip to Content

How to Make Campfire Potatoes

Potatoes have been an American family camping meal staple for years. They’re easy to make, versatile, and budget-friendly. Plus, they fill you up!

I discovered a recipe that, in my opinion, tastes better than my mom’s foiled campfire potatoes. Keep reading to learn how to make the best Campfire Potatoes without foil.

Closeup of skillet of campfire potatoes.

Made for Each Other: Camping and Potatoes

I grew up in a meat and potato family like many Midwesterners–most meals consisted of meat and a potato. My mom regularly made campfire potatoes, which involved wrapping potatoes and various vegetables in foil, then cooking them over a campfire or grill.

While I love cooking with foil, I don’t always have it with me when camping, and I was on a quest for a campfire potato recipe that didn’t require foil but tasted just as good.

Holding a yellow potato cut in half.

Campfire Potatoes are the perfect addition to your meal at any time of the year, but it’s even more ideal for winter camping when you’re trying to bulk up on carbohydrates to retain body heat.

I have a new two-year-old who’s just discovering his palette, and after being an adventurous baby, he’s learned he can say “yes” or “no” to what I put on his plate. Potatoes, usually, are a big “YES”–I was eager to see what he’d think of campfire potatoes.

Perfect Combinations

The beauty of this recipe is it’s the base for several other recipes. I like to make it with hot dogs because it’s cheap. When I’m frying my potatoes, I simply add hot dogs to the pan. (Hot dogs will cook faster than potatoes, so I waited a couple of minutes to add them).

Potatoes and sliced hotdogs in a cast iron skillet.

Other mix-ins I like to include with my campfire potatoes include the following:


  • Chicken sausage
  • Polish sausage
  • Brats
  • Steak
  • Ground beef
  • Chopped chicken
  • Chopped pork
  • Bacon


  • Peppers
  • Onion
  • Green Beans
  • Corn
  • Carrots


  • Eggs
  • Cheese

Boiling Options

You can boil your potatoes any way you like, but I recommend using a Dutch oven or pasta pot–let’s talk about the benefits of each.

Dutch Oven

A Dutch oven is a heavy-duty pot that can be incredibly handy when camping. They look like a stockpot (the most common pot for making soup), but they are much sturdier.

Dutch ovens are made entirely from cast iron, so you can enjoy all the benefits you would from a normal cast iron pan. They’re versatile and can make a variety of recipes, from cornbread to potatoes and pasta.

These ovens can be placed directly in a campfire’s embers, or you can use them like you would any pan–on a rack or a camp stove. Of course, you can also use it in your home kitchen.

Dutch ovens are especially handy for those camping off-the-grid when you might need to make your fire without the convenience of cooking grates.

They also retain heat well, so you can expect your potatoes to cook faster in a Dutch oven than any other pot you might use.

Pasta Pot

When I’m boiling pasta or potatoes at the campground, I like to use a pasta pot. The reason is simple: I’m all about the easiest clean-up and straining process.

View of the insert in a pasta pot.

Straining potatoes at a campground can be frustrating. Dumping boiling water on the ground can kill your grass, and you run the risk of burning yourself (or someone else). With a pot that already has a strainer built-in, I can easily remove my potatoes without worrying about where my water is going.

Then when the water is cool, I sprinkle it into the grass. Some people like to save potato water for their home gardens since potatoes have nutrients that are great for soil structure and keeping away pests.

The pasta pot I have was gifted to me years ago, but you can buy stainless steel pasta pots with inserts included on Amazon.

One caveat with this method is you will need more water than you would with a Dutch Oven or traditional stockpot because you need to cover the potatoes over the strainer. I use about 4 quarts of water for 2 pounds of potatoes.

Potatoes covered with water in a pasta pot.

Parboiling Potatoes

Potatoes can be parboiled at home before you head out to the campground. If you have some extra time and want to have your potatoes within 2 days of arriving at your campsite, doing this can save time and allow you to enjoy your camping time longer.

Your parboiled potatoes will last for 2 days when stored in a cooler or refrigerator. Check out some of our favorite coolers to take with you on your next camping trip!

Salt your water generously. Potatoes will soak up the flavor of the salt. I also like to add a bay to the water when I’m boiling my potatoes because I think it adds a nice hint of flavor.

It’s important not to boil potatoes all the way through, whether you’re cooking them at home or in the campfire. They will fall apart and become mushy if fully boiled, and you want your campfire potatoes to be nice and crispy.

Checking potato doneness with a fork.

Allow your parboiled potatoes to reach room temperature before frying them.

Campfire Alternatives

Burn bans have been on the rise due to an increase in wildfires throughout the US and Canada. (Remember to always check for burn bans before you head out to the campground.)

We’ve found some great campfire alternatives, so you won’t have to go without a hot meal even if there is a burn ban in your area.

You might choose to use a campfire alternative if it’s too hot out, you’re out of firewood, it’s raining, or you’re just not in the mood to get a fire going. Your campfire potatoes will be delicious no matter the method you choose.

Camp Stove

A camp stove is a great alternative to a campfire. Camp stoves are usually lightweight and easy to bring with you when backpacking. They heat up quickly and don’t retain heat when turned off, so they’re also safe to use.

For this recipe, we’re using the Coleman Butane Instastart, which is our Budget Option pick on our best camping stoves list.

Boiling water in a pasta pot on a camp stove.

It took about 12 minutes for the water to boil on this camp stove and 15 minutes for the potatoes to become parboiled.

Camp Stove Care Instructions

Make sure your camp stove’s gas holder is properly locked before using your camp stove. A misaligned gas tank can cause leaks, and you won’t be able to lock the holder if it’s not aligned properly.

Always remove the gas when you’re done cooking. You must wait for your stove to cool down before removing it. Place the lid back on tight when not using the gas canister.

Camp Grill

A camp grill is also an excellent alternative to a campfire, but I wouldn’t recommend using one for this recipe. If you want to make campfire potatoes on a camp grill, use a foiled campfire potato recipe.

Pan Frying

I strongly recommend using a cast iron pan (and getting one with silicone handles included, because your pan will be HOT).

Potatoes just taste better when cooked in cast iron, plus a cast iron pan is safe to sit down directly in your fire’s flame if you need to.

Season your brand-new cast iron pan at home before coming out to the campground.

When you’re ready to cook your potatoes, melt about a tablespoon of butter, shortening, or canola oil before adding the potatoes. If you are using a 10-inch cast iron pan, you will need to do it once for each pound of potatoes.


Depending on your pallet, you might find using salt and pepper to be too bland. Play around with seasonings as you like. Some people like to add Old Bay seasoning instead of a bay leaf added to the boiling water.

Seasoned potatoes in a cast iron skillet.

Try some of these seasonings and herbs with your campfire potatoes:

  • Parsley
  • Garlic Salt
  • Rosemary
  • Cayenne
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder

The Best Campfire Potatoes

Hot dogs and potatoes cooked in a skillet.
Campfire potatoes as the main course.

You’re going to love these campfire potatoes! Trust me, I had a hard time getting pictures because my family wanted to gobble them up as soon as they were cool enough to eat.

Looking for more easy campfire recipes? Check out these 12 Recipes Anyone Can Make.

Campstove Campfire Potatoes

Campfire Potatoes

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This is a delicious variation of traditional foil-wrapped campfire potatoes that might become your new camping meal tradition! Parboiled potatoes pan-fried with seasonings of your choice can either be a savory side dish or the main course with the addition of a protein. These potatoes are so good you might make them at home after the camping trip is over.


  • 4 quarts of water
  • 2 pounds of Yukon Potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of margarine
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Bay leaf (optional)
  • Seasonings (as desired)


  1. Place enough water in your pot to ensure potatoes will be fully covered–about 4 quarts if using a pasta pot.
  2. Bring this water to a boil and slice your potatoes in half while the water is coming to a boil. Do not remove the skins.
  3. Add your potatoes to the pot and boil until tender, about 5-10 minutes (though you don’t want your potatoes to fall apart).
  4. Check potatoes often with a fork to make sure they don’t fall apart when poked.
  5. Once your potatoes are soft, drain, and set them aside to cool for a few minutes.
  6. If your potatoes were refrigerated, let them come to room temperature.
  7. Prepare your pan by melting margarine (or adding another fat) to a cast iron pan.
  8. Wait until it starts smoking, then one by one, add the potatoes.
  9. Flip them once or twice until golden brown and the skin is crispy.
  10. Season your potatoes and place them on a plate to cool slightly. They should be served while still steaming hot!
Pinterest image for Campfire Potatoes.
Skip to Recipe