Eating healthy, well-balanced meals is incredibly important when you’re camping so you can maintain your energy levels to hike, swim, and participate in all your favorite outdoor activities.
A healthy meal involves eating as many colors as possible–and what better way to make a colorful meal than to make a stir fry?
Keep reading to learn my easy camping stir fry recipe. I’ll also share tips on how not to burn your fresh vegetables!
What to Know About Stir Fry Camping Meals
Getting everyone to eat their vegetables is hard, especially when you’re cooking for picky eaters. I used to struggle when cooking vegetables at the campground because, when I’m at home, I cook with frozen vegetables.
It’s not practical to bring frozen vegetables to the campsite because they will not stay frozen for more than a couple of hours unless you have an expensive cooler or electric portable freezer.
I’ve struggled with cooking stir fries with fresh vegetables because I’ve always found that they tend to burn. While some people may like burnt vegetables, my family and I do not.
Camping Stir Fry Ingredients
- Olive oil
- Teriyaki sauce
Prepping at Home
Prep as much at home as you can. You don’t want your vegetables to be cross-contaminated, because that causes them to go bad faster (and that’s why I don’t recommend buying pre-made fresh stir fry kits from the store).
Chop up your carrots (I used two large sticks) and broccoli. I do cheat and buy pre-chopped broccoli to make this process a little easier. Then cut your chicken and place them in separate containers or bags.
Measure out your garlic and place it in a small container. I use pre-made minced garlic because it saves time and tastes the same as fresh garlic. Add your vegetables, meat, and minced garlic to your cooler.
I have a small condiment bottle I put my camp oil in. These bottles are great for transferring all the condiments that you need to bring with you, so you don’t have to worry about lugging along large condiment bottles.
Making Camping Stir Fry
Heat your pan, skillet, or wok on your camp stove on high. You’re ready to begin cooking once your pan feels warm to the touch.
Splash a tiny amount of water on the pan to add a small amount of moisture for the vegetables. You only need ¼ of a teaspoon to start. Add tiny amounts as needed when you notice the vegetables darkening.
Note: It’s important not to add too much water, because this will cause your vegetables to become soggy, and no one wants that! The goal is to cook vegetables that are crispy but cooked all the way through.
Sauté your garlic in olive oil. (If you’re using onions, add them now too.)
Add the carrots as soon as the pan is hot. Turn down the heat to medium and place your cover over the pot. Steam should start to form over it–that’s a good sign!
Regularly check that your camp stove is still emitting heat. One problem I’ve encountered with mine is that it loses heat very quickly, so I find myself having to turn up the stove to high again to make sure enough heat is coming out to simmer the vegetables.
After about five minutes, add the chicken and turn the camp stove back up to high. Cook uncovered until your chicken is browned on all sides, stirring often.
Cover the pan for a couple of minutes before adding your broccoli. You might need to add a splash of water now if your carrots are getting too dark.
Add the broccoli and stir the vegetables and meat while cooking on high heat. Then turn down the heat and cover to simmer the stir fry.
Continue stirring frequently during the cooking process. About ten to fifteen minutes later, when the vegetables are almost cooked all the way through, add your sauce.
Bring the sauce to a boil and cover it again to simmer. Finish the camping stir fry by letting the sauce boil at the end (which helps thicken the sauce).
Once you’re able to puncture the vegetables easily with a fork, remove the pan from the heat. Warning: Cast iron pans are HOT! You will need oven mitts or silicone handles to touch the panhandle.
Allow your camping stir fry to cool for at least five minutes (this allows the sauce to thicken), then you’re ready to serve.
Storing and Reheating
Store any camping stir fry leftovers in an airtight container in your cooler or camp refrigerator. To reheat your stir fry, add one tablespoon of oil to a skillet and add your leftovers. Heat, stirring often, for about five minutes, then enjoy!
Tips to Avoid Burning Your Fresh Vegetables
Tip 1: Cook Your Vegetables in Order
In this recipe, I use carrots and broccoli, so I added my carrots first. Carrots take a considerably longer time than broccoli to cook, so you’ll want to give your carrots at least a 10-minute head start.
Tip 2: Keep a Water Bottle Near
After years of making stir fries with frozen vegetables, I’ve realized one thing frozen vegetables have that fresh vegetables do not, and that is more water content. I always put a little water on the pan (along with a tablespoon of oil) before I add my fresh vegetables.
Throughout the cooking process, I splash small amounts of water (no more than a tablespoon at a time) onto the pan to keep the moisture content up.
Tip 3: Use a Heavy-Duty Pan
I prefer to cook my camp stir fry on cast iron. A pan that is too lightweight is going to cause your vegetables to burn quickly. You could also use an anodized aluminum pan but never use a regular aluminum pan.
Of course, the best way to make camp stir fry is using a wok. Woks are traditional Asian pans and can be used over a campfire or camp stove, and they make stir fries faster than any other pan.
Tip 4: Use a Camp Stove
It’s virtually impossible to control the heat over a campfire without moving your pan to another location on the fire.
Fires emit hot heat, so reducing your stir fry to a simmer is not possible. I always simmer my vegetables for the majority of the cooking time, which prevents them from burning.
Tip 5: Cover Your Stir Fry
I see a lot of people cooking stir fries without covering their vegetables, which I don’t recommend. Your vegetables will get softer faster if they stay covered, especially if you add small amounts of water to the pan, which adds steam.
Rice is my favorite side for this dish. However, I was surprised at how much energy my little rice cooker used (around 500 watts). Using a rice cooker at the campsite may not be feasible unless you have a campsite with power or a strong portable power source.
Of course, you can always cook rice over the campfire or your camp stove, but I prefer to save time by pre-cooking my rice at home and then reheating it. To reheat rice, add a small amount of water to a pot or pan and bring it to a boil. Add the rice and break it up so it warms evenly.
The best thing about camping stir fry is it’s versatile, and you can throw in whatever vegetables you have on hand. Try any of these popular stir-fry vegetables (just remember to add them in order of hardest to softest):
- Red, orange, yellow, and green peppers
- Green, yellow, and white onions
- Pea pods
- Bell peppers
Although chicken is my favorite protein option, you can use pork, steak, shrimp, or lamb. Vegetarians can use tofu or opt to use mushrooms as the protein.
I use olive oil because it’s low in saturated fat (and my family loves the taste). Canola oil is also low in saturated fat, and it has a higher smoke point than olive oil, making it a great stir-fry oil.
You can also use vegetable, avocado, and grapeseed oils, which all have high smoke points. Avoid extra-virgin olive oil because it has a low smoke point
If you use sesame oil, add it at the end as a sauce. Do not use butter or shortening to cook your stir fry because it will burn quickly.
The sauce I used for this recipe is Sweet Baby Ray’s Teriyaki Sauce and Marinade. We’re fans of Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce, so I wanted to give their teriyaki sauce a try.
You could skip the sauce altogether and just add some of your favorite seasonings.
There are tons of stir-fry sauces you can try. I recommend walking down the sauce aisle at your local grocery store and experimenting!
Noodles are a yummy addition to any stir fry. You will need to boil them first before preparing your vegetables and meat, then you’ll add them at the end.
Wrapping Up the Easiest Camping Stir Fry Recipe
This camping stir fry recipe is easy, delicious, and the best way to make a colorful meal.
Looking for more easy camp recipes? Check out these 20 Easy Camping Recipes that anyone can make!
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or other oil of choice)
- 1 tablespoon of garlic
- 1 ½ cup chopped broccoli
- ¾ cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup teriyaki sauce
- 1 pound chicken
- 1 small water bottle
- Cooked rice or noodles, kept warm
- Before your trip, chop your veggies and chicken, and measure all your ingredients into small containers.
- At the campsite, heat your pan, skillet, or wok on high on your camp stove. Splash a ¼ teaspoon of water on the pan and keep your water bottle close by.
- Sauté your garlic in olive oil. (If you’re using onions, add them now too.)
- Add the carrots as soon as the pan is hot.
- Reduce the heat to medium and place your lid over the pot–the lid should visibly show steam.
- Regularly check that your camp stove is still emitting heat.
- After around five minutes, add the chicken and turn the camp stove up to high heat.
- Cook uncovered until your chicken is browned on all sides, stirring often.
- Cover the pan for a couple of minutes before adding your broccoli. You might need to add a splash of water now if your carrots are getting too dark.
- Add the broccoli and stir the vegetables and meat while cooking on high heat. Reduce the heat and cover to simmer the stir-fry.
- Continue stirring frequently during the cooking process, about 10-15 minutes.
- When the vegetables are almost cooked all the way through, add your sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil and cover it again to simmer.
- Finish the camping stir fry by letting the sauce boil at the end (which helps thicken the sauce).
- Once you can puncture the vegetables easily with a fork, remove the pan from the heat (use oven mitts or silicone handles!).
- Allow your camping stir fry to cool for at least five minutes to thicken the sauce before serving.
- Serve with rice or noodles.
- About the Author
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Nicole Kinkade grew up in campgrounds in the Midwest with her family in their RV and has many fond memories around the campfire. She and her husband took many tent camping trips at the beginning of their relationship, and she looks forward to sharing the outdoors with her young son as he gets older.
She loves discovering new camping techniques and sharing them with the world. With a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Media Communication, she is a passionate writer who loves sharing her knowledge online.
Nicole can be reached at email@example.com