Make this easy chicken foil dinner before your next camping trip and your first meal will be ready to be grilled at the campsite that night! Plus, it's equally fun to make ahead and grill for dinner at home.
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I loved camping with our kids when they were younger. It's the best way to see things on a budget and the whole camping experience was always a great bonding time.
But meals for camping trips need to be easy and tidy for me to enjoy camping. I don't want to be working too much to enjoy the experience (cooking and cleaning up is so much harder camping!).
I found that preparing ahead is completely worth the work to make sure we eat well with as little fuss as possible while we're on the road.
If you feel the same way then I think you're going to love this chicken foil dinner our family tested out on this John Day-Northeastern Oregon camping vacation.
Since I don't like to deal with raw meat while out camping (really hard to be as clean as I think you should be), I really wanted to see how brining pre-made chicken foil packet would turn out.
I added potatoes, onion, and a piece of corn on the cob since we had some from the garden, but green beans would be a nice alternative.
And we all loved it! In fact, this easy foil meal was such a hit that it became a staple of all our camping trips in our vintage trailer.
Chicken Foil Dinner Packets
- ears corn cut in half (frozen cobs work, too)
- basic spice rub or spices of choice
- boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Oil four to eight (adjust to the number of packets you need) heavy duty pieces of foil.
- Pile chopped potatoes, chopped onions, and a half ear of corn-on-the-cob (fresh or frozen) in the middle of the foil pieces.
- Rub the corn with melted butter and sprinkled with a Basic Spice Rub.
- Sprinkle the vegetables with more of the rub, too.
- Lay a boneless, skinless chicken thigh on top of the potatoes and dust it with more rub.
- Seal the edges all nice and tight, but still leaving a little room for steam.
- Refrigerate (or freeze - see tip below) until you need to pack for camp.
Thighs or Breasts?
You could use small chicken breasts, too, but I thought they might take longer to cook because they are thicker, so I went with the thighs. Plus, it's easier to overcook breasts than thighs and with uneven camp grills I didn't want to make it more difficult.
If you would like to use breast meat, chicken tenders might be a good option.
Make Ahead Tips
- Make the packets a few hours or days ahead, whatever works for your schedule. I wasn't sure how the potatoes would come out after being frozen, but they were great!
- If freezing, put the pouches in ziplock baggies in your cooler because a few leaked as they were defrosting (luckily they didn't get on anything!).
Cooking foil Packets
- Cook the packets about 5 inches from hot coals, 15 minutes on one side.
- Turn with tongs or long spatula and cook and 15 minutes on the other.
No campsite is the same and we had to use a stationary grate at the one in the photos, so they were closer than 5 inches, as you can see.
We just turned them a little more often, moving them around because of hot spots. In the end, the packets took about 20-25 minutes on this trip - even though they were still a little frozen when we put them on the fire.
They turned out great, though I'll be honest and say the bottoms of the corn and a few potatoes were a bit charred.
If you can get 5 or so inches from the fire, they cook better.
The end result was a delicious warm dinner with very little work or clean up needed.
Brian and the kids said it was a major success, asking right away for me to make them every time we went camping.
Don't you love the sound of success?
Meal Planning Tip:
After this trial run, I always made this our first night's meal when camping - it's such a great way to start a trip.
After you set up camp all you have to do is get the fire going and dinner will be in 1/2 hour without any "cooking." Throw together a salad while they are cooking and dinner is done!
Camping Chicken Foil Dinner FAQs
Cut heavy duty foil into 12-18 inch long pieces. Brush or spray on oil. Add food in center. Bring ht long edges together above the food, bringing the edges together and folding twice to make a seam (make sure to leave about an inch of space above the food for steam when cooking). Press each shorter side edges together and fold them together twice for the side seams.
Yes! The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service says that freezing food inactivates any microbes that are present (like bacteria, yeasts, and molds).
If you're still uncomfortable with that, you can make them just before you leave, as a few hours wouldn't be a problem and you'll be cooking them well on arrival.
Yes, you can. It would be more like heating up leftovers, which should work fine. I'd just be careful of burning or over cooking.
Yes - to cook on a camp stove or gas grill, simply place the foil packets directly on the grates over medium heat. Turn the packs with tongs every few minutes, cooking for about 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables and chicken are cooked and have nice browning on them.
Camping Chicken Foil Dinner (or Grill at Home)
- 4 large pieces of heavy duty or double-thick aluminum foil
- 4 small potatoes chopped
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2 ears corn cut in half (frozen cobs are okay)*
- butter melted
- basic spice rub or spices of choice
- 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs if using breasts, pound the thickest parts flat
- Lay out the pieces of foil and oil the centers of each.
- In the center of each piece of foil pile the potatoes and onions.
- Brush corn cobs with melted butter and place next to the potatoes. Sprinkle everything with your basic spice rub (or spices).
- Lay the chicken atop the potatoes and onions and sprinkle with more spice rub.
- Seal the edges all nice and tight, but leave a little room for steam. If taking camping, put the pouches in ziplock baggies in case of leakage (which did happen).
- Cook right away or freeze to take camping (use in the first 1-2 days).
- Cook thawed packets** 5 inches from the fire-coals, 15 minutes on one side and 15 minutes on the other.
- If they are closer because of stationary grate at the campsites, just turn them a little more often and move them to avoid hot spots. In this case, they might cook closer to the 20 minute mark, so you'll have to be checking after 15 minutes.
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