Picture this: You’re sitting by a lake, the water lapping at the shore, and you’ve finally gotten the campfire to a perfect, gentle crackle that’s not too smoky. Dinner is cooking away—chili and perhaps some creamed corn on the side—but then you realize: what’s for dessert? Don’t worry, if you’ve brought your Dutch oven for savory dishes, you can repurpose it for tasty treats after the main meal is over, transforming the wilderness into a dessert-lovers’ paradise.
Camping enthusiasts know that a Dutch oven is a must-have tool for outdoor cooking. Its versatility and durability make it an ideal choice for preparing a range of savory dishes from lasagna (seriously!) to braised sausages and cabbage. But it can show up for you with dessert, too. Because Dutch ovens are great for maintaining consistent heat, it is surprisingly great for the uneven conditions of baking in the great outdoors. Check out these ideas for using your Dutch oven to make camping desserts:
Campfire Apple Crisp
Bring the rich aromas of apples and cinnamon along with you on your next camping get away. Sliced apples, sugar, and a sprinkle of cinnamon meld together in the Dutch oven, creating a gooey, sweet filling. Topped with a mixture of oats, flour, and butter, the dish is perfect for enjoying under the stars after a day of hiking. Pro-tip: stir together the apple mixture and crumble topping and store in the cooler in zip top bags until you’re ready to cook. Let’s Camp S'more has handy instructions for making Dutch Oven Apple Crisp.
Dutch Oven Brownies
Elevate your camping dessert game with gooey, fudgy brownies made right in your Dutch oven. Simply mix your favorite brownie batter and pour it into the pre-heated Dutch oven. The result is a decadent, chocolatey treat that will have everyone asking for seconds. If you can tuck a can of whipped cream into your cooler and a jar of salted caramel sauce, you’ll be the most popular person at the campsite. KOA Campgrounds have a recipe for Dutch Oven Raspberry Brownies made with brownie mix worth test-driving in your Dutch oven.
Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler
Whether you used fresh or canned peaches, few things can beat the taste of a campfire peach cobbler, which is lightly infused with smoky undertones. Though most campfire-friendly peach cobblers call for using cake mix, it’s possible to tote along a pre-mixed topping from scratch. If that’s your jam, turn to Well Plated by Erin’s Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler, which has useful instructions for cooking with a Dutch oven over a campfire, no matter which dessert you’re planning to make.
Oreo Cookie Skillet
Here’s a tip: Often, if a camping recipe says skillet, your Dutch oven is up to the task. That’s the case with Oreo cookie skillets, which do what it says on the tin. You’ll combine chocolate chip cookie dough with broken Oreo cookies, mini marshmallows, and—if you’ve brought a means of keeping frozen food cold—ice cream. Of course, you could top portions with refrigerated whipped cream or whipped topping, instead. Check out Delish’s insanely easy recipe for campfire-friendly Oreo Cookie Skillet.
Believe it or not, you can make cheesecake in your Dutch oven over a campfire. If a genuinely decadent dessert worthy of almost any culinary occasion is what your camping situation calls for, then campfire cheesecake is the answer. As with many campfire desserts, you might be happy to pre-mix what you can and store the various components in zip top plastic bags in your cooler until ready to mix. That way, you can avoid slicing, measuring, and mixing when you could be enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Feeling inspired? Try this recipe for Apple Cheesecake with Caramel Streusel Topping from Scouting Magazine, which layers a crust, cheesecake filling and three types of toppings (apple, streusel, and caramel).
Dutch Oven S’mores
It’s not camping if there isn’t something S’mores-inspired. The impatient eater might prefer a simple s’mores dip to slowly toasting a marshmallow over the flames. To make a simple s’mores dip in your Dutch oven: Layer a bag each of chocolate chips and marshmallows in your Dutch oven, then cover and cook until melted. Dip in graham crackers for an indulgent and mess-free take on traditional s’mores. Taste of Home offers a slightly more involved version, called Pot of S'mores, which combines a buttery graham cracker crust with a chocolate and sweetened condensed milk filling and a marshmallow top. And hey, if all else fails, there are always s’mores.