These tasty beef and veggie tin foil dinners are a complete and hearty meal wrapped up in foil and cooked over a fire, on the grill, or in the oven.
Our summer plans include plenty of camping over the next few months and one of my favorite meals to bring with us is tin foil dinners. It’s a whole meal in one, they’re easy to assemble ahead of time, they cook directly over a campfire (but you can also use a grill or even your oven), and cleanup is so easy. What’s not to love?
The last time we went camping I shared a photo of our tin foil dinners on my instagram stories and had a few requests for the recipe. “Recipe” is rather a loose term for these beef and veggie tin foil dinners, as you can throw almost any combination of ingredients together into a foil packet and cook it, but this classic combo is my favorite. Continue reading for my suggestions for creating your own custom tin foil dinners, how to assemble them, and the different ways they can be cooked.
Tin foil dinner ingredients
As I’ve already mentioned, you can choose to use almost any combination of ingredients and flavors in tin foil dinners, but here are a few guidelines to consider:
- Choose a protein— For these tin foil dinners I used ground beef, but ground turkey, chicken, sausage, cubed chicken or steak, fish, or shrimp would also work. The meat should be able to cook quickly, so a whole chicken breast or pork chop are not ideal.
- Add lots of veggies— For every 1 cup of protein, try to add 2 cups (or more) of veggies. You can use just a few or a larger variety, it’s up to you! These tin foil dinners have onions, potatoes, carrots, corn, and green beans. Feel free to use either fresh or frozen vegetables.
- Choose a seasoning— Keep it simple with just salt and pepper, or add other seasonings like garlic powder, dried or fresh herbs, or your favorite multi-purpose seasoning salt. My favorite way to burst flavor in tin foil dinners is with fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme or sage.
- Finish with butter or oil— Add a few pats of butter or a drizzle of olive oil for another boost of flavor and to help prevent the contents from sticking to the foil.
How to assemble tin foil dinners
- Start with heavy duty aluminum foil and measure sheets to about 18 inches long.
- Lay sheets of foil side-by-side on your workspace so you can assemble all at once.
- Grease foil with nonstick cooking spray.
- Divide meat and veggies evenly between each sheet of foil, mounding them into the center.
- Top with butter or drizzle of oil.
- Season with salt, pepper and any additional seasonings.
- Fold the long ends of the foil together, crimping them tightly to create a seal, and then continue to fold the seam over itself until it’s flush with the contents. Fold over and crimp both sides the same way. You want the foil to be tightly sealed so no juices escape.
- If you’re cooking over a fire or grill, consider double wrapping the tin foil dinner to ensure they can hold up during cooking without tearing open. Tongs can accidentally pierce open the foil as you flip and rotate it, and double wrapping can prevent that.
Tin foil dinners can be assembled ahead of time and stored in the fridge or cooler until you’re ready to cook. Make sure they stay properly chilled and try to use them within a few days. You can also freeze tin foil dinners up to several weeks ahead of time (it’s a great way to keep them cold in a cooler!). Let thaw in the fridge overnight or in a cooler for several hours before cooking.
3 ways to cook tin foil dinners
You can cook these beef and veggie tin foil dinners several different ways:
- Over a campfire— (aka my favorite way) Wait till fire has turned to coals and spread logs out slightly to make a flat surface, or place logs in a circle around a flat space in the center. Place tin foil dinners in the fire and cook for about 20 minutes, flipping and/or rotating packets during cooking as needed.
- On the grill— Preheat grill to medium, or to about 400°F. Place tin foil dinners on grill and cook for 20 minutes, flipping once during cooking.
- In the oven— Preheat oven to 400°F. Place tin foil dinners on a sheet pan and cook for about 20 minutes.
Cooking time for tin foil dinners will depend on the size of meat and veggies and how full the packets are. Aim for 1-inch pieces and the dinners should be done in about 20 minutes. You can always open up a packet to check for doneness and return it to the fire/grill/oven if more cooking time is needed.
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Beef and Veggie Tin Foil Dinners
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 large carrots, sliced
- 1 ear of corn, kernels removed (or 1 cup frozen)
- 1 lb potatoes (about 4 medium), chopped in 1 inch pieces
- Handful of green beans, chopped
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup salted butter, cubed (can also use 1/4 cup olive oil)
- Approximately 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, thyme or sage, chopped
- Salt and pepper, as needed
- Measure 4 sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil to about 18 inches. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Layer beef and veggies in a mound into the center of each sheet of foil, dividing ingredients evenly between all 4 sheets.
- Top with butter or oil and fresh herbs.
- Season heavily with salt and pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon of salt for each packet.
- Fold edges of foil over and crimp tightly to seal. If cooking on grill or fire, consider double wrapping to prevent tears in foil.
- To cook on fire: Wait till fire has turned to coals and spread logs out to heat is as even as possible. Cook on logs for about 20 minutes, flipping and rotating as needed to promote even cooking, until meat is cooked through and veggies are soft.
- To cook on grill: Preheat grill to medium heat, about 400° and cook for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through, until meat is cooked through and veggies are soft.
- To cook in oven: Preheat oven to 400°F and cook for 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and veggies are soft.
- Carefully open up foil packets as the steam inside is very hot. You can eat straight out of the foil or dump contents onto a plate.
- See post above for suggestions of other flavor and ingredient combinations.
- To make ahead: Store prepared foil dinner in a fridge or cooler for a few days, or store in the freezer for several weeks. Let thaw in the fridge overnight or in a cooler for several hours before cooking. Always make sure prepared foil dinners are kept cold before cooking.