Hobo Dinners: Fast and Flavorful Meals to Make Over the Campfire

campers enjoying there hobo dinners

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Hobo dinners were a big part of my childhood. My family loved camping. My mom used to say that her idea of camping was staying at a Holiday Inn. But the first time that my dad rented a Winnebago for a camping trip to the beach, even my mom was hooked.

Foil Packet Cookbook

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My sister and I loved every minute of it, and we probably would've been thrilled to eat grilled hot dogs and s'mores for a week. My parents, on the other hand, insisted on something a little more nutritious. So my mom made yummy hobo dinners for us. The packets weren't just delicious, but they were also fun to help build and watch while they cooked on the fire.

If you can how to make coffee by the campfire, you can surely make hobo dinners too.

Sometimes I even like to make the foil packets at home in the oven. They're super easy to make, and they remind me of a very happy time in my childhood.

What Are Hobo Dinners?

cooking hobo dinner over a campfire

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Hobo dinners are individual meals cooked in a tin foil packet on the grill or over a campfire. They're super easy to make. You just add some meat and veggies to a piece of tin foil, then seal it up and place it on the heat. Twenty minutes later you have a delicious meal that is perfect after a long day of camping and hiking.

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In a minute, I am going to share five of our favorite hobo dinners recipes that are sure to be a big hit at your next cookout.

Aside from the meat and veggies, there are a few things that you need to make the best hobo dinners.

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Why Are They Called Hobo Dinners?

The name "hobo" first became popular in the 1800s. People used the term hobo to describe impoverished transient workers. Hoboes would typically work for a day and then take to the road the next. Many of them used trains to get from job to job.

They would harvest the fields and orchards or work in lumbering or any odd job that could sustain them for a short period.

Many hoboes lived in camps where they would contribute to hobo dinners. Each hobo would bring one item to the dinner each night. Some of them would bring a potato or a carrot or a piece of meat. That one small piece of food on its own wouldn't make much of a dinner.

But when they combined their ingredients, they were able to make delicious meals to feed the whole camp.

The Hobo Handbook

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Why Are Hobo Dinners Great for Camping?

AmazonBasics Folding Campfire Grill

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When I was a kid, hobo dinners were a staple when my family went camping. My mom would cut up the meat and veggies ahead of time and pack them in a cooler in zip lock bags. Then all she had to do was seal the food in tin foil packets and throw them on the campfire. You can also make hobo dinners on the grill or in the oven.

It's fun to eat dinner right off the tin foil, and it makes clean up a breeze too.

150 Best Recipes for Cooking in Foil

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Hobo dinners are super simple to make, and because you make each meal individually, they cook up quick. They're also great for the whole family. You can even let the kids make their own packets.

Hobo Dinners

The truth is, you can make a hobo dinner out of just about anything. Hamburger is a popular ingredient in hobo dinners, but you can use any kind of meat. Here are five of our favorite hobo dinners recipes. All five of them will be huge hits on your next camping trip.

Hamburger and Potato Hobo Dinner

Hobo Foil Packets

Hobo Foil Packets (Hamburger & Potato). These are SO easy to make, budget friendly and everyone absolutely loves them!Full recipe here: http://www.spendwithpennies.com/hobo-dinner-packs-hamburger-potato/

Posted by Spend With Pennies on Saturday, August 19, 2017

This recipe by Olio by Marilyn is one of our favorite hobo dinners for the whole family. Even the kids will love this one.

What you need

  • 1 pound of lean ground beef
  • 1 package of dry onion soup mix
  • 4 small potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups of carrots, chopped or sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 can of condensed mushroom soup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Heavy-duty tin foil

How you make it

Start by combining the ground beef and dry onion soup mix in a bowl. Then shape the meat into four patties and set aside.

Next, in a large bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients except the mushroom soup.

Spray four pieces of foil with non-stick spray. And then place 1/4 of the vegetable mixture onto the center of each foil. Top each packet with a beef patty, and then add two tablespoons of condensed mushroom soup to the top of each patty. Seal the foil packets well.

Then place the packets beef side up on a preheated grill over medium heat for about 45 minutes. You should cook until the potatoes are tender and the beef reaches 160 degrees.

Busy Creating Memories Easy Hobo Dinner

Busy Creating Memories Easy Hobo Dinner

Another of our favorite hobo dinner recipes comes from Busy Crating Memories. The jalapenos give this one a kick.

What you need

  • 1 pound of lean ground hamburger
  • 2 Idaho Russet potatoes
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 Nitrate-free beef sausage
  • jalapenos
  • Famous Dave's Burger and Steak seasoning
  • McCormicks California Style Garlic Pepper
  • Heavy-duty tin foil

How you make it

Start by spreading out the heavy-duty tin foil. Make a hamburger patty and place on the foil. Then top the patty with thinly sliced potato wedges.

Next, add the corn, carrots, and jalapenos and a few slices of the beef sausage.

Season the mixture with Dave's Famous Burger and McCormick's garlic pepper seasonings. And then fold the tin foil around the food and seal well.

Place the packets on a preheated grill for 30 to 40 minutes until the veggies are soft. You should also be sure that you cook the meat thoroughly

Philly Cheesesteak Hobo Dinner


If you love Philly Cheesesteak, then you are going to go wild for this hobo dinner from Chelsea's Messy Apron. This recipe has a few more ingredients than some of the other hobo dinners on our list, but you can easily prepare the meat and veggies ahead of time and bring them on your camping trip in zip lock bags.

What you need

  • 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup of yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup of brown sliced mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 pound of lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 6 slices of provolone cheese
  • Heavy-duty tin foil

How you make it

Start by preheating the grill to 525 to 550 degrees F. Then spread out four large sheets of tin foil.

After you wash and chop up the veggies, add them to a large bowl with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss until you coat all of the veggies, and then place the mixture onto each of the foil sheets.

In the same bowl you used for the veggies, add the pound of ground beef. Then add the Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Knead all of the ingredients together until well combined.

Next, separate the meat into four parts, and then coarsely break each portion of beef over the veggies on each foil packet.

Seal up each of the foil packets, making sure to leave some room for air circulation.

The next step is to place the packets on the grill. Cook at high temperature for about 10 minutes. And then flip the packet upside down and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until the veggies are soft. If you are making this hobo dinner over the campfire, then you should place the packs directly on the hot coals. Cook over the fire for five minutes, then flip it over and cook for another five minutes before you give it a check.

Once the veggies are tender, remove the packs from the heat and carefully open. Make sure that you watch out for the steam. Then place 1 and 1/2 pieces of provolone cheese on top and return the foil packet to the grill for a few minutes to let the cheese melt

Jambalaya Foil Packet Hobo Dinner

One of the things that we love about hobo dinners is that you can be as creative as you want to be. And you can do so much more than just hamburger! This recipe from Wine and Glue is sure to hit the spot at the end of a long day camping. It's quick and easy, and best of all, it's delicious!

What you need

  • 1 pound of Jennie-O andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 3 teaspoons of cajun seasoning
  • 1 cup of instant rice
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • Heavy-duty tin foil

How you make it

Start by preheating your grill to 400 degrees.

Then spread five square pieces of tin foil out and spray the centers with non-stick cooking spray.

Next, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Divide the mixture into five parts and place on the foil. And then seal the packets and place them on the grill or campfire.

Cook the packets for 20 to 25 minutes until the rice is soft, making sure to flip the packs over halfway through.

Buttery Garlic Steak and Mushroom Hobo Dinner


Are you on a low-carb diet? Do you love steak? Well, then you're going to flip over this delicious recipe by Creme De La Crumb.

What you need

  • 1 pound of top sirloin steak
  • 1/2 pound of whole mushrooms, halved
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley
  • 3 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh thyme or parsley, for garnish
  • Heavy-duty tin foil

How you make it

Start by preheating the grill to 400 degrees. Then cut the steak into 2-inch chunks, and add it to a large bowl with the halved mushrooms.

In a separate bowl, stir together the melted butter, basil, parsley, thyme, and garlic. And then pour the mixture over the steak and mushrooms and stir to coat thoroughly.

Next, divide the coated steak and mushrooms between four large pieces of heavy-duty tin foil. Seal the packets.

Then cook over the grill or campfire for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping halfway through to cook evenly.

Open the packets and garnish with the chopped parsley or thyme, and serve.

A Final Thought on Hobo Dinners

As you can see, hobo dinners are an excellent way to cook veggies and meat over the campfire or grill. They're easy to make, and they taste delicious. Hobo dinners were a staple for my family when we went camping. And to this day I love them.

It's fun to let kids build their own packets and watch them cook. They also make a hearty meal that really hits the spot after a full day of camping and hiking.

Now we want to hear from you! Did you try any of our yummy hobo dinners? How did you like it? Let us know in the comments section below what you think about these foil packet dinners. And share with our readers if you have another great recipe for hobo dinners.


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