Advice | May 25, 2017 9:00 am

Foil Packets Are the Secret to Better Campsite Meals

The difference between foil and cast iron? Oh, about 20 lbs.

This is just one installment of 37 Things a Man’s Gotta Do This Summer, our annual compendium of everything worth seeing, doing, eating, drinking and generally making time for in your neck of the woods between now and September.

It’s only natural for a man to want to cook over an open flame. When he’s camping, doubly so.

But if you think making food over a fire means either a freeze-dried hiker’s meal or a complicated schlep involving Dutch ovens and cast-iron pans, Linda Ly, author of The New Camp Cookbook, will tell you otherwise. Which is to say, there’s another way: the tin-foil packet.

“This is cooking at its primal best,” she writes, “a handful of basic ingredients piled together, wrapped in foil, and heated over coals or a campfire. It’s hard to mess up something so simple.”

Simple? Absolutely. We’ll also add delicious.

Cooking with tin foil is a method you can readily perform at home. But it’s the easy execution and even easier cleanup that makes it perfect for your next camping trip. You can do most of the prep in advance, and it can be enjoyed in solitude or as a tidy communal meal where everyone gets their fair share.

Remember: a foil packet is essentially a mini oven. So be sure to make sure your pack is securely sealed. And you can throw essentially anything in there, though seafood and veggies work best. Just remember to oil up your food and rotate the packs every few minutes for even cooking.

Below, you’ll find Ly’s recipe for a camp-side Tin Foil Seafood Boil, minus the big pot. Says Ly: “Clams and fish work equally well in these foil packs, so feel free to add as much variety of seafood as you want; they’ll cook in the same amount of time as the shrimp and scallops.” We suggest prepping a few of these packs and storing ‘em in the cooler the next you’re out in Mother Nature.

Tin Foil Seafood Boil
Makes 4 Servings


Olive oil spray
1 large lemon, sliced into 8 rounds
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (16/20 count, about 3/4 pound)
8 sea scallops (about 1/2 pound)
2 ears corn, cut into quarters
8 new potatoes, halved or quartered (about 3/4 pound)
3 links andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 9 ounces)
1 cup (240 ml) beer, dry white wine, or chicken broth
1/4 cup (56 g) butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning


Prepare a grill over high heat.

Lightly spray 4 sheets of aluminum foil with oil. Mound one-fourth of the lemon, shrimp, scallops, corn, potatoes and sausage in the middle of each sheet, then bring all four sides of the foil up to form a bowl.

Pour an equal amount of beer into each packet, followed by a few pads of butter and a sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning. Fold the foil tightly together on top to seal, leaving room inside the packet for steam and heat to circulate. Grill the packets for about 15 minutes, until the seafood is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.

Photos: Will Taylor
Recipe courtesy of Voyageur Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group