How to Cook Biscuits While Camping
At Outdoor Command, we love camping! This much is obvious. However, you might not know that we also love good food, and especially, camping with good food. A traditional camping menu consisting of hot dogs, burgers, and s’mores can get a little monotonous, so it’s a good idea to branch out if you take regular camping trips.
One food which you might not have considered for camping is biscuits. Most of us eat them fairly regularly at home, but they can make an excellent addition to any camping breakfast or dinner as well.
In this article, we will discuss several different ways of how to cook biscuits while camping, including a delicious recipe for biscuits and gravy. Whether you prefer them with butter and honey or drowning in gravy, biscuits are a staple food that you’ll be glad to have in your backcountry cuisine repertoire.
Some of these recipes call for campfires, some for camp stoves, and some, for something called a dutch oven. Every recipe included here uses either a cast-iron skillet or a dutch oven for baking the biscuits, so first we’ll explain what they are.
What is a dutch oven?
Many of these recipes feature a dutch oven, and it’s considered by many campers the best way to get flaky and delicious biscuits while camping- but what is it? A dutch oven is a heavy cooking pot with a tightly fitting lid. It can be used on the stovetop or in the oven, and usually made of cast iron.
They need to be seasoned before use for cooking, and just like any other cast iron cookware, Dutch ovens can withstand extremely high heat. Dutch ovens can even be used for deep frying, but more commonly they’re used for soups and stews and are excellent for any slow-cooking.
For camping, dutch ovens make a great alternative to a regular oven because of the way they are designed to hold in heat. However, dutch ovens are notoriously heavy, so for lightweight backpackers, unfortunately, they would not be an option. On the other hand, if you can stand the weight, they make an excellent addition to your camping gear, and amongst the many things you can cook in them are some tasty camping biscuits.
Canned biscuits on a camping stove
There are plenty of different methods you can employ to cook up some scrumptious biscuits at the campground- this one uses a camp stove and canned biscuits. Using canned biscuits will help cut down on prep time, as well as reducing the washing up afterward.
However, any eco-friendly campers out there might want to consider that this produces more unnecessary waste, and canned biscuits also contain chemical additives, so if you’re looking for a more natural approach, we’ve included a recipe for making camping biscuits from scratch as well.
Preheat your dutch oven or a covered skillet over medium heat on your camping stove. Keep the lid on the pot, and bring the temperature up to 350 degrees. In order to test the temperature without a thermometer, hold your hand above the pot, about six to eight inches away.
If you’re able to hold your hand there for more than eight seconds, the temperature is below 350 degrees and the pot it not ready yet. If you can hold your hand above the pot for around 5 seconds before removing it, the temperature is between 350 and 400 degrees, and you’re ready to start cooking up some biscuits.
Next, remove the lid of your dutch oven or skillet- be careful to use a holder or oven glove so you don’t hurt yourself. Grease the inside of the pan or pot liberally, using some cooking spray or another cooking oil. You could also use baking parchment.
Place your biscuits in one layer into the pan, with the sides touching, and replace the lid. You can now reduce your camping stove to low heat, and let your delicious biscuits bake for 13 to 17 minutes. Keep checking the temperature using the method we outlined before- holding your hand above your dutch oven or skillet.
Make sure the temperature doesn’t exceed 350 degrees because nobody wants burnt biscuits. Then your biscuits are a warm and golden brown, they’re ready. Time to dig in!
Canned biscuits over the campfire
If you don’t use a camping stove, or would just prefer to use the old fashioned method, you can also cook biscuits over the campfire. First, we would recommend cleaning out the fire ring at your campsite. It’s a worthwhile task to get rid of any extra ash and debris before you start any campfire cooking.
This will help your fire function better and also lessen the likelihood of you ending up with ash in your biscuits (not so tasty). If you need to dispose of leftover ash from your fire ring, firstly ensure that it’s completely cool. Then scoop up the ash into a trash bag and put it in the municipal waste at your campground. When primitive camping, the best way to dispose of ash is to scatter it as widely as possible, keep in mind that you’re trying to decrease the visual impact.
Prepare your charcoal or other fuel for a 350-degree fire. Spray your cooking oil inside the dutch oven while it’s still cold, coating all the inside with an even layer of grease, and lay out your biscuits within. Next, place the lid on top, and put the dutch oven containing your biscuits on top of the charcoal.
For this next step, you’ll need some decent campfire tongs, to lift up some pieces of hot charcoal and place them on top of the lid of your dutch oven. This will provide heat from all directions, and help your biscuits to cook evenly. Set your timer to 7 minutes, half the total cooking time, and have a cup of tea while you wait.
After 7 minutes, carefully, using the proper tools and heat protection, rotate the entire pot 90 degrees, or a quarter of a circle. Then, without lifting the lid, spin it 90 degrees (or a quarter circle) in the opposite direction. This will spread out the heat and help prevent hot spots within your oven, helping your backcountry biscuits to cook evenly and prevent them from burning.
After another 7 minutes, your biscuits should be cooked, golden brown, and ready to eat. Carefully remove the lid of the oven and make sure to place it somewhere safe- it will still be incredibly hot. Use a long spatula to get your biscuits out of the dutch oven.
Wait for the oven and lid to cool completely, you can leave them away from the heat inside the fire ring ideally, just make sure you don’t leave it out in the rain. To store your dutch oven, we recommend keeping a few paper towels inside, with some hanging between the lid and the bottom. This will help soak up any moisture and keep your oven fresh.
Dutch oven campfire biscuits from scratch
Making biscuits from scratch can seem a little intimidating, especially if you’re not at home in your kitchen. You may think making biscuits from scratch while on a camping trip isn’t worth it, but this biscuit recipe is so easy and so delicious, there’s really nothing like fresh biscuits on chilly mornings at the campsite. There’s also the benefit of knowing exactly what’s going into your food, without any hidden chemicals and preservatives, as well as the satisfaction you’ll enjoy from cooking your breakfast from scratch.
Ingredients (makes 7 large biscuits):
- 1 3/4 cup white flour (plus a little extra to flour your work surface)
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp of baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp of baking soda
- 1 stick (or 1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup cold buttermilk (or substitute milk with lemon juice or vinegar)
You will need:
- 24 pieces of charcoal (and a way to light them)
- 4 quart 10-inch dutch oven
- small cup, tin can, or biscuit cutter
- cutting board or alternative flat surface for rolling and cutting the biscuits
- mixing bowl
- lid lifter/pot holder
- hot pads
- tongs for moving the charcoal
- parchment paper (or extra butter for greasing)
- zip lock plastic bags (or another container for ingredients)
Before you set off to your campsite, you can mix together most of the ingredients at home. This way, you’ll have minimal preparation to do on your trip. Firstly combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl.
Take your stick of unsalted butter and cut it up into smaller pieces. Add the chopped butter into the dry ingredients, and use a fork or pastry cutter to mash the dry ingredients and butter together. Eventually, the butter should be in tiny pieces, like crumbs.
This method will ensure your biscuits are light and fluffy, as the butter will melt into little pockets as you bake. Once the mix is prepared, transfer it into a sealed plastic bag and store it in the fridge. When you’re ready to go on your camping trip, transport the mixture in a camping cooler, like a Yeti Cooler.
Once you reach the campsite, and you’re ready to bake some tasty biscuits, the first step is to prepare your campfire. Get your charcoal briquettes heating up, you’ll need 24 in total. Put them in a heap and light them, so they can begin to warm up. You want these charcoal briquettes to be hot before you start using them.
Mix together your buttermilk (or substitute) with your pre-prepared dry ingredients. Once the mixture is thoroughly combined, make a rough circle with your dough on your cutting board or other work surface.
Sprinkle on a little extra flour if your biscuit dough seems too sticky, and aim to create a rough circle about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. Grab your cup or chosen biscuit cutter and cut out as many biscuits as you can. Then, reform the circle, and repeat until you’re out of dough.
Next, you’ll need to either grease or paper your dutch oven. We recommend using parchment paper as it does a great job saving on washing up. Place the biscuits in a single layer inside the pot- if there’s any extra, save them for another round, otherwise, you could end up with underbaked and gluey biscuits.
Now it’s time to bake your biscuits. Place the lid on your dutch oven and take it to your fire circle or cooking area. Place six briquettes beneath the oven, and another 18 on top of the lid. Depending on how much you heated your coals, and what the weather conditions are, this recipe could take 30-45 minutes to cook. To make sure you get that perfect golden brown color, check the biscuits every 20 minutes, lifting the lid safely using proper heat protection.
Carefully remove the biscuits from the oven, and they’re ready! This recipe produces deliciously flaky biscuits. For breakfast, slather on some butter, honey or jam while they’re still hot, and enjoy.
Gourmet biscuits and gravy while camping
You can’t talk about biscuits without talking about biscuits and gravy. This recipe makes a delicious breakfast for four using a pre-made biscuit mix, but you can easily make biscuits from scratch using the recipe above!
- 1 pound breakfast sausage
- 1 cup of flour
- Salt, thyme, onion powder and black pepper to taste
- 4 cups of milk
- 2 packages of biscuits
You will need:
- 1 large dutch oven or two small dutch ovens stacked
- Campfire grate
- 12 inch cast iron skillet
Temperature regulation is the most important element in cooking with a dutch oven. In order to bake evenly, you need a balance of heat from the top and from the bottom. To achieve this you can use hot briquettes or coals from the fire, either way, you need to place more on top than underneath, as the coals on the bottom of the pan are much closer to the biscuits inside.
Grease the inside of your dutch oven to prevent the biscuits from sticking. Arrange them inside in a single layer, so that the biscuits barely touch. They will rise and expand as they bake, so try to allow a little extra room for this. Put the lid on top of the oven, and set it on about half of your hot coals. Then, place the other half of the coals on top of the oven. After about ten minutes, check to see how your biscuits are coming along. You may need to change around some coals if you see that they’re cooking unevenly.
While your biscuits are baking, it’s time for a little campfire cooking. It’s a good idea to have your campfire burning already, so you have a hot bed of coals to get started with. Once it’s ready, put your skillet on the campfire grate above your fire, and brown the sausage inside. You may need to use a little oil to prevent sticking.
Make sure your sausage is cooked through, stirring it around plenty, and then add in your flour. Mix this around to coat the sausage in flour and cook for a few minutes. Now it’s time to season your mixture, with salt and pepper, onion powder, thyme, or whatever you feel like.
All that’s left to add now before your delicious breakfast is ready is the milk. Pour in about 4 cups of any type of milk, just enough to cover the top of the sausage. Stir the mixture together well, making sure to scrape up any sausage stuck to the bottom of your skillet.
You’ll need to make sure your campfire is hot enough that the milk comes to a boil- without this, the gravy won’t thicken. Cook the mixture until it’s thick enough to coat your spatula without sliding off.
Allow your gravy to boil for a minute or two, stirring frequently, and then remove your skillet from the heat. Taste your gravy and adjust any seasonings as necessary.
To serve your delicious backcountry breakfast, take two cooked biscuits and cut them in half. Then, generously spoon on as much gravy as you desire, and enjoy while it’s still warm!
Whether you decide to cook dutch oven biscuits while camping or make use of that hefty cast-iron skillet you got for Christmas, there’s no doubt that cooking biscuits while camping is a delicious and worthwhile endeavor. You can use pre-packaged canned biscuits, or create your own biscuits from scratch. You can bake them in a fire pit, a dutch oven, or simply on a camp stove. Whichever way you decide to bake them, there’s no denying these backcountry recipes are a hearty and delicious way to start the day.
With so many ways to bake, there’s no excuse not to give these a go on your next adventure. However, if biscuits and gravy aren’t for you, why not try some Vegan Camping Recipes? It’s not an adventure vacation until you try something new.
Bonus tip: Check out this video for some dutch oven camping cooking tips!