You don’t have to be one of Northwestern’s reigning rugged explorers (that’s you, PWild) to appreciate the merits of the great outdoors. Something about eating in the open air — especially after a full day of outdoor adventure — makes everything taste better.

The great thing about tin-foil dinners is that you can pack up whatever your heart desires. It ultimately comes down to what ingredients you have on-hand and what type of food you’re craving. Leave out the meat if you’re vegetarian, or switch up the vegetables based on what you have in the fridge. To get you started, here are two basic recipes for a main course and dessert. Get inspired!


By Maggie Gorman

Sweet Potato Hamburger Hash


Total Time: 40-50 minutes

Balsamic Marinade
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
⅛ cup dried basil flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced (or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

1 package baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 pound ground beef
1 sweet potato, shredded like hashbrowns
1 zucchini, diced
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 teaspoon basil flakes
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Whisk all marinade ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Toss mushrooms with marinade and let them marinate in a bowl or plastic bag for about 30 minutes.
  3. Season meat with salt, pepper and basil flakes.
  4. Arrange ingredients in the center of your tin foil sheet. Place meat on the bottom, followed by thicker vegetables and marinated mushrooms with the
  5. lightest vegetables at the top.
  6. Drizzle with any remaining marinade, fold foil into a tent pack (see sidebar on previous page) and place on hot coals of the fire.
  7. Cook until meat is browned and veggies are pokies softened, about 20–30 minutes. If you are using an oven, bake at 350°F for 20–25 minutes.

TIP: To make this dish vegetarian, leave out the meat and double the mushrooms.


By Maggie Gorman

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake


Total Time: 10-12 minutes

1 or 2 pineapple rings (canned or fresh)
1 cake doughnut
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 tablespoon brown sugar


  1. Mix butter and brown sugar in a small bowl until combined.
  2. Place cake doughnut in the center of a sheet of tin foil. Spread butter and sugar mixture on top of doughnut.
  3. Layer pineapple ring(s) on top of buttered doughnut and fold up in a flat pack.
  4. Cook on hot coals until butter has melted and pineapple is soft and slightly caramelized, about 5–7 minutes. If you are using an oven, bake at 350°F for about 5 minutes.

Wrap It Up In Tin Foil
Illustrations by Kyle Hancher.

A well-constructed foil pack is the first step toward achieving optimum goodness for your tin-foil dinner. For basic, all-over browning (as when cooking veggies and/or potatoes) you’ll want to make a flat pack .

By Kyle Hancher

Tear a sheet of heavy-duty foil twice as long as what you’re cooking.


Place food in the center, then fold the long edges up toward each other in the center and crimp them together, making small, downward folds until foil is flat against food.

Tightly fold the shorter edges in until sealed tightly.

Make a Tent Pack
For more thorough cooking and steaming, as when cooking meat and vegetables together, make a tent pack. Follow the steps above, but stop folding each of the edges a few inches before reaching the food, thus creating a “tent” in which steam can gather to cook food.