Favorite Recipes for Camping in the Heat

I love to camp at all times of the year. When planning trips, I do my best to camp in cooler places in the summer and warmer places in the winter. However, sometimes timing is such that I find myself camping where temperatures are in the 90’s. For example, last year we spent a few days at Zion National Park during a summer long camping adventure. Even when the temperature cooled down at night, it was still so warm that we slept on top of our sleeping bags. In that sort of heat, the idea of cooking may not be very appealing. Even my kids are not interested in starting a campfire when it is that hot. Fortunately there are meals that you can make that will help to keep you cool during your time in the heat. Here are some of my favorites, all of which are simple and can be modified to meet your desires.

Cold Bean Burritos

black beans and eggs

In the heat, I prefer cool food that is not too heavy. This is a twist on a family favorite we have at home. One thing that is great about it is it can be personalized; each person can make their burrito as they like. Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • Four medium or large flour tortillas
  • One can black or pinto beans
  • One cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • One cup lettuce (chopped)
  • One half cup tomato (chopped)
  • One avocado (chopped or sliced, depending on preference)
  • One cup salsa
  • Any other items you would enjoy on a burrito (onions, bell peppers, jack cheese, etc.)

for burritos

To Prepare:

You have a few choices when preparing this meal. You may choose to warm up the tortillas on a pan for a minute or so. Honestly, it will take even less effort to just take them out of the cooler 20 minutes before you are going to serve the burritos. They will soften up without any effort. As far as the beans go, they are precooked, so you don’t have to warm them up. Should you want to season your beans, you can always do this at home and then put your beans in a container and place them in the cooler. After chopping all of your vegetables, set them aside and put a layer of beans on each tortilla. Then it is time to hand off the plates to each hungry member of your group. Everyone can then layer the toppings as they like. This is a cool, filling meal that will provide you with the protein you need to keep up your activity level during your camping trip.

Pepperoni Pasta Salad

credit : wishesndishes

credit : wishesndishes

When I am considering what to cook when camping, regardless of the season, I love meals where the ingredients don’t require refrigeration. It seems that there is never enough room in the cooler! One of the great things about this pasta salad, aside from it being cold, is that the main protein does not have to be kept in the cooler.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

  • 12 oz. of penne pasta (ideally cooked at home, but can cook at campsite)
  • 12 oz. of dry pepperoni cut into wedges
  • 8 oz. of mozzarella cheese cut into cubes
  • 4 oz. of romano cheese either chopped into small pieces or grated, depending on preference
  • One small red onion cut in ¼ inch pieces
  • One green bell pepper cut into ½ inch pieces
  • Two tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • Black pepper and oregano to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

To Prepare:

Either cook the pasta and bring it with you cooked in your cooler, or cook it at your campsite and place it in your cooler while getting the rest of the ingredients ready. Once all of the pepperoni, cheese, bell pepper and onion are cut, you will set them aside for a few minutes. Next, combine the oil and vinegar together and stir well. Mix in black pepper and oregano as you prefer. Poor this mixture over the pasta and stir well. You will then add the pepperoni wedges, cheese, red onion and green peppers. Stir well. Try a bit of the pasta salad and should you like, add additional pepper and/or oregano. If you like, top each serving with a spoonful of grated parmesan cheese.

Chef Salad

credit: foodnetwork

credit: foodnetwork

I love salads; they are a favorite for me when I am at home. Why not enjoy them when camping? This cool salad will not weigh you down or heat you up and will provide you plenty of protein to continue having fun.

Here are the ingredients you will need (and substitute what you like according to your preference):

  • One bag of prewashed Spinach (if you prefer, you can use romaine lettuce, kale, spring mix, etc.)
  • One cup tomato (chopped)
  • One bell pepper (chopped)
  • Two carrots (chopped)
  • One cucumber (chopped)
  • ¼ cup red onion (chopped)
  • 8 oz. of cheddar cheese (either cut in cubes or shredded)
  • 8 oz. of ham (sliced thick from the deli and cut in cubes)
  • 8 oz. of turkey (smoked or roasted; also sliced thick and cut into cubes)
  • 4 oz. of bacon bits (or you can cook onsite if preferred)
  • Your choice or choices of dressing
  • Optional: cook a few hardboiled eggs before leaving home and add them to your salad

To Prepare:

It is key to keep in mind that this salad can be modified to meet the different preferences among your group. My daughter refuses to eat tomatoes and red onion, so those are left out of her salad. While I prefer spinach, spring mix is more popular among our family and so I will mix the two. Also, when it comes to the meat, you can have it sliced thick at the deli or purchase packaged lunch meats for convenience.

First, start chopping! Chop the tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, carrots and onion and set aside. As the spinach or other lettuce is already prewashed, you can just pour it in a bowl. I tend to give it a nice rinse just to be sure. I will place the spinach or lettuce in a large bowl and add all other ingredients but the salad dressing. Then mix well. Your meal is ready to serve and everyone can add the dressing themselves.

A Few Fun Treats to Stay Cool

With children who are not always enthusiastic about being outdoors in the heat, I have developed a few treats to cool them off that they (and I) look forward to:

  • Freeze some water bottles before you leave and place them in the cooler. These will keep your food cool and depending on how long they are in the cooler, function as popsicles or ice cold water to enjoy. Try the same thing with juice boxes or juice pouches. They make a tasty, slushy treat.
  • Bring frozen fruit; this is another way to keep your cooler items cold and the chilled fruit will taste great after some time in the heat.
  • Frozen broccoli or other veggies; this is a fun way to get your kids to eat their vegetables. My daughter even insists on eating frozen broccoli at home!

Preparing meals when camping in the heat requires more thinking than actual cooking. It is easy, when camping, to resort to the meals you are used to, no matter the weather. These no or minimal cook meals will make great additions to your plans for hot summer days outdoors, leaving you cool and with the energy you need to continue your adventures.

What are you favorite meals for when you are camping in hot weather?


Ilyssa is a mother of four who is employed full-time as a grant writer and who enjoys writing freelance articles in her spare time. Ilyssa has a great love of adventure and the outdoors, which she hopes she is passing along to her children. Last summer Ilyssa and her family took a five week road trip, camping and exploring most of the western United States. The trip inspired Ilyssa to work towards achieving flexible employment and/or financial freedom, so that she and her family may continue to travel and explore all nature has to offer, and not just for a few weeks out of the year.