Campfire One-Pot Macaroni & Cheese

We’ve been road tripping through the blistering hot Niagara region of Ontario for the past week, visiting friends, picking stone fruits and enjoying plenty of beach time.

This easy pasta has come in handy for a quick meal when we have returned to our Airbnb hungry after a day of exploring. In the past I’ve always relied on the one-pot dish for camping trips, but it is a good recipe to have in your back pocket for any time you need a fast – and comforting – meal.

Here I’ve included photos of the Dutch oven campfire macaroni & cheese, but you can also prepare it in a heavy bottomed pot in your own kitchen.

I should reiterate that I love cooking over an open fire. I’ve done it for as long as I can remember, starting with fresh-caught lake trout grilled over a fire pit on the shores of Lake Laberge in the Yukon.

I find it relaxing, in fact, one should always be relaxed and never in a hurry when cooking over a campfire. A slow heat ensures an even heat, and an end result that is cooked through, instead of burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.

This recipe was created out of my love for a cheesey pasta dish every time we go camping. The fresh air makes us all ravenous, and, speaking from experience, cooking up a big pot of carbs keeps my children fueled up and out of my camp kitchen for a few hours at least.

As kids we used to buy Kraft Dinner, of course, but I can’t stand it now, and refuse to cook it for my kids. None of them like KD anyway. But this dish? Clara asks for thirds, as often as she can, and that’s not only because she’s worked up an appetite out in nature.

Loads of cheddar cheese, a generous pour of evaporated milk and a good dash of mustard all contribute to a mac & cheese that is every bit as craveworthy as your favourite packaged version. All ingredients are easy to pack for a camping trip or buy at any neighbourhood grocery.

The pasta is boiled in milk, which reduces as the pasta cooks. I partially cover it to keep out the ashes and sparks that tend to fly around a campfire.

All that is left to do is stir in the cheese, butter, evaporated milk and seasonings. Stir, stir, and stir some more over low coals and this one pot campfire macaroni and cheese comes together in a creamy, dreamy dish.


Camping One-Pot Macaroni & Cheese
5.0 from 2 reviews
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Recipe type: Dinner
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: Serves 6
The perfect one-pot camping dish to keep everyone happy - and fed up.
Ingredients
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 450 grams macaroni pasta (or shells, like in the photos)
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 2 cups (150g) cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • dash of paprika
  • Tabasco, for serving
Instructions
  1. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, such as a cast iron Dutch oven, combine the 2% milk, water and salt. Bring to a boil, then tip in the pasta, stirring slowly with a wooden spoon.
  2. Cook the pasta in the milk, partially covered with a lid, over medium-high heat until al dente, about 9-10 minutes; it should be slightly underdone when you bite into it. Do not drain!
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stirring constantly, add the butter, dijon and evaporated milk to the pot. Slowly sprinkle in the cheese, a handful at a time, and stir until melted. The sauce will thicken as the cheese melts and the pasta finishes cooking.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat. Season with pepper and paprika. Taste the mac & cheese and shake in a little extra salt, if desired. Cool slightly, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and coats the pasta. Serve at once.
Notes
If you have access to mild fresh herbs such as chives, basil, oregano or thyme, toss a few in or on top of the finished dish for a little aromatics.

What are your favourite camping foods to cook over an open fire?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. 450g of macaroni translates to 6 cup uncooked? California over here. 🙂 sounds like an
    interesting recipe and perfect for camping. Thanks!

  2. Shawnna Griffin says:

    hey girl- this looks amazing! yummy!

  3. Loving the photos in this post and of course the dish itself. Smoky mac and cheese while camping sounds dreamy!

  4. This sounds delicious! I agree, gotta load them up on carbs when they’re burning so much energy. Fatty carbs are even better. 😉 All the recipes for Mac’n’cheese that gets the best reviews have condensed milk. As a raw milk drinker, it makes me squirm (milk in a can?). I know I can just make my own if I’m a baby about it, but do you consider shelf stable canned condensed milk real food?

    • Christine says:

      Oh, I mean evaporated 🙂 sorry if my first comment sounded critical – I love your blog and cookbook!

  5. Cooking over a campfire sounds awesome. I haven’t done it before but the timing is perfect, I’ll try it out for sure when I go camping next week!

  6. This sounds wonderful for camping. Would you make any adjustments for cooking on a stove?

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