Recipe of the Week: Campfire Nachos

A beloved happy hour classic, now being served at a campground near you. What better way to end the day outside than with a cold beer, warm campfire, and a big plate full of cheesy nachos?

As irresistible bar food and/or lazy weeknight dinner, nachos seem ideally suited to be a camping staple. These Campfire Nachos can be made from a variety of fresh and/or canned ingredients, doesn’t require any specific culinary expertise to pull off, and can be eaten with your hands.

However, the lack of a conventional oven might lead people to believe such cheesy, crunchy deliciousness isn’t achievable in the great outdoors. Not true!

By using a cast iron Dutch oven with a lid, you can make nachos no matter where you are. With a Dutch oven, you can place coals or embers on top as well as underneath, allowing you to cook your meal from both sides. However, with nachos, it’s even possible to do the whole thing on the camp stove or over a fire.

While these techniques will help you make nachos at a campground, the secret to exceptional nachos lies in one simple concept: layers!

If you’re going to eat nachos for dinner (an act which we fully endorse), then you have to build the meal properly from the ground up.

Think of the chips as the bricks and the cheese and toppings as the mortar. One layer of chips followed by one layer of cheese and toppings. Then, repeat. Keep stacking the layers like that until the pot is filled or you run out of supplies. And of course, every good house needs a roof, so make sure you give a double helping to the top layer.

If you build your nachos correctly, each chip is a celebration of crunch, cheese, and delicious toppings.

Place over heat, pour yourself a drink, and when you get back you’ll have a Happy Hour appetizer that’s worthy of being called dinner.

Why You’re Going To Love This Recipe:

  • Nachos are a fun, easy, and communal meal that takes very little time to prepare.
  • It’s perfect as a quick appetizer for larger groups or a full entree for two.
  • There are very very few ways this can get screwed up. You’re essentially just melting cheese, so the barrier to entry for this meal is pretty low, even for camp cooking novices.
  • Endless customization. Which toppings make the perfect batch of nachos? You get to decide!

Equipment Needed

  • While a cast-iron Dutch oven is our preferred vessel for making these nachos, it would also be possible to make a smaller portion in a cast-iron skillet with a lid. The key is having some sort of lid to trap the steam inside to help melt the cheese and slightly soften the chips.
  • Don’t have a lid for your Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet? A sheet of aluminum foil over the top should do the trick, or you could cover it with a large plate.
  • Lining the bottom of your Dutch oven with parchment paper or foil will make clean-up a snap!

Campfire Nachos Ingredient Notes

  • Cheese selection can be highly subjective, but we prefer a mix of Sharp Cheddar, Colby, and Monterey Jack blend. You can do this yourself or pick up a bag of Shredded Mexican Cheese.
  • If you’re using fresh ingredients like chiles, onions, or uncooked meat, you’ll want to saute them first and make sure they’re cooked thoroughly before building your nachos.
  • The fresher the ingredients the better your nachos will taste, but this meal can also rely heavily on canned pantry items like fire-roasted tomatoes, black beans, roasted green chiles, or black olives.