Campfire Stew: Fork-Tender Beef Dutch Oven Camping Stew

Talk about Dutch oven camping recipes to please a crowd! When it comes to Campfire Stew, the best way to make it hearty and tender is by simmering it over a campfire for a few hours.

Campfire Stew In Rich Tomato Sauce by CampingForFoodies features a Dutch oven over a campfire filled with a tender beef stew in a rich tomato based sauce with carrots and potatoes ready to be served at the campsite.
Campfire Stew In Rich Tomato Sauce by CampingForFoodies

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How To Make This Camping Dutch Oven Stew

No matter when we make this special campfire stew, it is a fantastic dinner. It is one of our favorite winter camping meals because it warms you to the core on a cold day!

Step 1. Prepare your campfire for cooking.

This meaty stew is fast to prepare, but, the cooking process takes quite a while (to get the meat nice and tender) so you’ll want to get your campfire started before you start your food prep because you’ll need some time for the campfire coals to begin to form.

For some people, starting a campfire is no problem. For others … it can be a bit challenging. Not to worry, we have an entire post dedicated to those campers! Check out these camping fire starters before you strike the match!

Step 2. Prep the veggies.

You will be chopping and peeling some vegetables including garlic cloves, onions, potatoes, carrots and celery for this cast iron Dutch oven beef stew which happens to be one of our favorite gluten free camping food meals.

Step 3. Prep the beef and bacon.

You’ll be cutting the meat into bite-sized pieces for this camp oven stew recipe.

Even though the meat will be very tender after simmering in the beef broth and tomato sauce, you still don’t want to have to cut it before taking a bite.

Also, make sure you liberally season the beef with salt and pepper before it is seared.

Step 4. Heat your camp oven and add the bacon.

You don’t need to add any vegetable or olive oil to your 12-inch camp oven, because the fat will render from the bacon as you cook it.

We like the flavors of a traditional old fashioned beef stew with potatoes and other vegetables but we always like adding a twist, so, the bacon is the foundation and we add additional ingredients to build flavors that create a warm bowl of stew with rich complexity to satisfy your foodie camping fans.

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Step 5. Add the beef.

Now it is time to add the beef to the oven with the bacon and the fat.

Don’t drain any of the bacon grease, that fat provides a quick layer of rich flavor to this tasty open fire type of meal.

Dutch Oven Camping Recipe Campfire Stew by CampingForFoodies

Step 6. Reduce the heat.

Now you can reduce the heat to medium so you don’t burn the garlic and onions.

Camp Cooking Tip: If you are using a tripod for cooking over your campfire coals, you can just raise and lower the chain to move your oven closer or further from the campfire to reduce and increase the cooking temperature.

If you are using a different piece of campfire cooking equipment, like a non-adjustable grate, you will need to reduce or add more coals to control the heat.

Step 7. Add the liquids and spices.

Once the veggies are softened, you’ll add the tomato paste, beef broth, rosemary, parsley, thyme, potatoes, carrots and celery, stirring to combine.

Camp Cooking Tip: Instead of using all purpose flour to thicken the liquid in a dish that uses a few tablespoons tomato paste, omit the flour and increase the amount of tomato paste to create a thicker gravy without having to sprinkle in a dry ingredient thickening agent like flour or cornstarch. This campfire stew has a slightly more tomatoey flavor than a classic beef stew that typically uses ground meats with a browner gravy.

Camp Cooking Tip: As you are adding ingredients to your pot, you may want to remove the oven from the campfire so you don’t get burned, and, you have an easy time of adding and stirring in the ingredients.

I find it easiest to remove the oven from the tripod using heat resistant gloves that protect my hands and arms from the heat and also give me the ability to easily control the oven’s handle.

Step 8. Bring to simmer.

It’s time to bring this luscious pot of hearty beef stew to a simmer over your campfire coals.

You are just waiting for it to start simmering before you cover it for the remainder of the cooking time.

Step 9. Cover and wait.

Now it is time to place your lid on the oven because you are going to continue simmering this one pot camping dinner until the meat and vegetables are tender which will take approximately 1 – 2 hours (the longer the better)!

You can have a little fireside fun making these easy Dutch oven biscuits while the stew cooks.

Step 10. It’s almost done!

At the end of cooking you’ll remove the lid and continue simmering this campfire beef stew until it reaches the consistency you desire.

Camp Cooking Tip: The longer it simmers with the lid removed, the thicker the stew will become.

Campfire Stew Dutch Oven Camping Recipe by CampingForFoodies


This version calls for large red potatoes or gold potatoes that are peeled and cut into chunks. If you prefer, you can use baby potatoes that have a nice tender skin. I like using red, white and purple small potatoes that I cut in half or quarters to provide color to meals that need it.

Some people love mushrooms while others don’t. Swap out some of the beef for mushrooms with a firm meaty texture to add more veggies and reduce the amount of meat in this dish.

If you want to make a completely veggie version: omit the bacon, replace the beef with cubes of firm tofu and roughly chopped mushrooms that are sautéed in a bit of olive oil. Replace the beef broth with vegetable broth. Add a can of beans for extra flavor and texture. Black, kidney or cannellini beans all work well.

We’re using a 32 oz container so you don’t have to measure 4 cups beef broth to make it easy. You can add an additional layer of flavor by replacing 1 cup of broth with 1 cup of your favorite red wine.

Alternate Cooking Methods For Campfire Dutch Oven Beef Stew

We do most of our camp trips in remote areas of National Forests in Arizona and if the weather is hot and dry, we are often under fire restrictions and are unable to cook this camp oven beef stew over a campfire. Check out our camping fire restrictions post for more tips.

Camp Stove-Top Cooking

Camp Cooking Tip: When we can’t use a campfire to make this beef stew in camp ovens, we make the slight adjustment and make it as one of our camp stove meals. If you are using small 1 pound propane tanks on your stove, make sure you have enough of them to cook for long periods of time. This particular stew simmers for about two hours and you don’t want to cut that time short because that is how the meat gets soooooooo tender.

We love the eco-friendliness of refilling 1 lb propane tanks that we use with our camp stove.

Home Cooking

This stew can also be made as one of our make ahead camping meals you prepare inside the comfort of your home and just reheat at camp. Many people like using a slow cooker, here’s how to do that.

You’ll fry the bacon in a large skillet on your stovetop, then add the beef to sear the meat. Add the garlic and onions, cook till softened. Now, you’ll transfer the beef mixture to your crock pot and stir in the tomato paste, beef broth, rosemary, parsley, thyme, potatoes, carrots and celery, stirring to combine. Cover with lid and turn slow cooker on high for about an hour. Reduce the cooker to low and continue cooking covered for another hour. Let cool and transfer stew into freezer bags or food storage containers. Keep in the fridge until ready to re-heat at camp.

Scaling Servings

Soups, chili and stews are easy camping meals for large groups. Just scale up the servings and get big batches cooking to feed as many people as you have in the crowd.

Meals Similar To Beef Stew

We have two camping dinner ideas for campfire stew, this one that cooks a big batch in one pot, and another that cooks individual servings in foil packs.

We think this is the best beef stew for cooking in a cast iron pot over a campfire … but … if you have picky eaters you may want to consider a Campfire Hobo Stew In Foil Packets that is made in single foil pouches so each camper can choose which ingredients go into their meal and which ingredients don’t make it into their packet!

This easy beef stew contains beef and vegetables making it one of the best one pot camping meals.

My Dutch Oven Cowboy Stew is a one pot meal that uses lots of canned goods including pinto beans, tomatoes, green beans, corn and green chilies. Flavor comes from the ground beef, a couple of slices of bacon and andouille sausage.

This Hobo Casserole is an easy, no-frills classic comfort food dinner.

Try this Kettle Beef Recipe when you want tender beef tips with simple homemade gravy. It’s great served over mashed potatoes to satisfy “meat & potatoes” lovers.

Pairings For Camping Beef Stew

You really don’t need to serve anything else with this one pot dinner but lots of people like to soak up the flavorful sauce with a nice crusty bread.

If you want to go all out, make this Dutch Oven Bread that is savory with a biscuit-like texture and requires no yeast and minimal kneading.

Looking for a bread that is slightly sweet with a touch of heat? Try out Campfire Jalapeño Cornbread. It is also great with a bowl of chili!

Use my camping menu planner to stay organized when planning meals for your next trip. It’s FREE and you’ll get it delivered instantly to your inbox!

Camping Menu Template Meal Planner Free Printable by CampingForFoodies features a collage of free camping printables including a camping menu planner template, a campfire stew recipe card and a healthy no cook camping salad with text over the image that reads free camping menu template, tips and recipe ideas.


Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat for another meal. If you want to reinvent the leftovers, try making a quick goulash type of dish. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray, pour half of the stew in the bottom of the pot, spread a layer of cooked macaroni over the dish then top with the rest of the leftover stew. Bake in a 350 F degree oven until heated through.

Similar Meals

3 simple ingredients … low and slow Dutch oven cooking … and you’ve got a fabulous dinner on the table. These Dutch Oven Beef Sandwiches are perfect for summertime camp trips.

This One Pot Creamy Cajun Chicken Camping Pasta is so easy and fast! You boil the pasta and then combine pre-cooked chicken, cream cheese, fire roasted tomatoes, a jalapeno pepper and some Cajun spices to make a yummy one pot comfort food dinner you’ll want to make again and again.

Dutch Oven Chili: Family Secret Revealed! This amazingly delicious chili was a secret for years until my brother-in-law decided it was too good to keep to himself. It starts with bacon, ground beef and Italian sausage then uses a homemade spice mix and a splash of beer to make a chili you can’t stop eating!

How about a big pot of Campfire Goulash too!?!? This hearty comfort food is packed with carbs, protein and tons of flavor to give you energy and keep you warm on cold weather trips!

If you can’t afford a long day of cooking, one of my favorite options only requires 45 minutes of total cook time, it’s this Camp Oven Chicken Curry. This easy meal combines chicken with root vegetables and Thai flavors that cook over a camp fire to make an entire meal in one large pot.

We’ve made this classic comfort food easy for outdoor cooking. Our Dutch Oven Shepherd’s Pie is especially yummy on cold weather camp trips!

Print This Recipe

Campfire Stew In Rich Tomato Sauce by CampingForFoodies features a Dutch oven over a campfire filled with a tender beef stew in a rich tomato based sauce with carrots and potatoes ready to be served at the campsite.

Campfire Stew Dutch Oven Camping Recipe

Camping For Foodies Soups, Stews & Chili Recipes: Campfire Stew Dutch Oven Camping Recipe
4.67 from 62 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Soups, Stews & Chili
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 767kcal
Author: Kim Hanna


  • 4 slices thick bacon cut into small pieces
  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast cut into bite-size pieces
  • Salt and pepper generously to taste
  • 1 large yellow onion coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 (32 oz) container of beef broth (or beef stock)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 large potatoes peeled and cut in 2-inch pieces
  • 5 medium carrots cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 2 stalks celery cut in 1-inch pieces


  • Prepare your campfire for cooking over hot coals.
  • Prep vegetables as described: garlic, onions, potatoes, carrots and celery.
  • Prep beef and bacon as described.
  • In 12-inch camp Dutch oven, cook and stir bacon over medium-high heat until bacon is browned and crisp. Scrape up brown bits from bottom of pan.
  • Season beef with salt and pepper and add to Dutch oven, stir until beef is seared.
  • Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and onions, cook till softened.
  • Add remaining ingredients including the tomato paste, beef broth, rosemary, parsley, thyme, potatoes, carrots and celery, stirring to combine.
  • Bring to simmer over medium heat.
  • Cover and continue simmering over low heat, stirring occasionally until meat and vegetables are tender, approximately 1-2 hours. (see * Note)
  • Remove lid and continue to simmer until the stew reaches your desired thickness. (see ** Note) Serve hot.


*NOTE: We like our stew meat to be extremely tender so I give it as much time in the pot as possible. I always plan for 2 hours of simmering time unless we have a super busy camping day and I just don’t have that luxury. No matter what, don’t increase the campfire temperature to the boiling point because that will just make the meat tough.
**NOTE: The longer it cooks with the lid removed, the thicker the stew becomes. If you want a soup-like stew you will be ready to serve shortly after the meat and veggies are tender. But if you want a thick beef stew in a rich sauce (which is how our family likes it), you should plan on about 20 more minutes to finish cooking to that consistency.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 767kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 180mg | Sodium: 823mg | Potassium: 2226mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 13451IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 8mg

More Yummy And Simple Camp Meals

There are so many fun foods to make your campsite menu exciting and yummy. Try a few new amazing meals on your next camping trip!

If you’re looking for awesome ideas for yummy camping food, you’re in the right place! Here’s our entire camping recipes list.

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