Some of the best Dutch oven camping recipes are cooked low and slow! A lazy day around camp also means tender mouth-watering Camping Dutch Oven BBQ Ribs are on the dinner menu!
The meat simmers in sauce about 6 hours … maintaining the charcoal briquettes or campfire requires a little tending throughout the day but the outcome is worth it! These ribs will make you lick your fingers!
Make The Camping Dutch Oven BBQ Rib Sauce
The secret to these awesome ribs is the sauce!
For easier campsite cooking, you can fully prepare the sauce at home … then you just need to cook the ribs at camp.
If you do that, you will need to refrigerate the sauce until you are ready to cook the ribs.
As an alternative, you can measure and mix the dry ingredients at home and then assemble the sauce at camp … this is what I like to do.
How Thick Do You Want Your Camp Dutch Oven BBQ Ribs Sauce?
Thicken the sauce, reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally, simmer about 20 minutes or till desired thickness (shorter cooking time = thinner sauce, the longer you cook it, the thicker it will become.)
Camp Cooking Tip: If you prepare the sauce for your camping dinner recipes at home, keep it refrigerated (up to a week) until ready to use.
Making Tender Camp Dutch Oven BBQ Ribs
Camp Cooking Tip: The key to these Camping Dutch Oven BBQ Ribs being super tender is keeping them submerged in the sauce throughout the cooking process.
If you can’t get all of the ribs in the sauce, rotate them throughout the cooking process pulling the ribs from the bottom and placing them on top every half hour or so.
The other way to make tough cuts of meat tender is by smoking the meat at low temperatures for long periods of time. Try these camping smoker recipes that include Pellet Smoked Short Ribs as well as appetizers, sides and main dishes like smoked queso cheese dip, corn on the cob, smoked jerky, chicken legs, BBQ ribs, smoked meatloaf, spatchcocked smoked turkey and more! For that cooking method you’ll use a dry rub to tenderize the ribs and about halfway through the cooking process you’ll add a sauce like this Kansas City Style Homemade Old Fashioned Molasses BBQ Sauce recipe.
Prepare The Ribs For Cooking In Your Camp Dutch Oven
Prepare the meat by removing the silverskin and cutting the slabs.
Cut the silverskin off from the back of the ribs.
You can use a butter knife to pull it up pretty easily.
Depending on where you purchase your ribs, the silverskin may already be removed which is always a nice thing!
Cut the rack to fit into the Dutch oven; 4-5 ribs per cut works well.
On a side note, packing all of the cooking utensils you need for your camping trips is easy if you use our checklist for camping, so make sure you grab your own FREE printable copy!
Prepare For Cooking Your BBQ Ribs In Your Camp Dutch Oven
The size of your oven and the heat source are two considerations you need to determine before you start cooking.
Dutch Oven Size
How to slow cook ribs in a Dutch oven correctly depends on the oven size.
In a deep 12” Dutch oven, cover 3 cut racks of baby back ribs with BBQ sauce.
Camp Cooking Tip: There is a 2 Quart difference between “deep” vs “regular” 12-Inch camp Dutch ovens.
For this recipe, I use the Lodge 12-Inch Deep, 8 Quart Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven and can fit three racks of ribs but if you are using the Lodge 12-Inch Regular, 6 Quart Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven, you will only be able to fit two or two and a half racks of ribs while cooking this Camping Dutch Oven BBQ Ribs Recipe.
If you are in the market for a new Dutch oven, don’t buy one until you answer the question, What size Dutch oven should I buy for camping?
Heat Sources For Low And Slow Cooking
When you are cooking Dutch oven recipes over a low temperature for a long period of time (in this case about 6 hours), you need to make some decisions. Here are your options:
Propane: You can place your oven on a camp stove or RV stovetop as long as you have enough propane to finish the cooking process. If you are dealing with fire restrictions on your camping trips, try these camp stove recipes rather than cooking with coals.
Campfire: If you have enough hardwood and don’t mind tending a campfire for a long period of time, you may want to cook your ribs over your campfire. Be prepared to monitor the cooking temperature throughout the cooking process so the ribs keep cooking at a low temperature. If the heat is too high, the ribs will have a tough texture so make sure they are not cooking too fast.
Charcoal Briquettes: We used charcoal briquettes when we made the ribs that are in the photos in this post. If you use briquettes, be prepared to make several batches of coals throughout the day. You’ll also want to place some sort of barrier between the ground and the coals. If you place the coals directly on the ground, most of the heat will be absorbed by the ground rather than your Dutch oven. You can see we used a cast iron griddle when we made our ribs but you can use an old cookie sheet or something similar.
Cooking Your Camping Dutch Oven BBQ Ribs
Simmer for 4-6 hours (6 is better, so make sure you start this meal early enough to get maximum flavor and tenderness out of this recipe.)
You can use charcoal briquettes or a campfire to cook this Camping Dutch Oven BBQ Ribs recipe; either way, you want to monitor the heat throughout the cooking process to cook them at a simmer.
I’m updating this post because Jillian asked a really good question: Do you have a recommendation of how many charcoal briquettes to use on top and bottom to keep these at a simmer?
My answer: Hi Jillian! Thanks for the question! I always talk about Dutch oven camp cooking being part art and part science because there are so many factors that play into cooking with these beloved camp cooking gadgets.
Outside air temperature, the altitude of your cooking location and quality of your charcoal briquettes are big factors in controlling temperature … so, I can’t give you precise numbers but I can say when I am slow cooking over a long period of time I keep batches of about 15-20 briquettes in the rotation throughout the day.
In other words, as the cooking briquettes burn down, I have another batch of about 20 briquettes in my Rapid Fire Chimney Starter getting ready to add to my cooking pot and I monitor the ribs to let me know if I need to add more coals or remove some of them to maintain a simmer. Check out our VIDEO to see how to use a charcoal chimney.
I’m sorry I can’t be more exact but that is the “art” of Dutch oven camp cooking … which, by the way, I personally enjoy as a bit of a challenge. LOL
I hope that helps and thanks again for the question!
More Rib Cooking Tips
When you know how to slow cook ribs in Dutch ovens, you will make perfect camping rib dinners every time!
Go to your favorite BBQ restaurant and you’re probably going to order a side of baked beans and mac & cheese to go along with your ribs. Put those on your camp menu too!
These Dutch Oven Baked Beans combine ground beef, bacon, five different types of canned beans and a simple homemade sauce.
Feeling for a rich and creamy Dutch Oven Mac And Cheese? Try this one!
Our favorite combination includes these Dutch Oven Potatoes Au Gratin, they’re delicious cheesy potatoes with bacon!
Print This Recipe
Camping Dutch Oven BBQ Ribs Recipe
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 onions chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3 cups ketchup
- 1 (29 oz) can tomato sauce
- 2 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
- 1 cup unsulfured molasses
- 3 tablespoons hickory flavor liquid smoke
- 2 1/2 cups brown sugar*
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder*
- 1 teaspoon onion powder*
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder*
- 2 teaspoons paprika*
- 1 teaspoon celery seed*
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper*
- 2 teaspoons salt*
- 2 teaspoons pepper*
- 3 baby back rib racks NOTE: If you don’t have a deep 12″ Dutch oven and you are using a regular 12” Dutch oven, you may only be able to fit 2 – 2 1/2 racks of ribs.
- Ingredients marked with * are those that I measure and mix at home and just transport them in a sealed container to the campsite.
- Build The Sauce in a large saucepan over medium heat. Start by melting the butter.
- Now add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender.
- Now add the ketchup, tomato sauce, red wine vinegar, molasses, liquid smoke and stir until incorporated.
- Now add the brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, celery seed, ground cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper (these are the ingredients I measured and mixed at home.)
- Thicken The Sauce, reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally, simmer about 20 minutes or till desired thickness (shorter cooking time = thinner sauce, the longer you cook it, the thicker it will become.)
- Cut the silverskin off from the back of the ribs. You can use a butter knife to pull it up pretty easily. Depending on where you purchase your ribs, the silverskin may already be removed which is always a nice thing! Cut the rack to fit into the Dutch oven; 4-5 ribs per cut works well.
- Prepare your heat (campfire coals or charcoal briquettes) for cooking with a deep 12" Dutch oven.
- In deep 12” Dutch oven, cover 3 cut racks of baby back ribs with BBQ sauce. Camp Cooking Tip: The key to these Camping Dutch Oven BBQ Ribs being super tender is keeping them submerged in the sauce throughout the cooking process. If you can’t get all of the ribs in the sauce, rotate them throughout the cooking process pulling the ribs from the bottom and placing them on top every half hour or so.
- Simmer for 4-6 hours (6 is better, so make sure you start this meal early enough to get maximum flavor and tenderness out of this recipe.) You can use charcoal briquettes or a campfire to cook this Camping Dutch Oven BBQ Ribs recipe; either way, you want to monitor the heat throughout the cooking process to cook them at a simmer.
More Camping Recipes
Cooking ribs is a long process … some might say a labor of love. If you don’t have time for that, try something that takes less time but still tastes amazing!