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Cast iron and Dutch oven cooking

Three never fail Dutch oven recipes for campfire cooking

Three never fail Dutch oven recipes for campfire cooking

New to Dutch oven cooking? Want to wow the hunting camp/camping group/spouse for dinner? These recipes are (virtually) foolproof.

by Leon Pantenburg

1 dutchoven

Dutch oven cooking doesn’t need to be challenging, and simple, easy recipes are best for beginners.

Dutch oven cooking can consist of gourmet meals that require several hours of food preparation and cooking and a chef to properly present it.

Or, you can use that cast iron to make a quick, delicious meal under a tarp in the rain.

My Dutch oven experience goes toward the latter. Here are three recipes that are virtually foolproof and they are tasty, easy to make and will have people coming back for more.

High Speed Venison

My brother Michael Pantenburg, hunting buddy Phil Walker, and I had just emerged from a several-day backpack elk hunt in the backcountry, and everybody was hungry.

So this recipe,  named “High Speed Venison”  because of its speedy preparation, was chosen.  Mike set up the stove and Dutch oven on the tailgate of my pickup; Phil sliced up some backstrap from a deer he’d killed, and I sliced onions. All this preparation took less than five minutes.

Ingredients for this dish go on every hunt. All you have to do is add venison (or any other favorite steak or meat), and you have a great, tasty meal that doesn’t require a lot of preparation. We’ve cooked this same dish in the parking lot of the motel in Orofino, Idaho; outside of a motel room in Lowell, Idaho, in the backcountry under a tarp in the rain and at home, when a quick meal was in order.

High Speed Venison recipe

2-3 lbs venison steaks

chicken fried steak

Venison steaks cooked in a Dutch oven can be incredible!

1 pkg beefy onion soup mix

1 can cream of mushroom soup

2 beef bouillon cubes

2 onions, sliced

3/4 C milk

salt and pepper

Trim fat off steaks and brown in skillet or cast iron Dutch oven. Mix together the mushroom soup, beefy onion soup mix and milk. Pour over steaks. Add onions and bouillon. Simmer one hour. Serve over rice.

Mountain man breakfast:

I’m not sure where the name comes from, but it probably has nothing to do with the Revanant! This is a traditional breakfast at scout camp, when a busy day is planned and the guys will needs lots of energy. This is a particular favorite at winter snow camps, when a hot breakfast is really appreciated!

It is also an excellent choice for a beginner Dutch oven cook – nothing succeeds like success, and this is a real confidence builder. Variations of the recipe abound, and you can tweak the recipe to fit your personal tastes. This version, from 50 Campfires Magazine, is a great version of the old, classic recipe.


  • 1 lb mild pork sausage, crumbled
  • 5-6 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 lb package frozen hash browns, shredded
  • 12 eggs, beaten
  • 1 package shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Cook and stir the sausage, onion, and garlic in a 12-inch cast iron Dutch oven with lid, raised over the coals to medium-high heat, until the sausage is no longer pink and the onion is tender.
  2. Stir in the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and hash brown potatoes until evenly mixed. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the hash browns are hot and the peppers are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Pour the beaten eggs evenly over the top of the potatoes, allowing them to sink into the potatoes. Cover the Dutch oven, and place 6 to 9 coals underneath, and 12 to 18 on top.
  4. Allow to bake until the eggs are firm, about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese, cover, and continue cooking until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. (From 50 Campfires magazine)

Fruit dump cobbler:

This Dutch oven cobbler uses canned fruit and cake mix to create a tasty dessert.

This Dutch oven cobbler uses canned fruit and cake mix to create a tasty dessert.

This three-ingredient cobbler is one new scouts start out with on their first campout. Anybody can make it, and it’s delicious.

My son and I made a similar cobbler on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters, using fresh blueberries we picked from an island on a lake. Instead of a cake mix, we used a Bisquick batter. The cobbler was incredible, as is the memory.

A scoop of vanilla ice cream on the warm cobbler makes this dish decadent and probably sinful.


1 can of your favorite fruit pie filling

1 cake mix – you can use anything

1 stick butter

Pour the pie filling in the bottom of a 10-inch Dutch oven. Pour the dry cake mix on top, spreading it out evenly. Put pats of butter on top of the cake mix.

Bake at 350 degrees about 20 minutes, or until the bottom bubbles up through the cake mix and melts the butter.

Leon Pantenburg is an avid Dutch oven cook, judge, teacher and a charter member of the Central Oregon Dutch Oven Society. Along with team mates Linda Stephenson and Michael Pantenburg, he has been a two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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View Comments (2)


  1. Leon

    05/02/2016 at 11:41

    It would be easier, and if I were doing some backcountry camping I would certainly use some of my storage food.

  2. Karla Moore

    05/02/2016 at 10:26

    You could make your venison dish even easier if powdered milk and dried onions are used. Let it simmer for a while, leaving the Dutch Oven to do its magic!

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Cast iron and Dutch oven cooking

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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