Dutch Oven 101 and Recipes

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Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe Dutch Oven Cooking Tips

Since the pioneer days, American explorers have been using Dutch Ovens (Dos) to create delicious dinners on their way down the river or the trails. Today, Dutch Oven cooking is considered an art form among the most dedicated outdoors people. There is nothing like the feeling of sharing a satisfying meal with your fellow travelers that you created and everyone loves.

Below are a few tips to get you started. Keep in mind, Dutch Oven cooking is as much an art as it is a science and there are all kinds of factors that will affect the end result, not the least of which is dealing with the variable conditions of cooking outside. The best attitude is to think of every creation as an experiment and adjust from what you learned the last time.

Choose the correct Dutch Oven.

Since Dutch Oven’s can be used in the kitchen you want to be sure the one you get suits your needs (if you’re using it while camping, buy a camp Dutch Oven). A true camp Dutch Oven has legs which allows it to sit on hot coals, and it’s flat lid will have a vertical lip so it can retain hot coals placed on top, and are made from materials such as aluminum or cast iron.

Properly season your Dutch Oven.

Seasoning your Dutch Oven takes time but is relatively easy to do and plays a huge roll in the success of your cooking.

To season take a lint free rag and liberally apply to the base and lid of the Dutch Oven. Place the Dutch Oven in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, leave in the oven until cast iron is done smoking. Remove the DO from the oven and let sit until cool. Then repeat the process two more times to ensure that DO is sufficiently seasoned. If using detergents to clean after use, be sure to re-season.

Get out of the wind.

Set yourself up for success and find a windless area, or set up barriers where you will be heating the coals.

Use a fire pan.

An even, clean, isolated surface is the best for heating coals, but make do with what you have.


Use 24 briquettes for baked goods or 30 for casseroles.


Arrange briquettes in a pyramid, soak with lighter fluid and wait a few minutes before lighting.

It might take up to 30 minutes for them to get started.

When are they done?

When half the briquettes have turned white. Use tongs for moving them onto the DO.

Top down.

A DO cooks from the top down, so if something doesn’t seem to be cooking, add briquettes to the top, not the bottom.

Prep the DO.

Before ever adding food, thoroughly wipe the DO with a well-oiled paper towel.


Place 6 – 8 briquettes underneath the DO and the rest of them evenly spaced on the lid. When you first smell the casserole, it has just reached boiling and will need to cook more. You can check on it as often as you like, it will just take a little longer to cook.

Cakes and Cornbread.

Keep batter stiff by using a little less water than called for in the mix.

Place a paper towel soaked in oil in the bottom of the DO before pouring in batter. When it is cooled, it should fall right out on a cutting board.

Try to get the DO as even as possible. Place 4 – 5 briquettes underneath the DO, and the remaining around the edge of the lid, with 2 – 3 right next to the handle. Let cook undisturbed for 45 minutes. After you first smell it, wait 15 minutes. Stick a knife down the middle and if it pulls out with nothing on it, it’s done. The edges of a cake will also pull away from the sides of the DO when it is done.

Other tips.

Never put the DO in the river; cold water could make it crack.

Always use channel locks or pliers and hot mitts when handling the DO. They stay hot for a very long time.

A full 12” DO is plenty of dinner for 16 people. You can serve right out of the DO.

The DO will make the sand very hot where it is cooking, so mark the area off after you are done to avoid burned feet, and do the same for used briquettes.

The following information is based on an aluminum Dutch oven. Increase the number of briquettes by about a fourth for a cast iron oven.

250-300 Degrees F- Use 8 briquettes on top and 4 under for 10 inch oven, 12 on top and 6 under for 12 inch oven.

300-350 Degrees F- Use 10 briquettes on top and 4 under for 10 inch oven, 15 on top and 6 under for 12 inch oven.

50-400 Degrees F- Use 12 briquettes on top and 5 under for 10 inch oven, 18 on top and 8 under for 12 inch oven.


Geoff’s Artichoke/Spinach Dip Appetizer

  • Garlic 4-6 cloves
  • 1 yellow onion
  • ½ cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 – 13 oz can of artichoke hearts
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 2 – 4 oz can of diced jalapenos
  • 1 – 24 oz tub of Greek Yogurt
  • 1 – 8 oz tub of sour cream
  • 10 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 – 2 tablespoon salt (use more or less for taste preference)
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

Finely chop garlic, onion & mushroom & saute with a little oil in saute pan or your Dutch oven. In a 4 quart. mixing bowl mix Greek yogurt & sour cream. Mix in sauteed garlic, onions & mushrooms. Combine in artichoke hearts, chopped spinach & diced jalapenos. Mix in Parmesan cheese to create a nice think consistency. Add salt & cayenne pepper to reach preferred flavor. Transfer into you Dutch oven & top with a layer of Parmesan cheese. Bake in Dutch oven until bubbling hot. Serve with tortilla chips, veggies or crackers.

Bo’s Challah Bread (Yeasted bread for both 10” and 12”)


10” shallow wall D.O.

  • 3/4 Cup Warm Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Yeast
  • ¼ Honey
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 Cups Flour


  • 1/8 Cup Milk
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar

12” Deep wall D.O.

  • 1 1/2 Cup Warm Water
  • 2 Tablespoon Yeast
  • 1/3 Cup Honey
  • 2/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 5 Cups Flour


  • 1/8 Cup Milk
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  1. Mix honey and warm water together then stir in yeast
  2. Let sit for about 15 minutes until yeast forms a foam on the top
  3. Stir in Olive oil, salt, and beaten eggs
  4. Then add flour 1 Cup at a time
  5. Kneed for about 10 minutes until smooth.
  6. Let rise in a warm place with a damp cloth covering the dough for about 2 hours or when it doubles in size.
  7. Kneed into 3 long strains then braid
  8. Lightly oil the D.O. and place inside. Let rise for about 1 hour.
  9. Glaze the dough and then add your topping (ex. sesame seeds, or salt)
  10. Bake until done. About 45 mins for small aluminum, 60 – 90 minutes, large Iron D.O.

Geoff’s Italian Sausage Lasagna


  • 2 26oz jars of marinara sauce w/ basil & garlic
  • 1 package of lasagna noodles
  • 1 can of black olive
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic…mo garlic…mo better!
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 green or yellow summer squash
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach
  • 2-4 table spoons olive oil
  • 1 16oz container of ricotta cheese
  • 4 cups of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 16 oz Italian Sausage

Mince garlic & chop onion finely, slice up olives, summer squash & mushrooms.

Saute garlic & onion in a little olive oil, add in sliced mushrooms & sliced summer squash. Saute veggies up & set aside.

In same saute pan leave a little of the garlic & onion & add in the Italian sausage & cook till brown & set aside with the sauteed veggies.

Chop up the fresh spinach & mix with the ricotta cheese in a mixing bowl.

You now have all your ingredients prepped & the fun begins! In your 12”-14” Dutch Oven put a thin layer of marinara sauce in the bottom of the DO. I usually dampen my lasagna noodles rather than boiling them as they have plenty of time to soften up in the DO, but a little water on them helps them cook through. Whenever I have pre-boiled my noodles they have turned out mushy after being in the DO for an hour.

Layer the DO with Lasagna noodles, spoon on another thin layer of marinara & add in the sausage & a thin layer of veggies including the sliced olives. Spoon in little dollops of the spinach/ricotta mixture & sprinkle on a solid layer of mozzarella cheese with a light layer of Parmesan.

Add another layer of pasta & repeat the process of layering until your DO is almost full leaving the top layer of just cheese with the final layer being the Parmesan cheese; this will create a nice crispy cheesy top.

In the fire pan prep the coals; I usually use about 35-40 coals for a larger dish like this in my larger DO. It usually takes about 20-25 minutes for the coals to start turning white, once they are about half white you can arrange them with 12-15 coals spread out evenly on a flat safe surface. Set your DO on the bed of coals & with the lid on your DO place the remaining 20-25 coals on the lid of your DO. Now it is time for you to relax with the rest of your river family & enjoy a cocktail or two. It should take about 45-50 mins once it gets to temp. I think people often think there DO masterpieces should be done sooner because they forget that it takes about 10 minutes for your DO to ‘pre heat’ just like your home oven does. Usually the first good smell you get out of your meal means that your DO just got to a boil & it needs an additional 10 minutes or so of cooking. I will check it once to make sure it’s not burning, but you usually need a little more time. I like to see the cheese nice & melted & I often add a few extra coals to the lid of the DO to help brown things up on the top of the lasagna.

This is one of my favorite DO dishes to serve a group of hungry river folk after a long days paddle, it warms them up & fills their bellies to enjoy the evening around the camp fire! I hope you enjoy this dish on your next adventure!

Geoff’s Au Gratin Potatoes


  • Olive oil spray
  • 3 pound yellow potatoes, like Yukon gold, unpeeled, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 3 cups cold milk (1 percent low-fat)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large or 2 small sprigs thyme
  • 1 3/4 cups grated Gruyere cheese (6 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt


Put the potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool somewhat.

Put the milk and flour into a large saucepan and whisk until the flour is dissolved. Add the garlic and thyme and heat over a medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and is thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard the thyme sprig, and stir in the salt. Add 1 cup of the cheese and stir until melted.

Arrange half of the potatoes in the Dutch oven. Pour over half of the cheese sauce. Add the remaining potatoes and top with rest of the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake in DO at about 350 (6-8) coals for 25 minutes, until bubbling. Remove coals on bottom & add a few more on top to increase heat on top for 8-10 minutes to brown up the top.

Let stand & cool, then enjoy!

Serving size: about 1 cup

Hank’s Roasted Garlic Peppercorn Pork Tenderloin

with Apricot Dijon Sauce

Pork tenderloin – (1-2 lbs)

  • Garlic
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Rosemary
  • Yellow onion
  • Apricot preserves
  • Dijon MustardDirections:


  1. Butter or oil DO
  2. Rub tenderloin with oil, garlic, black pepper
  3. Chop onion
  4. Mix onion with oil and garlic, or season as desired
  5. Baste tenderloin with apricot Dijon sauce
  6. Place tenderloin in DO
  7. Place onion around DO
  8. Garnish with fresh rosemary
  9. Bake in DO approx, 12-18 minutes or until thickest part has reached internal temperature of 140 degrees F.
  10. Remove from heat and let rest before slicing and serving
  11. Pour another layer of apricot sauce (heated) on tenderloin for serving.

Apricot Dijon Sauce
Mix one cup of apricot preserves and 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard together. Simmer on low heat until hot, stirring occasionally. Set aside and baste and pour on pork as desired.

Topher’s Mom’s Chicken and Dumplings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hr. 10 minutes

Serves: 6

Use a 12 inch diameter Dutch oven (cut ingredients and charcoal to 2/3 when using a 10 inch DO)


  • 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut in 1 inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • Cup of carrots chunked
  • Cup of celery chunked
  • 1 tsp dried herbs of choice
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp Johnny’s Seasoning Salt
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cans of butter milk biscuits
  • 1 ½ cups milk

Chicken, vegetables and spices can be prepped at home and stored in baggies until needed.


Put 9-12 charcoal briquettes underneath DO to heat oil. Once hot, brown chicken on all sides. Remove chicken and juices from oven and set aside. Melt butter in bottom of oven and saute’ vegetables until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Return chicken with liquid along with chicken broth and seasoning. Simmer 20-30 minutes with lid on. If it begins to boil over, remove lid. Add milk, canned soup and top with quartered biscuit pieces. Cover with lid placing about 12-15 briquettes on top. Simmer for another 15 minutes, rotating lid halfway through for even heating. Check occasionally to make sure biscuits do not overcook.

John’s Eggplant Parmesan


  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Medium Size Yellow Onion
  • 1 Can Tomato Sauce or Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 Large Eggplant
  • 1 ½ Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tbls Ghee Butter or Unsalted Butter
  • Ms. Dash or Garlic Powder
  • Dried Basil
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper


Add 2 Tbls vegetable oil to the Dutch oven and preheat oven over hot charcoals. While the D.O. is preheating – slice the eggplant in 1/8” slices. Slice up the onion.

Go back to the now preheated D.O. and carefully roll it around coating the bottom and sides with the hot vegetable oil. Place the Eggplant slices in the D.O. , then add onion slices, salt, pepper, basil, Ms. Dash, spaghetti sauce, a layer of mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Repeat a second layer. Cover the D.O. Cook for about 20 minutes then serve it up. Please be careful handling the D.O. as it will be extremely hot and will stay so for quite a while. ENJOY.

Tempeh Spinach Lasagna

  • 1 lb Lasagna Pasta
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 5 Garlic Cloves
  • 52 oz. Spaghetti Sauce (2 Jars)
  • 17 oz. Mushrooms
  • 27 oz. Spinach (2 cans)
  • 2 lbs. Mozzarella
  • 6 ozs. Parmesan
  • 8 oz. Tempeh


Heat 30 coals for baking. Soak with lighter fluid, wait a few minutes and then light. It may take up to a half an hour for them to get going. They are ready when half of them are white.

Lightly brown tempeh in a pan or skillet with oil and garlic. Set aside.

Sautee the onion and garlic in oil.

Add marinara sauce and mushrooms and tempeh. Season the sauce with oregano, basil and thyme.

Grate the mozzarella and set aside.

Oil the DO.

Layer the ingredients in this order: sauce, pasta (sprinkle with water after placing over the sauce), spinach, cheese, repeat. Last layer should be mozzarella, and some parmesan if you want the top to be crispy.

Bake for 45 minutes. Top should start to brown up and the edges should be well done.

Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Cutting the slices with a sharp knife might help this dish maintain some structural integrity, but no matter what, it is delicious. Just make sure you get a nice mix of pasta, sauce, spinach and cheese on your plate.

Mo’s Chicken Sweet Potato Spinach Enchilada Pie


Corn Tortillas

Enchilada Sauce (homemade or canned whatever you prefer)


  • Shredded Chicken
  • Diced sweet potatoes
  • Chipotle en adobo
  • Jalapeño
  • Spinach
  • Toppings of your choice (eg shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro)


Sauté sweet potatoes with desired spices (I like cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, chile powder, etc)

Cook until sweet potatoes are tender.

Add two chopped chipotles en adobo, cilantro, chopped Jalapeño, and spinach.

Add Chicken and a little bit of Enchilada Sauce until warmed.

Layer tortillas in bottom of oiled and sauced DO.

Put the chicken, spinach, sweet potato mixture on top of it.

Cover with another layer of tortillas.

Dump the Enchilada Sauce in there and top with cheese if you’d like.

Bake until you can smell it and it’s bubbling.

Serve with Toppings:

Shredded cheese of your choice (Cheddar, Pepper Jack, etc)

Sour cream or Yogurt


More spicy stuff if ya like

Otis’s Dutch Oven Cake

“Otis’s” cake is proof that you don’t have to be a 5-star chef to create tasty desserts in the great outdoors. Find your favorite cake mix and frosting and let’er rip. Feel free to get “fancy” with additional toppings…sprinkles, chocolate, peanut butter, or butterscotch chips, crumbled cookies…just to name a few!


  • Betty Crocker cake mix
  • 2 Eggs
  • Water
  • Betty Crocker Frosting


Prepare mix as directed on the box. Follow Dutch Oven tips to prepare your DO for the mix (you can either grease DO or line DO with paper towel saturated with oil. The paper towel should slide off cake easily, and minimize the clean up). Pour cake batter into DO. Let cook undisturbed for 45 minutes. After you first smell it, wait 15 minutes. Stick a knife down the middle and if it pulls out clean, it’s done. Edges of the cake should also pull away from sides of the DO when it’s done.

Topher’s Navajo-Style Peach Crisp



  • 7 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup white flour
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup very cold butter cut into small pieces with a knife
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nutsDirections:

Prepare charcoal (35 pieces) for Dutch oven baking.

Filling: In a medium bowl, combine peaches, sugar, flour, and lemon juice.
Use your hands to really mix it well so no little flour lumps lurk
anywhere. Spread the fruit mixture evenly in a well-seasoned Dutch oven,
containing a foil Dutch oven liner.

John’s Curry Red Potatoes with Peppers & Onions

Ingredients: *For a 12” Dutch Oven

  • 6 Red potatoes
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 1 Medium yellow onion
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Braggs amino acid (optional)
  • Medium yellow curry powder


Add the vegetable oil and preheat DO over and under the coals for about 10 minutes. Slice and dice potatoes, peppers and onion.

Add potatoes as a base, then sprinkle the peppers and onions evenly over the potatoes. Add curry powder, butter and Braggs to taste.

Cook for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Enjoy!

Keoni’s Berry Cobbler


  • 4 cups fruit (berries, peaches, apples)
  • ½ box cake mix
  • (about) 1 cup lemon lime soda
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cold
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Whipped cream for servings


Preheat 45 charcoal briquettes until white and glowing. Lightly grease the bottom of cast iron Dutch oven with cooking spray.

Wash and prepare fruit. If using strawberries or stone fruit such as peaches, slice into smaller pieces. In a medium bowl combine the cake mix and lemon lime soda. You want a batter that is thick, but moist (doesn’t have to be precise).

Place fruit in the cast iron DO and spoon batter over top, smoothing with a spoon if necessary. Thinly slice the butter and place evenly over batter. Sprinkle with the sugar, if using. Cover the DO with its lid.

Place 15 hot briquettes together and set DO over them. Using tongs, place the remaining 30 briquettes on the DO lid. After about 10 minutes, rotate the DO over the coals clockwise and the lid over the DO counter clockwise to promote even cooking. Check after 20 minutes. Cobbler is done when the topping is golden brown and the fruit juices are bubbling.

Remove DO from coals. Serve cobbler with whipped cream.

Keoni’s Chicken Pot Pie


  • 4 cups favorite chopped veggies.
  • Potato, onion, garlic, carrots, broccoli, peas. You can also buy a bag of frozen mixed veggies, just thaw before cooking. If using fresh veggies cut/chop into small pinkie size, uniform bits so they cook through. You can also use canned veggies but they get kinda mushy, drained of course
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 (10 ounce) can refrigerated biscuit dough
  • 2 large cooked chicken breasts, cut into cubes. Or 2 large cans of Trader Joe’s white meat chicken (drain water before adding)


Stir vegetables, chicken soup, mushroom soup, and chicken together in a Dutch oven with a flat lid. Cook over campfire coals until warmed through but not boiling, about 15 minutes.

Arrange biscuit dough segments in a layer atop the vegetable mixture. Put lid on the Dutch oven and carefully arrange some hot coals atop the lid. Heat until the biscuits are cooked through, 15 to 30 minutes.

Mix it up by adding spices if you want; Curry, Herbs d’provence…

Bobbo’s Pork Chili Verde


  • Half to full pound of pork chops, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ¼ lb Ground Beef
  • ½ – 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • ½ Onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 oz green chilies, chopped
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 jalapenos (chopped, with seeds if you like spicy)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce (optional)
  • Cheese (optional)
  • Tortillas


Prepare coals. Place Dutch oven on the coals. Add olive oil. Once hot, add pork and ground beef. Cook until just browned.

Mix in the onion, jalapenos, garlic and allow them to saute for a few minutes. Add green chilies and stewed tomatoes. Mix well. Add hot sauce if desired.

Cover Dutch oven with lid. Bake 45 minutes using the coals on top and bottom (about 10 coals on bottom, 14 on top).

Serve with warm tortillas.

Thai Chicken and Eggplant Curry


  • 8oz shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 cup fresh Thai basil
  • 1 can baby corn
  • 1 can bamboo shoots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 1tbs fish sauce
  • 2tbs red curry paste
  • 1tbs rice vinegar
  • 1tbs soy sauce or Brags liquid aminos
  • 3-6 chicken thighs
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 box chicken broth


Preheat DO with allotted charcoal. Cover the bottom with sesame oil and place sliced chicken thighs in to brown. Once the chicken has browned add the mushrooms, eggplant, and other remaining vegetables. Stir for a few minutes or until the veggies begin to cook. Add the red curry paste and stir for another few minutes. Add the coconut milk and stir until curry paste has dissolved. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, vinegar, and fish sauce. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Serve with fresh basil on top.