How to Make Campfire Nachos with a Dutch Oven

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Campfire nachos are one of the most satisfying easy camping meals you can make! In this post, I’ll show you exactly how I make camping nachos using a dutch oven. These nachos are simple, and perfect for a quick camping dinner or an appetizer. 

campfire nachos in a dutch oven with lots of toppings

What exactly are campfire nachos? 

Campfire nachos are an easy camping meal. When you’re at home, you would assemble your nachos ingredients and then bake them in the oven to melt the cheese. Of course, when you’re out camping, you don’t have an oven, but you can use a cast iron dutch oven and campfire coals to create the same effect outdoors! 

cooking nachos in a dutch oven around the campfire

Why I love this campfire nachos recipe: 

Quick and easy – If you’re new to campfire cooking and/or cooking with a dutch oven, this is a great recipe to start with! I even have a video tutorial below showing you exactly how to make them. 

Great for a crowd – Nachos are perfect for a big group of campers because it’s very easy to scale the servings up or down. It makes a great camping appetizer or even a complete meal depending on the toppings you choose. I often make campfire nachos for Nick and me as dinner. 

Endless toppings – You can customize these nachos to your heart’s content! If I’m going to add meat, I like to cook ground beef with taco seasoning at home and store it in the cooler. This keeps the recipe simple at camp. I listed even more topping ideas below! 

Fun to make – I firmly believe you should enjoy your time cooking at camp. This recipe is such a fun way to spend quality time around the campfire with friends and family. 

The finished campfire nachos ready to be eaten with all the delicious toppings

Equipment Needed to Make Campfire Nachos

Luckily, campfire nachos don’t require a lot of camp kitchen equipment. Here’s what you’re going to need:

1) Cast Iron Dutch Oven

camp chef dutch oven

The dutch oven is the main piece of kitchen gear that you will need to make these nachos while camping. If you’re really serious about campfire nachos, a dutch oven is necessary. Plus, you can use it for so many other dutch oven recipes

I’ve tried a lot of dutch ovens over the years and the ones that I currently love are by Camp Chef or Lodge. Both of these companies make good quality dutch ovens at an affordable price. 

For nachos, you want a dutch oven that’s at least 4 Qt. but you can certainly use a larger one for bigger groups of campers. 

2) Dutch Oven Lid Lifter 

When working with a dutch oven over a campfire, you want to make sure you have the gear to protect yourself and lift the lid when needed. I like to have a lid lifter and fire-resistant gloves for this. 

3) Cutting Board and Knife

You’ll use this if you want to chop some tomato, cilantro, green onion, or avocado for topping the nachos! 

4) Metal Tongs

Since we’re using a campfire to heat the dutch oven, you also need a way to move coals in the fire. I use metal tongs for this. You can wear your fire-resistant gloves as well for extra protection on your hands and arms when working with the fire. 

And that’s it!

Don’t forget to bring lots of napkins and maybe some plates to eat off of… or just dig in with your hands once the dutch oven has cooled a bit! 

The nachos cooking over the campfire in the dutch oven

Ingredients and Toppings for Campfire Nachos

The toppings for your campfire nachos are endlessly customizable, however, there are a few basic nacho ingredients I recommend: 

  • Tortilla Chips: They’re the core of your nachos, and the vehicle for all that cheese! I’ve found that the thicker tortilla chips work best. Avoid the chips that advertise being thin, they will break much easier under the weight of toppings.
  • Cheese: What is the best cheese for nachos? A good sharp cheddar cheese is my favorite, but feel free to try pepper jack cheese for a little kick! To save some prep time at camp, I like to bring a bag of pre-shredded cheese. Shredding your own cheese it also an option, and it will melt better, but don’t forget to pack the cheese grater with your camp kitchen gear.
  • Beans: I love black beans on my nachos, however, after reading comments on my YouTube channel I realized that maybe this is weird… what do you think? 
  • Topping Ideas: My go-to toppings are tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, green onions, salsa, and sour cream. When Nick and I first started dating, I couldn’t believe how much sour cream he dolloped on almost everything. Now, I’m right there with him!
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Once the nachos are cooked, it’s all about adding the toppings

How to Make Nachos on a Campfire 

There are a few key points to keep in mind when you’re cooking nachos over the campfire: 

  • Assemble your nachos in layers. When I was young, my mom would make nachos every year on Christmas Eve. It’s an odd tradition, but I always looked forward to it because my mom made the best nachos. Her main words of advice? Assemble in layers! In other words, don’t just place a ton of chips on a tray and sprinkle cheese on top. Instead, alternate between a layer of chips and a layer of cheese so that there’s cheese throughout. Simple, but it makes a huge difference. 
  • Be patient. The goal is to cook these nachos low and slow. Putting too much heat on and around your dutch oven will result in burnt nachos on the edges and unmelted cheese in the middle.  
  • Rotate your dutch oven a few times while cooking. When you’re cooking over an open flame, the heat can be uneven at times. To account for this, simply rotate your dutch oven about 180° every few minutes to keep things even and prevent one side from burning.

Dutch Oven Nachos Tutorial Video:

Prefer to watch? Join me at camp, and I’ll walk you through all the steps to making nachos when camping:

How to Make NACHOS WHEN CAMPING: Easy Dutch Oven Nachos Over the Campfire!

Can you make these nachos in a cast iron skillet? 

Technically, if your cast iron skillet has a lid or you cover it with aluminum foil, you can make campfire nachos without the dutch oven, but I really wouldn’t recommend it. 

Cast iron skillets aren’t that deep, so you’re not going to be able to get very many layers to your nachos. Unless you have a cast iron lid, you can’t put any heat on the top, so you risk burning your nachos on the bottom. 

If all you have is a skillet and you really want to make nachos, assemble and cover it with aluminum foil and place the skillet on a grill grate over the fire. Heat it low and slow this way until the cheese melts. 

The final campfire nachos with all the toppings

Easy Campfire Nachos

These easy campfire nachos make the perfect camping dinner or appetizer.
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Print Recipe
Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 1 bag of tortilla chips (10-15 oz bag)
  • 12 oz sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 2 oz can sliced black olives (optional)

Topping Ideas:

  • tomato (diced)
  • avocado (diced)
  • cilantro (chopped)
  • green onion (chopped)
  • salsa
  • sour cream

Instructions
 

  • Get a campfire going and let it burn down for about 10 minutes, or until you have some coals in the fire.
  • In the dutch oven layer chips, cheese, beans, and olives: Spread a layer of chips on the bottom of the cast iron. Top with 1/3 of the shredded cheese and a couple of spoonfuls of the drained beans and olives (if using). Repeat this layering at least 2 more times. If using a 4 Qt. cast iron, you can fit about 3 layers.
  • Put the lid on the dutch oven and place it near (but not on) the fire. Carefully put 1-2 coals under the dutch oven, and 4-5 coals on the lid. See the video for a demonstration.
  • After 10 minutes, carefully use a fire glove or lid lifter to check on the nachos. The cheese should be melted. If not, add fresh coals to the lid and wait a few more minutes before checking again.
  • Once the cheese has melted, remove the dutch oven from the fire pit and carefully add your toppings. Serve immediately.

Notes

If you notice that one side of the dutch oven is hotter than another, simply rotate the dutch oven 180° to even things out.
Tried this recipe? Mention @amandaoutside on Instagram or leave a review!
Adding coals to the top of the dutch oven to create heat inside to melt the cheese, not burn it

Easy Cleanup for Campfire Nachos 

No one likes to do dishes, especially when camping, right? Luckily, these dutch oven nachos are so easy to clean up thanks to one thing – parchment paper! To make cleanup really easy, you can line your dutch oven with parchment paper before you start to assemble the nachos. 

Lodge sells parchment paper liners for their dutch ovens, but I usually just use a normal sheet and then tear off the corners so they don’t stick out and burn. Make sure you use parchment paper, NOT wax paper! 

When you’re all done cooking and eating your nachos, all you have to do for cleanup is throw out the parchment paper. So easy. 

Campfire nachos fresh off the campfire before toppings are added

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Learn to cook brownies, enchiladas, nachos, lasagna, cookies, and more ALL with your dutch oven while camping. Get more course info below:

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More Easy Camping Dinner Ideas:

If you have any questions about the recipe, ask me in the comments below! Have you tried it? Let me know what you think.

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