Lunch Recipe for Camping

Cooky’s Campfire Chili Mac

Cool fall weather. A big leaf-viewing hike is first thing in the morning. Then a campground-wide game of capture the flag. Your weekend camping crew is going to show up at the picnic table hungry! Stomping of feet and pounding of silverware next to their bowls may be next!

Soothe your herd with this hot, hardy, chili mac. It’s chili. It’s pasta. It’s delicious.

Cooky’s Chili Mac
Recipe type: Lunch
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. hamburger
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. can of halved or chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder (more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. salt (more to taste)
  • ½ tsp. black pepper (more to taste)
  • 1-plus large tomato can of water (more as needed)
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
  • Tabasco sauce to taste (optional)
  • 1 can of kidney beans (optional)
  • ½ lb. dry elbow macaroni
  1. Heat Dutch Oven to medium high heat over campfire or coals. Add the vegetable oil and distribute evenly over bottom.
  2. Add the hamburger to brown. As it fries in the oil, use a spatula to chop the meat to prevent it from forming big lumps. You’re looking for a fine chop so that you’ll get meat in every spoonful of the finished chili.
  3. When meat is about halfway browned add chopped onions. Fry for a couple of minutes. Then add chopped green peppers and continue frying and moving the mix with the spatula.
  4. Just as burger is finishing add minced garlic and fry for one more minute until burger is nicely browned.
  5. Add all remaining ingredients except water and macaroni. Stir well and bring mixture to a simmer.
  6. Add at least one large tomato can full of water and stir. Judge the thickness of the soup at this point. Because in this one-pot campfire version you’ll be cooking the pasta in the soup, you want it thinner than if you were cooking pasta separately and ladling the chili over it in the bowls.
  7. Bring to boil, cover and move to low heat area of the campfire to simmer for at least 30 minutes to meld flavors.
  8. After simmering, uncover, move to medium high heat again, add more water if needed. Add rinsed and drained kidney beans if you’re including them.
  9. Cover again and bring to boil.
  10. Add macaroni and stir. Cook at low boil for 8-10 minutes and serve.
  11. If you want to get fancy offer sour cream, chopped green onions, shredded cheese, and/or additional hot sauces at the table for your hungry cowboys and cowgirls to add as they like.