Campfire Hobo Stew

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Last updated October 11, 2015

Campfire Hobo Stew from ZestuousThis is my all-time favorite camping recipe. I learned it while I was a camp counselor at YMCA’s Camp Piomingo in Kentucky. It’s a great dish to prepare with your kids on a camping trip or in your backyard fire pit.

As counselors, we would pack up all of the pre-chopped ingredients (ground beef, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, peppers, cheese and condiments) along with lots of foil. Then we hiked out to an elevated ridge near the Ohio River for an under-the-stars adventure buffet and campfire tales.

The campers would each grab a piece of foil, and they would travel down the line of counselors who each had an ingredient. Everyone started with ground beef. Then, they could add their veggies of choice.

Campfire Hobo Stew from ZestuousThe mound of ingredients was usually topped with a slice of American cheese and a few squirts of ketchup or mustard.

The kids would fold the foil over their ingredients to make a ball, add their initials on their pouch using a marker, and then, they’d find the perfect spot on the fire to start cooking their campfire entrée.

Hobo Stew with potatoes can take about an hour to cook, depending on how you slice the potatoes. Slices cook faster than cubes. If you leave out the potatoes, dinner is ready in about 30 minutes.

Campers had such pride in their creations.

I hadn’t made this campfire dish in almost 20 years. When my husband and I decided to go camping a few weeks ago, I had to introduce him to it.

Packing for 2 was a lot easier than packing for 50. I just packed up a few containers of ground beef and chopped veggies. This time, I added some more adult flavors, including minced garlic, jalapenos and some of my favorite seasonings.

It was a true treat. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to make this again. It will become a regular fire pit meal this fall.

Campfire Hobo Stew

Campfire Hobo Stew


  • Ground beef
  • Garlic, minced
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Onions, chopped
  • Peppers, chopped
  • Potatoes, sliced
  • Carrots, sliced
  • Jalapenos, sliced
  • Seasoning: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, Lawry’s
  • Ketchup and mustard
  • Sliced cheese

Lay out a piece of foil and shape it into a bowl.

Add any ingredients you want, starting with ground beef.

Shape the foil into a ball and place on hot coals.

Cook for 30-60 minutes (if you added potatoes, it will probably take the full hour).

Peel open the pouch and eat with a fork.
By |2015-10-11T07:46:03+00:00October 7, 2013|


  1. Shayna October 9, 2018 at 9:55 am - Reply

    This is amazing! I am also a gormer camper, CIT, and then counselor at Piomingo and love to make hobo stew when camping. In fact, taking my family tomorrow and we plan to make it! So glad Piomingo still continues that tradition. I was there almost 20 years ago.

    • Christie Vanover October 20, 2018 at 12:34 pm - Reply

      it’s so fun to hear from all of the fellow Piomingo campers and counselors. Enjoy.

  2. Anonymous July 20, 2018 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Hobo Stew is made at Camp Edwards YMCA camp. Now we are going to try and make it on vacation in a couple of weeks. Thanks for recipe.

  3. Anonymous July 17, 2018 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    Googled “Hobo Stew” after my daughter came home from Piomingo begging for it. Lo and behold, this was the first thing I clicked on!

  4. Kevin W May 13, 2017 at 6:49 am - Reply

    Now is the ground beef pre-cooked or raw?

    • zestuous May 13, 2017 at 9:57 am - Reply

      It should be raw. It will cook up in the campfire.

      • Kevin W May 13, 2017 at 11:48 am - Reply

        That’s what I thought but wanted to be sure. Thank you ma’am.

  5. Karen April 27, 2017 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Noonway!! I remembered making hobo stew but couldn’t remember exactly what to add so I decided to google and low and behold a fellow Piomingo friend!! Love!

    • Sarah July 17, 2018 at 12:04 pm - Reply

      I was googling Hobo Stew after my daughter came home from Camp Piomingo begging for it! Noonway!

      • Christie Vanover July 23, 2018 at 9:40 pm - Reply

        So glad to hear it’s still a tradition after all of these years. Noonway <3

  6. Mike December 23, 2016 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Made this in Boy Scouts. Loved it. Will do again soon.

  7. Shara December 20, 2016 at 7:28 am - Reply

    I found this recipe very easy to use. I did this with my 2 children and loving husband. I will definitely use this in the future.

  8. Dorothy September 21, 2016 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    I,m looking for a recipe for mulligan stew I found in a Louis L’amour westren book about 20 yrs ago, Dos anyone know what book it was in. It had chicken , pork, green limes onion, tomatoes and lots and lots of dad passed,,, away,so all his books come to me. I can’t found the book its in. Its making me nuts.

  9. […] Zestuous – Campfire Hobo Stew […]

  10. Shawn September 21, 2015 at 10:43 am - Reply

    I haven’t done a hobo stew in years and googled it for a recipe, what should pop up first? A fellow counselor from Camp Piomingo (which was where I last cooked it 33 years ago!) had shared their great experience and recipe. Some of the most formative days of my youth were spent at Camp Piomingo!

    The Hobo Stew can’t be beat for a entertaining and delicious campfire meal.

    A big Piomingo Hand Clap for Christie!

    • zestuous November 8, 2015 at 8:35 am - Reply

      Thanks Shawn. I’m glad you stopped by. I wonder if they’re still making Hobo Stew today. I sure hope so.

      • Kristen Brown October 14, 2017 at 11:48 am - Reply

        They are still making Hobo Stew at Piomingo. It’s inspiring our dinner tonight!

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