Cowboy Stew

Cowboy Stew is an easy one-pot meal to make at the campsite, and even over the campfire with a Dutch Oven.

Cowboy Stew - An Easy Filling Recipe when Camping

Posted by Gav Grayston.
First Published May 2012; updated Apr 2023.

Cowboy Stew is a really simple recipe to follow, especially if you have a Dutch Oven. Simple, nutritious, and warm.

Cowboy Stew is a regular favourite and a really easy recipe to make at the campsite if you have a Dutch Oven (see our guide to cooking with a Dutch Oven if you've not used one before).

Here are some reasons why it's popular:

  • You don't need to be a chef to make it.
  • You don't need to follow the recipe exactly.  It's beans 'n stuff.
  • You can spice and flavour it as much or as little as you like.
  • You can pack it full of nutrients and that 'slow release energy' that's good for being outside.
  • You can eat a proper hot meal at the campsite.
  • You don't need to juggle different pans on a gas stove.
  • You don't have to eat burnt sausages from the BBQ.
  • (err, and enough beans can help warm your sleeping bag if you know what I mean....)

The Recipe

As mentioned, you don't need to follow this strictly.  And you can add all sorts of tinned stuff to save preparation hassle (though we do tend to take real onions and real potatoes).

  • 1lb Mince (Quorn mince works too)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 potatoes, chopped about 1inch square
  • 1 can green beans
  • 1 can baked beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 can sweet corn
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tps chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf (if you must)
  • Salt and pepper

The Method

Preheat the Dutch Oven with all coals underneath, but don't get it too hot at this stage.  Add some oil to the oven.

A Dutch Oven by the campfire

The Dutch Oven by the campfire

Brown the mince and onions.

Putting the lid on will heat it, but I'll often keep it off for frying.

Browning the mince

Browning the Mince

If you have fresh potatoes, I would add them next.

The potatoes

Cooking the Potatoes

Open the cans and tip all the contents in.  Stir.  Add spices (as much as you want).  Stir.

See, I told you it was easy.


Add spices and stir

Cook for about 45 mins with the lid on until potatoes are soft, stirring every 5 mins, and rotate your oven as well (to avoid heat spots from the coals underneath).

Moving a few coals to the top may help with cooking, though remember to lift the lid carefully to avoid ash going in when stirring.

Cowboy Stew

Easy Cowboy Stew

When it is nearly done, pop the kettle on.  This isn't for a brew but for cleaning the oven.

Serve the stew, pour the hot water into your oven (never add cold water to a hot oven), put the lid on and leave on the heat.  You'll then find cleaning the oven very easy, and if any did get burnt and stuck to the bottom, you should find that easier to remove.