Aluminum foil packet dinner decorated with a merfish

Tin Dinners

Tin dinners are a cabin weekend classic, and something Steve brought to us from his time in Boy Scouts. The joy of these is that everyone can easily tailor their dinner to their tastes.

Tin dinners can be done on the coals of a fire, on a grill, or in the oven.

Do you work better with visuals and/or auditory instruction? We’ve made a video so you can follow along with Steve, the true tin dinner master.

Classic Ingredients:

  • butter or vegetable oil
  • carrots
  • garlic
  • hamburger/soy burger
  • ketchup
  • onions
  • pepper
  • potatoes
  • salt

Optional Ingredients:

  • bell peppers
  • cashews
  • cooked lentils
  • corn
  • green beans
  • hot peppers
  • Lawry’s seasoned salt
  • leftover chili
  • leftover sausage
  • mushrooms
  • onion salt
  • peanut butter
  • peanuts
  • pineapple
  • scallions
  • steak sauce
  • soy sauce
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini

Ingredients We Have Found to NOT Work Well:

  • cheese
  • cucumbers
  • lettuce
  • scrambled eggs


Slice veggies consistently and relatively thin to ensure consistent cooking.

Tear off two pieces of aluminum foil* and place them on top of each other, shiny side up.

If you are not using meat, or if you are using meat with lower fat content, liberally grease the center of the foil with butter or oil.

Add the protein and vegetables of your choice. Be mindful you don’t cross-contaminate meats and veggies.

Add the dressing/sauce and seasoning components of your choice. Ketchup salt and pepper are classic, but Steve has become fond of soy sauce and cashews. Some folks aim for a peanut butter sauce.

Roll up your packet with the first piece of foil, aiming for a tight seal.

  • Hold up the long edges together, evenly and fold down just a bit at the top
  • Now tightly roll down until the seam is flush with the packet
  • Flatten one unsealed side and roll the foil in toward the center until flush with the packet; repeat on other side
  • Flip the packet seam down onto the second piece of foil and repeat the folding/rolling process

If multiple people are making tin dinners, be sure to label your packet with a Sharpie. Tin dinner can be placed directly on the coals of a fire, in the oven (preheated to 350), or the preheated grill.

On the coals of a wood fire: cook for 12 minutes, flip, and cook for ten more minutes

On the coals of a charcoal fire or on a gas grill with no temperature gauge: cook for 10 minutes, flip, and cook for eight more minutes

In the oven or a grill with a temp gauge, at 350: bake for 20 minutes, flipping is optional

*If baking in an oven, you may substitute a casserole dish for the foil.

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