Cooking while camping can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it does require some extra planning and preparation. When it comes to potatoes, one of the most popular camping foods, pre-cooking them before your trip is a great way to save time and make meal prep easier when you arrive at your campsite.
Should You Pre-Cook Potatoes for Camping?
Pre-cooking potatoes before a camping trip has several advantages:
- Saves prep time at the campsite – Potatoes can take a while to cook thoroughly, so pre-cooking them at home frees up time and fuel at the campsite for cooking other items.
- Makes potatoes easier to transport – Fully cooked potatoes are less likely to get damaged or crushed in transit versus raw potatoes.
- Allows for versatile meal options – Pre-cooked potatoes can be used in a variety of dishes like breakfast hashes, soups, salads, sandwiches, and more.
- Reduces food waste – Pre-cooking potatoes to the perfect doneness means you won’t end up with undercooked or burnt spuds at the campsite.
- Safety – Pre-cooking eliminates any concerns about properly cooking potatoes over a campfire to a safe internal temperature.
The main downside is that pre-cooked potatoes don’t keep as long as raw potatoes, so they need to be used within 3-5 days. Overall, the time-saving benefits usually outweigh this con for most campers.
How to Pre-Cook Potatoes for Camping
If you decide to pre-cook your potatoes before a camping trip, here are some tips:
1. Choose the right potato type
Go with a firm, starchy potato variety like Russets or Yukon Golds. Waxy potatoes like red potatoes don’t hold their shape as well when cooked then transported.
2. Cut potatoes to desired size
Cut potatoes into your preferred shape and size before cooking. Good options include:
- Diced – 1/2 to 1 inch pieces for sautéing, hashes, etc.
- Wedges or spears – Large wedges or spears work well for roasting or grilling.
- Whole baby potatoes – Great for roasting whole.
3. Parboil the potatoes
Boil the potatoes in salted water for 5-7 minutes until partially cooked but still quite firm. This pre-cooks them just enough so they’ll finish cooking quickly at the campsite.
4. Cool and drain the potatoes
Drain the parboiled potatoes and spread them out to cool completely before packing for transport.
5. Pack them carefully
Place cooled, drained potatoes in a rigid container with a tight fitting lid or resealable plastic bag. Try to pack them in a single layer and avoid cramming them in too tightly.
How to Finish Cooking Parboiled Potatoes
The best ways to quickly finish cooking parboiled potatoes at your campsite include:
Pan frying or sautéing
Dice or slice potatoes and cook in oil over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender.
Grill sliced potato wedges, spears or whole baby potatoes over direct medium heat, turning occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until charred in spots and fully heated through.
Toss diced or sliced potatoes with oil and seasonings and spread out on a foil lined pan. Roast near the campfire, turning once, for about 15 minutes until crisped and cooked through.
Adding to Soups or Stews
Add diced potatoes to any soup, chili or stew and simmer for 5-10 minutes until heated through.
Serving Ideas for Pre-Cooked Camping Potatoes
Pre-cooked potatoes are endlessly versatile. Here are some serving ideas:
Fry up diced potatoes with onions, bell peppers, eggs and sausage for a hearty campsite breakfast.
Foil packed dinners
Make foil packets with potato wedges, chicken or steak, veggies and seasonings. Grill the packets over the fire.
Warm potato salad
Toss diced potatoes with vinaigrette dressing, fresh herbs, onions, cucumber and cherry tomatoes.
Loaded baked potato soup
Simmer diced potatoes in broth with bacon, cheddar cheese and green onions.
Cook sliced potatoes with onions and red bell pepper then combine with eggs and cheese to make hearty tortilla sandwiches.
Helpful Tips for Pre-Cooking Camping Potatoes
- Choose firm, starchy potatoes over waxy varieties.
- Allow potatoes to cool fully before packing for transport.
- Pre-cook potatoes the day before leaving for your trip.
- Pack cooked potatoes in rigid containers to prevent crushing.
- Plan to use parboiled potatoes within 3-5 days.
- Reheat gently when cooking or add to dishes towards the end.
- Adjust seasonings after reheating as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I fully cook the potatoes before camping?
It’s best to parboil or partially cook potatoes before camping instead of fully cooking them. That way they don’t become overly soft or mushy when you reheat them at the campsite. Parboiled potatoes just need 5-15 minutes of grilling, sautéing, etc. to finish cooking.
How do I reheat parboiled potatoes while camping?
The best reheating methods include sautéing in oil or butter, grilling over direct heat, roasting by the campfire, or simmering in soups/stews. Reheat gently to prevent overcooking the pre-cooked potatoes.
Can I meal prep potatoes a day in advance?
Yes, it’s fine to parboil or fully cook potatoes a day before camping. Just chill them quickly after cooking then store in the fridge until ready to pack. Avoid leaving cooked potatoes at room temperature more than 2 hours.
How should I pack cooked camping potatoes?
Let potatoes cool completely after cooking, then drain well and pack in rigid containers or resealable bags in a single layer. Avoid overstuffing the container which can lead to crushing.
How long will cooked potatoes last unrefrigerated?
Pre-cooked potatoes will typically last about 3-5 days if kept chilled in the cooler. Discard any potatoes that smell bad or appear slimy. Uncooked potatoes can last over 2 weeks in the cooler.
|Potato Cooking Method||Cook Time||Result|
|Boiling whole||15-20 minutes||Fully cooked, firm potatoes|
|Parboiling diced or sliced||5-7 minutes||Partially cooked, still quite firm|
|Roasting whole at 400°F||45-60 minutes||Crispy, caramelized exterior|
|Pan frying sliced||12-14 minutes||Crispy browned potatoes|
Pre-cooking potatoes before heading out on a camping trip can make meal prep much simpler when you arrive at your destination. Parboil diced or sliced potatoes 5-7 minutes before packing them carefully for the trip. Then simply grill, pan fry, roast or add them to stews to quickly finish cooking them at the campsite. With the right prep, you can enjoy delicious campfire potatoes without all the fuss.