Skip to Content

How long do you keep hobo dinners on fire?

Hobo dinners, also known as foil packs or tin foil dinners, are a fun and easy campfire meal. They consist of meat, vegetables, and seasonings wrapped up in tin foil and cooked over an open fire. But knowing how long to cook hobo dinners can be tricky since they are cooked by indirect heat. Here is a guide to how long you should keep hobo dinners on the fire to ensure they are thoroughly cooked.

What are Hobo Dinners?

A hobo dinner is a full meal wrapped up in heavy duty aluminum foil and cooked over a campfire or grill. Typical hobo dinner ingredients include meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, and seasonings. The ingredients are placed on a large sheet of foil, wrapped up into a packet, and placed directly on the heat source to cook.

Hobo dinners allow you to cook a complete meal easily outdoors. The foil pouch contains all the ingredients and keeps them together while cooking over the fire. They are a fun hands-on cooking activity often enjoyed while camping, tailgating, or having a backyard cookout. Adults and kids alike enjoy customizing their hobo dinner ingredients and learning how to wrap them up.

Benefits of Cooking Hobo Dinners

  • Fun, interactive cooking experience
  • Make a complete meal in one foil pack
  • Easy cleanup with foil packets
  • Cooks food evenly
  • Lets moisture and flavor stay in
  • Can customize ingredients to taste
  • No pots or pans needed
  • Perfect for cooking outdoors

Tips for Making Hobo Dinners

Here are some tips for preparing delicious hobo dinners:

  • Use heavy duty aluminum foil so the packets don’t tear
  • Layer ingredients, starting with meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, etc.
  • Add seasonings like salt, pepper, Italian dressing, soy sauce
  • Wrap foil packets up tightly, leaving some room for heat circulation
  • Flip the packs halfway through cooking
  • Place packs directly on hot coals or grill grates
  • Adjust cooking time based on what’s inside the foil packet

How Long to Cook Hobo Dinners

Cooking time for hobo dinners can vary based on the ingredients, temperature of the fire, and your desired doneness. Here are some general grilling times for hobo dinners:

On a Campfire

  • Steaks: 18-25 minutes
  • Chicken: 15-20 minutes
  • Pork chops: 20-25 minutes
  • Veggies: 15-20 minutes
  • Shrimp: 5-10 minutes
  • Fish: 8-12 minutes

On a Charcoal Grill

  • Steaks: 14-18 minutes
  • Chicken: 12-15 minutes
  • Pork chops: 16-20 minutes
  • Veggies: 10-15 minutes
  • Shrimp: 4-8 minutes
  • Fish: 6-10 minutes

On a Gas Grill

  • Steaks: 8-12 minutes
  • Chicken: 10-14 minutes
  • Pork chops: 12-16 minutes
  • Veggies: 8-12 minutes
  • Shrimp: 4-6 minutes
  • Fish: 5-8 minutes

How to Tell When Hobo Dinners Are Done

Since hobo dinners are cooked in foil pouches, you can’t easily check them for doneness like grilled foods. Here are some ways to test if your hobo dinner is fully cooked:

  • Use a meat thermometer – insert it through the foil into the center of meats
  • Check if juices run clear – open foil and make a small cut in meat
  • Poke with a fork – see if vegetables are tender
  • Cut into thicker meats like steak
  • Check fish for opacity and flaking

You want your hobo dinner meats and vegetables to be cooked through. If in doubt, go ahead and cook them a bit longer. It’s better to be safe than sorry with outdoor cooking.

Minimum Internal Temperatures

Food Minimum Internal Temperature
Beef, Pork, Lamb 145°F
Ground Beef, Pork 160°F
Chicken 165°F
Turkey, Duck 165°F
Fish 145°F

Troubleshooting Hobo Dinners

Even when you follow the right hobo dinner cooking times, you may occasionally run into some issues. Here is some troubleshooting for common hobo dinner problems:


  • Place back on heat for 5+ minutes
  • Use a lower grill temperature
  • Cook for longer periods of time
  • Cut meat and vegetables smaller
  • Double check internal temperatures

Overcooked or Burned

  • Use a higher grill heat
  • Cook for shorter periods
  • Cut meat into larger pieces
  • Place packets on indirect heat
  • Add a small amount of liquid

Falls Apart

  • Wrap tighter in double foil
  • Use longer sheets of foil
  • Place seam side up on grill
  • Brush foil with oil before cooking
  • Let cool before unwrapping

Uneven Cooking

  • Rearrange ingredients
  • Place on level ground or grill
  • Flip packet halfway through
  • Move packets to hotter area
  • Cook smaller or thinner pieces longer

Cooking Hobo Dinners on a Stovetop

While hobo dinners are made for cooking over an open fire, you can also make a version of them indoors on your stovetop using a grill pan or skillet. Simply assemble them the same way in foil then transfer to the hot pan to cook. Use medium-high heat and cover to replicate grill-like conditions.

Cook hobo dinners on the stovetop for roughly the same amount of time as on a gas grill. You won’t get quite the same smoky outdoor flavor, but it’s still a fun dinner idea year-round. You can also finish cooking partially done hobo dinners on the stove if needed.

Stovetop Cooking Times

  • Steaks: 8-12 minutes
  • Chicken: 10-14 minutes
  • Pork chops: 12-16 minutes
  • Veggies: 8-12 minutes
  • Shrimp: 4-6 minutes
  • Fish: 5-8 minutes

Grilling Hobo Dinners Safely

Cooking over an open fire in foil packets requires some safety precautions. Be sure to:

  • Use long-handled tongs and mitts
  • Be aware of hot steam when opening foil
  • Keep children at a safe distance
  • Have a fire extinguisher ready
  • Discard ashes safely
  • Extinguish fire completely when done

Food Safety Tips

  • Wash hands before and after prep
  • Use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables
  • Cook meats to proper internal temperatures
  • Avoid cross contamination
  • Store leftovers promptly in fridge
  • Reheat fully before serving again

11 Fun and Flavorful Hobo Dinner Recipes

Hobo dinners are highly customizable based on your taste preferences. Get inspired with these yummy foil pack recipes:

1. Classic Hobo Dinner

The traditional recipe with ground beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, and seasoning.

2. Hawaiian Hobo Dinner

Chicken, pineapple, sweet peppers, and teriyaki sauce for a tropical twist.

3. Pizza Hobo Dinner

Italian sausage, tomato sauce, cheese, and peppers for a pizza-inspired meal.

4. Southwest Hobo Dinner

Spicy ground beef, beans, corn, peppers, and taco seasoning.

5. Chicken Fajita Hobo Dinner

Seasoned chicken, onions, peppers, and sweet potatoes for a Tex-Mex foil pack.

6. Philly Cheesesteak Hobo Dinner

Thinly sliced steak, cheese sauce, mushrooms, peppers, and onions.

7. Bacon Ranch Chicken Hobo Dinner

Chicken, potatoes, corn, bacon, and ranch dressing for a savory pack.

8. Veggie Hobo Dinner

Zucchini, squash, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, and parmesan cheese make a hearty vegetarian meal.

9. Breakfast Hobo Dinner

Eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and cheese for a tasty morning foil pack.

10. Apple Crisp Hobo Dinner

Warm apple pie filling topped with an oat crisp topping for dessert in a foil pouch.

11. S’mores Hobo Dinner

Chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers wrapped in foil for easy campfire s’mores.


Cooking hobo dinners over an open fire lets you make fun and flavorful grilled meals in foil packets. Cook times can vary based on ingredients and heat level, but average 15-25 minutes. Let the meat reach safe internal temperatures before eating. With some trial and error, you’ll master making tender, juicy hobo dinners.

Be creative with different ingredients to suit your taste. Mix proteins, vegetables, seasonings, and sauces for endless possibilities. Just seal the foil tight and place right on the hot coals or grill grates. In no time, you’ll be enjoying a hearty, wholesome meal straight from the campfire.