Our Camping Thanksgiving Dinner

The kitchen partner and I have more geeky traditions than you can count when we’re out on road trip adventures. Here are a few notable ones:

  • I make an incredibly delicious (and totally NON-local) butterscotch brownie that is usually gone in the first day.
  • We buy two of every postcard, one for ourselves and one to exchange on Postcrossing.
  • We have a Christmas ornament from all of our stops that we put on a special “travel” tree each Christmas.  It documents our journey and means I get to have 2 trees in the house!
  • For our first evening meal when we reach our destination,  we always have our camping version Thanksgiving Dinner.

The meal is simple–a version of Backpacker Magazine’s 2010 recipe I picked up awhile ago.  Our first hot meal after eating sandwiches for days, and it is how we remember our gratitude on the road. It’s easy to feel selfish and greedy on vacation; after all, when else do we American’s take large amounts of time and money and lavishly spend it on ourselves? I LOVE vacation. I just have to remember how grateful I am for it.  Not everyone has the luxury.

As each trip begins, we pause to count our blessings over Thanksgiving Dinner.  Thanks for safe travels on the way, thanks for the time to rest and relax, thanks for preservation of great places (these photos are from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota).

There’s a bit of prep for the dinner before we leave on the trip.   I cook a small chicken or turkey, shred the meat and then freeze it in a reusable container.  It stays just cold enough in the cooler until we reach our destination without the risk of food borne bugs. Let’s just say I’m not a huge fan of transporting or preparing raw meat!

The original recipe calls for a pouch/can of chicken meat which is a good option for longer treks, or if you’re without refrigeration. However a caution on the sodium and preservatives in canned meat. If you have the option, prep your own. When we arrive, I re-heat the meat, make the stuffing and throw in dried cranberries. Thanksgiving dinner in 15 minutes.

Our Camping Thanksgiving Dinner 


1 Tbsp. butter
2 C. chicken or turkey meat, fully cooked and frozen for transportation
1 box instant stuffing mix
1 C. dried Wisconsin cranberries (available here)

1. Melt butter in a frying pan and add chicken. Cook until chicken is warmed through.
2. Prepare stuffing according to package directions. When done, add chicken and mix until combined. Top with cranberries. Serve warm.


  • Sue @ All About Food

    My stuffing-loving husband would swoon over this meal. I’ll make this chicken and stuffing surprise for him (over a flame on my kitchen stove) and he’ll be so happy! I love the ND photos. And, I love your idea of a Thanksgiving Camping Dinner.

    • Amy.Sippl

      This is going to sound super simple (mostly because it is):

      Place a whole chicken in a pot with enough water to just cover it.
      Add 5-6 smashed cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, and a few shakes of herbs (I use rosemary, thyme, and basil most often).
      Cover the pot and boil it until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 180 degrees. The time depends on if the chicken was frozen/fresh and the size.
      Remove the pot from heat and allow the chicken to cool/rest covered for 5 minutes.
      Remove the chicken from the pot (you can save the broth for chicken stock!!) and when cool to the touch, pull the chicken from the bone. There’s really no graceful way to do it, just plan get your hands messy!

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