Pikes Peak River Runners

Dutch Oven (DO) Cooking

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by Christina King

Instructions | Recipes | Links

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Check out the two African Potjiekos (DO's) that use real hard wood (mahogany) coals!

DOGingerbreadcake.jpg (46022 bytes)INSTRUCTIONS:

It is not as hard as it appears and your group will eat it up. Check out a product page for an aluminum DO.


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  • 12 inch dutch oven with legs (aluminum – lighter and cleans easier, cast iron – much heavier and harder to clean)
  • 1 pair channel locks
  • 1 pair tongs
  • 1 pair oven mitts
  • 1 round baking sheet
  • 20 charcoal briquettes (Kingsford are best, those with lighter fluid already added don’t work well- they burn up too fast)
  • lighter fluid
  • matches

Find a level place to bake. Make sure it is safe from people (stepping on the hot coals) and fire hazards (out of the wind is good also). Place 20 charcoal briquettes in a pyramid shape in a firepan with legs (best) or on the round baking sheet with a fire blanket below it (or sand).

Add some lighter fluid to the coals (enough to get the coals started). Let the coals start to get gray on the edges. Spray the inside of the dutch oven with PAM vegetable spray. Do not spray lid. After the coals have begun to get gray, place ~12 coals (using tongs) in a symmetrical pattern on top of the lid (outside) of the dutch oven. Symmetrically arrange the remaining ~8 coals (using tongs) on the round baking sheet. Place the dutch oven on top of the 8 remaining coals to preheat (using the channel locks to grasp the dutch oven handle). Usually, preheat the dutch oven for approximately 10 minutes. See the pictures at the top of this page to get an idea on how to place the coals.

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Helpful Hints:

  • If the weather is cold or windy or you just want to hurry things along, use aluminum foil to wrap the dutch oven and this increases the temperature. If you use foil wrap for wind, beware that you need to keep a sharper eye on the food or it can burn. Many times this will significantly shorten the baking time, do not let it burn!
  • Baking desserts: Box mixes are great and easier than making recipes from scratch, follow the package directions when making cakes, muffins, or Bisquick cobbler.
  • Hot coals need to be put in an ash can or firepan immediately after cooking or someone might step on them (unless you are using a firepan).
  • The dutch oven is always hotter than you think. Use tongs, channel locks, and oven mitts.  You will learn the hard way after the first time you grab a hot DO handle without protection.
  • I prefer aluminum 12 inch dutch ovens with legs. Why? Easier to clean, lighter, just the right size for groups of 4 or more people, and legs make it easier to balance.
  • The number of coals stays the same unless you stack dutch ovens. Then the number is ~ 8 on the bottom and ~12 on the top, with ~10 in between.
  • Pillsbury rolls (in the tubes) and Marie Callendar cornbread mix (in a plastic pouch, just add water) are also excellent and easy side treats to make with dinner.
  • Imagination is the key. Just think of the things you can bake in the oven at home and transfer this recipe to the river. I would always experiment before I got on the river. Leftovers can also be used up with easy potato or rice casseroles.
  • I do not attempt to do recipes that require greater than a 400o F oven, that is a bit too optimistic to try on the river. 
  • Do not forget that this addition of cookware to your kitchen can also be used as a heavy duty cookpot on the camp stove when not used as a dutch oven over coals.  I regularly fry sausage, bacon, potatoes and cook rice using DO's as well.


You are now ready for a recipe.  You can order our club cookbook or find some great recipes in the links below.

Useful links:
Idaho DO guru and TV personality website
DO discussion group
Dutch Ovens from Down River
Byron's (Papa) Dutch Oven recipe

THE Dutch Oven


Just a couple of Recipes:  Our club cookbook has a lot more

King’s Potato Casserole

6 medium potatoes- grated (pre-cooked hash browns work great)

1 pint sour cream

¼ cup butter, melted

1 ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 can cream of chicken soup

1/3 cup chopped scallions

On top:  2 T crushed cornflakes + 2 T melted butter

Mix all (potatoes, sour cream, butter, cheese, soup, scallions) together and place in greased baking dish. Sprinkle crushed cornflakes/butter mixture on top and bake 45 minutes.


Cheesy Potatoes

1 pkg hash browns (l lb thawed)

1 can cream of chicken soup

12 oz sour cream

4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

½ stk butter, melted

Mix soup and sour cream. Stir in potatoes until coated. Add cheese. Put into greased baking dish, melt butter and pour on top. Bake until golden brown, 1 hour.


Quesadilla Pie

Mexican casserole dinner for 14 people

2 and 3/4 doz Corn tortillas

105 oz Refried beans

47 oz Whole green chilies

2 and 1/4 lb grated mild cheddar cheese

2 and 1/4 lb grated Jack cheese

1 and 3/4 lb grated Jalapeno Jack cheese

28 oz Salsa (medium)

11 oz Black olives (whole)

14 oz Sour Cream

Place a few corn tortillas on the bottom of the dutch oven and layer the ingredients in the dutch oven. Refried beans, green chilies, jack/cheddar cheeses, salsa, corn tortillas, and repeat. Stop layering at least one inch from top of dutch oven. Finish with the salsa, grated jalapeno cheese, and whole black olives. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until cheese is melted and entire pie is heated through. Serve with sour cream, chips and salsa.

Note: This recipe probably needs two dutch ovens to serve fourteen people. Cut ingredients in half if using only one dutch oven. If you cannot find grated cheese you can grate your own or, thinly slice the cheese in the casserole and only grate the jalapeno cheese on top. If you like it spicy, use hot salsa and fresh jalapeno peppers, layered in the casserole.  Pre-cooked/drained taco meat can also be added. 


Black Forest Cake

1 can Cherry pie filling

1 Box Choc Cake (prepare according to directions- eggs, oil, water)

Prepare batter, fill greased DO with 1/3 batter. Pour cherry pie filling in even amounts around the cake. Cover cherries with remaining batter. Bake about 30 minutes. Serve warm with can of whipped cream.


Dump Cake

½ stick butter

1 can cherry pie filling

1 box yellow cake mix

1 can crushed pineapple

Melt butter first. Preheat DO, then add cherry pie filling and crushed pineapple. Dump dry yellow cake mix on top of fruit mixture, then pour melted butter on the top. Bake 45 minutes until crust starts to set up a little. When done, let it set for a few minutes away from coals then serve.


DO Boboli Pizza

Boboli Pizza dough (comes with pizza sauce)

1 pkg shredded mozzarella cheese


Canned mushrooms

Green peppers


Precooked sausage/hamburger


Any other pizza toppings you want to add

Spray bottom of DO with Pam. Press dough in a 12inch minimum DO. Spread pizza sauce, add toppings, then cheese last. Use a few more briquettes as this needs to be hotter than 350 degrees (but don’t burn the bottoms). Bake until cheese is melted and slightly browned.



Canyonlands 2001, Feeds 4-6 Persons

(For double recipe, double ingredients and use more coals in 12" Dutch oven.)   Use 10 inch Dutch Oven.

2 Cans, 12 ounce each, Canned Beef with gravy (Hereford Roast Beef with Gravy, Product of Brazil and sometimes Argentina)

1 Large (#10) Can Chili Con Carne (Hot or mild as you like)

2 Cloves Garlic

1 Onion, Chopped

1 Can Corn (Drained)

3 Cup Grated Cheese (I like cheddar)

1 – 4 ounce Can Diced Green Chilies (Can also used chopped jalapeno or other types)

2 – 6 ounce packages Cornbread Mix prepared as directed

(Usually with 1 egg and 1/3 cup milk each package)

Preheat Dutch oven and spray with non-stick spray.

Mix the Garlic, and Onion in the Dutch oven and sauté.

Add the Beef, Chili Con Carne, and Corn.

Bring to simmer and cook mixture for approximately 20 minutes to blend flavors.

Spread the Grated Cheese on top of Beef/Chili mixture.

Mix Cornbread with the Green Chilies and spoon on top of the Beef/Chili.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until cornbread is done.

6 or 7 coals below the Dutch oven, 16-18 coals on top.


Cowboy Cornbread

  • 2 lbs. top sirloin (Chopped into ½" cubes)
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • 6 shallots
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes (drain ONE can)
  • Can Enchilada Sauce
  • Can Black Beans (drained)
  • 16 Oz Frozen Corn
  • Small Can Mild Roasted Chilies
  • 1 Can Marie Callendar's Cornbread Mix

Start with a 12" Dutch oven, preferably a 12" deep one. Chop bell peppers and shallots coarsely, saute in bottom of Dutch oven in 1/4 cup water. Add chilies and top sirloin. Stir in Tomatoes and simmer to reduce liquid in recipe. Toss in black beans, frozen corn. Add Enchilada sauce and continue to simmer. Combine 1-1/2 cups of water with cornbread mix; stir until almost smooth. Ladle carefully onto stew mixture. Pull most of the coals from the bottom of the Dutch oven and add them to the top. You should have about 16-20 coals on top now. Check every 15 minutes, turn lid 90 degrees to the left each time, rotate bottom 90 degrees to the right each time. Remove lid and serve when cornbread is golden brown.