Cooking an entire dinner in a simple foil packet is every cook’s dream. Everyone can choose their own ingredients, you can cook in the oven or on the grill, and there’s minimal clean-up afterward.
This post is brought to you by Reynolds Wrap.
If I had a genie in a bottle, these would be my 3 wishes.
1: I wish I could just win the lottery/win the cumulative jackpot at Wheel of Fortune in Las Vegas/discover a pirate’s treasure trove of precious gems, jewels and coins/ so that I never had to work again. I would be the BEST philanthropist EVER.
2: I wish that I could eat whatever I wanted, all day every day or whenever the whim struck, and never gain weight.
3: I wish that I never had to do dishes again.
Sadly, #1 and #2 are highly unlikely to happen. But #3…now that is somewhere in my sights thanks to foil packet dinners.
The thing is, everyone thinks of foil dinners (or as we used to so un-polictically-correctly call them, hobo dinners) as the meal you prepare when you go camping. And for good reason. All you need is some aluminum foil, a sampling of ingredients and some heat.
But in my opinion, there’s no reason to wait to break out the camp fire because foil dinners are so incredibly easy to make at home and EVERYONE ends up loving them. People love the idea of harkening back to memories of camping and eating these out in the wild. It’s almost romantic that way.
And even more, they’re one of my favorite things to make for a DIY dinner party. Everyone gets to choose what they want, and prepare the packet dinners themselves. And even better for the hostess, clean-up is a breeze and that makes everyone happy.
There are two ways you can go with flavoring your packets. Either keep it fresh, seasonal and classic with hamburger and some basic veggies as your base, or, set a theme and offer ingredients that fit an ethnic theme, such as:
Americana flavors: BBQ sauces, sausages, cheeseburger or meatloaf flavors, cajun, Southwest flavors, buffalo wing flavors, Hawaiian sweet and sour, classic stew flavors
Asian flavors: Japanese with teriyaki or miso, soy sauce, Thai curry or chiles, Korean kim chee or gochujang or sriracha with cooked rice
Indian flavors: Tandoori flavors, garam masala, coconut, beans and cooked rice
Latin flavors: Chimichurri, jerk sauce, beans, bananas, fresh herbs
Mexican flavors: Chiles, fresh salsas, tomatoes, corn, beans, cumin, oregano, cheese, chorizo and even tortillas or enchilada sauce
Mediterranean and Italian flavors: Wine, saffron, chorizo, fresh veggies, oregano, olive oil drizzles, garlic, pesto sauces, Parmesan cheese
But really, the most important ingredient for a successful foil packet dinner is a strong piece of aluminum foil, and that’s why I use Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil for this cooking situation.
Simply prepare a stack of sheets in about 12-inch lengths and let everyone go hog wild with a variety ingredients for them to choose from.
The ingredient list can be long and varied but there are a few essential components.
Step 1: Find Your Fat
First you must have a fat so the raw ingredients don’t stick to the foil as it cooks. Oil in most any form (plain or flavored,) butter and bacon fat are all likely contenders. I like to add pesto because it does double duty with the inclusion of herbs and garlic to the oil.
Step 2: Add a Protein
Ground meats like hamburger, ground turkey or chicken all work well in foil packs. Fish, shrimp and shellfish do well too because fish doesn’t take long to cook. This is not the time to toss in a whole chicken breast or a round of steak. Save that for cooking on its own, although very thinly sliced versions of those would likely work fine.
Sliced sausages are also an awesome option. Diced tofu or tempeh is a great option for veggie lovers.
Step 3: Veg-Out
Next, add layers of veggies. Just about any veggie will do so long as you think about cooking time. You want harder veggies like potatoes or carrots and sweet potatoes cut into smaller pieces so they cook at the same rate as larger cut mushrooms, squashes and onions.
There really is no limit to the ideas you can add to. Fresh, frozen, canned…any and all will do.
Step 4: Spice It Up
If you add absolutely nothing else to your protein and veggie base, you MUST add salt and pepper. But don’t stop there, take a leap and really make it good by adding more layers of flavor.
I always have fresh or dried herbs to offer. Basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, Italian seasoning…whatever you have that fits your combo. Garlic salt, powder or fresh adds a ton of flavor and everyone can add as much or little as they like.
Try spices like smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic salt or powder, zaatar and even cinnamon.
Sauce it up with a sweet bite of ketchup or add a dash of Worcestershire and if you’re my husband, steak sauce. Wine, citrus, stock, sambal olek, sriracha, soy sauce or pesto all add a tasty umami to the dinner.
Step 5: Fold & Go
Heavy duty Reynolds Wrap makes the best cooking vehicle for foil dinners. It’s sturdiness keeps everything intact and puncture resistant when flipping the foil packs without having to create double layers.
Tear off a few lengths of aluminum foil in 12-14 inch pieces. You’ll want there to be plenty of room to create your masterpiece yet still leave room in the pouch so heat will build within the pouch. This method is like creating a mini oven so don’t over pack your pockets.
Place the food in the center of the foil, layering fat, protein and vegetables with the spices, herbs and flavorings. Fold the two long edges toward one another and fold over once or twice then crimp tightly. Fold and crimp each short end of the foil toward the middle so that the edges are all tightly sealed.
Packets can vary in size, just make sure they’re sealed so the juices don’t flow out.
Step 6: Cook and Eat
Now this is the entertainer’s happy part of the dream. You can cook them all at once or a few at a time, and there’s no mess or fuss whether you’re cooking on the grill or in the oven.
For the oven, bake on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes.
On a grill, cook on medium high for about 10-15 minutes each side, turning occasionally.
Depending on your ingredients and how hefty you create your packets, your cooking time will vary.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
The Best DIY Foil Packet Dinners
- 1 pound hamburger or sausage or a combination
- 1 cup baby red potatoes quartered
- 1 carrot peeled and sliced into coins
- 1/2 onion sliced or chopped
- 1/2 cup canned green beans
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper seeded and chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup peas
- 1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn kernals
- 1/4 cup pesto
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- fresh or dried herbs and spices of your choice
- Prepare 4 sheets of Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil into 12-inch sheets.
- Divide the ingredients among the four pieces of foil and place the food in the center of each piece, layering the butter, hamburger and or sausage with the vegetables spices, herbs and flavorings of your choice. Fold the two long edges toward one another and fold over once or twice then crimp tightly. Fold and crimp each short end of the foil toward the middle so that the edges are all tightly sealed.
- For cooking in the oven, bake on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes.
- For cooking on a grill, cook on medium high for about 10-15 minutes each side, turning occasionally.
- Depending on your ingredients and how hefty you create your packets, your cooking time will vary.
- Let the packets cool slightly before serving. Carefully open the packets and serve.
Hey, thanks for stopping by, make it a great day and make something good.
This post was sponsored by Reynolds Wrap. As always, thank you for reading and for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. All opinions are always my own.
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