Introduction: Dutch Oven Cobbler: Easy Camping Dessert

About: Nerd Culture and Woodworking had a baby. His name is Doug.

If you've camped with little ones, you've probably had your fair share of s'mores. Sure they're great, but the kids (and you) are probably ready for the next level in camping desserts. A cobbler is an easy to make and easy to customize dessert. You only need a few ingredients. And it's a perfect way to have a fun cook-off when camping with big families or Scouts.


  • Cast Iron Dutch Oven
  • Lid Lifter (or pliers)
  • Disposable Pan(s) (Optional)
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Insulated Glove
  • Long Tongs (For Moving Coals)
  • Charcoal
  • Charcoal Chimney Starter (Optional)
  • Steel Wool (For cleanup)
  • Mixing Bowl (If not using disposable pans)


  • Cake Mix (One Standard Box)
  • Pie Filling (One Standard Can)
  • Lemon Lime Soda (One Cup)

Optional Ingredients (Be Creative!)

  • Granola
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Chocolate Chips
  • FruityPebbles
  • Gummy Bears

Step 1: Prep the Charcoal

Use the Coal-Temperature chart to help use the right amount of bricks.

The cake mix calls for 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. MY dutch oven is 13 inches. So i'll need about 20 brickettes; 10 on bottom and 20 on top. It's usually a 2 to 1 ratio with Top to Bottom heating.

Fill your chimney with a little paper at the bottom and the bricks you'll need. Light from the bottom and let it heat for about 10-15 minutes. When each coal is a mix of black and grey, you're ready for the next step.

If you don't have a chimney, simply pile your coals (and a few extra) up into a pyramid with paper at the bottom and wadded a little in the center. Light and let heat for about 10-15 minutes. (This is not as efficient as a chimney, so you'll get a few "dud" coals. That's why you'll want extra.

Step 2: Pre-Heat Your Oven

Spread the your coals evenly on bottom, place your dutch oven on those coals, then cover your lid with the rest of the needed coals. Let it heat for about 5-10 minutes.

Step 3: Prep Your Cobbler

There are 2 basic approaches in prepping your cobbler.

Disposable Pan Method: This method is a bit less messy and makes it easy to share your dessert with others (especially if trying to minimize the physical contact with other campers). It also makes it relatively easy to make multiple little batches. But it is wasteful and not cheap to buy those little tin pans. Plan accordingly.

  1. Combine Pie Filling, Cake Mix and Soda. (The soda is a replacement for eggs and oil.) An entire mix box will need 8 oz of soda, so if you're splitting it up into multiple pans like I did, 4 oz each.
  2. Mix until you get a consistency similar to waffle batter. It's okay if it's lumpy or even a little dry is tiny spots.
  3. (Optional) Add extra bits on top. Granola, marshmallows, cereal bits, cookies... whatever!

No Pan (Directly in the Dutch Oven) Method: This method gives you a nicer crust on the bottom and cooks a tiny bit faster (about 2-4 minutes faster). But you'll need a well seasoned dutch oven.

  1. Combine Pie Filling, Cake Mix, and Soda (All 8 oz) in a mixing bowl.
  2. Mix until you get a consistency similar to waffle batter. It's okay if it's lumpy or even a little dry is tiny spots.
  3. DON'T put on any of those (optional) extras until you're ready to throw it in the oven.

NOTE: This is also a good time to mention small changes to the cobbler recipe are ENCOURAGED. For example, curious to know what strawberry soda will do, rather than lemon lime soda? Give it a try! Mix some fruits together? Sure! It's pretty hard to make a bad cobbler. They're all just varying degrees of deliciousness.

Step 4: Bake

If using pans, square or rectangular pans, they can be rotated to help them fit and stack. I find it also helps to include an empty pan in the middle to give each pan some breathing room.

If baking directly in the oven, just spoon in your batter (it should sizzle like a pancake), spread to the edge, then top it with extras (optional).

Put the lid back on and bake your cobbler for 20-25 minutes. If your oven has a small vent hole, make sure it's aligned to let steam out. Check if done by using a fork. Stab your batter. If comes up with wet batter, keep baking. This is also a good time to swap the pan levels (bottom and top). If it comes up clean, it's done.

Remove the lid and the dutch oven from coals to let them cool. The oven will be hot for about 30 minutes, but the cobbler will be ready to serve in about 5 minutes.


  • It's also a good idea to rotate the oven around its bed of coals every 6-8 minutes to avoid hot spots.
  • It's better to under-cook it, than over cook it. You can always put it back in the oven a little longer. There's no salmonella danger, after all, so temperature is really just a matter of taste and texture.
  • If it smells like it's burning, it's probably burning. This happened to one of my batches because I kept using the same coal bed for each new batch. I hadn't realized how hot the bottom was actually getting. I thought to myself, "nah, that's just the coals". So I let it cook 3 more minutes; 3 more minutes too long. Oops.

Step 5: Enjoy

After it's cooled enough, serve it up by itself or with some tasty extras.

Step 6: Clean-Up

A little char is bound to happen. Just scrape around it and your cobbler is still probably fine. But cleaning that up is best done while it's still warm. Clean it like you would a grill. Scrape out as much of the chunks as you can with a metal spatula or serving spoon. Apply a little vegetable oil or hot water, then scrub with a course steel wool. Rinse with hot water (NO SOAP) and apply oil with a clean paper towel. Put the lid back on and return the dutch oven to the coals to let the heat bake in the oil and to help disinfect. A well seasoned cast iron should look just a bit glossy.

It's better to use non-vegetable oil when reseasoning your cast iron. Mineral Oil is best. But if you use it often enough, the oil doesn't get rancid.

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