18 Creative Tin Foil Dinners (and Desserts!) For the Grill

As much as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are trying to trick me into thinking it’s fall with their pumpkin spice this and that, all I have to do is just step outside and I know better than that. I think most of the country is definitely going through a heat wave right now, and there is one thing we all have in common: we don’t want to turn on the oven and cook anything inside right now. Just one of the many reasons that cooking on the grill is a great option! Even better when you are making something like a tin-foil dinner and you prep it inside with your air conditioning, and then head outside to make a non-fussy dinner in minutes.

A couple great things about tin-foil dinners are that they are practically mess free. They are also super great for varying things a bit if you have a picky eater or someone with food allergies. You can leave out BBQ sauce from your son’s packet if he doesn’t like it, etc. They are also great for beginners on the grill. You can make things with butter and oil or loose ingredients and they don’t fall down into the grill and cause flare-ups. You get all the juicy flavor you are hoping for in one easy packet.

I love your run-of-the-mill “hobo” tin-foil dinner with ground beef, potatoes, onions, basically whatever you have on hand to throw in the packet. However, I was browsing on Food Network‘s website the other day and they had 50 creative ideas of things you can make in tin-foil packets. These are great for camping, or to throw on the grill outside (or even to use in the oven--I have a conversion method at the bottom).. I was so blown away by these creative ideas and I wanted to share some of my favorite ideas with you that I thought you might like to try too.

For example, I had no idea you could make popcorn in a tin-foil packet and throw it on the grill or in a fire. Absolutely brilliant! That is a total game changer for camping trips and roasting things around campfires. Here are a few of my other favorites:

  1. Jalapeño poppers. Remove the stems from 8 jalapeños; scrape out the seeds and stuff the peppers with Muenster cheese.Toss with olive oil, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin and coriander on a sheet of foil. Form of packet. Grill over medium-high heat, turning often, 10 minutes.
  2. Spiced nuts. If you love nuts and spicy food, you will love this recipe. Toss 2 cups of salted mixed nuts, 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon each ground cumin and pepper, And 1 tablespoon butter on a sheet of foil. Form a packet. Grill over medium heat, turning often, eight minutes.

  3. Roasted garlic. Slice the point off one head of garlic to expose the cloves. Coat with 2 teaspoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Seal in a foil packet. Grill over medium low heat, 45 minutes.
  4. Quesadillas. Sprinkle shredded pepper jack cheese on 1/2 of a flour tortilla; top with chopped rotisserie chicken and cilantro and fold in half to close. Repeat to make more; seal in individual foil packets. Grill over medium heat, turning once, five minutes.
  5. Garlic Shrimp. Mix ½ stick softened butter, 1 cup chopped parsley, 2 chopped garlic cloves, and salt and pepper. Toss with the juice of one lemon, one pound unpeeled large shrimp and a big pinch of red pepper flakes. Divide between two foil packets. Grill over high heat, 8 minutes.

  6. Meatballs. Mix 1 pound ground beef with one egg, 1/4 cup each breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan, one minced garlic clove, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a bowl. Roll into 1 ½” inch balls. Arrange in a single layer on a sheet of foil; Top with ½ cup tomato sauce and form a packet. Grill over high heat, 20 minutes.
  7. Popcorn. Combine 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1/4 cup popcorn kernels in a disposable pie pan. Seal the pan in foil, making a dome shape on top. (Use two sheets of foil, if needed, to cover.) Grill over high heat, shaking, until the popping stops, about 8 minutes. Season with salt.
  8. Glazed pork. Mix 1/4 cup peach preserves, 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard and ½ teaspoon hot sauce. Season one pork tenderloin with salt and pepper and coat the peach mixture; seal in a foil packet. Grill over high heat, turning, 18 minutes. Zucchini and tomatoes.  Toss two slices of zucchini, two diced tomatoes, four smashed garlic cloves, olive oil, basil, and salt and pepper on a sheet of foil. Form a packet. Grill over high heat, 10 minutes. Top with grated Parmesan.
  9. Ravioli with zucchini.  Make zucchini and tomatoes (No. 9), dividing the ingredients between two sheets of foil. Top each with 4 ounces frozen cheese ravioli and form a packet. Grill over medium-high heat, 12 minutes.

  10. Mexican corn. Brush four ears corn with melted butter and sprinkle with Cotija cheese, cayenne and lime juice; seal in individual foil packets. Grill over medium high heat, turning a few times, 15 minutes.
  11. Portobello mushrooms. Toss four portobello caps, four smashed garlic cloves, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, salt and chopped parsley to taste. Divide among four foil packets. Grill over medium heat, turning once, 10 minutes.
  12. Roasted broccoli. Toss one had broccoli florets, two sliced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and salt on a sheet of foil. Arrange in a single layer and form a packet. Grill over medium heat, 10 minutes. Potato Gratin. Tossed to thinly sliced peeled potatoes, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Arrange in 4 to 5 layers on a sheet of non-stick foil. Drizzle with 1/4 cup cream and form a packet. Grill over medium heat, 25 minutes.
  13. Toad in a hole. Place one halved bacon slice on a sheet of non-stick foil. Cut a hole in the center of 1/2 slice frozen Texas toast and place over the bacon. Crack an egg into the hole and fold the foil to seal. Repeat to make more; seal in individual foil packets. Grill over medium heat, covered, 8 minutes.
  14. Bread pudding. And now for dessert! Whisk two eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl. Add 4 cups bread cubes and one cup berries; soak 30 minutes. Butter a sheet of non-stick foil and add the bread mixture; form a packet. Grill over indirect heat, turning a few times, 35 minutes.
  15. Upside-down cakes. For each cake, mound 1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar and 1 tablespoon butter on a sheet of non-stick foil. Top with a pineapple ring, 1 maraschino cherry and an upside down small shortcake shell. Form a packet. Grill sugar side down over medium high heat, 12 minutes.
  16. Apple dumplings. Mix ½ stick softened butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon apple pie spice; stuff into 4 cored apples. Wrap each in half disk refrigerated pie dough; seal in individual non-stick foil packets. Grill over medium heat, turning a few times, 30 minutes.

Conversion for Grilled Tin Foil Pack Recipes to the Oven

If you don’t have a grill, or check out these recipes again in a few months during winter and fall and want to use your oven, just know that it is pretty simple to convert grill recipes for tin foil packs into oven recipes. 

To do so, assemble the tin foil packets as directed, and place them on a large cookie sheet. If the recipe calls for medium heat, bake the foil packs in the oven at 375 degrees F for approximately 1 ½ to 2 times as long as called for in the grilled versions (ie: if a recipe says to grill for 20 minutes, bake it for 30-40 minutes). 

  • 300 F - Gas Mark 2 (very low)
  • 325 F - Gas Mark 3 (low)
  • 350 F - Gas Mark 4 (medium)
  • 375 F - Gas Mark 5 (medium)
  • 400 F - Gas Mark 6 (hot)
  • 425 F - Gas Mark 7 (hot)
  • 450 F - Gas Mark 8 (very hot)
  • 475 F - Gas Mark 9 (very hot)
  • 500 F - Gas Mark 10 (extremely hot)
To check for doneness, a cool tip I read is to mark with a permanent marker the packet with the biggest or thickest piece of meat. When the time is up, open that packet and check for doneness with a thermometer on that piece of meat--if it is the correct temperature, they are all ready to go. 

Do you have any favorite meals you like to cook in tin foil packets? Please share your ideas and thoughts in the comments below. 

  •   www.pixabay.cm
  •   www.pikist.com
  •   www.grouprecipes.com
  •   www.foodnetwork.com
  •   www.pillsbury.com

    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
    Email the author! mary@dvo.com

Subscribe to Cook'n Premium and get newsletter articles like this each week!

blog comments powered by Disqus