Hot coals do the work

There is a lot to love about my grandpa’s dutch oven potato recipe. This past week, I spent a couple of days visiting my grandparents in southern Utah. Whenever I go for a visit, grandpa always busts out the dutch oven for some great home cookin’. Some of my fondest food memories come from this dutch oven cooking experience. It is always a time to bond with grandpa while doing something we love. This is his recipe for dutch oven potatoes.

Grandpa’s Original Dutch Oven Recipe

Nailing down an original recipe for these potatoes is hard. Grandpa isn’t a professional chef. In fact, he often just throws in what he thinks will sound good. However, the result is always magical. As we stood around the coals waiting for them to get ready, I peppered my grandpa with questions on how I can make these potatoes at home. Here are the results:

  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1 onion
  • 4-5 pounds sliced potatoes
  • 1/4 cup green pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons Lawry’s season salt (Grandpa said 1/4 cup, but that can be pretty salty)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1-2 tsp black pepper

Start your charcoal. When the coals are nice and hot place the dutch oven over them. Let it heat up and start browning the bacon. When the bacon is starting to look brown and crispy, add the onion. Watch this closely, don’t let it burn. When this cooks down, add the sliced potatoes and seasonings. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove lid and stir in the green pepper. Cook another 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Enjoy!

What I Loved

Gotta add bacon!
The bacon and onion make this dish. You gotta have them!

Dutch oven cooking is a social activity first, and a food activity second. It brings people together with a common goal, cooking some top notch dutch oven goodness. That’s what I love about this dish. It is an entire experience and not just good food. There is something magical about sitting in the shade watching your food cook over coals. Plus you get to play with fire while making dinner.

This dutch oven potato recipe is simple. Often with cooking, less is more. However, don’t let the simplicity fool you. These potatoes pack big flavor, and they will go with almost any meat. The potatoes are the real star here, and I love that. The bacon and onion add a caramelized depth that is tasty. Then there is the smoky flavor that comes from a well seasoned dutch oven and the charcoal used to cook the food. All of this combines to form a perfect bite when all is said and done.

What If I Don’t Have A Dutch Oven?

When I was at college, I had a deep craving for these dutch oven potatoes. However, a college dorm isn’t conducive to lighting a bunch of coals on fire and getting down to business. Instead, I used one of those enameled dutch ovens that are designed for the oven.

Making this dutch oven potato recipe in the oven doesn’t have quite the same flavor. Charcoal does add a touch of smoky goodness. However, it will scratch the itch. I would follow the same recipe as above. Sauté the bacon and onion on the stovetop and then put the dutch oven in the oven at 375 for 35-45 minutes until the potatoes are tender. If the potatoes brown too quickly then you can add a little water, maybe 1/4-1/3 cup.

Grandpa's dutch oven setup
This is Grandpa’s set up. He has this old metal plate from the farm that he cooks on. He feels this is essential. If you don’t have a metal plate, use a fire pit. Be safe!

Useful Tricks

Dutch oven cooking can be difficult. It can be hard to regulate the temperature properly. Grandpa had some tips that were interesting for temperature regulation.

Make Sure You Use Enough Charcoal

All dutch ovens have a number on the lid. This number refers to the diameter of the dutch oven. Similar to a 10″ pan etc. So with this size 10 dutch oven you’d put 10 coals on top and 10 on the bottom.

Number on Lid
This is an example of the numbers found on the lid of dutch ovens.

When You Smell it Good, They’re Good

Grandpa got really excited when the smell would pick up. He exclaimed, “When you smell it good, they’re good.” This can be a decent way to determine when the potatoes are done. If you can smell them then you should remove the lid and check the potatoes.

Dutch Oven Potato Recipe

The Pan Is Hot!

Having the correct tools for dutch oven cooking is vital. The oven gets very hot and it is important to make sure you are not trying to do this with your bare hands. Also dutch ovens are heavy so you need a sturdy tool to move the lid and pan around. Some pliers will work fine, however this grabber is ideal. As always make sure you keep kids at a safe distance and watch those coals closely as they can be a fire hazard. If you don’t have a metal plate to cook on like you see in my pictures, use a fire pit or a large clear area.

This Grabber Makes LIfe Easy
This tool is perfectly designed to remove the lid and move the pot around.

Use Sagebrush Instead of Charcoal

Grandpa claims that sagebrush is an ideal source of fuel for a dutch oven. He says it burns hot and lasts a decent amount of time. There tends to be an abundance of sagebrush so that might be a cheap alternative to charcoal. However, I have never seen him use sagebrush and don’t plan on using it myself anytime soon.

If You Run Out, Add More

Sometimes you need a little more charcoal to finish the dish. You can always add more. Just start a few more briquettes and watch them go. I used more lighter fluid to jump start the process, and because I wanted to play with more fire.

If you run out, add more

Get Creative With The Potatoes

Grandpa’s dutch oven potato recipe has a common core every time he makes them. He always uses Lawry’s season salt. He always uses bacon and onion. Outside of that he will add a little of this or that depending on what he has on hand. He was raving about some asparagus that grandma had done recently. He said what made it really good was the parmesan cheese she added on after they came out of the oven. This led to grandpa wondering what the potatoes would be like if we added a little parmesan cheese to them. The result? Delicious!

We also added green peppers to the mix because that is never a wrong choice. The point here is I don’t want you to feel limited by the recipe. If you like green pepper, add in green peppers. If you want to add parmesan or cheddar cheese, add the cheese. There are so many ways you can adjust the recipe. Get creative and let me know in the comments what you like to add to yours!

Check Out Cowboy Kent Rollins

If you like outdoor cooking, check out this youtube channel! Cowboy Kent is always cooking some mouthwatering recipes. I could watch him all day!

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Grandpa’s Dutch Oven Potato Recipe

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