Hobo Foil Packets

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A twist on classic hobo foil packets using sausage instead of ground beef. We’ve got the classic carrots, onions, and thinly sliced potatoes. A truly comforting, filling, and hearty meal that’s great for a no-mess meal or campfire dinner!

Overhead image of the hobo foil packets with ketchup on the side

What is a hobo pack?

Hobo foil packets have always been second nature to me; we had them all the time growing up! With a dad and two brothers that were very into Boy Scouts and camping, we enjoyed hobo packs often. Essentially a hobo pack is a bundle of cut-up ingredients wrapped up in foil and cooked over the coals of a campfire. We loved them so much, we’d even eat them when we weren’t camping! 

Most hobo packs combine ground beef, potatoes, carrots, and a whole lot of ketchup. My twist on those typical packets is to replace the ground beef with sausage since more times than not the ground beef ends up nearly inedible (or needing at least half the container of ketchup to get it down!). In a foil pack, the ground beef is stewed generally making it hard, chewy, and near flavorless.

We’ve found that replacing it with sausage still gets you all the flavors of traditional foil packs with loads more flavor and a great texture. Plus, the sausage also goes with lots of ketchup — a much have topping 🙂

P.S. Here’s why they’re called “hobo packs”

Hobo foil packets ingredients

These foil pack meals aren’t complicated, but you’ll want to make sure you have the ingredients uniformly prepared (to recipe specifications) so that everything can be cooked in time. Here’s a quick run-down on the main ingredients:

  • Sausage: we use smoked sausage in these packets. We use smoked sausage to ensure the sausage will be cooked through in time (since technically they only need to be warmed through) and won’t get the rest of the ingredients overly greasy. It’s a bit trickier with regular sausage timing everything right and, similar to ground beef, it ends up having an odd texture.
  • Yukon gold potatoes: I love using Yukon gold (sometimes just called gold or yellow potatoes) in these hobo packs — they’ve got a delicious buttery flavor. You can peel the potatoes, but the peel is so delicate on Yukon golds, I don’t bother peeling. The important thing with these potatoes is to make sure they’re very thinly sliced; 1/8th inch thick. Use a mandoline slicer for quick prep here!
  • Carrots: use full carrots here, again no need to peel (lots of flavor and nutrients are in the peel), just wash them throughly. Thinly slice these and cut large rounds in half.
  • Yellow onion: the onion also needs to be very thinly sliced. Again, a mandoline slicer makes this quick and easy!

Seasoning

As far as the seasonings go, we’re keeping it simple while adding delicious flavor to these hobo foil packets. Here’s what we use:

  • Italian seasoning
  • Dried basil
  • Dried parsley
  • Paprika
  • Dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper: always add to personal taste preference, but remember, if the meal feels like it’s lacking or dull, it may be as simple a fix as adding a bit more salt and pepper!

Process shots-- images of all the ingredients being added to a large bowl, seasonings being added, and everything being combined and put in foil and wrapped together

Toppings

If you’re familiar with hobo foil packets, you know they basically require loads and loads of ketchup 🙂 

Ketchup is our favorite topping and it goes exceptionally well with all the ingredients. I highly recommend Heniz ketchup (not sponsored) for the best flavor.

If you aren’t a fan of ketchup, you could try one of these alternatives:

  • Freshly grated extra sharp cheddar cheese (I recommend avoid pre-shredded, it has a tendency to resist melting in these foil packs and makes the potatoes greasy)
  • Fresh herbs such as thyme or Italian parsley
  • BBQ sauce is another great sauce to drizzle on; I recommend a plain variety of BBQ sauce.

How to fold a hobo pack

  1. Rip out 4 strips of heavy duty foil, each one about 2 feet long. 
  2. Separate the seasoned potato, carrot, onion, and sausage mix equally into the center of each square of foil.
  3. To seal the foil packet, bring the short sides together in the middle and gently fold down to completely seal. Then, roll up the ends
  4. The foil packs are ready to cook!

Overhead image of the hobo foil pack with a fork in it ready to be eaten

Hobo Packet Tips

  • Seal the foil packets tightly. Since these packets need to be flipped, make sure the seal is good and tight on these so liquid isn’t seeping out — they’ll burn and have much less flavor without that liquid.
  • Use heavy duty foil for best results on the grill. There is no need to double-wrap these packets in multiple layers of foil (and if you do, they will take longer to cook).
  • Time can vary depending on actual size of veggies and actual heat of coals/oven/grill, so when checking for doneness, only check one packet at a time. Remember, every-time you open a packet to check, it releases all the steam and will take an extra couple of minutes to cook through in comparison to the other packets cooking.
  • Campfire cooking is the hardest time to estimate because of so many varying factors (heat of the coals, how many packets are cooking, the outside temperatures, etc.) I recommend checking one hobo foil packet at 20 minutes, but be prepared that they can take up to 40-45 minutes to finish. (If it’s taking longer than that, the coals are not hot enough).
  • Transfer the cooked meal to a plate or another layer of foil before eating; once cooked, the foil gets pretty charred and flimsy — it won’t hold up well to eating.
  • Foil: it doesn’t matter if the shiny or dull side is touching the food; it makes no difference. (Source)

Can you make foil packets ahead of time?

Yes! Prepare hobo foil packets according to the directions and seal up the packets. Throw them in the cooler and they’ll be ready to go when it’s time to throw them on a grill or coals over a campfire. I don’t recommend making these more than a day in advance. I also don’t recommend freezing pre-assembled foil packs.

More campfire meals:

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Hobo Foil Packets

5 from 9 votes
A twist on classic Hobo Foil Packets using sausage instead of ground beef, and the standard carrots, onions, and thinly sliced potatoes. A truly comforting, filling, and hearty meal that's great for a no-mess meal or campfire dinner!
Print Recipe

Hobo Foil Packets

5 from 9 votes
A twist on classic Hobo Foil Packets using sausage instead of ground beef, and the standard carrots, onions, and thinly sliced potatoes. A truly comforting, filling, and hearty meal that's great for a no-mess meal or campfire dinner!
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword Hobo Foil Packets
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 foil packets
Calories 530kcal
Cost $6.92

Ingredients

  • 1 package (14 oz; 392g) smoked beef and pork sausage, cut into coins
  • 3 cups (435g) thinly sliced Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 cups (3-4 large; 221g) thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 large (223g) thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: Italian seasoning, dried basil, dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated
  • Serve with: ketchup, fresh herbs (optional)

Instructions

  • PREP: If you are using the oven, preheat it to 400 degrees F. If grilling, prepare the grill by heating to medium-high heat (425-450 degrees F.) Tear off four sheets of heavy-duty foil and lightly spritz with cooking spray. If you aren't going to be doing this meal in foil packs (See Note 1), line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • PREP VEGGIES: Cut the sausage into coins. Thinly slice the potatoes, about 1/8th inch thick. Thinly slice the carrots and cut large carrot coins in half. Thinly slice the yellow onion. Add the sausage, potatoes, carrots, and onion to a large bowl.
  • SEASON: Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of oil and all of the seasonings (Italian seasoning, dried basil, dried parsley, garlic powder, paprika, dried thyme, and salt and pepper). Add salt and pepper to personal preference( I add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Toss everything together until well combined.
  • DIVIDE: Divide the mixture evenly among the four prepared sheets of foil. Cut the butter into 1 tablespoon pieces and cut each tablespoon piece into 4 smaller pieces. Add four pieces of butter to the foil packs (1 tablespoon per foil pack). Seal the foil packs tightly so no air escapes, but do not double wrap the foil (only one sheet of foil per pack or the cook time will be off). To seal the foil packet, bring the short sides together in the middle and gently fold down to completely seal. Then, roll up the ends.
  • COOK: Grill for 20-30 minutes or until veggies are fork tender (flip the foil packs at the halfway point). To bake foil packs, place foil packs on a sheet pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until veggies are fork tender. Campfire: add to hot coals and cook for 20-30 minutes. Be aware they can take up to 40-45 minutes depending on the actual coals temperature, actual thickness of cut veggies, outside temperatures, how many foil packs are on the coals, etc. There is great variance in cooking these over coals.
  • GARNISH: Carefully open the foil pack, expecting steam to be released. If desired, garnish with fresh herbs (we like fresh thyme) and serve with ketchup drizzled over everything or on the side.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: The actual heat on stovetops, ovens, grills, and campfires varies greatly, but I have tested this recipe using all four methods and am sharing the timing I found to be perfect. Time can also vary depending on actual size of veggies, so my best advice would be to check just one packet at a time. Remember, every-time you open a packet to check, it releases all the steam and will take an extra couple of minutes in comparison to the other packets cooking.
  • Stovetop (no foil): Place the entire mixture into a large Dutch oven (or half of the mixture into a large skillet) over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until the veggies are crisp tender (about 12-15 minutes), adding in additional olive oil as needed. Lower the heat if anything is burning or browning too much. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes after removing from the heat, and then drizzle pesto on individual serving plates.
  • Oven (no foil): Line an extra-large sheet pan (15 x 21 inches) with parchment paper. Pour the entire mixture onto it and bake at 425 degrees F for about 30-35 minutes, turning the ingredients at the halfway mark. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes right in the pan and then drizzle pesto on individual serving plates.
  • Oven (foil packs): Divide the mixture evenly onto four sheets of heavy duty foil and wrap them so the foil is completely sealed. Place the foil-wrapped packets on a sheet pan and bake for 30-40 minutes. The time really depends on your preference — at 30-35 minutes everything should be crisp tender and cooked through. For very soft veggies, leave them in 38-40 minutes. Add sun-dried tomatoes to individual foil packs and drizzle pesto on each individual serving.
  • Grill (foil packs): Divide the mixture evenly onto four sheets of heavy duty foil and wrap them so the foil is completely sealed. Place on a pre-heated grill (medium-high heat; ~450 degrees) and grill for 20-25 minutes. Flip once halfway through the grilling process. Add sun-dried tomatoes to individual foil packs and drizzle pesto on each individual serving.
  • Campfire (in foil packs): Divide the mixture evenly onto four sheets of heavy duty foil and wrap them so the foil is completely sealed. Cook foil packs in the hot coals of a campfire until the potatoes are tender, around 20-40 minutes, flipping every 5 minutes, depending on the heat of the coals. We found these cooked in about 20 minutes with hot coals. Add sun-dried tomatoes to individual foil packs and drizzle pesto on each individual serving.
Make ahead: Prepare foil packs according to the directions and seal up the packets. Throw them in the cooler and they'll be ready to go when it's time to throw them on a grill or coals over a campfire. I don't recommend making these more than a day in advance. I also don't recommend freezing pre-assembled foil packs.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 4servings | Calories: 530kcal | Carbohydrates: 27.6g | Protein: 12.4g | Fat: 42.3g | Cholesterol: 91.8mg | Sodium: 659.4mg | Fiber: 5.3g | Sugar: 6g

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14 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    What a great idea. I never thought to use sausage instead of a hamburger. We love to make these for camping and the sausage would be so much easier with less mess. Doing this for our next camping trip for sure.

  2. 5 stars
    love these, thank you, did not have boy scouts in the family growing up only seeing them now but much appreciated, easy and I like how all the flavors meld together

  3. 5 stars
    I made this for my family last night and it was a huge hit! So much flavor, the kids didn’t even want ketchup and they even ate all the veggies! Will be adding this to the rotation – thanks so much!!!

  4. 5 stars
    What a great idea using sausage. When we do foil dinners, we use a cabbage leaf, put everything in it & another leaf on top. The cabbage keeps everything inside from burning. Then wrap in heavy duty foil. Another tip on hamburger is to buy 80/ 20 instead of lean. If you have lean , then add 1/2 strip of bacon. The cabbage also gives it great flavor.

  5. 5 stars
    It was yummy. I added celery. I did not have Italian seasoning so to your list I added garlic, oregano. So good and super easy on the grill for 30 minutes

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