This Dutch oven pasta with vodka cream sauce is easy to cook on a campfire or camp stove! It's a one-pot meal made with veggies, marinara, and cheese.
It's pretty much spring weather at our place at the moment!
Okay, yes, there was also a random snow storm sandwiched between warm days. But that's spring for you (at least in our corner of the world).
And if nothing else, the unpredictability of spring makes us savor the good days all the more. So I'm trying to take advantage of the mild stretches by getting outside as much as possible.
For me, this means it's time to do some campfire cooking!
Over the past few years, I've loved figuring out how to transition some amazing recipes into camping-friendly versions.
In this campfire recipe, we'll be using a Dutch oven to simmer tomatoes, peppers, shallots, vodka, and pasta before topping it all off with some cream and Parmesan for a luxurious one-dish meal!
Campfire Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce: A One-Pot Meal
When you're cooking pasta at home on the stovetop, you're left with excess water to drain off. So, what's different about campfire pasta?
This recipe uses the absorption method.
That means that by the end of the process, the pasta should have absorbed the broth. So it truly is a one-pot meal: no extra bowl or colander needed!
What Kind of Dutch Oven Should I Use?
Use a non-enameled, cast-iron Dutch oven.
A campfire dutch oven has little feet, which is a helpful feature if you don't have a grate to rest it on.
You might want to bring long-handled utensils so that you don't have to get too close to the hot coals.
Camping With a Cooler
Since this dish uses cream and Parmesan cheese, you'll want to bring a cooler along on your camping trip. We use this Igloo BMX cooler.
You can even freeze the broth in an ice cube tray before you leave. It'll help the cooler stay cold!
Camping without a cooler? Here are some other food ideas.
Can I Omit the Vodka?
Yes, that's totally fine. You'll still have a creamy, cheesy, delicious pasta meal.
Can I Use Powdered, Shelf-Stable Cream?
Yes, that's an option. Allow for the fact that you may need some extra water to even out the liquid levels.
Can I Make This Campfire Pasta Gluten-Free?
Sure! The only thing you'll need to swap in is gluten-free pasta. I like Banza's chickpea pasta.
What Kind of Marinara Sauce Should I Use?
I like using the tomato and basil pasta sauce that I found at Aldi (pictured below).
Or bring along whatever is your own go-to pasta sauce!
Using a store-bought jar of sauce is one of those shortcuts that makes things easier when you're camping, but if you feel inspired to bring a homemade version, check out this recipe for San Marzano sauce!
It can be made even months ahead and then frozen. Just pack some in the cooler with your other cold ingredients!
Could I Make Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce On the Stovetop Instead?
Definitely! It might take a little longer to cook than the campfire version.
How to Make Campfire Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce
Let your campfire diminish until you mainly just have hot coals left.
While you're prepping ingredients, don't set the vodka bottle too close to the campfire. It's flammable, and we don't want any accidents!
Add oil, diced shallots, peppers, garlic and red pepper flakes to the Dutch oven. Set the oven over the coals. Leave it uncovered.
Cook until the shallots begin to sizzle.
Now add vodka and cherry tomatoes to the Dutch oven.
Bring the liquid to a simmer. It should only take a minute or so.
Next, add the vegetable broth and the tomato sauce, and bring the mixture to a boil.
Now you're ready to add the pasta!
Stir it well, and make sure the pasta is just covered by broth. If the level is a bit low, add some extra water or broth.
Simmer until the pasta is tender and most of the broth has absorbed.
This may take about 15 minutes, though it can vary depending on the temperature of your coals or the type of pasta you used.
If it feels like pasta is getting stuck to the bottom of the pot, add a little more water, and keep stirring!
When the pasta is tender, remove the Dutch oven from the campfire.
Finally, stir in the Parmesan and cream!
Give it one last check to make sure it's the consistency you want. If needed, add a bit more cream or water.
Then serve right away, and enjoy all the creamy, flavorful goodness!
Campfire Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce
- campfire ring
- wooden spoon
- spoon (to serve)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 shallots, diced Or 1 small red onion
- 2 sweet bell peppers (diced, seeds + membranes removed) Or 6 mini sweet peppers
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (Use less if you’re very sensitive to heat, but the cream really mellows out the peppers)
- ⅓ cup vodka
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 28 ounce jar marinara sauce (pasta sauce)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 pound short-grain pasta (like penne, ziti or medium shells) Use gluten-free pasta if necessary, such as Banza
- 1 cup water (optional) Use if needed
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- Prepare campfire: Heat coals until they are very hot, or let a campfire burn down until the wood is smoldering but without active flames.Add oil, diced shallots, peppers, garlic and red pepper flakes to the Dutch oven. Set oven uncovered on coals. Cook about 3 minutes, or until the shallots begin to sizzle.
- Add the vodka and cherry tomatoes, and cook about 1 minute, or until the liquid begins to simmer.Add the broth and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil.
- Add the pasta and stir. Make sure the pasta is covered in water, adding additional broth or water if needed.Simmer the pasta in the broth until the pasta is tender and most of the broth is absorbed (about 15 minutes, depending on the type of pasta and how hot your campfire is). Stir the pasta often while cooking, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot often to prevent sticking.If you hear the pasta sizzling, it's sticking to the pot. Add a little more water and stir to release any bits of pasta that stuck.
- Once the pasta is tender, remove it from the heat. Add cream and Parmesan and stir. If the pasta seems dry, add a little more cream or water and stir.Serve immediately.