This chicken foil pack recipe is ideal when you’re going camping, heading to a cottage or want to prep an entire meal ahead of BBQ time. Do all the prep in the convenience of your kitchen and simply cook and enjoy in the great outdoors. Psst, it’s also easy to cook in your oven!
Thanks to Manitoba Chicken Producers for another opportunity to showcase my love of local, seasonal food prepared to make the most of summer. Versatile, delicious and always a hit around the table, you can’t go wrong with chicken!
What Exactly is a Foil Pack Meal?
A foil pack meal, sometimes called a hobo packet or foil packet dinner, is a full meal consisting of vegetables, proteins, starches and seasoning wrapped in several layers of aluminum foil. It is cooked over campfire coals, on a grill or in the oven. The tight seal locks in moisture and the steam cooks the food inside the packet.
There are endless combinations of vegetables and proteins you can combine to make easy foil pack camping meals. For example, in this packet I use green beans, chicken and potatoes with Italian seasoning. Swapping ingredients is easy! Try asparagus, zucchini, broccoli or snap peas or sweet peppers. Use frozen cubed hashbrowns or thinly cut sweet potatoes instead of fresh potatoes. Use lemon pepper or Cajun seasoning or even your favourite BBQ sauce instead of Italian seasoning. And try chicken thighs, chicken sausage or even ground chicken instead of chicken breasts in chicken foil packets.
What Cut of Chicken Should I Use?
For these foil packs, I recommend boneless skinless chicken. The tightly sealed packet means the chicken will be steamed, so you won’t get a crispy skin. What you will get is tender, juicy chicken! You can choose boneless skinless chicken breasts, thighs, filet strips, chicken sausage or even ground chicken.
How Do I Know the Chicken Foil Pack is Done?
Cooking time will vary, but generally it takes about 30-40 minutes whether in the oven, over hot coals or on the BBQ. When you can smell the aroma of the potatoes, it’s time to check the packets. Use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature of the chicken. If you haven’t reached the recommended temperature, re-wrap and continue cooking.
The chicken should be 165°F/74°C. Insert the tip of the thermometer into the middle of the thickest piece of chicken. For tips on using a meat thermometer, here’s a helpful video from the Manitoba Chicken Producers.
Can I Make Foil Packs Ahead of Time?
Yes, this is one of the benefits of foil packs! I make mine the day before we’re heading out and store them in the fridge. For best results, I don’t make them more than a day ahead. And, if you’re using ingredients that turn colour when exposed to air (eg. fresh cut potatoes) be sure they’re well coated in oil and spices before wrapping.
When transporting your foil packs, ensure that they are kept cold the entire time. Use a cooler and keep it at 4°C (40°F) or cooler. Read more about summertime food safety.
Can You Freeze this Foil Pack?
I don’t recommend freezing this particular pack because raw potatoes do not freeze well and will turn dark. BUT, with a few changes it can be frozen. Keep reading.
For a chicken foil pack that’s freezer friendly, swap the fresh potatoes for frozen hash brown potatoes. Unlike raw potatoes, these won’t discolour and freeze beautifully. Or, leave the potatoes out and serve your chicken and veggies with potato salad, rice or pasta on the side. Everything else stays the same, make as described in the recipe and use within 1-2 months. Thaw in fridge or cooler before cooking.
How Do You Fold Foil Packs?
Your foil packs need to be tightly wrapped to trap all the steam that will cook the food. And if you’re tossing it on hot coals, it needs to be tough!
Use two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil or three layers of regular foil.
PRO TIP: Do not overfill your packets. It’s better to make more packets than to crowd them and not get a good seal.
The Folding Technique
- Cut two or three large pieces of aluminum foil that will hold your food and have plenty of space for crimping and sealing. I found 12 x 16 inches worked perfectly for single servings.
- Place your food in the middle of one of the foil sheets. Spread food out lengthwise leaving space around the sides for folding.
- Bring the two longest edges towards each other above the food and fold/roll them together to create a tight seal. Fold/roll at least three times bringing the fold tight against the food. Then, press and fold the side pieces together. Roll them up towards the food. Watch the video in the recipe.
- Rip off another piece of foil. Place the packet seam side down and repeat the same folding process.
- If you have regular strength foil do this one more time for a total of three pieces of foil per packet.
- Open carefully, there will be hot steam coming out. Eat straight out of the foil pack to save on dishes or serve on plates. Enjoy!
Can I use something instead of aluminum foil?
If you’re concerned about cooking food directly in contact with aluminum foil, you can use a layer of parchment paper to keep food from touching the aluminum foil. Then wrap the parchment paper packet in a double layer of aluminum foil to protect it from the high heat and flames of a grill or campfire.
You can also use an aluminum pie plate as a base, but double up or wrap in another layer of foil to prevent scorching.
If you are cooking your packet in an oven, you do not need aluminum foil at all. Simply wrap in a layer of parchment paper. This method of cooking is called en papillote, a fancy French cooking method for steaming fish or chicken inside parchment paper.
Should the shiny side of aluminum foil be in or out?
The age old question of shiny side up or down! According to Alcan and Reynolds, makers of the most popular brands of aluminum foil, it doesn’t matter. You can choose whichever side you prefer. EXCEPT if you have a specialty product that has a no-stick surface applied to the aluminum foil. The no-stick side goes on the inside, you place your food on the no-stick surface.
Can I cook foil packets in the oven?
Yes, you can! Place your chicken foil pack in the oven on a baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes at 425°F (218°C). In the controlled environment of your kitchen, use 1 to 2 layers of foil, seal well and place on baking sheet. Remember to check the chicken using a meat thermometer. According to Manitoba Chicken Producers’ handy chart for cooking chicken, the internal temperature should be 165°F/74°C.
Chicken Foil Pack Recipe
Chicken Foil Pack
- 1 chicken breast cut in 1 inch cubes
- 1/4 onion sliced
- 1 cup potato* cubed in 1/2 inch
- 1 cup green beans
- 1 cup carrots matchstick slices
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning oregano, basil, thyme, garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt as desired
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Wash, cut and prepare vegetables and chicken as indicated in ingredient list. Small cubes of potatoes and matchstick carrots will help ensure they cook in time with your chicken.
- To make 2 packs, cut six pieces of aluminum foil approximately 12" wide x 16-18" long.
- Toss chicken and prepared veggies in large bowl. Top with oil, lemon juice and seasoning. Mix well.
- Place half of the mix the center of one of the foil pieces. Spread out slightly into a rectangle, leaving plenty of room to fold the foil.
Folding the Pack
- Bring the two longest edges towards each other above the food and roll them together to create a tight seal. Fold/roll at least three times bringing the fold tight against the food. Then press and fold the side pieces together. Roll them up towards the food.
- Place the packet seam side down and repeat the same folding process. Do this one more time depending on thickness of your foil.
- Repeat to make a second foil pack.
- Store in the fridge for up to 1 day.
Cooking Foil Pack on Coals
- Enjoy your campfire. Once the flames die down and you have a nice bed of hot coals, carefully place your foil packs on the coals (no flames). Push a few hot coals around the side. Cook for 30-40 minutes (depending on size of packs and how big your potato pieces are) carefully flipping every 10 minutes. Your foil packs will start to sizzle. Remove from coals, open carefully and check veggies are fork tender and chicken has an internal temp of 165°F (74°C). Reseal and return to coals if not finished.
- If you need to stoke your fire, move hot coals and foil packs to one side and build up the fire on another, you do not want to cook in flames as this will create uneven heat.
Cooking Foil Packs in Oven
- Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Place foil packs in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, flipping halfway. Open carefully and check veggies are fork tender and chicken has an internal temp of 165°F (74°C). Reseal and return to oven if not finished.
Cooking Foil Packs on BBQ
- Preheat BBQ to medium high heat (425°F/218°C). Grill for 30-40 minutes flipping every 15 minutes. Open carefully and check veggies are fork tender and chicken has an internal temp of 165°F (74°C). Reseal and return to grill if not finished.
- Open carefully, there will be hot steam coming out. Eat straight out of the foil pack to save on dishes or serve on plates. Garnish with fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon and enjoy if desired.
Top Tips for Foil Pack Success
- Use heavy duty foil and wrap two to three times. Three if cooking on campfire.
- Cook on a hot bed of coals not flames for even, thorough cooking.
- Rotate every 10 minutes – very carefully to avoid puncturing foil.
- Make small packs – one or two servings at most for even cooking.
- Save on dishes – eat right out of the pack.
- Open cautiously – there will be steam!
- Go for variety – try different veggie and spice combos.
More Chicken Grilling Recipes
I love grilled chicken, it’s easy to prepare and always a hit with anyone around the table. My favourite source for recipes is Manitoba Chicken Producers. They know chicken best and their recipes are always triple tested and spot on. After you try these foil packs, give these BBQ chicken recipes a try:
Are you ready to try this chicken foil pack recipe? Where will you be when you cook it and will you cook it on the BBQ, in the oven or over a campfire? I’d love to hear about your experience and see your photos! Please take a photo and tag #getgettys and @ManitobaChicken so we can see it and like it!
This recipe was written in paid partnership with the Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, opinions are my own and a sincere reflection of life in my home.
Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist, speaker, frequent media guest and writer sharing tips and recipes to build confidence and teach skills on how to use whole seasonal foods. She is the author of several recipe books, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener. Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this.