Appetizers & Snacks | How-Tos | Recipes

Mountain Pies: Rediscovering a Childhood Camp Favorite

Mountain pies have always been one of my favorite summer foods. Depending on where you’re from, you might have called them campfire pies, hobo pies, or jaffle pies.

I only knew these outdoor treats as mountain pies, possibly because that’s where we cooked them—at various Girl Scout and family campsites throughout the southern Alleghenies in western Pennsylvania. (Gotta love regional colloquialisms!)

mountain pies
Photo: Casey Barber

Regardless of the name, I’m sure you’re not shocked to learn that as a kid, I considered cooking mountain pies to be pretty much the best thing about camping. (Campfire songs were a close second. Camp showers? Way down on the list.)

Since I hadn’t camped in decades, I’d nearly forgotten how much I loved these simple little sandwich pies.

But now that I’m an adult with access to beach houses and fire pits, it’s not impossible to make mountain pies in a non-camp situation.

I used our weekend on the lake in New Hampshire to introduce a whole slew of friends and family to this old favorite.

Unlike regular foil-wrapped grilled cheese sandwiches cooked directly in the coals, true mountain pies require a pie iron to make a crispy, melty meal.

A pie iron, hinged at one end with long handles on the other, lets you squish your pie together and hold it safely in the flames from a distance.

mountain pie irons
Photo: Casey Barber

My advice is to get two pie irons from the get-go, since you’ll probably have more than one person wanting to make a mountain pie at once.

Pie irons are available from a number of outdoor gear companies as both lightweight aluminum pie irons (with nonstick coating) and heavier cast iron varieties (some of which need to be pre-seasoned before using).

Choose your pie iron based on what you can handle—you’ll have to lift and hold it over a hot campfire for a few minutes, so cast iron might be a little too hefty for the younger set.

Once you have your pie irons in hand and your campfire a-blazing, how you fill your mountain pies is completely up to you. Watch the video above and read on for step-by-step instructions on how to make mountain pies.

mountain pies or campfire pies
Photo: Casey Barber

How to Make Mountain Pies

Generously butter two slices of sandwich bread—white or whole wheat, it’s your choice, though I tend to think the paler slices crisp up more effectively—and place buttered side down in each half of the pie iron.

Choose your filling—savory or sweet—and dollop on one of the unbuttered sides of the bread slices. Some of our favorite combos:

  • pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, and optional “toppings” like pepperoni slices, ham, or diced green peppers
  • Cuban-style ham and cheese with pickles
  • classic cold cuts or charcuterie
  • pie fillings like cherry or peach; we used canned versions as kids but now I bring homemade pie filling to the party
  • fluffernutters
  • peanut butter and bananas
  • cream cheese and jam

Feel free to mix and match and create your own combinations, but stick to a few tablespoons or slices of each filling until you know the correct ratio.

Don’t overfill or your innards will start to ooze out the edges of the pie and burn as it cooks. Mmmmm, burnt.

Hinge the pie iron closed and carefully place in the fire.

pie irons in fire
Photo: Casey Barber

If your campfire still has flames, hold your pie iron directly into the fire, flipping occasionally so both sides of the mountain pies cook evenly.

(Don’t get distracted chatting with your pie-making mates or you’ll have a charred pie. I know from experience, dude.)

If your fire is down to the coals, gently place the pie iron in the coals and let it rest, flipping once or twice. It’ll take a little longer to cook, but it’s still possible to get a nicely browned pie if you’re patient.

making mountain pies
Photo: Casey Barber

Get a plate ready and carefully un-hinge the pie iron, using tongs if necessary to remove the mountain pies.

Each half of the pie iron will be searingly hot, so don’t let anyone touch them until they’ve cooled down!

When the pie irons are ready to make another batch of mountain pies, fill ’em up again and eat to your heart’s content. Then get ready for s’mores.

mountain pies

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7 Comments

  1. My father makes an excellent hand model. And these mountain pies were delicious! Besides being a great treat, they were an even better activity for all the kids at the lake that weekend. Thanks for the delicious fun, Casey!

    1. LM, I like to think your dad is saying, “THIS ONE’s all mine” in that photo! Thanks to you and Bryan for the all-day beach fire and the delicious opportunities it presented!

  2. I also live in Pennsylvania, Schuylkill County to be exact. Sad thing is I’ve never heard of these until last year in college when one of my roommates were talking about it, and when I asked them what it was. (I never really went camping haha). So sometime soon I’ll give it a go! :)

  3. It wasn’t mentioned here but other great mountain pies are filled with actual
    pie fillings! Same cooking technique! Just b mindful, pie filling can produce HOT DRIPPY filling!
    And totally off the pie trail but definitely TASTY Campfire treat, MASHMALLOWS toasted over the fire on a stick become more interesting as well as more managable
    when rolled in a cookie sheet covered in crushed grahams, or ginger snaps,
    nuts, chopped chocolates, coconut, toffee…whatever calls to you..
    Leaving the hot mashmallow on the stick helps to reduce burned finger when trying to stuff between graham crackers. The stick is the trick!.For safety I use shish ka bob sticks that dont catch fire & slide finished creation off with a fork.
    Enjoy!

    1. Yep, as I noted in the piece, I love using homemade pie fillings for my mountain pies. (We loaded up with homemade peach pie filling for the photos here.) Have never tried the marshmallow trick yet, though – it sounds incredible! I can’t wait to fire things up again this summer!

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