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Dutch ovens are the quintessential piece of campfire cookery. Switch up the hot dog and burgers routine with these mouth-watering recipes - after you review the basics, of course.
If you haven’t seen one before, it’s a heavy type of cast iron pan on three legs with a handle and a lipped lid. The most common size has a 12-inch diameter, although you can occasionally find smaller and larger options. The recipes here are for the 12-inch size, so accommodate portions to the size of your own Dutch oven if necessary.
Dutch ovens work best when nestled or covered in hot coals, depending on what you cook, and thick versions will cook food more evenly than lighter, thinner versions. Welders’ gloves are recommended for handling the cast iron when cooking, but thick oven mitts will do as long as you mind your fire.
Note: Dutch ovens require some special care. If your Dutch oven is brand new, you’ll want to clean it out with soap and warm water before use. If you just dug it out of the garage, take some steel wool to any rust spots and clean it thoroughly to get rid of any metal shavings. Then, coat the entire pan and lid with a layer of vegetable oil and bake for two hours at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Let cool, and repeat this oiling and baking process two more times.
This curing will help keep the Dutch oven in quality condition and prevent food from sticking to the surface. After every time you use your Dutch oven, clean with mild soap, rinse thoroughly and oil lightly to keep you cookware in tip-top shape. Now on to the fun (and tasty) part!
For more camping cuisine ideas, check out the recipes on our website or our Dutch Oven Recipes and Outdoor and Wild Recipes boards on Pinterest.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
8 pineapple rings
8 maraschino cherries
1 yellow cake mix
1 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup oil
First, prepare the cake topping. Melt butter in the bottom of the Dutch oven and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over top, being careful not to touch the sugar as it dissolves. Then, place the pineapple rings: one in the center and seven around it. Add a maraschino cherry to the center of each ring. Next you’ll need cake batter: Combine your cake mix, pineapple juice, water, eggs and oil in a large mixing bowl, and mix well. Take a spoon and evenly distribute the batter over your pineapple rings, all the way to the edges of the oven. To bake this dessert perfectly, cover the Dutch oven, place 10 to 12 charcoal briquettes beneath and 14 to 16 briquettes on the lid. Baking should take approximately 45 minutes, but check occasionally. If the cake springs back when touched, it’s done. Allow the cake to cool with the lid cracked for 10 minutes. Once cool, loosen the cake by running a silicone spatula around the inside edge of the oven. To flip the cake out, prepare a lid stand on a table, place parchment paper over the top of the oven and replace the lid to hold the parchment in place.
Carefully turn the whole oven over with gloved hands so that the cake falls to rest on the lid (don’t forget to hold the lid on while turning!). If the cake doesn’t fall right away, tap the bottom and sides of the oven until it does. Carefully lift the oven off of the lid, slide the parchment and cake onto another surface if you wish, allow the cake to finish cooling as desired and you’re ready to serve 8 to 10 people.
Pizza This recipe requires a very hot oven, so preheat by loading many coals on and around the vessel. Ideally, you want to use a baking stone with handles that can sit on a rack inside the oven.
Load a pre-made crust with sauce, toppings and cheese, place it on the baking stone, place the baking stone on the rack in the Dutch oven and rotate the rack a quarter turn every three minutes to ensure even cooking. Cooking should take approximately 15 minutes, but adjust as necessary for your ideal level of browning on the cheese.
Using gloves, remove the baking stone and/or rack and transfer the pizza to a heat-safe cutting board to cool. Once the pizza has cooled, cut and serve. The recipe and servings will vary based on your selected crust and toppings.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
3 cups diced rhubarb
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup rolled oats
To prepare the filling, mix white sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, strawberries, and rhubarb in a large mixing bowl. In a second bowl, combine 1.5 cups flour, brown sugar, butter, and oats until the mixture is crumbly. If you have a pastry blender on hand, it will make the mixing easier.
Lightly oil your Dutch oven and evenly spread the fruity contents of the first bowl inside, followed by the second crumbly mixture over top.
Replace the Dutch oven lid and place 18 to 20 charcoal briquettes on top, with another 10 to 12 briquettes below the oven. The crisp should bake at approximately 375 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour or so until the crisp is browned and the fruit filling is bubbly.
For the most evenly browned crisp, rotate the base and the lid of the Dutch oven a quarter turn every 10 to 15 minutes.
This recipe serves 12 to 14, and can be stretched further served a la mode or with whipped cream.
Fiesta Chicken with Black Beans
Courtesy of Byron's Dutch Oven Recipes
2 (15 oz.) cans corn,drained
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained
2 yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 green bell peppers, cut in strips
6 cloves garlic, minced
8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves cut in strips
1 (30 oz.) can tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
1 (8 oz.) can diced green chilies; drained
3 tablespoons ground cumin 2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1-2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper (to taste)
Southwest spice mix* to taste
1 lb. pepper jack cheese, grated
2 lb. cheddar cheese, grated
To start, gently stir together corn, black beans, onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, chilies, cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper in a 12-inch Dutch oven until well-mixed. Taste this mixture as you go, and adjust the seasonings to suit your preference. Next, season all strips of chicken evenly with the southwest spice mix, and mix the chicken into the oven.
Replace the lid and place 14 to 16 charcoal briquettes on top, with 8 to 10 briquettes below the oven for 1.5 to 2 hours. When done, the chicken should be cooked all the way through and no longer pink. At this point, spread a layer of cheese over the top and replace the lid for five minutes, or until cheese is as melted as desired.
This recipe makes 10 to 12 servings, and can be served with warmed flour tortillas or over rice to stretch it further.
* If you want to make your own Southwest Spice mix, the recipe below yields about a half cup.
Southwest Spice Mix
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper