Have you ever heard of silver turtles? Some people call them hobo packets or foil dinners. Basically they’re a complete dinner you cook in a homemade foil packet on the grill or open camp fire…or even in the oven in a pinch. Whatever you call them, silver turtles are a delicious and super versatile dinner.
One reason I really like silver turtles is that everyone can put in just what they want – or what mom makes them put in. So, if someone loves onions he can put extra onions in his. And if someone hates onions, no worries, he can make his silver turtle without onions.
We like to make these when my kids have a few friends over for dinner, it really takes the headache out of trying to please everyone.
While they can be made at the moment, they can also be made ahead of time. This is great if you’re going to the park or pool to grill out or going to a tailgate party. You can make them before you leave the house and easily carry your complete dinner with you, hence the name hobo packets.
When we go camping and make silver turtles we just pack the ingredients and put them together right before we put them on the campfire.
How to make Silver Turtles
Silver turtles are traditionally made with hamburger meat, potatoes, carrots and onions. But you can make them with whatever you like. We like to put ham in ours instead of hamburger meat for a change of pace.
To make the foil packets you’ll need a piece of heavy duty foil about 18″-24″ long. We like to put our veggies on first with the meat on top. That way all the drippings from the meat help cook and season the veggies. Some of us will add a little extra moisture by drizzling some bacon grease on top. It’s not necessary but it is tasty.
Fruit goes really well with ham so some of us like to put orange or apple slices in our foil packets. And we grill some pineapple slices to eat with the silver turtles. You can put the pineapple slices in the foil packet but we like the flavor that grilling them gives. If you really like pineapple, you could do both.
Once you get everything on the foil that you want, pull up the two long sides and seal them by rolling them over twice. Then seal the sides doing the same thing. This is how I make the foil packet. Some of my kids just pull up all four sides and twist the foil together. Some like to get creative and make each one unique. The only thing that really matters is that it can’t have any gaps or holes in the seams or all the drippings will drip out….and we can’t have that.
Once the foil packets are sealed, I like to use a Sharpie and write the person’s name on their packet. This is so much easier than trying to remember where you put your packet on the grill.
When we grill the silver turtles we like to put them over the hot coals and not over a flaming fire. You want an even heat. The coals are for even cooking and the flames are fickle. It will probably take 10-20 minutes for the silver turtles to cook. It really just depends on what vegetables you have – potatoes will take longer than zucchini – and how hot your grill is. You’ll want to start checking them when you hear them sizzle and smell them cooking.
We always joke that my husband has “to watch the grill” when we’re grilling out, but it’s true – you can’t just put something on the grill and walk away like you can when you put something in the oven.
Once the silver turtles are done, you can put them right on the table and eat out of the foil packet, there’s no need for plates. This means fewer dishes to wash and less waste – yet another reason I like silver turtles.
So next time you want a super easy, super versatile, and super convenient campfire meal, make silver turtles. Everyone will enjoy them and you’ll have less prep work and clean up to do. That’s a winning combination all around.
- Pre-cooked Ham (1/4 lb per person)
- Cubed potatoes (1/2-1 per person)
- Sliced carrots (1 per person)
- Chopped onions (1/4 per person)
- other vegetables and fruit such as summer squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, oranges, and pineapples
- Aluminum foil
- Tear off an 18-24" piece of aluminum foil for each person
- Put chopped vegetables in center of aluminum foil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Put precooked ham and fruit on top
- Close aluminum foil by folding or twisting being sure that there are no gaps
- Mark each silver turtle with Sharpie with person's name or initials
- Cook over hot coals until done (approximately 15-25 minutes)