We’re calling it: Foil packs are the new go-to summer dinner. Whether you love the thrill of the grill, the ease of the oven, or cooking outdoors on a campfire, foil packs make mealtime simpler than ever—and the best part? There’s zero cleanups. Here are all the details on how to rock the season’s best-kept dinnertime secret.
How to Fill + Fold a Foil Pack
The first secret to success in cooking with foil packs is in the filling and folding of the pack itself. Thankfully, it’s easy to do, and follows the same general guidelines no matter what goes inside.
To start, cut one large sheet of heavy-duty foil per pack—about 18x12 inches works best. Always spray the foil with cooking spray. If you don’t have heavy-duty foil, use two stacked pieces of regular foil per pack.
Place the food in the center of each piece of foil. Make sure to place even amounts of the prepared food into each foil pack so they can cook evenly and in the same amount of time.
Bring up two sides of foil over the filling so the edges of the foil meet. Seal the edges, making a tight 1/2-inch fold. Fold again, allowing space on the sides for heat circulation and expansion. Fold the other sides to seal the pack.
Foil Packs in the Oven
One of the easiest ways to cook foil packs is in the oven. Whether you want to bake an all-in-one meal, don’t have a grill or want to make dinner without making a mess, foil packs are a stress-free way to get food on the table.
How to Test Foil Packs for Doneness
Before baking, write an “X” in permanent marker on the foil pack with the largest piece of meat or vegetable. To test foil packs for doneness, open the pack with the “X” on it just slightly, and insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of the meat. When it comes to chicken, generally speaking the temperature should read 165˚F when it’s fully cooked through; for ground meats, the temperature should read 160˚F. For a complete guide on doneness temperatures, refer to the USDA guidelines. To test vegetables for doneness, use a paring knife and cut slightly into the largest, densest vegetable (such as a potato); the vegetable should be tender.
How to Convert Grilled Foil Pack Recipes to the Oven
Most of our recipes offer instructions for cooking foil packs on both the grill or in the oven. But in some cases, the recipe only calls for the grilling method and, if you don’t own a grill, this could pose a problem. Thankfully, it’s easy to convert a recipe from the grill method to the oven.
To do so, assemble the foil packs as directed, then place them on a large cookie sheet. If the recipe calls for grilling over medium heat, bake the foil packs in the oven at 375˚F for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 times as long as called for in the grilled versions (e.g., if a recipe calls for grilling the foil packs for 20 minutes, bake them in the oven for at least 30-40 minutes).
It’s fairly safe to convert a foil pack recipe from the grill method to the oven method; however, converting from oven to grill is a little trickier. Because recipes developed for the oven method likely include ingredients or methods that don’t stand up as well to the intense direct heat of the grill, it’s best to follow the original method instructions for the recipe and bake the foil packs in the oven.