My initial introduction to packet cooking was definitely some kind of hodgepodge meal put together in foil and thrown on a grill at summer camp overnights. (Yes, including banana boats!) Not a bad first take, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this cook-friendly strategy.

Packet cooking has a number of things going for it. If you’re a family, it’s fun to let everyone choose and assemble their own parcels. Enclosing food in parchment or foil packets allows for steaming, a particularly efficient cooking method that is gentle enough for delicate proteins, especially fish. Because the steam is so intense and cooks the exterior of the food so quickly, it’s best to stick with smaller cuts and pieces of vegetables. The sealed environment traps moisture — no dry food here! — and lets you infuse the ingredients with a variety of flavors, especially wine and herbs. And, of course, the cleanup, whether you’re popping the packets into the oven or onto the grill, is minimal when everything is self-contained. There’s also the dramatic reveal, when each diner can open their packet and be greeted with a whoosh of aromatic steam.

So let’s take a gander through our archives for some great options to help you practice packet cooking.

Cajun Shrimp in Foil Packets. Bold spices and andouille sausage make this simple recipe pop. The yield is 8 servings, great for a group, though it also includes an option for freezing portions to cook later.


Fish en Papillote. A heady blend of herbs, pepper, lemon and wine lends oomph to fish fillets. Try with cod, pompano or trout.

Potato and Prosciutto Packets. If you need a side for your grilled dinner, look no further than these salty, creamy bundles.


Mixed Grill With Sausages, Vegetables and Corn. Here’s another grilled, fit-for-summer meal that also offers a plan for built-in leftovers.


Dorie Greenspan’s Seafood and Summer Corn Packet Ragout. Hang onto this recipe with make-ahead potential once the local summer corn and tomatoes start arriving at the farmers market.


Foil-Roasted Beets and Vidalia Onions With Butter, Lime and Sea Salt. Choose between a hot oven or directly on the coals of a grill for this colorful melange of vegetables.


Haddock in Rice Paper With Shallot and Soy Sauce. The concept of packet cooking can go beyond foil and parchment. This recipe from Jacques Pépin features fish steamed inside rice paper, making for an edible wrapper. See also Coconut Chicken and Plantains en Papillote, which uses banana leaves, and Cuban Shrimp Tamales, made in dried corn husks.

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