Trying to Cook Breakfast on the Beach

Drawing inspiration from the rich culinary traditions and local ingredients of the Outer Banks, a beach breakfast could be an extraordinary experience that combines the simplicity of outdoor cooking with the unique flavors of the region.

Whether you’re starting your day with the sun rising over the Atlantic or enjoying a leisurely morning on the sands, here are some inspired ideas and recipes to create an unforgettable beach breakfast.

Traditional Campfire Breakfast with an Outer Banks Twist

Cooking over a campfire adds a delightful smoky flavor to the food, making it an ideal method for preparing a traditional breakfast. The key to a successful campfire breakfast is managing your heat source and using heavy-duty cookware, such as cast-iron skillets or griddles, which distribute the heat evenly and withstand the intensity of the fire.


  • Bacon slices
  • Sausage links or patties (consider local seafood sausages for a regional twist)
  • Eggs
  • Potatoes, pre-boiled and diced for faster cooking
  • Salt, pepper, and any preferred seasonings
  • Optional: diced onions and bell peppers for the hashbrowns

Breakfast on the Beach Cooking Steps:

  1. Prepare Your Campfire: Build your campfire to allow for a section with direct intense heat and another with medium coals. The intense heat is perfect for starting your bacon and sausages, while the medium coals are ideal for eggs and finishing the hashbrowns.
  2. Cook the Bacon and Sausage: Place a cast-iron skillet or griddle over the fire. Once hot, add the bacon and sausage. Cook the bacon until crisp and the sausage until browned and cooked through. Remove and set aside on a plate covered with paper towels to drain excess grease.
  3. Hashbrowns: In the same skillet, add the pre-boiled, diced potatoes. If desired, include diced onions and bell peppers for added flavor and color. Cook until the potatoes are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Eggs: In another skillet or on a cleared section of your griddle, cook the eggs to your liking. For easy handling, consider scrambled eggs, which can be mixed directly with the hashbrowns for a hearty skillet meal. For over-easy, sunny-side-up, or poached eggs, manage your heat carefully to avoid burning the bottoms.
  5. Serving: Combine the hashbrowns, bacon, sausage, and eggs on a plate. For an Outer Banks twist, serve with a side of fresh fruit or a light tomato-cucumber salad to balance the hearty flavors.
  6. Safety Tips: Always keep a close eye on your fire and food to prevent burns or fire spread. Use long-handled utensils to manage your cooking safely.
  7. Cleanup: Ensure all coals are fully extinguished and dispose of any trash or leftovers responsibly to protect the natural beauty of the Outer Banks.

This traditional breakfast cooked over a campfire offers a comforting and filling start to the day, allowing you to enjoy the simplicity and joy of outdoor cooking. Adding local touches, like seafood sausages or fresh produce, brings a taste of the Outer Banks to this classic meal, making it an unforgettable part of your beach experience.

Some Outer Banks Twists on Beach Breakfast

1. Outer Banks Seafood Breakfast Skillet

Inspired by the local tradition of utilizing fresh seafood, a seafood breakfast skillet can be a hearty and flavorful start to the day. Using a cast-iron skillet over a campfire or portable grill, you can create a dish that features the “chicken of the sea” as locals refer to their abundant fish. Combine diced potatoes, onions, and bell peppers with chunks of local fish such as flounder or bluefish, and perhaps some shrimp (despite their historical reputation as pests, they’re a delicious addition today). Cook until the vegetables are soft and the seafood is cooked through, then crack a few eggs over the top and cover until the eggs are set to your liking. Serve hot, garnished with fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon.

2. Hatteras Clam Chowder for the Morning

A lighter, broth-based version of the traditional Hatteras clam chowder can be a warming start to a cooler day on the beach​​. Prepare it ahead of time and reheat it over your campfire or grill. This chowder, made without the heavy cream found in its New England cousin, features clams, potatoes, onions, and the smoky flavor of bacon or salt pork. It’s a nourishing and comforting dish that reflects the simplicity and thriftiness of Outer Banks cooking.

3. Cornbread and Eggs with a Twist

Corn has been a cornerstone of Outer Banks cuisine, often finding its way into every meal​​. Start your beach morning with a nod to tradition by serving freshly grilled cornbread alongside scrambled eggs. For a unique twist, incorporate some locally caught crab meat into your scrambled eggs, seasoned lightly with salt, pepper, and a touch of Old Bay seasoning. The combination of sweet cornbread and the rich, savory eggs will be a hit.

4. Fresh Fruit and Berry Salad with a Local Honey Drizzle

Complement your savory dishes with a refreshing fruit salad. The Outer Banks, with its warm climate, is conducive to growing a variety of fruits and berries. Mix together slices of local peaches, berries, and melon, and then drizzle with local honey for a touch of sweetness. This simple, fresh dish adds a colorful and healthy element to your beach breakfast spread.

5. Beverages: Sweet Tea and Citrus-Infused Water

No outdoor meal in the South is complete without sweet tea. Prepare it ahead of time, making it strong and sweet, and serve it chilled with plenty of ice. For a lighter option, offer citrus-infused water—simply add slices of lemon, lime, and orange to chilled water for a refreshing and hydrating drink that complements the flavors of your breakfast.

Local Regulations for Campfires and Grills on Outer Banks Beaches

Before planning your beachside breakfast, it’s crucial to be aware of and comply with local regulations regarding campfires and grills on the beaches of the Outer Banks. Regulations can vary by location, season, and even time of day, and they’re in place to protect the unique and vulnerable coastal environment, ensure public safety, and maintain the quality of life for both residents and visitors.

Key Steps to Follow:

  1. Check with Local Authorities: Before setting up any type of fire or grill, consult the official websites of the National Park Service (NPS) or local municipalities for the most current regulations. The Outer Banks is home to several national seashores and state parks, each with its own set of rules.
  2. Permits: Some areas may require a permit for campfires. If permits are required, they’re usually easy to obtain but may have specific conditions attached, such as the size of the fire, the distance from vegetation and structures, and the hours during which fires are allowed.
  3. Designated Areas: Certain beaches may designate specific areas where campfires or grilling are permitted. These areas are chosen to minimize environmental impact and reduce the risk of wildfires.
  4. Leave No Trace: Always adhere to Leave No Trace principles. This means fully extinguishing your fire or grill, disposing of all trash responsibly, and ensuring that the beach is as beautiful when you leave as it was when you arrived.
  5. Safety First: Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby to extinguish the fire quickly if needed. Never leave a fire unattended, and be mindful of wind conditions that could spread flames.

By respecting these guidelines, you can enjoy a memorable beach breakfast experience while ensuring the preservation and safety of the Outer Banks’ natural beauty.

Safety and Environmental Considerations

When cooking and eating outdoors, especially in such a pristine environment as the Outer Banks, it’s crucial to follow Leave No Trace principles. Keep fires manageable and contained within designated fire pits or portable grills, carry out all trash and leftovers, and respect wildlife by keeping a safe distance and not feeding them.

Cooking breakfast on the beach in the Outer Banks offers a unique opportunity to engage with the local culture and ingredients, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you’re a visitor or a local, embracing the traditions and flavors of the Outer Banks can make for a deliciously unique start to the day.