What’s the first thing you think of when camping? “S’mores” pops into the heads of plenty of campers, with breakfast around the campfire running a close second.
Whether it’s a weenie roast, a rich stew, or bacon and eggs, eating hearty meals outside is part of the fun of camping. Hiking, swimming, and other outdoor activities can work up an appetite, having campers famished.
No worries, though – the Outforia team has a roundup of tips and open-fire cooking equipment that will make cooking around the campfire fun and easy.
Campfire Cooking Equipment
So much of what you bring along on your camping trip has to do with food and cooking, and so many happy camping memories are made over hearty meals around the campfire.
Before you settle in for S’mores around the campfire, you’ll need to plan. Successful camping requires bringing everything you’ll need at camp and nothing you won’t. Leave your favorite seasonings at home, and your campsite meals will be bland. Spatulas and spoons, knives and forks, plates, pots and pans, a coffee pot – they’re all needed for your campsite “kitchen.”
You’ll want to put together your own campfire cooking kit just for camping trips. That way, you can include what works for you and your crew and have it ready to go.
If you’re cooking over the campfire, you’ll need an Over-Fire Grill to keep your fish over the flames and not in them. There are a variety of styles, including a Rotisserie Grill, a campfire Grill Grate or campfire grilling rack mounts near the fire with a spike, a Tripod that can hold a Dutch oven full of stew or chili over the fire, or a campfire Grill Swing for anything from burgers to steaks.
A Folding Camp Kitchen will give you shelves and workspace that will make food preparation at the campsite easier. The counter space and cabinets will get your edibles up and away from bugs and wildlife. It’s also a great spot for your camping stove if you use one.
A Campfire Cooking Table is perfect for Dutch oven cooking and will accommodate more than one pot, which is handy for cooking more than one dish.
Sure, you can bring pots and pans from home with you when camping, but experienced campers like having cookware designated just for camping. You can store it with camping equipment, making packing up to go easier and forgetting something more difficult.
Some cookware is designed for camping with campfires in mind. A Grill Basket can hold flat foods – such as the fish you just caught – over a fire. A Camp Mess Kit designed for backpacking and camping will be sturdy yet lightweight and designed to pack into a small amount of space.
If you aren’t backpacking, cast iron cookware will last forever. Weighty but versatile, a Cast Iron Dutch Oven can be used to cook anything from stew to biscuits.
A Cast Iron Griddle is essential for pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon. A Reversible Grill/Griddle gives you the option of having grill marks on meat or a panini. A smaller campfire piece, a Cast Iron Broiler will let you make broiled chicken, a grilled cheese sandwich, or a camp version of a fried pie.
Purchase your cast iron individually, or buy a Cast Iron Combo for iron cooking equipment.
If you don’t want the weight of a cast-iron skillet or other pieces, consider a Stainless Steel Frying Pan Set. Stainless steel will stand up to cooking over a campfire but is much lighter than cast iron.
Frying pans aren’t useful without a spoon or a spatula for cooking and serving. You’ll also want to have knives, forks, and spoons for your camping crew. A Camp Utensil Kit will ensure you have campfire cooking utensils on hand.
Cooking over the campfire gets hot, so count on bringing along Heat-Resistant Mitts. Nothing ruins a camping trip like burned fingertips.
Your morning toast doesn’t have to be given up when out camping. A campfire toaster will get your bread ready for butter and jelly.
Cooking some favorite foods calls for special campfire cooking gear. A Beer Can Chicken Rack makes cooking a whole chicken – drunk or not – easy. Would you rather have drumsticks? A Chicken Leg Rack is a must.
You can’t have a camping trip without S’mores! Making the graham cracker, marshmallow, and chocolate concoctions are easier if you can roast the marshmallows over the campfire with S’mores Sticks.
Much easier than straightening a wire coathanger, using Telescoping Roasting Sticks as campfire cooking tools lets everyone get their marshmallows to their favorite degree of toastiness, and you can also use them for roasting hotdogs!
But First, Coffee
If you’re a coffee drinker, you need that first cup of Joe no matter where you are. Coffee lovers can enjoy their morning cup at camp by bringing along brewing gear. An Enamel Percolator with Mugs can be used over the campfire to brew.
You can also make coffee in a pot by boiling water and then adding the coffee grounds to brew. Pouring it through a sieve will keep the grounds out of your cup.
Pour-over coffee makers can also put your boiling water to use and are easy to use at camp.
Once you make your coffee, consider pouring it in a camping thermos to keep it hot for hours.
Nice to Have
While some campfire cooking accessories will just be extras, they sure make camping and campfire cooking more fun. Roasting hotdogs over a campfire doesn’t call for a recipe, getting the most from campfire cooking does require a few recipes, tips, and tricks. A Camping Cookbook will give you plenty of ideas.
Pro tip: Don’t try out new recipes for the first time on your camping trip. Make them in your backyard over a fire pit and adjust cooking times and ingredients accordingly.
You can’t cook over a campfire if you can’t get the fire started. Primitive campers may cringe at this, but bringing along Fire Starters will make starting your campfire foolproof.
Portable campfires make the hard work of building a campfire quick and easy, getting your fire ready for cooking faster.
Doing dishes is a fact of life at home and your campsite. You won’t want to pack up dirty pots and pans to take home. Make sure you include dishwashing liquid and dish towels for washing and drying dishes.
A Camp Scrubber will stand up to any food residue or soot on your cooking pots, and bringing a Garden Hose will make rinsing off plates and frying pans easy if you have a water hook-up close by. Most campgrounds do.
Here are a few basic questions you may have about campfire cooking.
How Long Does It Take to Cook over a Campfire?
The first rule of cooking over a campfire is not to be impatient. How long campfire cooking takes depends on what you’re cooking. Roasting a hotdog can be done in minutes, but larger items will take a longer time, most likely cooking at a lower temperature to avoid having an overdone exterior but a raw interior.
Keep in mind that you do not want to cook over a blazing fire. Hot embers are best, and it may take 30 to 40 minutes to get the perfect conditions.
Is Open Fire Cooking Healthy?
Open fire cooking releases particles in the air that, when inhaled regularly, can trigger conditions including asthma, lung disease, and pneumonia. However, camping is a healthy activity that makes great memories. Campfire cooking is not something you do daily, so we think the risk of health problems being caused by campfire cooking is extremely low.
What Can You Make over a Campfire?
Virtually anything you can cook in your kitchen at home can be cooked over a campfire. Sure, you can roast hotdogs or grill chicken, but you can also make biscuits and fruit cobblers, chili, stew, roasts, pancake breakfasts, and more.
How Much Firewood Should I Bring While Camping?
Outforia recommends about two to five bundles of firewood per day of camping or about one bundle for every hour your campfire is burning. If you are cooking over your campfire, err on the side of having more firewood than you need.
As far as the type of wood you use to fuel your campfire, it’s best to bring dry firewood rather than strip wood from a tree. Not only would you be damaging the woodlands, but the wood would be green, which would be hard to light and smoky.
How Much Water Should I Bring?
Having enough water for drinking, cooking and cleaning are important, so plan on bringing about two gallons of water per person per day. This should be enough for drinking, personal hygiene, cooking, and washing dishes.
Some parks and campgrounds have water on site, so check before you leave home.
How Do You Make Coffee While Camping?
For those whose morning coffee is nonnegotiable, we have good news. Making a good cup of coffee is possible while camping, and we can’t think of a better place to enjoy it than in the great outdoors first thing in the morning. The easiest option is to bring instant coffee and boil water for it over the campfire.
You can also make “cowboy coffee” by letting coffee grounds sit in boiling water, then pouring it, taking care to strain out the grounds. French presses, pour-over coffee makers, and camp percolators are also great options.
Are There Camping Rules?
Of course, there are rules in camping, just as in life. Many of these are just common sense or courtesy.
Act with consideration of other campers, giving them privacy by not trespassing on their campsite, not making noise late at night, and by being polite. If you bring pets along, keep them from disturbing your fellow campers.
Clean out the firepit before you leave, and make sure your campsite looks as if you were never there. Obey all fire regulations, don’t leave garbage behind, and respect nature. Leave the campsite as you found it.
What is the Best Campfire Sandwich Maker?
Campfire sandwich makers are great to have, as you can make anything from grilled cheese to an apple pie in these. We review several brands we like at the link, but in general, make sure they have a handle long enough so you don’t burn your hands and solid metal construction.
What are the Best Plates to Use When Camping?
If you’re camping, or especially glamping, having nice plates is a lovely touch to campfire meals. Paper plates are flimsy and create trash. We think the best move is to have reusable plates made from BPA-free plastic or stainless steel that will serve you well for years to come.
What are the Cheapest Camping Foods?
If you’re budget-conscious, we have great news: many camping foods are inexpensive. S’mores, hamburgers over your campfire cooking grate, hotdogs, burritos, and sandwiches make for low-cost dinners or lunches. Start your camping day with oatmeal, granola, yogurt pancakes, hash browns, or eggs, each a healthy but economical breakfast choice.
What’s the Best Way to Store Food When Camping?
Any perishable foods should be stored in an ice-filled cooler or portable fridge. Nonperishable foods can be stored anywhere but keeping them up and away from wildlife is a good idea. In bear country, use a dedicated bear box or bear-proof canister.
Now Get Cooking!
Cooking over a campfire will make for memorable meals, but only if you have the equipment and supplies you need. Make your own portable campfire kitchen and you’ll have a moveable feast for your camping crew.