Basic Campfire Cooking Equipment

Who remembers sitting out on a Summer evening with logs on the campfire glowing red with the sizzle of sausages? Camping, campfires and camp cooking just seem to fit perfectly together.

But if you want to be THE campfire chef it’s important to remember that cooking on an open campfire is different than using even a portable gas stove. 

Successful campfire cooking is all about managing the fire and using the heat that is often much hotter than other cooking methods.

The good news is that you only need a few good quality cooking equipment and utensils. Then again there is a whole lot of equipment that comes into the useful, nice to have and I want one category.

The other essential is the skill of building a successful campfire. You can read our “Building a Successful Campfire” guide.

Table of Contents

Let’s start off with probably the two big ticket must have items. A good quality Dutch oven and a cast iron skillet.

A Cast Iron Skillet

A good heavy well made cast iron skillet has to be your absolute first buy. Don’t skimp on the quality and this piece of camp cookware will serve you for many years. Probably even outlast you. 

Why cast iron? It has to withstand the hot coals of a campfire.

A cast iron skillet can be used for cooking everything from eggs and bacon to a one pot stew or chili. Super versatile.

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Combo Cooker

This two-in-one skillet offers a deep 10 ¼” cast iron skillet, a shallower skillet that doubles as a lid giving you a small Dutch oven option.

  • Pre-seasoned cast iron
  • Use on all cooking surfaces including campfires
  • Oven safe so you can even use it at home.
  • Good heat distribution and temperature control

Just remember that, before cleaning, it’s good to do a little research. https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/interior-projects/a27703968/how-to-clean-a-cast-iron-pan/

Campfire Dutch Oven

A good quality Dutch oven is another essential piece of campfire cooking gear. For anyone, like me, who didn’t grow up in North America it’s what we called a casserole dish.

Traditionally, Dutch ovens are made of cast iron but you can get them made of different materials including enamel coated. The enamel coating has the distinct advantage of being easier to clean and not prone to rusting.

Size does matter. Make sure it’s big enough to prepare enough food for the whole camping group. Go a size bigger because fresh air makes you hungry.

Campfire Grate

Maybe not essential but a definite help is a sturdy campfire grilling grate.

Campfires can be hot and being able to move cooking equipment away from the hottest parts of the fire can make life easier. 

Texsport Heavy Duty Over Fire Camp Grill

This rugged over the fire camp grill is made of steel and expanded metal mesh. Grilling surface is about 24” by 16” so there is plenty of room for skillets, Dutch ovens and coffee pots. Stable but do make sure you place it firmly on the ground. 

  • Grilling surface 24” by 16”
  • Heavy duty welded steel
  • Legs fold to help transport

Aluminum Foil

Heavy duty grilling aluminum foil is a great cooking option for backpackers but also for anyone wanting a cheap cooking option.

We have several recipes where we use foil to wrap the meal ready for cooking and there’s something about a baked potato prepared in a campfire pit. 

If you can’t get the heavy duty aluminum foil (we get ours from Costco) I’d recommend double wrapping with the standard foil.

Camping Kitchen Checklist

Nobody wants to arrive at the campsite having forgotten an essential cooking utensil (or the food). Does it happen? Yes, and you’ll have to improvise.

Many years ago my wife and I found ourselves by a beautiful lake in a remote corner of Sweden. Stove was set up and all ready to cook. Nothing fancy and it did involve a tin of beans. Guess what? No tin opener. Solution – metal knife, rock and first aid kit.

So to help you avoid my problem here’s a simple campfire cooking checklist. Feel free to add what you need.

Checklist

Camp Kitchen

  • Matched/lighter/firestarter
  • Pot holders, pot lifter, oven gloves
  • Cooking utensils
    • Spoons
    • Spatula
    • Tongs
    • Which
  • Bottle/can opener and corkscrew
  • Knives
  • Cutting board
  • Coffee/tea make
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring spoons/cups
  • Hand cranked blender
  • Water carrier
  • Water purification tablets/system

Storage and Cleaning

  • Cooler(s)
  • Animal resistant storage containers
  • Small food containers for leftovers and hiking meals
  • Bin bags/containers for garbage
  • Storage totes to make transferring everything easier
  • Egg holders
  • Resealable bags
  • Biodegradable dish soap
  • Pot scrubber/coths/sponges
  • Paper towels
  • Drying racks
  • Clothesline and pegs
  • Washbins and large water jug

Camp Dining

  • Plates and bowls
  • Mugs & cups
  • Knives, forks and spoons
  • Dishcloths & tea cloths
  • Water bottles

Extras

  • Portable barbeque
  • Charcoal
  • Saw/axe or locally sourced firewood
  • Tablecloth, clips and napkins
  • Lantern/flashlights

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