A guide on what to pack for campfire cooking
What to pack for campfire cooking. Here’s a guide to show you that there’s nothing to worry about and some tips and tricks to make is all seem easy.
Cooking over your campfire can be a daunting prospect for many less experienced campers, but making a campfire and cooking meals over it can be surprisingly simple. It is a great way to become more self-sufficient and have an authentic back-to-basics camping experience.
I’d recommend starting with simple recipes using tin foil packets as well as having barbecues, then build up to some more complex recipes. The first step towards successful campfire cooking is having the right equipment. I’ll go through the top 12 items you should pack for campfire cooking to help you get started (with a printable campfire cooking checklist at the end).
12 step guide to what to pack for campfire cooking
The first thing you need to do is to make the campfire.
Purchase your wood from sustainable sources. You can buy local from log merchants, and garages and supermarkets sell logs and kindling. And any campsites which allow campfires will have a shop which sells everything you’ll need to make your perfect campfire. Do not cut or collect wood without a landowners permission. And remember green wood doesn’t burn well and will make a lot of smoke due to the moisture content.
2. Light my fire!
You will also need some kindling- smaller sticks and flammable materials such as dry newspaper and cotton wool. You could bring along an old newspaper, find some dry bark and twigs, or buy pre-prepared packs of kindling.
You could also pack some natural firelighters if you need a bit of extra oomph to get the fire started.
Also be sure pack a couple of lighters and some waterproof matches, making sure to keep them in a box out reach of kids.
If you want to properly commit to the authentic camping experience, you could also bring along a flint and steel and try your hand at starting a fire the old-fashioned way!
Read How to light a campfire if you’re looking for more help.
3. A good fire grate or grill is essential
To successfully cook over your fire let it burn down to the white-hot embers, as this is an easier heat source to control. Cooking over bare flames will only blacken your pots and pans and burn your food.
To cook most meals, you’ll need a grate, which you can place a couple of inches over the fire if the grate has legs, or if not then prop up using some bricks or rocks. You can then place your pots and pans over the campfire and start cooking.
This is also the perfect set-up for a camping barbecue. For loads of useful tips and recipes to help you have a top-notch BBQ, be sure to look at Burgers and Hot dogs all round.
4. Cooking utensils
For any meal cooked over the campfire, you’ll need at least some of these utensils. For barbecuing, you’ll definitely need some tongs (longer tongs can also be useful for picking tin foil packets out of the campfire), and a sharp knife with a sheaf. For cooking in general you could also bring along some wooden spoons, a spatula, ladle, potato masher, bottle opener or scissors- take your pick.
A good tip is to leave a list in your camping box for which items you’re going to take out of your kitchen drawer. That way you know each time you go camping you’ll be bringing all the right things to help your campfire cooking go smoothly.
5. Tin foil
Some sturdy aluminium foil is vital for campfire cooking. Making foil packets is one of the easiest ways to cook a range of different meals over your campfire. Why not try stuffed bananas wrapped in foil and cooked in the fire- one of my absolute favourite camping deserts. Tucking into a warm banana with melty marshmallows and chocolate is the perfect way to end your day- whether you’ve had a busy day full of camping activities, or you’ve spent it lounging in a hammock in the forest.
If you want some more indulgent campfire dessert ideas then check out, Sweet treats and desserts you can cook on your campfire.
The famous campfire baked potato is another great option for cooking using foil. It can be enjoyed with the classic grated cheese and baked beans, or even with a delicious spicy chilli cooked over your campfire.
If you’d like recipes for vegan chilli and chilli con carne, then be sure to have a look at some Campfire Chilli inspiration.
6. You’ll need saucepans of course!
Obviously, you’ll need some pots and pans for campfire cooking.
You want at least one small pan, which can be used for anything from heating up milk for hot chocolate to heating through a can of beans, or even making cheese/chocolate fondue. For a guide to campfire fondue (a fantastically glamorous camping meal/dessert), take a look at The Chocolate or Cheese Fondue revolution.
You’ll also need a big saucepan, especially if you’re going to be bulk cooking for loads of people. A big saucepan is essential for cooking stews and chillies over your campfire, and if you’d like some recipes for delicious camping stews and casseroles, here’s my general guide to camping stews.
7. Frying pan or skillet
A frying pan is another camping essential.
A large sturdy frying pan is great for camping breakfasts as it can be used to make pancakes, french toast or even a fry-up.
For tips and hacks on how to make a full English for a filling camping breakfast and some more interesting camping breakfast ideas, easy reading Campfire Breakfast in style.
Although not essential, a cast iron skillet is more suitable than a normal frying pan for cooking over the campfire. Cast iron skillets have a heavy bottom and thick walls, which means they distribute heat more evenly and can better withstand the heat of the campfire. A skillet is key piece of cooking equipment for tons of camping recipes, including vegan middle eastern chickpeas (a full recipe, and loads more vegan meal ideas can be found in a general guide to vegan campfire cooking).
8. Aluminium tray
Disposable aluminium trays are handy for cooking over your campfire.
You can make a mac and cheese in the tray, put on a lid, and cook it over the campfire- no oven needed!
Or you could use your aluminium tray to make campfire nachos. Cooking the nachos over your campfire creates the most delicious meal of crisp tortilla chips, melted cheese and spicy tomato sauce. For a full recipe, check here.
9. Dutch oven
A dutch oven works by heating the food from above as well as below, as you heat up some coals, then place a third of them on the lid of the dutch oven. This means that it acts like your oven at home does and you can make a much bigger variety of meals whilst camping, such as lasagne and pizza. If you’d like to try making a pizza in your dutch oven, be sure to have a look at, Dutch Oven Pizza – so Good!, for a full recipe and loads of interesting topping ideas.
10. Long skewers
These are actually surprisingly useful when you’re cooking around the campfire.
You can also use the skewers to make toast, or to roast hot dogs, and obviously for toasting marshmallows! Use sturdy metal skewers with wooden handles, rather than the short wooden ones, so kids don’t burn their hands. If you’d like some ideas for how to upgrade your campfire marshmallows, have a look at Campfire marshmallows – pack more than you think!
11. Water container
These are only essential for filling with drinking water, but having a couple of large collapsible water containers will also be really useful for campfire cooking.
You’ll need lots of water for making pasta, one of the easiest camping meals.
What I love about pasta is all the different ways you can make it. You can enjoy a pasta salad for a light and refreshing summer meal or have it with a thick sauce for a hearty and warming dinner. For tons of super simple camping pasta recipes check out, Hungry brood – Pasta ready in 10.
You’ll also need to bring along a bucket to fill with water for fire safety.
12. Campfire cooking checklist:
Fire-making (campsites that allow campfires will sell all of this in their shop)
- A couple of bags of logs
- Lighter or matches
- Flint and steel
Key cooking equipment
- Campfire grate or grill
- Large sturdy saucepan
- Small pot
- Cast-iron skillet with a lid
- Dutch oven
- Aluminium tray
- Different sized knives (with sheaves)
- Chopping board
- Wooden spoons
- A spatula
- Potato masher
- Bottle opener
- Oven glove
- Collapsible water container (check your chosen campsite has drinking water on tap)
- Long skewers
- Heat-proof bowls
- Fondue kit
- Aluminium foil
- Washing up bits; washing up liquid, dish cloth, tea towel
- Plus, all your camping cups, plates, bowls, glasses and cutlery
Click HERE for a free printable PDF for your campfire cooking checklist.
I always find that when packing for camping you have to try and pack all the gadgets you know will actually be useful without packing the kitchen sink. So what you end up bringing normally just depends on which meals you plan to cook!
I hope that this read has given you all the information you need to start cooking over your campfire, as well as links to loads of tasty recipes to try.
If you’d like to take the back-to-basics experience one step further, why not try cooking with food you’ve found yourself.
For a general guide to foraging, check out Are you nuts about nuts – Foraging for Fun.
Here’s me signing out and thank you so much for reading.