Creating the Ultimate Campfire Cooking Kit

Group of women resting on a tree trunks

Is that your stomach growling or are you just hungry to hear about how to create the ultimate campfire cooking kit?!

The experience of cooking over a campfire is quintessential for many families when camping – roasting hot dogs and marshmallows anyone? However, campfire cooking also proves beneficial when hiking, pitching your campsite in the backcountry, or cooking up a backyard bite to eat over an open fire.

It’s easy to cook gourmet food when camping, so long as you have the proper campfire cooking equipment. Assembling your ultimate campfire cooking kit is crucial to creating hearty yet scrumptious meals throughout your camping trip. 

For those stocking up on camp cooking equipment for their camping adventures, this article will cover a number of campfire accessories to include in your bag. We’ll also answer frequently asked questions regarding outdoor cooking.

Fire Safety

campfire camping
Explorer Chicks camping in the Red River Gorge.

Before we get to the mouth-watering good stuff, let’s talk safety. Fire safety is part of the responsibility that comes with campfire cooking when in the wilderness, whether that be a state park or backcountry.

The open flame of a campfire is often unpredictable and can quickly harm those in charge of tending to it (along with a lot more people!) if not properly monitored. Utilizing fire rings no matter your campsite location, will help to contain an open fire. Don’t leave your campfire unattended. Always have lots of water to put the fire out in an emergency. And make sure the fire is totally out before going to bed for the night.

As Smokey Bear says — only YOU can prevent forest fires. 🐻

The Open Fire Cooking Equipment Essentials

campfire cooking kit essentials

Fire Starter

Camping is not complete without a campfire! Traditional forms of starting fires include lighters, matches, or flint. Most campfires have either hot coals or firewood, containing a mix of tinder, sticks, and logs.

For those resourceful enough, you can make your own DIY fire starter for your camp using a combination of household products: Dryer lint, an old toilet paper roll, and leftover Vaseline makes for a wicked fire starter.

If you want more fire starter tips and tricks, see our full beginner’s guide to making a homemade fire starter.

Long-Handled Tongs & Spoons

To avoid burning yourself when handling food over an open fire, tongs and other cooking utensils with longer handles prove essential as part of your campfire cooking gear.

A pair of locking tongs not only encourages safety throughout your makeshift camp kitchen but also gives you a firm grip on your meal. There is nothing worse than losing grip on deliciously charbroiled meat or veggies to the campfire.

Longer spoons with wooden handles or stainless steel, are another excellent addition to your campfire cookware, allowing for easy and safe stirring of a delicious bowl of campfire beef stew.

Grill Grate

While most state parks come equipped with a campfire grill grate, those hiking or camping in the backcountry may not have that luxury. A campfire cooking grate allows for the creation of a makeshift campfire grill for those travelling without a barbecue (think mouthwatering grill marks), or a sturdy platform for situating cast iron cookware, stainless steel pans, or dutch ovens.

Avoid cooking anything directly on the grill grate which may drop fat into the fire, such as bacon, as this may spark a greater fire.

Cast-Iron Skillet

Your campfire cooking kit is not complete without a cast-iron skillet. Widely considered one of the most heavy-duty cooking tools for your camp kitchen, people prefer cast-iron skillets for their heating properties.

A cast-iron skillet cooked over hot coals will provide a more evenly cooked bite to eat, rather than a meal cooked over an open flame. The cast-iron skillet helps to grill steak, fry eggs, or create a delicious stir fry in no time for those roughing it in the bush.

Dutch Oven

An equally durable addition to your campfire cooking kit is the dutch oven — a dream for soups, stews, chilli, bread, or even coffee cake (like this recipe here – we won’t hold it against you if you lick the spatula).

An added bonus of the dutch oven is that it proves handy for boiling clean water over the campfire – hauling double duty in providing food and clean drinking water, especially when roughing it without a source of clean drinking water.

Honorable Mentions

Honorable mentions to include on the list of essential campfire cooking equipment include a cutting board, a propane gas stove, an extra pot or pan, a bottle hanger, a coffee press, and utensils such as a spatula, whisk, and carrying case for cooking gear.

Extra Fun Campfire Cooking Equipment

cooking in yosemite
Explorer Chicks cooking in Yosemite.

Pie Iron

Pie Irons are a quick and easy method to cook with when camping. These nifty gadgets work in a pinch when you need to toast bread for the sake of a delicious grilled cheese sandwich or campfire pie.

Explorer Chick expert tip to make the perfect campfire pie

Use two pieces of bread. Butter the outside. Fill with your pie filling — cherries, apples, peaches, etc. (or pizza!). Add a little sugar to fruit if desired. Close it up. Roast each side until golden brown. Filling is HOT so don’t burn your mouth.

Grill Basket

Explorer Chick Mandi Smith, recommends this grill basket as her favorite piece of campfire cooking equipment. The larger square baskets are ideal if you’re looking to cook or grill a variety of food, such as the old camp fave, hot dogs.

The Low-Budget, Low-Space Hack: Tin Foil Packets

Tinfoil is a versatile method for bringing the comforts of a delicious home-cooked meal to your cook stand when camping. It takes up very little packing room and is great for beginner campers not ready to pay for more deluxe camping gear, such as a rotisserie arm, or campfire tripod.

With a little tinfoil and elbow grease, you can make any home-cooked meal when camping, such as one pot Fire-Roasted Beef Jerky Chili, or the classic camping dessert, Banana Boats.

FAQs of Campfire Cooking

camp cooking
What kind of pan can you use on a campfire?

Any sort of cast-iron pan or skillet is best for using on a campfire. You may also use regular pans made of stainless steel.

What is cooking on a campfire called?

Cooking on a campfire is called open-fire cooking.

Can you use enamel cookware on a fire?

Generally, you should be fine to use enamel cookware on a fire, but you’ll probably want to check your specific piece as well. Enamel cookware is a great heat conductor when cooking on a stove or over a fire.

Can you cook on a campfire?

The food possibilities are endless when it comes to cooking on a campfire: Brew coffee, make one-pot meals and desserts, or grill meat. Wood and charcoal are two of the primary methods for those looking to cook over a fire or on a stove while camping.

Can you boil water over a campfire?

Yes!

Simply place a dutch oven or cast-iron pot on your grill grate over the fire and wait for the water to boil!

Now who’s ready to start cooking?

Meet the Writer

Lindsay Stroud

Lindsay Stroud is a freelance content writer and ghostwriter from Vancouver, Canada. Her published works can be found on Jiyubox and Passion Passport, in addition to producing ghostwritten content for Owl Labs and Wonderment. Her favorite destinations include Berlin, Stockholm, and Florence. In her spare time, you’ll find her exploring local foodie joints throughout her neighborhood, or planning itineraries for future trips.

Favorite Outdoor Adventure: spending time by the ocean and exploring walking trails in her local neighborhood.

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