You would have to agree with me that one of the best things about camping is cooking! May it be using grills, LPG or wood, it is always very gratifying to have your meal in a different environment.
There are many methods for camp cooking as well as large numbers of stoves, grills,cookers, and pots to choose from and I would like to share some information and tips that you may use to make your meals perfect while on tour!
The best method when cooking outdoors for me is using the campfire, it’s simple to do and you don’t need a lot of things to get the cooking started. It also makes the food taste smokey and really good. With the right equipment you can cook anything you want!
This must be the part you’re most excited about when camping isn’t it? Not only that the food is amazing but the experience of cooking in the old way is much more fun.
But don’t fly off yet firefly! You’ll need to know a few more things before cooking up a storm. Keep reading and you’ll find out how to build a campfire, equipment you need and some easy foods to cook!
How to Build your Campfire For Cooking
When making a campfire safety is always first, follow these steps so you can easily create a nice and safe campfire for your own.
Things you’ll need:
- Kindling (Thin Splits of wood or small dead branches/sticks
- Wood (All about the same size)
- BBQ Lighter/Matches (Ignition source)
Steps on Building Your Campfire
- Pick a site away from any bushes or anything that can ignite or combust.
- Use some rocks to make a perimeter of your fire-pit (If windy make sure the back of the fire-pit is facing the wind and place a large flat rock at the rear to act as a chimney)
- Fill the area inside your perimeter rocks with crumpled paper and/or tinder.
- Lay kindling over the tinder/paper in layers and altering direction like a Jenga tower. (Do not build a tee-pee)
- Have a bucket of water near the fire area.
- Light the paper and tinder to start your fire and start the fire for about 45 minutes before cooking.
- Add firewood once the kindling is burning. Try to make sure the wood are of the same size and distributed over the fire-bed evenly.
- Once the last flames dies down leaving mostly white coals, you can use a shovel or a stick to arrange the coals to suit your cooking needs. (You may adjust the amount of heat by removing some of the coals or adding some if necessary)
What Are Some Basic Campfire Cooking Equipment?
Make sure to have cookware that’s meant for outdoor use on an open flame or cast iron cookware. Don’t go taking your kitchen cookware as you will end up ruining it! Here are some of the must-haves if you want to get serious about campfire cooking:
- Camp Oven
- Dutch Oven
- Grill/Cooking Grates
- Lid Lifter/Long Tent Peg (Something long to lift your lids off without injuries)
- Leather Gloves/Welding Gloves (A simple oven mitt isn’t going to cut it)
- Long Handled Tongs
- Baking Tray
- Cooking Oil
- Paper Towel
- Grease Proof Paper
- Cast Iron Jaffle Iron
- Cast Iron Pan/Pot
- Cast Iron Kettle
- Long Camping Fork
And of course your basic cooking supplies such as cutting board, cutlery, spoons, knives, spatula, plates, bowls and etc.)
What Are Some Of The Foods You Can Cook On A Campfire?
You can practically cook anything on a campfire, from dampers and potatoes to roasts and desserts! (Make sure to read our article on Cooking With Camp Oven). Wrapping the food in a foil and putting it on some hot coals is my favorite and one of the simplest techniques that can give you amazing flavor. Here are some of the stress-free foods to get you started:
- Bacon (pan/pot to prevent fats dripping onto fire)
- Eggs (in its shell by the coals or crack an egg into a baking dish on a grill grate)
- Toast (bread on a long camping fork or on top of a grill grate)
- Hot Dogs, Sausages, Kebabs (on a grill grate or in a pan)
- Potatoes ( wrapped up in alfoil with some butter and herbs)
- Any vegetables you want (wrapped in alfoil, in a pan, in a baking tray etc)
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich/Sandwiches (on a grill grate or in a jaffle iron)
- Damper/Bread (in a pot, baking dish or on a grate)
- Pizzas (on a grill grate)
- Fish (wrapped, pan, pot)
Here are some of the precautions that you need to keep in mind to prevent any fire spread and danger to yourself or children.
- Always wear shoes and take safety measures to avoid burns and use clothes without tassels, ribbons or dangly bits when around the fire.
- Clear or rake about 5 meter of the campfire’s surrounding area of leaves and any flammable material or use a previous fire pit if available.
- If the wind is quite terrible, you may consider cooking out of a stove instead to keep sparks from flying away that may cause a bigger fire.
- Also make sure to keep the campfire away from any overhead branches, tents or RV’s.
- Make sure that there is no TFB (Total Fire Ban) in place which prohibits the lighting of fires in open air or any activities that may cause a fire in areas that are extremely hot, windy and dry. It is better to check out your Local Country Fire Authority website, your states Department of Fire and Emergency Services or your local rangers to make sure it’s safe.
- Keep an eye out for snakes, spiders and any other creepy crawlies that might be hiding underneath when collecting wood. Some National Parks and State Forests in Australia prohibits collection of wood, so do your research prior, or buy some firewood before going on a trip. Your wood should be dry to avoid smokey and pointless fire.
- Place a ring of rocks around the fire but leave enough area to allow it to breathe and to be able to insert a stick of a shovel to collect coals.
- Always keep a bucket of water nearby and only use water when putting out the fire as coals as sand/dirt will only insulate the hot coals and retain the heat.
- It is advisable to use long handled shovel or long sticks in moving coals to keep you far enough from the fire and smoke.
- Use water to make sure the fire is totally extinguished before leaving the campsite.
- Have a First Aid Kid on hand and print out instructions to do in case of injury and make sure there is adult supervision at all times when you are camping with children.
- Never leave your campfire unattended.
- DO NOT use an accelerant to ignite or increase the fire!
Tips For Cooking Your Meal Using Campfire
Campfire cooking can be daunting at times but once you get the hang of it, it can be really fun! Use these simple tips so you can have a great experience creating your campfire:
- Using coals you have gathered from the side of the campfire which is best if you want to cook your food slowly and the heat can easily be controlled by adding or removing some of the coals underneath and coals also last longer in case you are planning to cook a huge meal.
- Using the campfire itself is also another option but you would have to be extra careful to avoid injuries. You may control the fire by simply adding or removing some of the woods.
- Getting all the wood to turn into coals at the same time allows you to have an even fire to prevent any flames that blackens your cookware or burns your food and also gives you longer cooking time.
- Use a product called ‘Little Lucifer Firelighter’ that come in a packet of small white cubes that have a special odorless and smokeless formulation and are fitted for lighting briquettes, coal, charcoal, coke and wood.
- Do not use petrol as an accelerant.
- In case you don’t have hot coals for camp, use a product called ‘Heat Beads’ which are small compressed briquettes that provide a high cooking temperature and requires to be lit for about an hour and a half prior to cooking. There’s also a ‘Heat beads Easy Lite Barbecue Fuel’ that the manufacturer claims that “just a flick of a match” will do.
- If possible, avoid foods that can create hot, drippy fat that can create flames and blacken your food and can cause injury.
- Check and turn your food constantly to prevent it from burning and to ensure it is properly and evenly cooked.
- Prepare meat and veggies beforehand so they are already cut and divided into portions and freeze them in a flat position to defrost them easier.
What Are Other Ways of Cooking Outdoors? | Stoves | Grills | Cookers
Sometimes a campfire might not be the best for cooking outdoors, especially if you’re in a park and there might be rules on campfires being not allowed. But don’t fret as there are countless ways of cooking outdoors! Here are just some of the few ways that you can cook outdoors without campfires:
Bush BBQ Hot Plates
This hot plate can either be 100% steel or 50% steel and half mesh grill. It is easy to set up for cooking on an open wood fire especially with the Bush BBQ hot plate with legs. There is also a Primus Bush BBQ that are sold from camping stores and Hillbilly Camping and some also come along with carrying bags.
The Ozpig is made from steel, with detachable galvanized steel legs and a chimney that comes in three parts and weighs a total of about 16kg. It comes with a vinyl carry bag for easy transportation and also includes two warming plates and an optional defuser perfect for toasting bread or muffins.
The Cobb Cooker only weighs about 4kg and is run on BBQ heat beads. It can actually be used even at home as a smoker, an oven or a barbeque. You may also add accessories for the Cobb Cooker such as a roasting rack, frying pan and frying dish. Dream Pot/Eco Pot/Shuttle Chef/Thermal Cooker.
These cookers are great for boiling or partially cooking the food such as potatoes while on the road and will be ready to be served once you arrive at your destination. These work by placing the food inside the inner pots and stowing the pots into a double layered insulated container and closing the lid to prevent the heat from coming out that will continue the cooking process. These cookers are also very convenient as they can be left unattended.
LPG Gas Stoves
From simple one burner stoves to the robust cast iron ring burners to the two or three burner stoves like the Primus 3 burner Stove or the Gasmate 3 Burner Deluxe Cooker, LPG stoves are still on the topmost favored by campers. Aside from a simple set up of connecting it to an LPG gas bottle, you won’t have to look around for wood for your BBQ.
You can check ratings of LPG stoves for the amount of BTU produced. (See article – What is BTU?). Stoves with higher BTUs produce more heat.
We also found the Coleman Non-Stick Griddle which is a great non-stick cooking plate for three burner stoves perfect for cooking pancakes and eggs or for anything else. You may also purchase gas appliances with small screw-in nonrefillable propane gas bottles which are sold in packs if carrying larger portable gas bottles are inconvenient on your part.
Dual Fuel Stoves
This stove manufactured by Coleman can also be set up effortlessly and uses unleaded petrol, Coleman fuel or satellite. This stove is as convenient as your kitchen stove and the fire is easily controlled.
Road Trip Grills & BBQ’s
Portable, collapsible grills and BBQ’s are all available for outdoor camp cooking best for sausages, steaks and any meat you are planning to serve. Coleman also has a road trip grill with a Perfectflow™ system for regulating the pressure from the gas cylinder.
Weber Baby Q is also one of the favorites of travelers that is available in three models. It includes a stainless steel burner, porcelain-enameled cast iron grill and easy to clean drip tray. You also don’t have to purchase a hose since it comes with one to connect it to a gas bottle.
Stainless steel fish smoker may be just what you are looking for if you prefer smoking your fish when camping or maybe the Aussie Fish Smoker Cooker. You will only need smoking sawdust and your fish will be cooked into perfection.
Choofers or Gidgee Pots
Choofers or gidgee pots have many varieties depending on the gas bottle used and how it has been made up since some have stand or legs, some have doors and also depends on the number of holes for steel rods to match the height of the camp oven. These are made from old gas cylinders and are usually for camp oven cooking but you may also place a BBQ plate on top.
A quick spray of cooking oil and simple cleaning after use will help prevent rust then wrap it in an old sheet or place it in a carry bag. Consult your local gas safety authority first before cutting or grinding the gas cylinder as it may cause a spark and ignite any remaining gas in the bottle.
What Can I Use If I Can’t Have A Campfire?
A great alternative for campfire is a solar oven or a camping stove in case you are unable to use campfire due to the weather or restrictions in your area. With the solar oven, you can bake, boil and steam with the use of sunlight while camping stove is not just portable but also often great at grilling foods.
What Can I Do On A Camping Trip?
Depending on your camping area, you may go fishing, swimming, hiking, biking, bird watching, or even star gazing. Or, you may also check out tourist sites in the area and national/state parks that have available activities. The possibilities are endless.
What foods can I take when planning to camp for a week or maybe longer?
Well, you may take any food that you want as long as you have a refrigerator on your RV.
However, if you don’t, you may bring an ice cooler box filled with ice that can keep your food for a few days at least. I would also suggest bringing smoked meats as you don’t have to keep them cool. When camping near a river, you can place your wine bottles or water bottles in the water to keep them cool, just make sure that you have them in a proper place or use a string to keep them from being washed away.