Campfire Cooking Made Easy

Maybe you’re new to campfire cooking.  Maybe you’ve cooked on a campfire, but not for a long time– say, since your last boy scout/girl scout adventure. Part of the fun of real camping is eating something that you’ve made, not ordered.  Cooking edible meals on a campfire should be simple, fun, and something anyone can do.  Here’s what you need to know if you’re going to cook outside.

Learn to Build a Good Fire

Learn How To Make A Fire

You want a fire that keeps on going, turning into hot white coals as it burns.  That means taking the time to construct your fire, and not just throw a bunch of kindling together. If you just pile wood on a fire, it will get too hot and burn the surface of your food while the inside is left raw and uncooked.  And that’s not good campfire cooking!

Tools of the Trade

Tools of The Trade - Types of CookingYou can use several techniques to prepare your food over a campfire.

  • Open flame cooking:This is good for your basic camping meal.  Hot dogs, s’mores, and toast to name a few.  If you can spear your food with a skewer, cooking fork, or long stick and hold it over the flames, you can cook form a camp fire.
  • Campfire grill: Inexpensive and versatile, campfire grills get set up directly over coals and used like a backyard grill.  Wrap up potatoes in foil, pierce meat and veggies on to kabobs, throw on a whole ear of corn, or even boil your pot of coffee in the morning.  Just make certain your coals are warmed up for a consistent temperature.
  • Dutch oven: This is by far the easiest, safest, and most versatile way to cook when camping.  A good dutch oven is invaluable.  You can cook stew, soup, pizza, casserole, even pie in a dutch oven.  The best part of a dutch oven is the fact that you put your food in the pot, place the pot in the coals, and leave it.  Your perfect camping buddy.

What is on the menu?

What’s on the Menu?

Of course, you’ve got to plan ahead to know what ingredients and equipment you’re going to pack out.  Just remember that perishable foods may need to be kept refrigerated or in a cooler.  Plan your meals around what needs to be kept cool the longest and use those items first.

  • With Children: If you have kids on the trip, plan for 3 main meals with snacks.  Breakfast might be eggs, bacon, or pancakes, all of which are easy to make with a dutch oven, a cast iron skillet, or over a campfire grill.  Lunch can be simple, like sandwiches or hotdogs with fruit.  Dinner can be more adventurous and easy, like hobo stew (which is anything from a can in a pot with cooked meat) and s’mores for dessert.
  • Solo Plus: If you are by yourself or with your spouse, this is where you can come up with some true campfire meals. Cooking the fish you just caught for any meal is the most rewarding.  Pair this with some foil wrapped potatoes and onions and you’ve got a mouth-watering dinner with little to no refrigeration needed.
  • In Groups: If you are going with a group of people you can pass around the chef’s hat.  Seeing who comes up with what based on the ingredients at your disposal can be really fun!  But a big pot of franks and beans with cornbread muffins is often enough to make a big group happy.  End the meal with foil cooked apples and brown sugar, and you’ll be a hero to your friends.

You Can’t Avoid The Grunt Work

Once all the cooking is done, kitchen detail comes next.  Clean up is even more important at the campsite than it is at home.  Make sure that the fire is contained and put out before you leave.  Collect all of the food, cooking tools, and trash and secure them so you don’t attract animals.
Cooking over a campfire can be a great experience and a lot of fun.  Do you have any tips for campfire cooking?  Any favorite recipes? Let us know in the comments section!