Cast Iron Dutch Oven - Tripod Cooking

Using a tripod with a Dutch oven for outdoor campfire cooking is one of the most versatile ways to cook your campfire recipes. You can adjust the height of the Dutch oven over the flames or hot coals with the hanging chain, and it is almost as precise as adjusting the flame on a stove burner.

If you are planning to buy a campfire tripod, this guide will also give you links to the best available prices on the Nets' two largest online marketplaces, ebay and Amazon. The two that are almost always guaranteed to have more selections and lower prices than anywhere else.

campfire cooking with a campfire tripod and a cast iron Dutch oven
campfire cooking with a campfire tripod and a cast iron Dutch oven

Campfire Tropds on Amazon - Cheaper than ebay!

Dutch Oven Cooking with a Tripod

You can use a campfire tripod with a Dutch oven for almost all your outdoor campfire recipes. (except baking) It works especially well for recipes with a lot of raw ingredients, (like meat or vegetable chunks), or even for soups and stews that basically need heating up instead of cooking.

Cooking with a tripod also means your camp food will be less susceptible to burning and scorching because the Dutch oven will not be in direct contact with the flames or hot coals - when properly positioned on the hanging chain that is.

*Note: Because everything you are working with in tripod cooking will be hot metal, a heavy-duty pair of leather campfire gloves are almost a must-have camping accessory. Here are some examples of good campfire gloves at discount prices. (just use your back-arrow to return here)

Safety Note:

Because of the potential danger involved with a heavy cast iron Dutch oven full of very hot food, it is extremely important that you use a sturdy and well anchored tripod. This is one campfire tool that you never want to skimp on, and a set-up detail that is very important to do right.

The campfire Tripod on the right, from Amazon, is a good example of a sturdy steel tripod that will safely handle all your campfire cooking needs. They also make a hanging campfire grate to use with a tripod for open flame grilling.

See campfire tripods on ebay at discounted prices

metal campfire tripod links and chain
metal campfire tripod links and chain
metal campfire tripod links and chain close-up
metal campfire tripod links and chain close-up
campfire tripod lashings
campfire tripod lashings
campfire tripod lashings how-to
campfire tripod lashings how-to

A Good Campfire Tripod

The anatomy of a campfire tripod is pretty simple - 3 support legs connected at one end and a hanging chain or rope, but the quality of the materials and construction is very important because of the potential danger of serious injury if any of the components fail.

If important campfire tripod features to look for:

  • sturdy metal 1-piece legs, at least 3/8' steel, - *be cautious of 2-piece or collapsible legs, the joints are potential weak points.
  • sturdy metal links connecting the legs at the top and the hanging chain
  • at least 3/16" metal pot hook on hanging chain

If you plan to make a tripod - fine - but:

  • don't try to make jointed legs out of metal conduit - it might seem neat to make your own, but the joints would be a dangerous weak point, and besides, you can buy a good metal tripod for less than your materials cost for a home-made one.
  • you can make a good safe campfire tripod on-site if you have access to green wood at least as thick as your wrist, and are good at lashing. You would use looped rope to hang and adjust your Dutch oven if you don't have a piece of chain and a hook.

Safety Note: The legs of your campfire tripod should be firmly planted in the ground to prevent slippage. DO NOT place the legs on a hard surface like a rock or piece of firewood

Dutch Oven Recipes
Dutch Oven Recipes
Dutch Oven Recipes Stews and Soups
Dutch Oven Recipes Stews and Soups
Dutch Oven Recipes Stews and Soups
Dutch Oven Recipes Stews and Soups
Dutch Oven Recipes Chunky Vegetables
Dutch Oven Recipes Chunky Vegetables
Dutch Oven Recipes Large Food Pieces
Dutch Oven Recipes Large Food Pieces
Dutch Oven Recipes Frying
Dutch Oven Recipes Frying

How to Use a Campfire Tripod

To use a campfire tripod, think like you would if you were using a gas burner on a stove. Hang your pot low and close to the flames or hot coals to quick a quick start or fast heat-up, then as whatever you are cooking gets hotter, raise your pot on the adjustable chain or rope to decrease the amount of heat until your ingredients are cooking the way you want.

Just remember - the closer to the heat source, the more attention and/or stirring your camp recipe will need.

Some heat-up examples using a Dutch oven:

  • hot soups or thin-liquid warm-ups: hang low on the campfire tripod and close to the heat source until your food is as hot as you want it. Not real important to cover in normal weather - stirring as needed to keep from scorching
  • thick stews or chili warm-ups: hang low for 5 - 10 minutes to get Dutch oven hot, then raise to medium level above heat source until desired temp. - covered pot will heat quicker and more uniformly - *thick food liquids will scorch and burn if heated to fast over direct heat.
  • reheating food pieces: like meats, fish, biscuits, etc. - hang empty pot low for 5 - 10 minutes to get it hot, then raise well above direct heat to continue warming pot. Crinkle some aluminum foil to act as grate in bottom of pot and place food inside and cover. Shouldn't take more than ten minutes to reheat.

To cook foods from scratch examples:

  • thick chunky foods - like meat or vegetable chunks, Don't start pot low over fast heat, food chunks could get scorched on the outside, start medium to medium high above flames to allow food chunks to begin warming as Dutch oven pot warms.

To cook fast, or sear, or fry:

  • Start with your pot hanging low, and keep it there so the Dutch oven will stay hot like a skillet.

Anytime you are cooking on a tripod with a Dutch oven, a good sturdy lid lifter will be one of your most used camp tools. With a proper lid lifter you can handle the Dutch oven lid with one hand and work with your food with the other.

Coleman Tripod Grills cost less on Amazon

Using a cooking grill or grate with a campfire tripod.

A tripod works great for suspending a cooking grate or grill over a campfire, IF you have the right hanging chains. You can't use ropes here, the knots holding the grate or grill will be exposed to flames. - not good. But you can easily use 3 equal lengths of swing chain to attach it to the hanging hook of the tripod. Or you could buy an inexpensive one like the Coleman Tripod Grill on Amazon at right. (it will also work with a Dutch oven or pot.

Campers Hungarian Goulash - Dutch Oven Recipe

A One-pot Campers Favorite Campfire Recipe - Campers Hungarian Dutch Oven Goulash

This is a hearty meal that works anytime, but is especially appreciated in cold weather camping.

Serves: 8 - 10 (plus 2nds) Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 loaves Crusted Bakery Pull-apart bread
  • 2 lbs. lean Ground Beef
  • 16 oz. box or bag - Penne Pasta
  • 2 lg. Yellow Onions (not sweet)
  • 2 med. Green Bell Peppers
  • 10 oz. pkg. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 pkg. (12-16oz) Frozen whole kernel corn
  • 2 cns. condensed tomato soup
  • 3.5 soup cans of hot water
  • 4 cups (2 - 2 cup. pkgs.) Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 4 Tbsp. Minced Garlic (or 2 lg. cloves minced)
  • 3 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. crushed Red pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. Olive or Veg. oil
  • enough foil to wrap bread loaves

Prep:

  • *Smart Camp Cook Tip: If possible, do the vegetable dicing and garlic mincing at home and put into ZipLoc bags. Dry spices can be combined in one plastic ZipLoc bag.
  • Dice onions and green peppers into med. size pieces - do not dice too finely
  • Finely mince garlic - if using whole cloves

Cook:

  1. With Dutch oven hung low for lots of direct heat - add 2 tbsp. oil and brown ground beef - do not drain (that's why you use lean cut)
  2. Add diced onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and minced garlic, - sauté with browned beef until onions are translucent.
  3. Add frozen corn, tomato soup, water, and all dry spices. Stir until well mixed
  4. With Dutch oven still hung low for hot heat, bring mixture to a boil. (5 - 10 minutes) Stirring frequently to prevent scorching.
  5. Once boiling, raise Dutch oven on tripod to med. heat level to maintain a hot simmer.
  6. Stir in pasta and cover. simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring as needed.
  7. Place foil wrapped bread on Dutch oven lid to warm during simmer
  8. After simmer, add 1/2 shredded cheese and stir into mixture, top mixture with remaining shredded cheese, sprinkle black pepper across top and replace lid, and bread. Let cook 5 minutes more to melt cheese topping.
  9. Remove from fire - let stand 5 minutes to settle - serve directly from Cast Iron Dutch Oven.

Notes:

This is a spicy goulash, (not too spicy), but hot spices can be reduced by half for a milder version.

As end of simmer time nears, you can add a little more water if mixture is too thick for you.

Bread can be warmed on fire with other cast iron cookware if you want. And to make sure you don't leave any vital ingredients home, use a camping meal checklists. You can get printable versions here at Camping Checklists - Camping with Gus.

Outdoor Camping and Cast Iron Cookware Resources

More Outdoor Camping and Cast Iron Cookware Resources you might like:

GA Anderson aka Appletreedeals
GA Anderson aka Appletreedeals

About the Author

GA Anderson has been outdoor camping and campfire cooking for over 35 years. You can see more of his camping articles, camping checklists, and campfire cooking tips at his coutdoor camping blog: Camping with Gus

Appletreedeals is the eCommerce ID for G.A. Anderson

You can see more of his articles on Hubpages.

Cast Iron Dutch Oven - Tripod Cooking Comments 6 comments

Alison Graham profile image

Alison Graham 6 years ago from UK

Thanks for all the great tips - I agree about doing the veg prep at home it saves so much hassle!


Appletreedeals profile image

Appletreedeals 6 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland USA Author

@Alison - Yep, on the at-home prep. I did a few articles on that for ezine and others,- may be time to make a hub of smart camp cook tips


Stoneriver profile image

Stoneriver 5 years ago

Hey that sounds great my scouts would love that.


Appletreedeals profile image

Appletreedeals 5 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland USA Author

@Stoneriver - Thanks for the visit, get back to me on your Scout's opinion


Topnewhottoys profile image

Topnewhottoys 4 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland

I've seen Scouts make campfire cooking tripods using lashings like you show. But most of the time they used them for Dutch oven cooking


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Yum! I just finished a hub on camp recipes and this hub is so fabulous, I have to link to it. Great ideas. I definitely will never go camping again without my Dutch oven.

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