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Camping Life: Campfire Cooking

Updated on June 23, 2011

If you and your family enjoy the camping life, chances are that you enjoy camp cooking or barbecue cooking over the campfire. Camp cooking is a bit different from charcoal cooking on your deck or patio at home. It’s not difficult, however, if you do a bit of planning in advance, before you ever leave for your camping trip.

For one thing, you’ll need some special campfire cooking equipment and campfire cookware, depending on the types of foods you plan on cooking. You’ll also need a bit of camp cooking know-how.

Campfire cooking equipment and campfire cookware

Some of the campfire cooking equipment and campfire cookware you might consider are a spit, a grill top, a portable charcoal grill, a black iron skillet, a metal spatula, long tongs, a metal percolator coffee pot, a small camp shovel, oven mitts, and a barbecue fork.

For Dutch oven campfire cooking, of course, you’ll need a black iron Dutch oven, along with a large metal spoon with a long handle.


This is the kind of campfire cooking you always see on TV and in the movies. It consists of a metal rod suspended over the fire by two metal supports. It’s generally used for small game like birds, squirrels, and rabbits. It can also be used for other meats that have been cut into smaller pieces and threaded onto the rod or onto metal skewers. Think: shish kebobs!

You have to be very careful when cooking on a spit. The food has to be rotated frequently to ensure even cooking. You can speed up the process by parboiling the meat first.

Campfire grill

Many campers enjoy cooking on a grill, and when your campfire provides perfect coals for cooking, why waste money on charcoal? Just take a round or square grill top along with you when you go camping. Make an oblong fire pit and surround it with large rocks. Build your fire at one end of the pit, and once you have some good coals, drag them to the other end of the fire pit with your camp shovel. Place the grill over the pit by resting it on top of the surrounding rocks. Feed the coals slowly with small twigs.

Note: Use this cooking method only if your fire is made of oak or other hardwoods that are suitable for grilling! I don’t think you’d like pine-flavored steaks or chicken.

Black iron skillet

You can use a black iron skillet on the grill for frying things like eggs, sausage, and bacon. Deep frying isn’t a good idea because the heat probably won’t be consistent enough to get good results. You can, however, use this method for pan-broiling fish.

Portable charcoal grill

A portable charcoal grill is a great addition to your campfire cooking equipment, especially if you’re a beginner in the world of camping life. If you’re not used to cooking over a fire, this is a good method of cooking for those more comfortable with charcoal cooking and barbecue cooking on a traditional grill.

The great thing about using a portable charcoal grill on your camping trip is that you won’t have to lug along a big bag of charcoal on your trip. You can use coals straight from your campfire instead. Just line the grill with several layers of heavy aluminum foil, then scoop up some coals from the fire and place them in the portable charcoal grill. You’ll use the same cooking techniques here that you use on your grill at home for barbecue cooking.

Another advantage of the portable charcoal grill is that it can be used on top of a concrete picnic table, freeing up the campfire for other cooking.

If, in the rare event that you don't plan on having a campfire, a portable charcoal grill is a must. You can take your own charcoal on your trip and enjoy some traditional charcoal cooking, sans open fire.


Some foods can be cooked by placing them directly into the coals. To use this method, separate some of the coals from the fire. Wrap the items in heavy duty aluminum foil, being sure to seal the ends to keep in moisture and to keep out ash. This cooking method works well for potatoes, vegetables, and poached fish.

Dutch oven camp cooking

Do you know what a Dutch oven is? It’s a large cast iron pot with a lid and a wire bail. It can be used to cook just about anything, including breads. It’s especially good for cooking biscuits.

For Dutch oven camp cooking, you need to set the pot on top of several coals to preheat it. Then add the food, place the lid on, and place more hot coals on top of the lid. The Dutch oven can be used for simmering, stewing, or baking.

Another way to use the Dutch oven is to suspend it over the fire or coals from a heavy metal frame or from a tripod. Lots of campers enjoy a pot of pork and beans cooked this way.

Cooking baskets

These are square metal flat baskets that open up to accept food. Once the food is placed inside, the basket door is closed. Then it’s held over the fire by a long handle.

This works best for fish fillets, toast, and other items that don’t require much cooking.

Stick cooking

No camping trip would be complete without some good ol’ stick cooking – you know, where you place something on the end of a stick and hold it over the coals or over a low fire. Of course, this is the traditional method for roasting marshmallows and hot dogs, but other items can be cooked this way, too.

Cooking in the great outdoors is a big part of camping life. It’s fun, and the entire family can get involved in the process. By having the proper campfire cooking equipment and the right campfire cookware, you’ll be able to cook just about anything you want without the use of electricity or propane. You can cook entire meals by utilizing the various cooking methods, including vegetables, starches, legumes, eggs, breads, and meats, fish, and poultry.

Get specific tips and shortcuts for camp cooking by clicking the link below the camping products:


pocket rocket stove

campfire cooking
campfire cooking


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    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Jama, never tried that one, but it sounds great!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Habee, wish I could remember how a friend roasted a rather large chicken on one camping trip using only the heat from a bed of coals under an upside-down cardboard box totally encased in aluminum foil. We all thought he was crazy and that it couldn't possibly work, but it DID and it was delicious. Have you ever heard of this method?

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Matt, that sounds great. I'll check it out!

    • profile image

      Matt Wegner 7 years ago

      Your article is making me hungry and I can't wait for next spring. We love roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the campfire or in our backyard fire pit with our Rotis-a-prong rotisserie roasting sticks. They're awesome and the kids love them. Check them out at There are a few other similar concepts out there but these are by far the best ones.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Ah, Tony, that grit just adds a little extra flavor! lol

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 8 years ago from South Africa

      I love campfire cooking even with the grit on the sausages! Loved this Hub which reminded me that I have not been camping for far, far too long. We do however "braai" (barbecue) from time to time and I just love it. Haven't tried the Durch oven thing yet, but no doubt will get around to it sometime!

      Winter is almost upon us but we carry on as though it isn't as far as "braaing" is concerned!

      Thanks for this Hub.

      Love and peace


    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Dutch ovens are great, Sis!

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 8 years ago from Central Texas

      Another interesting Hub and thanks! We were way down the line before our camping equipment got past a cowboy coffee pot and an iron skillet. The Dutch oven concept was a huge discovery and broadened our cooking horizons immensely. Best, Sis

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Great, Michael - buy a bunch! lol. Everything tastes better when it's cooked outside!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Art! Looks like you could just camp in your back yard! lol

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 8 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Sweet Hub! I was looking for some of these accessories, I'll have to bookmark this & come back to order from your advertisements. Thanks Habee! Nothing like a campfire &/or cooking over one...I do it all the time, it's one of my passions....Oh! I rated you up!

    • Art 4 Life profile image

      Art 4 Life 8 years ago from in the middle of nowhere....

      the winter is almost gone!! Your hub inspired me to plan a camping trip!! I do love camping...Great hub habee~

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Me, too, Sandy!

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      I'm ready to go camping!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Veronica, you should have a camp-out for the girls in the back yard!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Yes, Pamela, spring is almost here! Yay!!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      HH, I am SOOOO ready for summer!

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 8 years ago from Georgia

      Although I'm not a camping girl, I love the great tips you gave us here. I think I like the stick cooking the best. It's simple and easy - right up my alley.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 8 years ago from United States

      Habee, Camping is fun and I haven't been in a very long time. Of course, it is still a bit cold for my taste but spring is right around the corner. Good hub.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      Hello, habee, we haven't even defrosted yet. I look forward to hot days and eating outside. Thank you for your hub.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Bpop!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 8 years ago

      This morning I mentioned that I never canned anything and now I find that I never cooked over a campfire. Boy, I have a lot of catching up to do. Great hub, habee. My hat goes off to a woman who has done it all!