Whether you’re an outdoors-y type or more of a “glamper” (no judgment! ;) ), camping is an activity loved by people from all walks of life. Camping is an opportunity to get in tune with nature, enjoy the outdoors, and truly unplug from the hustle of everyday life.
But it can be tough to know which foods to bring on your camping trip, especially if you’re on a certain type of diet or have dietary preferences or restrictions. Don’t worry, because campfire cooking ideas have never been more abundant or easier to manage! Learn what campfire cooking equipment (cast iron pot, grill gate, stainless steel tongs, long-handled spoon, etc) you should bring on your next outing, as well as campfire cooking recipes to enjoy once you get there like hot dogs, rotisserie chicken, or hamburger patty.
TIPS ON HOW TO COOK OVER A CAMPFIRE
For many people, cooking over a campfire is intimidating! The fire … the equipment … it can feel overwhelming and like too much hassle! With a little bit of planning and practice though, cooking over a campfire has never been easier.
Here are a few tips:
Safely building a hot fire site starts with finding the right spot! Make sure you don’t build a campfire grill in a hazardous, too-dry location. If there’s not an existing fire pit, choose a place at least 20 feet away from your tent or any low-hanging trees. An open, level location is key, as well as choosing a spot that’s sheltered from heavy gusts of wind.
When a prepared fire pit isn’t available at your campsite, first clear a 10-foot diameter around your campfire site. Dig a pit in the dirt that’s about a foot deep, then if possible, line the pit with rocks. From here, gather small twigs, narrow branches, and larger pieces of wood to build the campfire. Add this wood (otherwise known as “kindling”) to a tee-pee or lean-to formation, then light the formation with a match or lighter. Add more kindling until the fire grows, but make sure you keep the fire small and in control!
GET THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
Now that you know how to build a campfire, it’s important to come prepared with the right tools! A campfire cookware set is a great way to make sure you have the right campfire cooking equipment handy! You may have always thought certain foods are off limits for campfire cooking, like soup, but a campfire cooking pot and cast iron pan do the trick!
A few other campfire cooking equipment basics to gather are a dutch oven, tongs, heat resistant gloves. Plus, a campfire popcorn maker could make telling stories around the campfire that much more fun … with a home-cooked popcorn treat!
HANDLE THE HEAT IN THE RIGHT WAY
Campfire safety is an important aspect of campfire cooking, too! Looking after yourself, loved ones and the surrounding environment is key to a successful camping trip.
Avoid burning a campfire on windy, dry days
Always keep a close eye on children while the fire is burning
Keep the campfire small
Have a hose, bucket of water, or sand nearby to put out the fire in case of emergency
PLAN YOUR MEALS
Come to the campsite with a hearty meal plan ready! Often, campsites are far away from grocery stores, making a “last minute grocery run” impossible. Try making meals ahead of time to enjoy throughout the trip, such as portable snacks or sandwiches. Cutting fruits and vegetables is also much easier to do in a kitchen than at the campsite.
Some campers prefer to roast food over an open fire versus meticulously prepping ( roasting marshmallows) in advance! When roasting food on a campfire, it’s often easiest to position the container within coals instead of an open fire. This gives the food great flavor as well!
TURN FOOD OFTEN FOR EVEN COOKING
Unless you love one side of your food being more cooked than the other (burned marshmallows, anyone?! ;) ), cooking food evenly is a must to retain flavor and texture. When cooking meat or other food in a dutch oven, with roasting forks, or with a cooking set, rotate it often to ensure the food is heated all the way through. Undercooked food, especially meat, can cause foodborne illness so you really want to make sure everything is cooked properly!
COOK MEALS IN FOIL PACKETS
This is a favorite trick of ours! Cooking meals inside aluminum foil packets insted of cooking directly is a great way to cut down on mess … which is important for families camping with little ones. Aluminum foil packet meals are a great way to squeeze nutritious meals into the campfire rotation. You can cook food of just about any type of meat inside a foil packet, like chicken, steak, salmon or shrimp. Then, add an assortment of vegetables, like potatoes, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, squash, and more! The campfire recipes possibilities are endless.
And much more on the Proper Good recipe section of our website!
AVOID COOKING OVER AN OPEN FLAME
As mentioned above, many types of campfire cooking are best done within hot coals versus an open flame. If you’re using a campfire cookware set, like when cooking stews or soups, cooking over an open fire is fine. But sometimes cooking over an open flame is a surefire way to burn your delicious meal … and we don’t want that!
According to Go Boony, instead, try to build a fire on one side of your fire pit or bowl, and use the other side primarily to move hot coals. Then you can place a camp grill directly over the fire, which you use to boil water, roast meats, and grill vegetables. The side with the hot coals can be used to cook vegetables in aluminum foil packets or for your Dutch oven camp stove.
CONSIDER COOKING METHODS WISELY
There are several options for campfire cooking, and as with many things, you just have to experiment to learn which campfire cooking method is your favorite! To recap, popular campfire cooking method options are cooking over coals, in foil, dutch oven, and roasting sticks.
CAMPFIRE COOKING RECIPES
Now that we have a basic understanding of campfire cooking equipment and safety, now onto the fun part … cooking! There are so many different recipes to experiment with over the campfire. Both sweet and savory dishes plus everything in between can be made over the campfire. You’d be surprised how nutritious and delicious campfire cooking recipes can be!
Here are a few of our favorites to get you started.
These beef kebabs are suuuuper tasty AND packed with filling vegetables. Mushroom, onion, and zucchini give earthy flavors while pineapple, tomatoes, and pineapple satisfy the craving for something sweet! Sirloin steak provides a serving of protein to give you energy for whatever camping activities you have planned for the day–like hiking, swimming, or just exploring!
This Hawaiian comfort food is a great addition to your campfire breakfast rotation! Pre-make the sticky white rice and gravy ahead of your camping trip. Then cook the burgers and eggs on a piece of campfire cooking equipment you’ve brought, like a cast iron skillet. Throw it all together, and voila! A delicious breakfast you can make just as well over a campfire as you can from your kitchen.
This recipe is an excellent option for those traveling in a group because it serves 4! But, the recipe can easily be scaled up or down to accommodate more or less campers. Purchase your favorite white flaky fish, like bass, cod, halibut, or grouper. Place the flaky white fish on the bottom of each foil packet, then layer the other ingredients on top! Fold and cook for about 10 minutes over the campfire. Easy peasy!
While out in the wilderness, kiddos may miss their favorite at-home staples. For those times, campfire dutch oven pizza does the trick to combat homesickness! Nonstick parchment paper makes for easy clean up, and this 4 ingredient campfire cooking recipe can be thrown together after a busy day of camping activities! Pre-made Pillsbury pizza crust, pizza sauce, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese is all this recipe calls for.
If you’re looking to bring simple ingredients to use over and over in different ways, you’re in luck! This campfire cooking recipe can be adjusted to use the same ingredients as the pizza recipe above! Namely, the mozzarella cheese. A hot campfire with a grill grate is the preferred cooking method for this recipe, and butter, tortillas, mushrooms, and cheese are the basic ingredients. Other veggies, like peppers, can add a kick of flavor should you like to include them!
Ahh, a campfire cooking recipe staple! This has stood the test of time and remains a campfire favorite … especially on spooky nights telling ghost stories over the campfire! Or, in a less-spooky fashion, swapping favorite stories or memories. ;)
All you need to make a stellar s’more is graham crackers, candy bars, and marshmallows – that’s it! These days, there are even marshmallows available to accommodate a variety of dietary preferences and needs. These gluten-free marshmallows from Smash Mallow are delicious and better for you than other varieties!
There are times when you just don’t feel like having a “typical” dinner time meal. That’s okay and it keeps things a little out of the ordinary and fun! For times when you can’t make it to another destination to go camping, why not make a campfire in the backyard and enjoy apple crisps for dinner? A great summer time staple, these campfire apple crisps will be a family favorite in no time.
PROPER GOOD MEALS FOR CAMPING
Most campfire food options require a cooler to keep food cold and safe to eat, and this can be challenging because carrying bulky cooler limits where you can camp! You also run the risk of your ice packs melting and having to double back to replace the ice. While dry food mixes are certainly an option, they just don’t taste like real food …
So what’s a savvy camper to do?!
When you bring Proper Good meals along, you have healthy, delicious, and filling campfire meals … no bulky cooler is required! All of our meals are shelf stable, so you can throw them in your backpack and heat them up over the campfire or with a jetboil! The meals pair well with other shelf-stable items like avocado, bread & butter, crackers, and more!
One of our favorite camping meals is Southwest Chili with Quinoa & Brown Rice, topped with creamy avocado! This is a filling and surprisingly decadent outdoor meal! Just toss the Proper Good meal pouches in your hiking bag, along with perfectly ripe avocado and you are free to roam, safe in the knowledge that you have an amazing meal with an amazing view waiting for you! Top of mountain chili anyone?! ;)
Are you ready for your next trip into the outdoors? No matter if you’re a camping first-timer or seasoned pro, campfire cooking recipes can be made simple and easy … and take one last worry off your plate when it comes to prepping for your camping trip!