It’s true that food just tastes so much better when it is cooked over a campfire! Sometimes the meals are some of the highlights on a camping trip and are what campers look forward to as much as the scenery they may see along the way. If you are fairly new to hiking and camping, campfire cooking may seem a bit daunting. But, it is really simple if you follow some basic tips. We put together this list of 5 tips in hopes that it will make the task of cooking on a campfire easy for you.
Tip #1: Locate a Spot for the Fire
First, it’s very important to find the right location for the fire. Some campsites provide fire pits, which are great. But, if you don’t have a pit at your location, look for a spot that’s clear of tree roots, debris, grass, or loose dirt and get away from low-hanging branches as all of these things can catch on fire.
Tip #2: Build the Right Kind of Fire
If you’re using the fire only to cook the meal, you can build a fire that doesn’t last a long time. But, if you are going to be sitting around the campfire for a while (maybe roasting marshmallows or just taking it all in), you will want to build a fire that lasts.
To build a short-term fire to be used just for cooking, gather a couple ankle-thick pieces of dead, dry wood and use them to form a rough V. The pieces of wood should be about 7 inches apart at the top and roughly 4 inches apart at the bottom. Then place tinder underneath and in the middle of the V. Light the tinder and once the fire gets going, using logs about the size of your arm, add the smaller very dry logs slowly.
For a fire that you want to last a long time, use the traditional teepee method with larger logs.
You want a small, compact hot fire about 15 inches across. The secret to cooking is having really hot coals. For grilling and roasting, your coals are ready when the wood is about 65% finished burning. The flame should be small and continuous; If there's too much flame your food will burn, but having too little flame won’t create the necessary amount heat to cook your food.
Tip #3: Have the right utensils and cookware
Use aluminum cookware and utensils without rubber-coated handles or any plastic coating as these will surely melt and that would be bad. As a general rule, use pots, pans and utensils that are made for outdoor cooking. Shop our Camp Kitchen section for a wide variety of cookware, utensils and tableware for cooking on an open campfire.
Think ahead as to what you want to cook so you pack the type of cookware you need. For instance, if you are cooking kebabs you only need skewers for the actual cooking. Many meals can be cooked in one pot and, for these types of meals a Dutch oven is the best.
Because you shouldn’t have a coated handles on your pots and pans, you can either use a couple of long and sturdy sticks for grabbing and moving or an aluminum pot gripper like this one. If you use wooden skewers or spoons, soak them in water for at least 20 minutes before using.
Tip #4: Exercise safety storing and cooking food
If you are bringing raw meats or poultry on your camping trip, be sure to store them packed in ice so as to prevent bacteria growth. Temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit create conditions for food-borne pathogens to exist. You should store leftovers within 1 or 2 hours after eating. And, always use a meat thermometer to be sure the food is heated between 140 and 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Be careful storing food around your campsite so as to not draw animals. Store all food in airtight resealable bags and containers. You can tie the bags and containers in a cloth and leverage it via a rope to raise the food high in a tree and keep it away from your site. Also, you can place a heavy object on top of the cooler and move the cooler away from your sleeping area.
Tip #5: Smother the fire
It’s very important to extinguish the fire when you’re finished. Having a bucket of water or sand will ensure you get the fire doused. Be sure the embers stop hissing and stir the ashes using a metal skewer. Then, pour more water or sand on the ashes and repeat until the ashes are completely cold and either wet or smothered.
We thought we would leave you with at least one recipe that creates a tasty and hearty meal, and will make your mouth water!
This meal is easy and allows everyone to make and cook their own, even the children can get involved!
Everything You Need
So, to make sure you have everything you need for campfire cooking, we have put together a list of campfire cooking essentials for either open or RV camping.