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When our family goes camping, we love to cook over a campfire. It’s the gathering place all day, so it’s natural for us to cook meals over the campfire. If you want to give it a try, make sure you have the right tools for campfire cooking.
Cooking over an open fire is a fun experience for the family. Kids and adults enjoy making dinner over a fire then making some delicious s’mores or campfire cones – those are the best! Below you’ll find everything you need to make a delicious meal over a campfire.
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13 Tools You Need for Campfire Cooking
1. Matches or a Lighter
This might seem like the most obvious thing, but you’d be surprised how many times we’ve forgotten a lighter or matches when we planned to cook over a campfire. So always pack some with you; honestly, I suggest both because being prepared is smart.
Unless you’re living on cereal and ramen, you need a cooler for all perishable items. Whenever we go camping, we have at least one cooler packed full of hot dogs, lunch meat, and other goodies that our family wants to eat. Don’t forget, without a cooler, you can’t have bacon, eggs, cheese, or cold beer.
That wouldn’t be fun.
3. Heavy Duty Over-The-Fire Camp Grill Grate
If you’re at campgrounds, most provide a grill grate to let you cook over the campfire but make sure you ask before assuming so. If they don’t, you have to get one, and if you want to try campfire cooking while primitive camping or in your backyard, then you have to get one.
It’s pretty obvious why you need a camp grill grate!
While you might have a spit or a tripod to hang your dutch oven, you need somewhere to place it if you want to use a pan or skillet. A campfire grate gives you a surface to cook the food over the fire.
There are tons of different grill grates. Some have folding legs, which is perfect if you hike to your camping locations. Some have more than one grate so that you can cook several things at once.
4. Adjustable Camping Rotisserie Grill & Spit
Besides hot dogs and hamburgers, I think roasting over an open fire is the best way to cook over a campfire. While your family swims in the creek, you can roast up some chickens for dinner. That’s why I think a rotisserie grill and spit is one of the best tools for campfire cooking.
A rotisserie grill and spit is versatile; it eliminates your need for a single grill grate like I mentioned above. Instead, they have a grate and a spit above it so that you can roast chicken and grill burgers simultaneously. The grates are adjustable in height.
5. Outdoor Campfire Poker or Log Grabber
You have to add wood to your fire to keep it going, so make sure you have the tools to do that. The most common choice is a campfire poker that lets you adjust the location of the logs by “poking” them, but the other option is to get a log grabber.
Log grabbers are a great choice because they let you grab and adjust the logs without burning your hands. It makes it much easier to place the logs exactly where you need them to cook your food.
6. Tall Tripod
Another tool you need for campfire cooking is a tripod. There are different sizes and adjustable tripods, but they’re the best thing for cooking over an open fire without a grate. The legs straddle the fire pit and let you hang a Dutch oven over the top.
Cooking with a tripod and a Dutch oven takes some practice. It’s going to move, and you’re standing close to a fire. It feels a bit intimidating, but it takes time to get used to using it. I like the ability to raise or lower the chain to decrease the heat.
7. Cast Iron Skillets
When it comes to cooking over a campfire, you need a large, cast-iron skillet. Small sizes don’t work if you have more than one or two people in your group. Large skillets or pots are a must-have; I prefer skillets.
A big skillet cooks hot dogs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, and all kinds of other goodies. The only downside is that some of them will take up your entire grate over the fire. So, if you want to go big, make sure it’s big enough to cook something for your entire family.
8. Dutch Ovens
Cast iron Dutch ovens are the most popular campfire cookware that you can find. Without one, I’m not sure how you’d cook a lot of different foods. A six-quart, in my opinion, is the best size that lets you cook smaller and larger meals without being too big.
Why do you need a dutch oven?
Oh, let me count the ways. Use it for cooking down some soup, or toss some potatoes in there for fried potatoes. Use it to boil some corn on the cob or bake a cake over the campfire – yes, seriously, it works.
9. Cast Iron Reversible Grill and Griddle
I think having a reversible grill and griddle is a must-have when you’re campfire cooking while camping. They’re versatile; you’ll find ways to use them all day.
Having a griddle allows you to cook filling breakfasts like pancakes and eggs, and the grill is perfect for steaks, burgers, or BBQ chicken. We have one that we use at home on the stove and that we take camping with us. It gets plenty of use around here.
10. Stainless Steel Locking Tongs
Whatever you do, don’t forget the tongs when you’re campfire cooking! Locking tongs keep you a comfortable distance away from the fire so that you won’t burn your hands, and they grip food well. You won’t drop your hot dogs or steaks into the fire.
That’s happened to me before!
11. Stainless Steel Wire Grill Brush
Cleaning your campfire grill and grates is a must, just like you have to clean your kitchen equipment. Make sure you grab a wire grill brush. These are cheap but useful tools for cooking over a campfire. A wire grill brush removes pieces of old food and greases off the grates.
12. Grill Cooking Utensils
You need to have a set of campfire cooking utensils; I like ones that come in a storage kit so that I won’t lose any parts. Buying a grilling kit typically includes many different utensils, such as:
- Corn holders
- Cleaning brushes
- Digital thermometer
Of course, tons of different kits have different utensils. Find the one that works for you, but you want to have spatulas, tongs, a thermometer, and cleaning brushes.
13. Enamel Tea Kettle
Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to forego hot tea or coffee. That’s where having an enamel tea kettle is helpful.
You want a tea kettle that you can hang from your campfire tripod or spit, or some are safe to set directly on your campfire grate. Tea kettles are great for coffee (get instant), tea, dehydrated meals, and boiling water for cooking.
Cooking over a fire is a learning curve; expect some burned dishes, but with patience and practice, you’ll make delicious meals your family will enjoy outside of your kitchen.
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