There’s nothing better than cooking in the great outdoors — but it’s a practice that’s easier said than done without proper knowledge and tools. To help you prepare for your next camping trip to the great outdoors, read below to see the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about campfire cooking.
Review our Camping Cookware and Outdoor Cooking frequently asked questions here:
What Do You Need For Outdoor Campfire Cooking?
The essentials for basic outdoor cooking are quite similar to the essentials in your kitchen. The big difference is you will likely be cooking over a campfire. If a campfire is not an option, another possibility is a small stove such as the Pathfinder Titanium Stove which utilizes a gas canister as a fuel source. In either case, the Pathfinder titanium canteen cooking set is a great option for cooking a hearty camp meal.
Inspired by military canteens, this set is perfect for all your cooking needs. Each of the components can be used over the fire, which makes cooking all types of meals simple. Not only can you use this set over coals, or flame, it pairs well with a variety of outdoor stoves and standalone bio-stoves as well.
If you choose to build a campfire, there are additional options you can use reliably over coals when cooking. These include:
Secondly, you'll also need implements like pots, pans, spatula, utensils, tongs, cooking rack, and canteens. There are several pots and pans available for camping, but one of the simplest and easiest ways to cook outdoors is to use a titanium bush pot.
This bush pot is an eco-friendly choice for larger meals and for one-pot recipes. Its lightweight, but durable, titanium construction, along with foldable bat-wing handles, a “D” ring lid, and straining holes make this ideal cooking implement for campers, hikers, and backpackers alike.
Lastly, you may decide to arm yourself with outdoor survival essentials through the Intro to Survival class provided by Self-Reliance Outfitters. It’s an essential course that provides you with a thorough understanding of how to survive independently.
Is Campfire Cooking Safe?
There’s an old saying that goes, “Better to be safe than sorry!” That’s true for anything you attempt for the first time, especially when it involves campfires and cooking.
While cooking over a campfire is undoubtedly different from cooking in an oven, campfire cooking is safe if you follow these three tips:
1) Contain and Monitor Your Fire
Make sure your fire remains contained. It is much easier to control fire when you keep it in a designated area. Additionally, be sure to monitor and tend to your fire, making sure that it doesn’t cool, nor does it grow out of control. A fire can become dangerous if left unattended, so pay close attention to the cooking time and watch for stray embers.
2) Don’t Make a Big Fire
A common beginner’s mistake is to make a big open fire. Most beginners think cooking over a campfire requires flames. Actually, cooking over a campfire focuses on heat generated from coals, embers, and carryover cooking, which is when foods cook in their own heat. In fact, cooking over a flame is rarely recommended as the heat is inconsistent.
3) Make a Small Fire and Feed It for Hours
Any reputable survival expert would tell you to make a small fire and use your wood and coal to feed the fire for a few hours. This method creates a manageable-sized fire.
Where Can I Buy Campfire Cooking Equipment?
You can buy campfire cooking equipment from online retailers like Self-Reliance Outfitters. You are sure to find exactly what you need for your hiking and camping trip after looking through our collection of stainless steel and titanium cookware.
What Are Some Tips for Cooking Over Wood?
Cooking over a campfire is one of the simplest cooking methods available. Nonetheless, there are a few ways to improve your cooking that will save you time and help you cook the perfect meal outdoors.1. Ration Your Wood
This tip is commonly overlooked, but planning to ration your wood can save you time and effort later on. You want to add wood to your fire strategically so that you can maintain a consistent temperature. Since the fire’s temperature fluctuates through the cooking process, using your wood steadily will help you evenly cook your food. Otherwise, using all of your wood at once means you risk overcooking your food and running out of this essential implement.2. For Cooking, Opt for Coals Over an Open Flame
Flames are a powerful but inconsistent heat source. That’s why many campers choose to cook over coals -- not only do they last longer, but they also maintain a consistent temperature when cooking.
3. Let Your Meat Rest
It is a common mistake to wait until your meat is thoroughly cooked before taking it off the fire. If you wait this long, you will overcook your meat and possibly ruin it.
Generally, meat needs to reach an internal temperature of at least 135℉. However, it continues to cook as you take it away from the heat source. Because of this internal cooking, it’s a good idea to take your meat off the heat source sooner rather than later and allow it to rest and finish cooking on the side.
How to Build a Campfire for Cooking?
You’ve finally settled down at your campsite, and you are ready to start cooking dinner. You have decided on a delicious stew to get the trip started off on the right foot. But first, you need to make a fire.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll be cooking in no time at all.
- Find previously established fire pits. If you need to make your own fire pit, get rid of rocks, sticks, and grass and make sure the ground is flat.
- Use rocks to build barriers on three sides of your fire pit. The fourth side should remain open as this allows air to feed the flame.
- Lay your kindling, tinder, or coals down.
- Add small branches and twigs to your fire pit. This step is not necessary if using coals.
- Light the tinder or coal using a lighter or a mini inferno to create a small starter fire.
- Continue to feed the fire and let it burn for 30-40 minutes before cooking. If the coals are still black, they are not ready to cook. White and grey coals are the perfect hot coals.
Depending on your camp cooking needs, you can stack the coals at different heights for different heat levels.
How to Extinguish a Campfire?
Extinguishing a campfire is a must-have skill. Initially, it probably sounds pretty simple —pour water over the fire to put it out. And you wouldn’t be wrong, but, often, campers do not use enough water.
You need to wet everything. Absolutely nothing should be warm or hot. In the event you do not have water with you, dirt is a great substitute. The rules remain the same. You need to smother the fire in the dirt completely.
Regardless of your method, never bury coals or burning wood. Burying hot coals does not cool them down. It will trap the heat and possibly reignite the coals.
How Do You Use a Bush Pot?
For successful campfire cooking, a bush pot is a staple. Its large size accommodates multiple portions and it works great over an open flame. These features make it a great multi-use camping tool.
A great example is the Pathfinder 120-ounce stainless steel bush pot. Crafted from stainless steel, this lightweight but sturdy has adequate capacity to cook meals hearty enough for the whole family like stew, chicken breast, fish, or even steak. This bush pot also nests very well, making it easy to store and carry between campsites.
Before using your pot, make sure you have a fire ready to go. Ideally, you should start your fire 30-40 minutes before you are ready to cook. This will give the fire enough time to regulate the temperature and allow you to prep your meat and vegetables. When cooking with a bush pot, it is best to use coals.
Bush pots are particularly beneficial to camping conditions because they allow for hands-free cooking. You can make most recipes in a single pot and there’s enough room to cook breakfast, lunch, dinners, or even snacks for multiple people in these ovens.