Who doesn’t love a great weekend away camping? You are under the stars, at one with nature and away from the daily rush of modern life. Could anything make this better? Actually, there is! The best campfire cooking equipment.
You can get campfire cooking equipment to cover just about every taste imaginable. Whether you are wanting waffles, smoked salmon or late-night popcorn there is a tool for it! I have an arsenal of campfire cooking equipment and have used so many different types that I wanted to share my experience and favourite products. Make sure you check out my favourite recipes too!
There are 20 different types of cooking equipment in this review so use the contents page to browse them all quickly before having an in-depth look at my review. My personal favourite is the Dutch Oven and comes in at #1 in my list but whatever you are looking for, or even if you are just wanting some inspiration, there is something in this list for you!
Let’s jump in!
Table of Contents
Campfire Cooking Equipment #1 Dutch Oven
The dutch oven is the mother of all cast iron cookware. If you enjoy the succulent juices of a long and slow cooking process then this is a must! My favorite thing to cook in a dutch oven is a beef stew that just falls off the bone after a few hours of cooking! If that isn’t to your taste you can even bake everything from the more traditional stews and soups to pizza and biscuits. The possibilities are endless with the Dutch Oven which is why it tops my list as the best piece of campfire cooking equipment.
You can pick up an aluminum dutch oven but this, in my opinion, spoils the slow cooking experience. Instead, invest in a cast-iron option that keeps heat in and gets those juices flowing. The only reason you may decide to go for the aluminum option is that it is lighter and easier to transport. Cast Iron by its nature is heavy to carry.
However, in return for this extra weight, the best camping cast iron dutch oven will last a lifetime. My dutch oven is 6 years old and hasn’t shown any signs of wear and tear, my parents have one which dates back 29 years when they got married and they still use it each year whilst camping. Therefore, you should see this as an investment in a product you are going to be using year after year!
Campfire Cooking Equipment #2 Portable smoker
If the dutch oven may be the mother of all cast iron cookware, then the portable smoker is a meat lovers dream. You will be able to cook fish and soft meat which will fall apart in your mouth, releasing all those succulent juices. I would 100% recommend getting some pork glazed in honey on the grill to make delicious pulled pork sandwiches – make sure you leave the fat on the pork as this will turn into ‘crackling’.
The beauty of the smoker is that it is simple to use whilst giving tremendous results each time and the whole process can be done without disturbing your neighbors on the campsite. Furthermore, the portable smoker is easy to use and clean.
I must warn you that you will become addicted to the taste and will crave it when you are back home from the wild. Overall, the portable smoker is a fantastic piece of campfire cooking equipment.
Campfire Cooking Equipment #3 Cast Iron Grill and Griddle Combo
This is an all-rounder when it comes to campfire cooking equipment. The cast iron grill and griddle combo can be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is a versatile piece of campfire cooking equipment and can be used for cooking everything from pancakes to steaks to frying an egg.
Given the nature of the material used and how you apply heat to the cast iron grill and griddle combo, you will need to have heat resistant gloves to help you maneuver the grill set into the right position on the campfire and also to remove it once your food is cooked.
Tip for a perfect cook is to set them evenly over the campfire for the best heat distribution.
Campfire Cooking Equipment #4 Open Fire Rotisserie System
Now, if you are a traditionalist, or want the ultimate campfire cooking experience you need to have an open fire rotisserie system. These will cook large joints of meat over the open fire and will surely have all your neighbors popping over to get in on the action.
For the best result, you should prepare large joints of meat before placing them over the open fire. Add salt, pepper, and a glaze to lock in those juices before spit-roasting over an open fire. This is ideal if you have lots of hungry mouths to feed. Remember to add lots of salt to the fatty areas of meat (pork in particular) to create the finest crackling known!
This piece of campfire cooking equipment is bulky to carry and it will take up a lot of space so this is only good for those car camping or who have a fixed base when camping. If you are a backpacker, you can pick up portable versions but I am always wary that the construction may be a little flimsy and won’t support the joint of meat very well (or be very durable).
Campfire Cooking Equipment #5 Pie Iron Sandwich Cooker
This piece of equipment makes the ideal cheese sandwich, it makes the ideal – any – sandwich. The Pie Iron Sandwich Cooker may not look like much but it is a fast and easy way to get awesome food results. It comes with a long handle to protect your hands from getting too close to the family. Toast anything you want over the fire pit with this awesome tool (I once did lasagne which was messy but unbelievably good).
Campfire Cooking Equipment #6 Campsite Popcorn Popper
This is such a handy workaround to not having a microwave to make that late evening popcorn that the kids will love. A stainless steel popcorn popper is ideal for placing over the campfire. They are cheap, easy to use and are low-maintenance. All you need is some kernels and a drop of vegetable oil.
Campfire Cooking Equipment #7 Campfire Roasting Sticks
Kebabs, smores, corn dogs – you name it and campfire roasting sticks can help with cooking it. They are the camping cooking aid which you just can’t do without. Most people use wooden roasting sticks but these need to be chucked away after use. With a metal version, you can get great results time after time with one simple purchase. Not only is this good for the environment but it will help you save money in the long run.
Campfire Cooking Equipment #8 Open Fire Cook Sets
You can find great deals on all the campfire cooking equipment you will need if you look for a full set. Make sure the set you pick up includes a frying pan, dutch oven, pans (in all shapes and sizes) so that all bases are covered. Often with a cooking set, you will also get all the utensils you need to be included so this is a great option if you want all the gear on a budget.
Often, these sets are not the best quality so you will need to look after them. My advice would be to cook with vegetable oil even if the manufacturer says this is not needed. Typically, newer pieces of kit have a protective coating on the cooking surface which will be non-stick etc. but this will wear off over time. The best way to preserve this, therefore, is to use oil and non-metal utensils (if at all possible).
Campfire Cooking Equipment #9 Cast Iron Skillet
Perfect for all your cooking needs from stir-frys to flipping an egg to cooking Bolognese sauce. What I love about the cast iron skillet is that it will last you a lifetime and you will find that it offers you the same great taste year after year. If you are a backpacker, these can usually be attached to the outside of your bag (check for a rope hole in the handle).
Make sure it is cast iron to prevent it from conducting heat from the campfire. This does come with added weight which you need to balance with your other needs (such as portability) but I would not recommend an aluminum skillet as these do conduct heat and having been burnt a few times I can tell you that ain’t fun!
For the best deal look for a set of different sizes.
Campfire Cooking Equipment #10 Cast Iron Loaf Pan
My guilty pleasure is baking and eating homemade bread. I think the best homemade bread rises from the open campfire. A cast iron loaf pan means you can take that guilty pleasure on the road. The iron will disperse the heat evenly to achieve a perfect loaf.
Campfire Cooking Equipment #11 Campfire Tripod
This is the most basic and easy to use piece of equipment on my list. It is often used by teenagers, scouts and backpackers when camping. The campfire tripod gives you a solid base from which to put kettles, pans, etc. so they are not resting in the fire. This campfire cooking equipment gives peace of mind because the adjustable legs means you don’t need to worry if the fire is too hot or not powerful enough – you can simply move the legs up and down to suit your needs.
You need to ensure that the tripod is made out of iron and steel. It may be tempting to go for the cheaper aluminum option but given that this conducts heat you will be buying a tripod which will burn you when you touch it making the adjustable legs useless. I have had my fair share of campfire burns and trust me it really is not worth the little saving so make sure you chose the best material.
Campfire Cooking Equipment #12 Campfire Swivel Grill
Before doing my research for this article I had never seen a campfire swivel grill but given its simplicity I ordered one and now it is part of my camping essentials. All you do is plug it in the ground and you can swivel the grill grate over the fire. This is a simple product that offers its users amazing functionality whilst having a beautiful design. I have only used this product a few times
Campfire Cooking Equipment #13 Lightweight Percolator
Campfire Cooking Equipment #14 Individual Mess Kit
Campfire Cooking Equipment #15 Waffle Iron
Campfire Cooking Equipment #16 Camp Cooking Broiler Basket
Campfire Cooking Equipment #17 BBQ Utensils
Campfire Cooking Equipment #18 Suede gloves
Campfire Cooking Equipment #19 Grill Armor Gloves
Campfire Cooking Equipment #20 Camping Tableware
Frequently Asked Questions
What material is best for campfire cooking equipment?
There are a few things to consider here: price, weight and durability. My personal favourite is cast iron. This material is durable and typically lasts a lifetime. However, cast iron tends to be more expensive than other options and some of the products are quite heavy which is not ideal if you are backpacking.
An excellent but cheaper product is steel. This is not as long lasting as cast iron but will certainly get the job done. The cheapest (and most common) material found is aluminum. If you have read this article from top to bottom you know my feelings on aluminum – it isn’t for me. It conducts heat and you will need to get heat resistant gloves and a host of other products to accompany the aluminum product. Now, aluminum is cheap and light so if that is your main priority it could be for you but do heed my warning about the way the material conducts heat.
I am going hiking and camping, what cooking equipment is absolutely essential?
When I go hiking and camping I am looking for something versatile and lightweight. Therefore, I would take a mess kit (which can double up as a plate and a pan) and a cast iron skillet which can be attached to the back of my bag. The skillet will add weight but its versatility means it can be used to cook anything and to even boil water. If you are super conscious about the weight of your pack, the mess kit should be sufficient so long as you are having sauce based meals (frying food will ruin the pans quickly).
Do I need to take cooking equipment camping?
This depends on your habits and where you are going. Some campsites have local pubs, cafes etc. on site or nearby which you could use for food. My advice would be to definitely take a mess kit as a bare minimum. This will give you the option to cook if needed or late at night when food outlets may not be open.
Camping is about the whole experience and cooking out in nature is certainly a big part of that. If you are new to camping I 100% recommend embracing campfire cooking.
You can always checkout our camping checklist to make sure you have everything you need.
How do I maintain my campfire cooking equipment?
I do two things to properly maintain my campfire cooking equipment: wash them with hot soapy water after use, and avoid ‘dry’ frying. It really is that simple. Beyond this just exercise common sense such as storing them in a dry, safe place when not in use and don’t bend any of the metals when in use or when carrying in a rucksack.
How long will my campfire cooking equipment last?
This depends on the material and the type of campfire cooking equipment you own. My cast iron dutch oven is years old, my parents is 29 years old and both are still fit for use. I have also owned aluminum skillets and pans which barely last the camp season. When it comes to campfire cooking equipment you get what you pay for. If you buy a cheap product you will probably find it lasts a year or two before becoming worn. If you invest in top quality products you will find they last a lot longer – this is the nature of the beast.
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