Campfire Cooking

- tips, techniques & recipes

Campfire cooking is the oldest method of cooking outdoors and due to its longevity, there are many methods used to prepare every meal imaginable.  When people think of cooking while camping this is the image many people think of.

Campfire Cooking using Dutch Oven

While both foil recipes and Dutch oven recipes also use the campfire, these methods are unique to the point that we have written separate pages on each.  The type of cooking covered here will discuss the use of a tripod, grill, or grate to accomplish the cooking.

Before we discuss actual campfire recipes, we need to cover the basics of campfire cooking.

Campfire Cooking Equipment

It is important that your campfire cookware and campfire cooking equipment be rated for cooking over an open flame.

Cast iron and some metal pans and pots are usually perfect to hold up to a fire as well as some enameled cookware made to cook over a flame. 

Generally, the pots and pans should not have any painted surfaces or highly polished chrome, as the fire will constantly coat these surfaces with black soot. 

If you do not use fire-rated cookware, you will find yourself spending a lot of time scrubbing with a steel wool pad to get them clean.  Do not use any cookware with non-stick surfaces such as Teflon; fire will permanently damage the cookware.

Cast Iron Cookware is the preferred cookware. If it is not seasoned when purchased, you will have to do this before using it for the first time. The more it is used, the darker and smoother the piece will become.  This does not mean that you will not have to season it again. No soap is used to clean cast iron, only water and brush if  necessary, then lightly coating with oil.  This will prevent the cookware from rusting. Refer to Outdoor Cookware page for more information.

Campfire Grill

Campfire Cooking using a Grate

Another basic part of campfire cooking equipment is the campfire grill.  The grill provides a level platform that the heat can get through to the cookware while allowing you to juggle multiple actions at the same time. 

On one corner of the grill, you could have a reflective oven set up baking the morning biscuits with another pan keeping the cooked bacon warm while frying the eggs in another skillet over a hotter part of the fire.

Of course, the first thing done in the morning is to get the campfire coffee pot perking and when done, place on a warm part of the grill.

The campfire grill is usually a steel grate or metal rods welded in place to provide a flat surface for grilling directly on an open fire or supporting cookware.  It will have two to four folding legs that raise it above the fire pit.  Some grills have an angular adjustment to set the final height of the grill top or the metal rods can be pushed down into the ground until the desired height is reached.  

Usual cooking heights are 6 inches or more above the coals or 8 to 10" over open flame.


The most important part of campfire cooking is the campfire itself.  Reduce the campfire from a roaring blaze to a bed full of glowing coals.  The coals provide an even temperature so you can control how long each item needs to cook thoroughly. 

For instruction on how to build a campfire, visit campfire basics.

Camping meals are usually a 30 minute to an hour exercise.  Some meals like a pot full of beans that need to cook all day long in order to be ready for the evening meal.  In cases where long term cooking will occur, the basic fire pit needs modification.

Campfire pit

Open one quadrant (a 90-degree section) of the fire pit wall, on the downwind side, and create another fire pit downwind about 1 foot away from the original fire pit.  Open the wall of the new pit so the openings are facing each other.  When you are done, it should look like a pair of old style wire-rimmed glasses.

You will be starting the new logs in the new pit and as they burn down to coals, use tongs, or a small shovel to move the coals from this pit to the one where the all-day cooking is going on.  To prevent the coals from scattering, dig a small trench between the two openings for safety.  By making this alternate fire pit, all the ashes from the new wood will stay away from your cooking area.

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Other Campers Favorite Campfire Recipes

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pizza egg 
eggs any topping any spice 1. open egg 2. put stuff in 3. bake it

Sausage & Beans 
Serves 4: 1 medium sized onion, thinly sliced 1 medium sized green pepper, cut into 1/2 inch squares 1 or 2 Tbls. vegetable oil 1 can baked pork …

Spanish Rice 
For 2 to 4 people: 1 large onion Butter or oil 1 lb of hamburger steak 2 large cans of chopped tomatoes Rice (enough for everybody) Salt and pepper …

Steak Fajitas 
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 1 lb. skirt or flank steak, sliced 1 tsp. ground cumin 2 peppers, cut into 2-in. pieces 1 tsp. chili powder 1 red …

Bubble and Squeek 
Makes 4-6 servings 1 12 to 14 oz package Polska Kielbasa 1 small head of cabbage 2 medium potatoes Water Salt and pepper to taste Cut sausage …

Ben's Beef Stew 
Servings: 4 Ingredients 1-2 lbs beef, cut into squares 1-2 medium onions, cut in half 3 carrots, cut into 1" lengths 4 potatoes, cut into 1" cubes …

Sausage Skillet 
Ingredients 1/2 Lb. link sausage 1 green or red pepper, sliced 1 large onion, peeled and sliced 3 - 4 potatoes, sliced salt …

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