How To Cook Over A Campfire: 5 Simple Steps

how to cook over a campfire

So you’ve decided to embrace your inner wilderness explorer and cook over a campfire. Good for you!

Ah, cooking over a campfire – it’s an experience like no other. But if you’re not quite sure how to master this culinary art, fear not!

In this blog post, we’ll give you our 5 simple steps on how to cook over a campfire.

So grab your apron and let’s get cookin’!

What is Campfire Cooking?

Campfire cooking is simply the practice of preparing meals and food over an open fire in an outdoor setting.

Campfire cooking allows for a unique culinary experience, as the flames and smoke impart a distinct flavor to the food.

It creates a sense of community and camaraderie, as everyone gathers around the fire to prepare and share meals together.

Campfire cooking requires some basic equipment such as cast iron skillets, grates, and utensils designed for use on open flames.

It offers a sense of nostalgia and connection with nature, making it a favorite pastime for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking an alternative way to prepare meals in the great outdoors.

With that said, let’s dive into the 5 steps on how to cook over a campfire…

1) Gather Your Firewood

Gathering firewood for campfire cooking is an essential skill that every outdoor enthusiast should master.

Here’s our best tips:

  • Find a suitable location: Look for a designated campfire area or a safe spot away from any flammable materials, such as dry grass or overhanging branches.
  • Check local regulations: Make sure you are allowed to collect firewood in the area you’re camping. Some places have restrictions to protect the environment.
  • Choose the right wood: Look for dead, fallen branches and small trees. Avoid green wood, as it will be harder to burn and produce more smoke.
  • Gather tinder: Start by collecting small twigs, dry leaves, or pine needles to use as tinder. This will help ignite the larger pieces of wood.
  • Collect kindling: Look for small sticks or branches that are about finger-sized in diameter. These will help sustain the fire once it’s lit.
  • Gather fuelwood: Find larger logs or pieces of wood that will provide a steady source of heat and flames for cooking your food.

2) Prepare The Fire Pit

Ok, so now that you have your firewood, let’s get the fire pit ready!

  • Dig a pit or create a fire ring: If there is no existing fire pit, dig a shallow pit approximately 1-2 feet deep. The pit should be wide enough to accommodate your cooking equipment and provide space for the fire to burn. Alternatively, you can create a fire ring using rocks or a metal fire ring to contain the fire.
  • Line the pit with rocks (optional): If you have rocks available, you can line the inside edges of the pit with them. This helps to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading outside the designated area.
  • Gather firewood: Before starting the fire, gather an appropriate amount of firewood, as we said earlier. Have a mix of smaller kindling wood, medium-sized branches, and larger logs to establish and maintain the fire.
  • Arrange the firewood: Place the firewood in the fire pit in a tepee or log cabin style. Arrange the kindling and smaller branches at the bottom, leaving enough space for airflow. As you add larger logs, make sure to leave gaps between them to allow oxygen to reach the fire.
  • Start the fire: Use tinder, such as dry leaves, small twigs, or newspaper, in the center of the firewood structure. Light the tinder using matches or a lighter. Gradually add more kindling and small branches to help the fire grow.
  • Allow the fire to burn down: Let the fire burn until you have a bed of hot coals. I’d say give it 30-45 minutes(usually)and you’re good. The hot coals will provide an even and consistent heat source for cooking.

3) Start The Fire

Starting a fire for campfire cooking is easier than you might think!

First, gather your materials: dry kindling, newspaper, and firewood. Clear a safe area for your fire pit and make sure it’s away from any flammable objects.

Next, crumple up some newspaper and place it in the center of your fire pit.

Arrange your kindling in a teepee shape around the newspaper, leaving enough space for air to circulate.

Light the newspaper with a match or lighter and watch as the flames spread to the kindling.

Once the kindling is burning well, carefully add larger pieces of firewood to build up your fire.

4) Set Up Your Cooking Equipment


To cook over a campfire, you will need a few essential pieces of equipment. One of the easiest first steps is to get yourself a good campfire cooking kit.

Here’s our list of must haves…

  • Cooking grate: A cooking grates are perfect for grilling meats, vegetables, or even toasting bread. Look for a grate that fits your fire pit or one that can be adjusted to different heights.
  • Tripod and hanging pot: A tripod is a three-legged stand that can be placed over the fire, and it often comes with a hook or chain. You can hang a pot, Dutch oven, or kettle from the hook or chain to cook stews, soups, or boil water.
  • Cast-iron Dutch oven: A cast-iron Dutch oven is a versatile piece of cookware for campfire cooking. It has thick walls and a tight-fitting lid, making it suitable for baking, roasting, and slow cooking.
  • Skillet or frying pan: A cast-iron skillet or frying pan is excellent for cooking foods like bacon, eggs, pancakes, or sautéed vegetables over the campfire. Cast iron distributes heat evenly and can withstand high temperatures.
  • Long-handled utensils: Invest in long-handled utensils like tongs, spatulas, forks, and cooking spoons. These utensils will allow you to handle food safely without getting too close to the fire. Look for utensils with heat-resistant handles.
  • Aluminum foil: Aluminum foil is a versatile tool for campfire cooking. You can use it to wrap vegetables, fish, or meat, creating a pocket for steam cooking. It can also be used to make foil packets for cooking individual portions of food.
  • Heat-resistant gloves: To protect your hands when handling hot cooking equipment or adjusting the fire, consider using heat-resistant gloves. They will allow you to handle hot items safely and reduce the risk of burns.
  • Fire-resistant pot holders: Fire-resistant pot holders or trivets are useful for setting hot cookware on surfaces without damaging them. They provide a protective barrier between the hot pots or pans and the ground or picnic table.
  • Camping stove (optional): While campfire cooking is traditional and enjoyable, you may also consider using a camping stove as an alternative. A portable camping stove allows you to have a controlled flame and more precise heat for cooking.
  • Fire extinguisher and water source: Safety should always be a priority when cooking over a campfire. Have a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water nearby to quickly extinguish any unexpected flames or sparks. It’s also helpful to have a water source for cleaning utensils and for emergencies.

5) Prepare And Cook Your Food

It’s all about the preparation.

Trust me, it’s a good idea to pre-cut and marinate meats or veggies at home to save time at the campsite.

Here’s a few more helpful tips:

  • Prepare the food: Season and prepare your food while the fire is burning down. You can marinate meat, chop vegetables, or assemble any other ingredients needed for your recipe.
  • Monitor the heat: Adjust the distance between the fire and your cooking equipment to control the heat. If the flames are too high, raise the grill grate or hang your pot higher on the tripod. If you need more heat, lower the equipment closer to the flames.
  • Cook the food: Place the food on the grill grate or in the pot and cook it according to your recipe. Use tongs, a spatula, or a long-handled cooking spoon to handle the food safely. Rotate and flip the food as needed for even cooking.
  • Check for doneness: Use a meat thermometer or visual cues to determine if the food is cooked to your desired level of doneness. Make sure poultry and meat reach safe internal temperatures.

Wrap Up

Cooking over a campfire is a timeless tradition that brings people together in the great outdoors.

By following our 5 simple steps, you can enjoy delicious meals with the rustic charm of a crackling fire.

Whether you’re grilling meat on a cooking grate, simmering a stew in a Dutch oven, or toasting marshmallows for s’mores, campfire cooking adds a special flavor and experience to outdoor adventures.

Just remember to prioritize safety, respect the environment, and savor the moments created around the campfire.

So, gather your firewood, prepare your fire pit, and embark on a culinary journey that combines the joy of cooking with the wonders of nature.

Be Well.

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