Campfire Cooking: 10 Things You Should Know

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Camping is one of the most preferred outdoor experiences for backpackers. People who have already done this before know what to bring and what to leave at home when they plan their campfire cooking list. 

If you are a beginner, read along. In this article, you will find out everything you need to know and everything you need to bring on a camping adventure where you prep some camp food. We even included some bonus ideas, just to make sure you discover all the options available. 

If you are experienced with campfire cooking, you can still find some new tips and tricks about how to set the fire and what items will make your trip more enjoyable. 

Start Your Campfire Cooking The Right Way

Campfire Hot Dogs
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The first lesson when you are campfire cooking is learning how to start, maintain, and extinguish the fire. Let’s break this lesson into steps to follow. 

Pick up the best wood for cooking your camp food. This wood must be dry, first of all. A tree branch that is still green won’t help. It will even mess with your camping meals. Likewise, a piece of wood that is still wet from the rain won’t start and keep the fire you are trying to use for cooking outside. When you do go out to look for some wood, use only branches that have already fallen from trees. If you can not find any, try to look for a place where you can buy wood for this purpose. 

Most camping sites have a designated area for campfire cooking. If you are backpacking in more of a wilderness area, make sure to pay attention to safety first. Surround the fire with rocks, so it won’t expand to other places. 

Starting a campfire can be easily done only with some dry paper and a lighter. But if you want to use it for preparing food, you should also get some coal. Almost every store sells coal for campfire cooking or barbecuing, so this shouldn’t be a problem. Just put it on your shopping list before you go on your backpacking trip. 

While you cook, just keep adding coal or tree branches. When you are done, you must extinguish the fire. This is not an optional step. You can not leave fire unattended! 

Plan Your Camping Recipes In Advance

Campfire Cooking Ingredients
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Planning your camping meals in advance will help you with more than one task. First of all, it will help you to know what to bring with you. Make an inventory of what you already have at home and shop for fresh ingredients as close to the backpacking trip as possible. 

Once you have your meal plan in hand, it will also help you not forget important items at home. Going backpacking and camping in the woods is not like a city break. You won’t have any stores to get the forgotten ingredients! 

Try to include lots of protein on your list — like meat that you can fry on a grill, lots of canned options, and some veggies! Canned foods are practical and you don’t have to use them as whole meals. Plan some canned food as sides for your main dishes.

Another way to go when it comes to campfire recipes is to prepare some foil-packed meals ahead. These can be cauliflower with curry, chicken cordon bleu, cheesesteaks, garlic shrimp, teriyaki beef, zucchini parmesan, and so much more! 

Yes, cooking on a fire outside can be done with style and you don’t have to skimp on meals! Prep your ingredients at home, put them in foils, and all is left to do once you are at the camping site is put those foil packed meals on a grill. 

The last thing to remember is prepping your meals in advance will help you with knowing what equipment to bring. This, we cover in the next step. 

Bring A Backpacking-friendly Grill With You

Campfire Cooking Grill
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What is a backpacking-friendly grill, you might ask? It has all the perks of a grill you use at home, except it is very small, very light in weight, and, most importantly, you can fold it! 

Preparing some camping meals doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t have to do it like in the old days. Technology is your friend here, use it wisely. Technology has enabled us to make life more practical and this is what you are going to do here. 

There are camping grills available that include the grill itself, a tray underneath for coals, and walls for keeping the smoke from flying all over the place. This type of camping grill is made from light metals and can be fitted in a small box. 

If you want to go another way, that is always a possibility. Just bring the grill itself, place it over the fire, and you’re done. You can cook your camping recipes like this too. Put the foils over that grill and check from time to time so that the food won’t burn. 

Pick Out A Cauldron For Your Camping Meals 

Campfire Cooking Cauldron
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When you cook camping recipes, you can actually make many types of camping meals. Grilling food is one way to go, but you can always use a small and light cauldron. 

Also, the food you can prepare this way are various. Try making a hot protein-based with potatoes stew or even soups! There are infinite camping recipes to choose from when making stews and soups. There is no way you will get bored with your camping meals even if you spend a long time in the woods camping and backpacking. 

Know What Utensils You Need For Your Camp Food

Campfire Cooking Utensils
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We covered the most essential items you need to bring with you so far. On this step, you will learn all about the utensils you will use while making camp food — be it grilled meat or foil-packed meals. 

If you are going to grill, bring a grill fork. It is longer than any other cutlery you have at home, so you won’t feel the heat from the fire. Bring a ladle if you plan to serve stews and soups, and spoons, of course. Also, make sure you don’t forget the forks for eating your campfire meals. 

You will need at least one knife. This can be a normal one you use in the kitchen or a pen knife designed especially for campfire cooking experiences. 

If You Want To Be Fancy, Bring A Dutch Oven 

Campfire Cooking Oven
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You can use a Dutch oven for making campfire meals on a grill. If you do decide to go this way, check if the Dutch oven is durable enough to resist the high temperature from the fire. 

In a Dutch oven, you can make chicken with tomatoes, chicken and dumplings, pork stew, even pasta, and soups! It will almost feel like you never left home when you will enjoy an experience like this of campfire cooking. 

And there is no shame in trying to be as comfortable as you want to be. Backpackers don’t have to live like wild animals, they just have to enjoy nature and make friends with animals. 

Drink Your Coffee Like You Normally Do 

Campfire Coffee
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Drinking coffee for backpackers is sometimes just a nice bonus. But if your backpack allows it, why not? Right? Exactly. 

You can use fire to heat some instant coffee. If you feel like going the extra mile, maybe add some sugar. Or you can bring a special kit for doing so. 

If you do decide to just heat some coffee in a cup, remember to get the right one. One made from light metal is preferred. 

Don’t Forget The Cooler 

Camping Cooler
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If you can, bring a nice cooler with you. Especially if you are staying for a longer period of time. The cooler will keep your meats and veggies fresh. 

Look for one that will suit your needs. Try a lighter model with plenty of space inside. 

The best part of having a cooler with you is that it will keep your ingredients for campfire cooking nice and cold, but also other items. 

Sometimes, a cold beer or a nice cool glass of white wine, or maybe even a bubbly soda will make the experience of camping for backpackers more friendly and cozy. 

 Use A Can Opener

Can Opener For Camping
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If your plan for your campfire recipes includes some canned foods, using a can opener will make life easier. Not to mention it will prevent any unnecessary spills and wastes. 

You can, at any time, just open cans with a sharp knife and use physical force, but why bother? A can opener is light in weight and does not occupy lots of space. Make use of all the tools you can find to help you with campfire meals. 

Know-How To Pack Like Advanced Backpackers Do 

Packing For Camping
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Backpackers have a special way around packing lots of needed items without using much space. The first rule for doing so is knowing what to bring and what to leave at home. 

When backpackers go camping, they must include all the safety items like a tent, sleeping bag, and a flashlight. Next, they make a list of things needed for food, like we just did in this article. 

Remember, you don’t have to bring anything! Make sure you list what you want to cook and this way you will know what you need and what you don’t! 

Last, but not least, they know what to leave at home. Backpackers don’t expect that life in the woods will be as comfortable as the one at home. You will not need fancy clothing or every piece of stuff you have. Just make a list of the practical stuff you need. 

After you pack everything you need, you go camping to have a change of pace and enjoy nature! 


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