“Man cannot live by s’mores alone.”
That may not be an actual quote, but after a few nights in the wilderness eating only burnt marshmallows, it will become gospel. There is no need to suffer through MREs and burnt hot dogs when our outdoorsy forebearers have transformed how campers cook on the road.
If you’re preparing for a camping trip, having a few outdoor cooking tips up your sleeve will transform your adventure. We’ve created this guide to introduce you to a few culinary skills for campers. The right tools, recipes, and techniques will keep you fueled and ready for hiking, foraging, or even hammock-lounging!
Keep reading to learn how to stock and enjoy a complete outdoor kitchen setup!
Table of Contents
The Best Tools for Outdoor Cooking
While an open campfire will cook your food in a pinch, it’s not the safest or easiest choice. We recommend investing in a few specific tools to add versatility to your outdoor kitchen. They’re investments that you can use repeatedly—and you can even use them for backyard cookouts, local picnics, or other outdoor gatherings close to home.
A Cast Iron Griddle
The secret to neat, efficient outdoor grilling is a non-stick cast iron griddle, such as the barebones griddle. The reversible cooking surface simplifies preparing everything from juicy steaks to morning eggs. You can use it with a camping stove or open fire, so you won’t need to skip a meal if your firewood gets damp.
A griddle is easier to transport than an outdoor grill and just as versatile. If you’re at a campground with a charcoal-fueled park grill, your griddle’s cooking surface is a great accessory. It simplifies the process of cooking vegetables, so you’ll lose fewer morsels between the grates.
A Camp Oven
Ambitious outdoor cooks will love having access to an outdoor oven. You’ll have much more control over your cooking temperature compared to cooking over an open flame. The camper on cooking duty won’t have to waste time tending a fire while the food cooks to perfection.
Another benefit is that a camp oven allows you to bake on the go! You can enjoy hot, fresh breads and desserts, even in the middle of the woods.
A Dutch Oven
When you think of outdoor cooking, you might not think about terms like simmer or braise. A Dutch oven makes these cooking techniques possible—and simple! It’s essentially a pot with a lid, so anything you could make on the stovetop is possible over a fire.
You haven’t lived until you’ve enjoyed a hot, fresh bowl of soup on a chilly night around the campsite. You can even use it for baking!
Other Tools to Consider
A few tools and accessories can make it easier to cook on the go. Consider adding the following to your outdoor cooking kit:
- A portable grill smoker
- A grill accessories kit
- Aluminum foil
- Non-stick cooking spray
- A bottle opener
- An all-purpose cooking knife
- Oven mitts
Most campers become overwhelmed because they don’t have the right tools. Preparation can save you a lot of aggravation. To avoid this, create a kit with everything you need before you go.
Outdoor Cooking Tips
Gathering the right equipment is half the battle. Here are our top tips for keeping yourself fed.
Plan Your Meals
Your new outdoor cooking tools may offer versatility, but that doesn’t mean you should wing your meals! Consider planning out every meal in advance so you can be sure to have the ingredients on hand.
Keep It Simple
If you’re new to outdoor cooking, stick to simple, easy to execute recipes so you can learn as you go. After all, the stakes are lower when you accidentally burn a grilled cheese. It’s a little more stressful to start with seafood or steak!
Likewise, if you’re cooking a recipe for the first time, you might want to try it out in your home kitchen first. You’ll know what to expect and won’t have to stress over two brand-new things.
Prep Before You Schlep
While the right tools make it easier to cook your vegetables, no magic trick will save you time peeling, cutting, and preparing them. We advise doing as much prep work as possible before you hit the road. You can chop vegetables, marinate meat, combine dry baking ingredients, and even prep garnish while in the comfort of your home kitchen.
Grab Produce on the Road
Depending on how long you’ll be camping, you may need to stop and restock your ingredients. We recommend stopping by local farm stands or farmer’s markets for fresh produce on the road.
Easy Options for Campground Meals
Are you unsure what to cook on the road? Here are a few simple, delicious options that you can easily prepare on the go.
- Soups and stews
- Grilled cheese
- Roasted corn
- Grilled fruit
- Campfire potatoes
- Foil packet fish
- Campfire pizza
You can supplement your meals by bringing along fresh fruit, which will contrast nicely with your other meals. Many adventurous campers enjoy baking directly inside empty orange peels!
Outdoor Cooking for Absolute Beginners
Outdoor cooking isn’t a new concept. If cave dwellers could keep themselves fed before the invention of the microwave, the modern camper can surely prepare a few meals over the fire! The tips above will keep you well-fed on your next outdoor journey.
What else do you need to know before you can confidently set off on your next wilderness adventure? Browse the rest of the blog for more tips and tricks to simplify your life.