Cooking over a campfire is an essential skill every outdoor enthusiast needs to learn. Here is how to make the perfect fire, campfire meals to try and what you need to make a fantastic meal over the fire with ease.
Cooking over a campfire seems fairly straightforward in the movies. You find some sticks, pile them together, light a fire and voila—you’re ready to cook!
Like most things, however, real life is a different story. Anyone who’s camped before knows that building a campfire isn’t done without careful thought and planning. That goes even more so for cooking campfire meals!
You have plenty of items you’ll need to pack before you escape into the wilderness. Perhaps most essential is the food you’ll eat! Thankfully, there are multiple ways you can feed yourself and your family with these easy campfire meals.
How to Build a Campfire
Before we can get into all the yummy campfire recipes, we’ve got to tackle the issue of how to build a fire first. Here’s the quick and easy version!
- Find an appropriate place to build your fire. You should only build a campfire in a pitted area that is free from flammable substances. For safety reasons, make sure to have a bucket of water and a shovel nearby at all times too as you are enjoying your campfire meal.
- Gather firewood from the ground. Living trees will not burn well (and it’s just wrong to cut them down!)–instead, gather wood that’s already fallen.
- You want three different sizes of wood. You’ll need a few branches thicker than 1″, several 1″ branches, and plenty of tiny twigs.
- Find kindling. You will also need natural items that burn easily such as dried leaves and dried grass.
- Place kindling and twigs at the bottom, then stack branches in a teepee shape on top of the kindling. There is a great visual instruction, along with other tips here.
- Light the kindling with a match. Wait until the match is cold, then toss it into the fire.
- Add more kindling into the fire to help it grow. Blow sideways into the fire to add air to the flames.
- Continue to add firewood as the fire grows. Once you are done making the campfire meals with your fire, make sure to put it out completely and safely.
Of course, you can also just bypass all of the above and use lighter fluid to start a charcoal grill if you prefer! Either way, you’ll be ready to cook these simple campfire recipes.
Campfire Meals to Enjoy
Now let’s talk about the good stuff…food! Man has been cooking over fire for a reeeeally long time. While food over a fire may not be a necessity anymore, it’s fun (and tasty) to make camping recipes over an open flame.
1. Try Foil Packet Campfire Meals
Foil packets are one of the most brilliant ideas ever! Instead of packing a ton of ingredients and trying to find a space to prep and make a dinner each night while camping, use foil packets instead.
The basic idea is to prep your campfire meals ahead of time at home into DIY foil pouches made from aluminum foil. Then, when you get to the campsite, you can simply pull the packet out of your cooler and stick it in the fire. Easy!
Here are 28 fantastic tin foil packet dinners to make for an easy camping meal
Plus, you can even make foil packet meals at home in your oven too. Why not? The clean up is so minimal with these.
2. Plan Your Campfire Meals Before You Leave Home
If you know exactly what you are making ahead of time then you will be taking just what you need and not a bunch of extra food that could go bad…not that anything like that has ever happened to me! I speak from experience when I say that planning for campfire meals ahead of time is incredibly helpful and makes the trip so much less stressful.
3. Try Cooking With Skewers
Another fun way to cook campfire meals is to use skewers. The kids will absolutely love making their meals over the open fire while they hold their own sticks!
Here are some of my favorite skewer recipes to try:
- Chicken kabobs and veggies. This is a classic combination and one of the first things that pops into my mind when I think of cooking with skewers.
- Hotdogs or sausages. Hotdogs are a classic camping food idea. Once you roast the hotdog, all you need to do is stick it in the bun and enjoy!
- Steak and potatoes. If you’re a meat and potatoes person, why not make this camping recipe?
- Grilled shrimp skewers. Shrimp may seem fancy, but it’s actually incredibly simple to grill! It only takes a couple of minutes per side for you to have a delicious shrimp dinner.
- Smores. Yes, it’s a dessert, but we can’t forget to mention the classic marshmallow on a stick dessert!
4. Grab a Dutch Oven for Campfire Meals
A dutch oven is one of the most versatile cooking tools you can take with you on your next camping adventure! You can use your dutch oven to make breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts…you name it.
Some of my favorite ideas include pasta, lasagna, campfire nachos, oatmeal, and dutch oven smores. They are all fantastic!
If you want to give dutch oven campfire meals a try, you’ll need to purchase a few supplies. Most notably, make sure you have:
- Dutch oven outdoor tripod
- Outdoor dutch oven pot
- Heat-resistant gloves (these ones are rated for over 900 degrees)
5. Bring Foods You Don’t Have to Cook
Lastly, if the thought of cooking every single meal on your camping trip is stressing you out, break up the cooking sessions and serve simple, no-cook meals in between.
There are a lot of options for this, but I tend to prefer items that don’t need a lot of work or prep ahead of time. That way, I can save the prep work for my campfire meals!
Here are some super simple camping food ideas:
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
- Protein bars
- Overnight oatmeal
- Sandwiches or wraps
- Bagels and cream cheese
- Avocado toast with hardboiled eggs
As you can see, between these camping food ideas and campfire meals, you can easily feed your whole crew during your next camping adventure.