How & What Should I Cook Outdoors on a Camping Trip?

Camping, Cooking, Outdoor Activities, Packing & Organizing, RV -

How & What Should I Cook Outdoors on a Camping Trip?

After a long day of outdoor adventuring, you’ll have quite an appetite. The last thing you want is a lousy dinner, but sometimes cooking when camping can be rugged due to the unfamiliar heat source and limited tools in your camping kitchen. There’s plenty of camping cooking gear that makes preparing delicious meals in the great outdoors simple, quick, and enjoyable! Cooking delicious meals when camping doesn’t have to be difficult, and you don't have to restrict yourself to hot dogs on a stick.

Outdoor camping cooking styles can look differently to many people. Outdoor cooking may vary more depending on whether you’ll be tent camping or RV camping. Either way, it’s best if you can simplify your supplies. Here are some of the best tips for making sure you have a great outdoor cooking experience.


There are many methods and recipes for cooking meals outdoors and there are two essential items you cannot forget when packing.

Heat Source

Your heat source is how you’ll prepare your meal at an outdoor setup - a campfire or a gas camping stove. Most old-school campers prefer cooking over a campfire because the smoky flavor from the burning wood adds taste to the meal and could double up to keep warm, especially at night. However, controlling temperatures in campfires can be difficult. If you’re not careful, the flames could burn your cookware and food. If the flame is not hot enough, you might not cook your food well enough and risk getting sick.  

A gas camping stove makes cooking outdoors as easy as cooking at home. This convenience is thanks to the windscreens and temperature adjustment knobs like those in the Eureka SPRK Butane Camp Stove, a one-burner camp stove that comes in a convenient carrying case, and has an auto-ignition for a fast, easy start.

Having a stove is a good idea since it boils water quicker than a campfire and can be used to prepare an entire meal as a backup in cases where the wood is too wet, or the campsite area is too dry and windy to set up a campfire safely. A camping stove always comes in handy.


A cooler serves as a refrigerator at your campsite. A cooler is a must-have tool if you want to grill meat, bring prepared salads, or use other perishable items. It keeps your food at a safe temperature until it's time to cook and enjoy.

Cooking Methods

Your cooking method will determine the rest of the camping gear you'll need to prepare simple and satisfying camping meals. There are countless methods to prepare your meal using the two heat sources indicated above.

1. Boiling water

Boiling water while camping is the most basic and straightforward camping cooking method, especially in the backwoods. Water from a local lake or stream, one of the two heat sources indicated above, and a cooking pot is all you need.

Some cook pots are unsuitable for cooking over an open fire, so read the fine print before using it on the fire to avoid damaging it. If you're using water from a nearby source, boil it for one minute to destroy any bacteria before cooking or drinking it.

Use your boiling water for hot coffee in the morning, hot chocolate in the evening, pre-packaged soups and pastas or other instant meals on the go.

2. Foil packets

Cooking with foil packets is one of the most straightforward camp cooking techniques. You'll need aluminum foil and a heat source. Foil packets can be prepped at home before you leave so they’re ready to be cooked over an open fire at your campsite.

When you arrive at your campground, you'll have no work to do because the packets, which can comprise a balanced dinner, will be waiting for you in your cooler or Insulated TKCanister 32-oz. Side dishes, such as cheesy or roasted vegetables, steak, sausages, salmon, vegetables, or other whole meals can all be made in foil packets.

Other foil pack recipes for camping include tacos, baked shrimp, chicken fajitas, or lemon chicken just to name a few!

3. Cast Iron

Other options for cooking a range of meals are a cast-iron pan or a Dutch oven pot. Cast iron is perfect for cooking directly over a campfire, whether on a grill grate or directly over the coals. It’s recognized for heating evenly, making it simple to sear meats or prepare foods covering the entire cooking surface. All that’s needed is the cooking surface, a camp kitchen utensil set, and an appetite. If you're cooking with cast iron, also bring an oven mitt because the handle gets hot due to the even heating of the material.

4. Grilling

Grilling is a popular camping cooking method. A grill grate and whatever camping cooking gear you'd typically use, such as a spatula or tongs, are all you'll need. Set your grill grate directly over your campfire or coals, and you'll be able to cook everything you'd typically cook on the grill at home – steaks, chicken, sausages, pork chops, burgers and vegetables are all on the menu. Every bite will have a hint of campfire flavor. You can use the Rolla Roaster Roasting Forks to turn or flip your steak or burgers.

Prep the food at home, such as slicing vegetables for kabobs, forming burger patties, marinating chicken breasts, and storing it in your cooler, ready to grill. 

5. Food On a stick

Cooking meals on a stick over an open fire is traditional camping cooking. Many people associate sitting around a campfire eating hot dogs and marshmallows with childhood memories. Even though this method of cooking has fewer options, it’s simple, requires little equipment, and tastes great. The only extra equipment needed is a bamboo utensil set where you will use the stick to roast or reheat your meal. The classic items for roasting on a stick include hot dogs, sausages, and marshmallows, but get inventive! Other ingredients include bacon, bananas, pineapples, peaches, and biscuit dough.

Quick Preparation Tips

Cooking outside might be enjoyable and straightforward, but not having access to a grocery store or your kitchen can provide challenges. Planning is essential for a great camping cooking experience.

  • Prepare each meal ahead of time, including what you'll be cooking and how you'll prepare it.
  • Make a shopping list of all the ingredients you'll require.
  • Do the more time-consuming and labor-intensive preliminary work at home.
  • Put the prepared ingredients in your cooler with the rest of the items you'll need.
  • Fill your vehicle with the necessary camping cooking gear.

There's no reason you can't eat like a king or queen on your next camping vacation now that you know what equipment to bring. Don't forget to be inventive when it comes to outdoor cooking; the possibilities are endless.

When preparing your camping cooking gear, you want to maximize your space and minimize the time it takes you to pack. Download our free Essential Camping Checklist so you’re organized and ready when you reach the campsite, making your outdoor camping adventure easy, fun, and memorable. 

essential camping checklist