Are you looking for the perfect campfire cooking kit for the classic campfire cooking experience? I’ve got you covered.
I’ve been camping since I was 7 years old, and as a result I happen to know a thing or two about campfire cooking.
This means I've spent years perfecting my camp cooking skills, and all that experience has culminated into this article with 5 of the best campfire cooking kits you can buy today.
And not only that, I’m also teaching you how to put together your own custom campfire cooking kit for the ultimate campfire cooking experience. Ready? Let’s get into it.
Campfire Cooking Kit: To Buy or DIY?
The honest truth? Both! However, everyone starts somewhere, and I highly recommend getting started with a kit.
And unless you’re starting with something like the Bruntmor Grill Grate and Swing with 2-in-1 Dutch Oven and Frying Pan, you’ll need to do a little bit of DIY kit assembly.
There are plenty of camp cookware and dish kits on the market today, but most of them will need something added to cook over a fire efficiently.
That’s not a fun answer for someone who just wants to buy one campfire cooking kit and be done with it – I get it.
It took me a long time, but I finally found one that works great! The best all in one starter kit is the Bruntmor Cast Iron Cooking Kit, and we’ll cover that in depth in the next two sections.
5 Highest Rated Campfire Cooking Kits You Can Buy Now
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Our Reviews of The Top 5 Campfire Cooking Kits
Campfire Cooking Kit Buyer’s Guide: What Should You Look For?
What you need in a campfire cooking equipment set might be completely different than what someone else needs. Here are the main things to look for.
First and foremost: materials. The material of the cookware in your campfire cookware set up is the most important thing! Here are some important things to look for:
- Cast Iron, Stainless Steel, Aluminum, or Titanium Pots and Pans
- NO Rubber or plastic coating on the handles or lids
- Also, NO Teflon or “non stick” coating: this stuff becomes destroyed in the high heat of a campfire and leeches into your food, it’s very toxic
- NO Glass lids or lids with plastic handles
A Note About Campfire Cookware Handle Materials
I’ve spent a lot of time looking for the perfect campfire cooking kit.
One thing that I noticed immediately when I read articles about it was the amount of people recommending kits that have pots and pans with plastic handles, or handles coated with rubber or plastic/PVC.
And if you type “campfire cooking kit” into Amazon, you’ll see what I mean.
These are great camp cooking sets, don’t get me wrong! But they should NEVER be used on a campfire. They’re meant for a camping stove only.
Campfire cooking is different from cooking on a stove because the heat isn’t concentrated in one area. Plastic or plastic/rubber coated handles will burn and melt immediately.
Weight is a big consideration, especially if you’re a backpacker. If you plan to pack light, you don’t exactly want to choose a cast iron campfire cookware set!
Ease of Use
The next thing to consider is ease of use. This can include everything from the ergonomics of the pots and pans to the cooking experience.
For example, if you’ve never cooked on cast iron, there will be a definite learning curve. But it’s worth it, cast iron is amazing!
Look for cookware that’s easy to clean. Preferably, your set will not have pieces with lots of little nooks and crannies that are difficult to clean.
Cast iron might be the easiest because you just have to wipe it out, but stainless steel cleans up in a breeze, too.
Last but not least: durability. Cooking over an open fire puts a lot of stress on cookware, and you want to be sure it can stand up to the challenge.
A flimsy one-layer stainless or aluminum pot will work for a while, but it won’t be a great long-term campfire cooking solution.
DIY Campfire Cooking Set Up Essentials
Now that you’ve seen the best campfire cooking kits that you can buy, let’s take a look at what you need to have if you decide to put your own together instead.
Campfire Cooking Pot
A pot is the first piece of cookware you should buy for camping. If you can only buy one at a time, start with a pot! A pot can be used to cook large meals like soups and one pot meals, but you can also use it as a skillet if you need to. Here are a couple nice ones.
Campfire Cooking Pan
A campfire cooking pan is essential, in my book. Your next piece of equipment should be a durable campfire cooking pan without any plastic or rubberized coatings, glass lids, or non-stick coatings. Here are a couple of great options.
Campfire Cooking Grate or Stand
You can put campfire cookware directly into the coals of the campfire, but that’s not always practical (or fun).
One piece of equipment that totally upped my own campfire cooking game was a grate that goes over the fire that you can put your pots and pans on.
Some campfire rings at campgrounds have grates built-in, but you definitely don’t find that everywhere.
Tripods and stands are also great. Here are two great options, the first one is what I use.
Campfire Cooking Utensils
Many camp cooking sets come with utensils for eating and utensils for cooking, but they’re almost always plastic. I don’t know who wants to stir a pan over a campfire with a plastic spatula, but it’s not me. Grill tools work great for campfire cooking. Here are a couple options.
Personal Protective Gear
Yup, you need PPE for campfire cooking. At the very least, a durable heat-resistant glove. It gets real hot in a campfire! Here are a couple good ones:
Portable Camp Stove
Yes, you should always have a portable camping stove as a backup. Sometimes cooking over a campfire just doesn’t work out. It might be raining and the wood is too wet, or it might be too windy to have a campfire. Always have a backup option. Here are the two stoves that I use.
If you eat meat, it’s wise to bring a meat thermometer and educate yourself on proper meat temps.
Sometimes cooking over a campfire burns the outside of the meat before the inside is cooked properly. You never know for sure unless you have a thermometer!
I used to manage restaurants and I am food safety certified, so I’m always harping on proper cooking temperatures.
- Eggs and ground meats: 160*F internal temp
- Chicken and poultry (and all leftovers): 165*F internal temp
- Steaks, Chops, and Roasts: 145*F internal temp
- Fish and shellfish: 145*F internal temp
A simple meat thermometer like thishttps://amzn.to/38OlVaP one will do just fine.
Other Items You Might Want for Your DIY Campfire Cooking Set Up
Now that you know the essentials, let’s dive into some items that aren’t necessary, but make your life a lot easier. These campfire cooking items will make your campsite feel like a top notch dining experience.
A kettle is great for tea, coffee, hot water for soups (I love cup noodles while camping), and for heating water for dishes.
Instead of a kettle, I personally use a JetBoil Flash Cooking System because it’s so fast. But a kettle works too!
Skewers are great for shish-ka-bobs, meat sticks, or even roasting marshmallows.
Campfire Rotisserie Grill System
Have you ever wanted to cook a rotisserie chicken over a campfire? You can. Check this out!
Grilling baskets make cooking over a campfire so easy. Put all your food inside and turning it over is as simple as flipping the basket.
Campfire Log Grabber
Raise your hand if you’re still moving logs with other logs, marshmallow sticks, or melting the tips of your shoes… *Raises my own hand*
You’ll never have to wrestle with the campfire again with one of these suckers. It’s in my Amazon cart already.
Grill Cleaning Brush
If you have a grill, grate, or any other kind of campfire cooking stand, a grill cleaning brush will make cleanup so much easier.
Camping Sink or Portable Camp Kitchen
A camping sink is an essential in my household… or camp..hold? Either way, I am the designated camping dish-doer. I use a portable camping sink like this one. However, a portable camp kitchen with a sink is on my wish list.
Dishes and Utensils
Camping dishes are important. And nice, durable ones are the most important.
I can’t tell you how many camp dish sets I’ve purchased that have been made of plastic that’s broken.
So for that, I’ll recommend this stainless steel set that will last you a lifetime.
My Personal Recommendations for Building the Best Campfire Cooking Kit
To be really honest, putting together the best campfire cooking kit might take time – it’s not cheap to do!
If you’re on a budget, I recommend getting started with the bare minimum:
- A campfire grill grate (on a stand or swing is best)
- Pots and pans specifically meant for cooking over a campfire
- I.e. cast iron, etc
- You can even just start with a dutch oven because the lid can double as a frying pan, so it’s a 2-in-1
- Long metal utensils
- Fireproof grill gloves
- Portable camping stove as a backup
- Optional but awesome: log grabber
Other than that, you can build up your campfire cooking kit as you go. And if you already have some of these things, you’re well on your way there!
I started with very minimal gear: the Stanley Base Camp Cook Set and a Campfire Grill Grate Stand. This combo is perfect, lightweight, and stores away easily.
How to Cook Over a Campfire (5 Campfire Cooking Tips)
Cooking on a campfire is challenging. It’s so challenging that I almost gave up, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Here are some essential tips for having a successful campfire cooking experience.
1. Start Early
Cooking over a campfire requires patience, and a lot of it. One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is trying to cook over a fire they just lit, and that doesn’t work out too well.
Start your fire early and give it time to burn down and form a nice, hot bed of coals. It can take 45 minutes to an hour to have an evenly heated bed of coals.
Coals provide more steady, even heat than cooking over tall whipping flames. The coals are what you want.
2. Bigger Isn’t Better
Piggybacking off the last section, you don’t want to cook in huge flames. Some flames are fine, it’s a campfire after all.
However, for cooking, you don’t want a raging bonfire. If your firepit is big enough, you can have a big fire and move some coals over to one side for a cooking area.
3. Have a Campfire and a Cooking Fire
Like we just went over, you can move coals to one side for cooking. And for many people, this is the preferred and “proper” way for cooking over a campfire.
You don’t have to have two entirely separate fires – you can simply move a bed of coals from the active fire to one side of the fire pit or ring and use that section for cooking.
This tip is recommended by many experts. Steven Raichlen, author of 28 cookbooks and the host of Primal Grill on PBS, had this to say about cooking over a campfire:
“Campers will enjoy the best results if they try to grill over glowing embers, not flames. The heat is more powerful, reliable, and even.” (Source)
4. Use the Proper Cooking Methods
Finding your favorite campfire cooking methods will be up to you, and it’s really personal preference. If you’re cooking hot dogs and marshmallows, roasting on a stick is fine!
Some people prefer to cook with their pots and pans directly on the coals, and others (like myself) prefer to use a campfire grill grate over the fire because it’s more stable.
5. Regulate the Fire and Monitor Food Temperatures
If your fire is too hot, it will cook and/or burn the outside of your food before the inside is done all the way.
This isn’t ideal for any types of foods, but for meat it’s really not good. You always want to be sure your meat reaches proper internal temperatures so it doesn’t make you sick.
FAQ About Cooking Over a Campfire:
Can You Use Regular Pans Over a Campfire?
No, you can’t. Unless you use 100% cast iron or stainless steel cookware at home, you should never use household pots and pans on a campfire.
Check out the next section for what types of pans you should use, and why using household pans is a bad idea.
What Kind of Pans Should You Use on a Campfire?
When cooking over a campfire, you should use a pan that’s made entirely out of cast iron, stainless steel, aluminum, or titanium.
Your pan shouldn’t have any other materials on it or the lid, as they will be destroyed by the heat of the campfire.
Campfire cooking is a lot different than other kinds of open-flame cooking. It’s much hotter and more intense. It can shatter glass and it will immediately melt plastic and rubber.
What Do You Need to Cook Over a Campfire?
At the very least, you will need appropriate cookware, a grill grate, long metal utensils, and grilling gloves.
Other things that make campfire cooking easier include a campfire grill grate or stand, a meat thermometer, a log grabber, skewers, and a kettle.
Carrie WilderCarrie has a passion for location independence and nomadic lifestyles. After traveling full-time in an RV and living the van life, she created Making Money and Traveling to help others make the switch to a remote lifestyle. Learn more about Carrie on the About page or connect on social media below.
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