7 Ways for Campfire Cooking

It is getting close to the camping season!  Only 17 days left until Spring, but we currently have over three feet of snow, so I think Spring will be late. I love sleeping outside in a tent or hammock and the smell of campfires. Some of our best family memories involve camping.  Being outdoors and camping makes life simple because there are no distractions from technology. That also means no oven or stove, so campfire cooking can be a bit of a challenge. People have been cooking over campfires for thousands of years. There’s something almost primal about it.

When camping, cooking usually involves a fire or a cookstove. We do most of our lunches and dinner over a campfire when we car camp versus a stove. Camp stoves are nice, but I really prefer cooking over a fire. It’s a fun experience.  It’s not just about cooking burnt hot dogs and roasting gooey marshmallows either. There are a variety of ways to cook outdoors. It is actually fairly easy if you know your options and can be loads of fun. And there are lots of cool tools out there to give you options. So here are five different ways to cook over a campfire, and some of them might be surprising. The 7 ways to cook over a campfire are:

  • Cast-iron Skillet
  • Roasting Stick
  • Tinfoil Packet
  • Pie-iron
  • Grill Basket
  • Fire Grate or Grill
  • Dutch Oven

If you are considering cooking over a campfire instead of a stove, the following techniques can be very useful. If you are looking for recipes that use many of these techniques, I would consider checking out this list of amazing camping cookbooks that between all of them, have recipes that would suit any camping trip, cooking technique, or diet.

Castiron Skillet

Cast Iron Skillet – I love cooking over a fire with my cast iron skillet. It is one of the easiest ways to make family meals. In fact, I have been using the same skillet since my husband and I got married 11 years ago. If you are looking for great tips and recipes, check out my new “Castiron Camping Cookbook”. You can find more about my “Castiron Camping Cookbook” here. In the cookbook, it tells you exactly how to cook over a fire with a skillet and rips on castiron care. I usually cook with mine over a campfire grate and no directly on the fire.

Roasting Stick

Roasting Stick – One of the easiest ways to cook over a campfire is by using a stick. I remember as a kid that not only was it fun to cook your marshmallows and hot dogs this way, but it was also really neat to find your own stick and whittle it down to a point. We actually have a set of roasting sticks so that we don’t have to cut any branches. A neat little gadget is Light My Fire Grandpas Fire Fork, which can transform any stick into a roasting stick. Have you tried woofems, wolf ‘ums or woofums? These are pastry shells cooked over a fire and filled with all sorts of yumminess. This is one way you can make camping eclairs.

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Tinfoil Packets

Tinfoil Packets– Can you say hobo dinners? This is just one thing that can be cooked in a tinfoil packet. There are so many different recipes you can create and just wrap it in tin foil and cook it over the coals. Not only can you cook a tin foil meal over a fire, but you can also cook them on a grill. I make little pouches and just throw everything in.  It does take some prep time though.

Pie Iron

Pie Iron-It’s basically a panini press with a long handle. Make anything from a grilled cheese sandwich to a pocket pizza or pie. You can use bread dough or two slices of bread and get creative with what you put in the middle. I like bread and pie filling or pepperoni and cheese. It’s more creative than using a stick, but it is not as time-consuming as a tinfoil meal or Dutch oven. I prefer a cast iron pie iron, because they hold up better and are better to cook with.

Grill Basket

Grill Basket– These are fantastic for grilling over a fire. It is not as bulky as a grill screen and the long handle makes it easy to pull out. They are light and compact and easy to use. Make sure you get one with a handle. We grill everything from steak and burgers to veggies and it’s great for toasting bread or buns. A grill basket is a must-have for car camping.

Campfire Grate or Grill

Campfire Grate or Grill – If you do not want to mess with balancing a grill basket, try a campfire grate or grill instead. If this is the route you choose, get one with legs that fold up for easy storage. If you get one without legs, it’s hard to balance it just right over the fire. Campfire grates can be used to cook food directly on them or to balance a skillet or percolator.

Dutch Oven

Dutch Oven– I think Dutch oven cooking is a bit harder to master, but when it’s done right, it is amazing. Think of it as the slow cooker of campfire cooking. You basically put everything in a pot, cover it in coals and wait. I’ll usually use a Dutch oven if we are going to be in camp for the majority of the day because it does take more time and preparation than some of the other ways to cook over a fire. I love ribs or a good stew if I am using a Dutch oven. If you purchase one, make sure it is cast iron and pre-seasoned.

These are all great ways to cook when you are car camping or in a camper. I have invested in some good leather gloves too, so I can easily pull things from the fire. You can also purchase special tripods or racks, but I find them heavy and cumbersome.  I am not the type of person that would haul a grill or a Dutch oven backpacking or hiking and I have seen people who have…  

Two other tools that you should have if you intend to cook over the campfire, are a bucket and a shovel. For easy storage, get ones that are collapsible and lightweight.

And just a quick reminder, you should always build a fire responsibly. Check the fire restrictions in your area before you head out. Use an approved fire pit and be sure to have a shovel and water on hand if needed. Dead out means dead out, and when putting out a fire, make sure you can put your hand over it. Living in the woods, I’m a stickler for putting out my fires. As Smoky the Bear says, “Only you can prevent a forest fire”.

In what ways do you like to cook over a fire? Share with us your thoughts below. And as always, be outside with no limits. Love, Pauline


  • Heather

    5 years agoReply

    The pie oron brings back great memories from childhood. Just two pieces of white bread and pie filling of choice. We loved it!
    Tinfoil packets are my favorite way to cook over a fire… Easy clean-up. I do need to invest in some nice leather gloves. Those cast iron pans get pretty toasty.
    Great article and good read. I am looking forward to camping this year and the place you showed us last year is one of our favorites.

    • admin

      5 years agoReply

      Thanks Heather!! Leather gloves are super handy when cooking over a fire and also for hauling or digging when you are camping.

  • Sarah

    5 years agoReply

    I love reading Mama bear outdoors blog and learning different outdoor camping tips and tricks! Being outdoors is therapy for me and I can’t wait to get outside and try some of these suggestions. I had never heard of a pie iron and that is something I definitely want to try.

    • admin

      5 years agoReply

      Thanks Sarah!! Pie irons are so cool. You can make grilled cheese, mini pies, pizza pockets… I particularly like ham and brie.

  • Ausra West

    5 years agoReply

    Wow! never thought of grilled cheese over a campfire. What a great idea! Comfort food while camping.

  • julie

    5 years agoReply

    My kids love to have fires in the spring and fall. We mostly do s’mores but maybe I will try cooking.

  • DeeAnn

    5 years agoReply

    Not necessarily just camping, but I keep charcoal briquettes and a chimney starter in my emergency supplies to use with my Dutch oven. It’s an easy fuel to pack and once they’re hot you can arrange them under and on top of Dutch oven for very even cooking. Sweet and sour chicken was always a family favorite camping when I was a kid.

    • admin

      5 years agoReply

      What a great idea! I hadn’t thought about that.

  • Janine

    5 years agoReply

    I love doing pilsbury rolls on a “hot dog” stick. You wrap them around so they’re long and thin and then, once you pull it off, you pour melted honey butter down the hole. Delicious!

  • Hollysbirdnest

    5 years agoReply

    Great tips!! I even like to cook outside in my backyard in the summer! It is always fun for everyone…a little camping fun at home!!

  • Tricia Snow

    5 years agoReply

    These are really great tips. I have never really cooked out like that…. I love my gas grill but that is hardly the same thing! lol

  • Susan

    5 years agoReply

    I recently got a dutch oven and can’t wait to try it this camping season!!

    • admin

      5 years agoReply

      They are fun!! We actually dig a hole away from the regular fire. It makes it easier.

  • Leigh Ann

    5 years agoReply

    I love campfire cooking and so does my son. Sharing these ideas with him ?

  • Liza Brackbill

    5 years agoReply

    Great tips! My favorite campfire cooking is to use the tinfoil method to make a warm banana split dessert <3

    • admin

      5 years agoReply


  • Anna

    5 years agoReply

    I am definitely getting a cast iron pie iron. This is such a cool thing to have. Thanks for sharing these great tips.

  • jen

    5 years agoReply

    Great post! Useful information!!!

  • Cindy

    5 years agoReply

    Great suggestions! I’m looking forward to camping this summer AND cooking over a campfire.

  • Ramae Hamrin

    5 years agoReply

    I would have never thought of using a dutch oven over a campfire. Tinfoil is my mainstay for everything, especially salmon and veggies. Can’t wait for campfire season!

    • admin

      5 years agoReply

      Try a cooking basket. These are great for fish and veggies too.

  • Tiffany

    5 years agoReply

    Great ideas – I can only ever think of a stick and hotdogs so this helps expand my dinner options!

  • Dennis

    5 years agoReply

    My family loved to cook over a campfire when I was young. I remember using a few of these ideas

  • Jennifer Morrison

    5 years agoReply

    I love using cast iron or foil packets. Last time we went camping I preprepared everything in foil packets prior to going, and they would just put them on at the right time. It was so simple and clean up was a breeze. I will have to try a few of these other methods as well.

  • Susan Franklin

    5 years agoReply

    We don’t go camping, but we do have a firepit in our backyard and on occasion we’ll use the roasting sticks and cook hot dogs. My hubby loves doing this!

  • Kim

    5 years agoReply

    I can’t wait for camping season!! I’m going to try out the pie iron! How easy!

  • Nicki

    5 years agoReply

    Aahhh. The pie iron. I haven’t used one of those in years! I’ll have to introduce my Girl Scouts to it this year.

  • T.M. Brown

    5 years agoReply

    Oh, I hear stories about campfire cooking all the time from Hubb. He was an Eagle Scout, so his favorite involves chocolate chip pancakes……..no, it doesn’t end well.

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