Essential Campfire Cooking Gear
Campfire Cookware – Starter Pieces and More
There are two kinds of camp cooks; ones that do it because it’s their turn and ones that do it because they enjoy it as much as any other part of outdoor camping.
But regardless of which one you are, your collection of camping cookware has to start with the basics.
- A frying pan
- A large pot and a small pot – with lids
- A spatula and a large serving spoon
- A large kitchen knife
- **It isn’t a piece of cookware but you will need a campfire cooking grill somewhere along the line if you will be camping more than once
That’s it, with those basic items you can prepare most of the camp foods used in the majority of camping meal menus.
Of course, you can get by with less, like only a pot to boil water in for instant oatmeal three times a day, or you could have a lot more, like; cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens, and reversible griddles. But the basics above are usually how it all starts.
*Note – all shopping links are my own Amazon affiliate links – which I only use to recommend good-quality camping gear – Gus
For the new campers just starting their camping cookware collection: Don’t just dive in and spend a lot of money buying every new piece of cookware you can think of. It can get very expensive, and there is a good chance you will buy more than you need.
**Complete starter cookware packages are listed below.
Realistically there are a few more things that should be included with the basics:
- A cutting board – not a small one, but at least a medium one about 12″ x 18″ or so.
- A smaller paring knife, and maybe a fillet knife
- A pair of tongs
- A ladle
- Another serving spoon, (or two), and a cooking fork. (looks like a large version of a regular table fork)
- A campfire coffee pot
A good pair of campfire gloves is almost a must-have for campfire and tin-foil cooking.
Here is a guide to some good choices for campfire cooking gloves.
Now, the question is … what kind of cookware should you buy to begin building your collection of cookware?
Skillets: It should be at least a 10″ skillet and a 12″ one will serve you better over the years. It should have a lid. Gus recommends cast iron skillets – a good one never wears out, (you can pass yours on to your kids), and they are generally much better for even heat transfer from an erratic heat source like a campfire. But … cast iron cookware will require a little more TLC, (tender loving care), than an aluminum or steel skillet.
If you prefer a Teflon non-stick skillet, there are some good ones out there, and they are much easier to clean up and maintain, but they won’t last as long as cast iron because the Teflon will eventually get scratched and wear off. Just make sure it is a heavy thick skillet, (which means expensive) because you will never get good results from a thin skillet over a campfire: thin metal = poor heat control and uneven heat transfer from the dancing flames or smoldering coals.
Recommendation: If the majority of your cooking will be done on a camp stove, and you only camp once or twice a year – a non-stick skillet will probably be the better choice for you. Cast iron skillets are great for camp cooking, but they are usually preferred by dedicated campfire cooks.
Pots & Pans:
Pots and Pans: These should also have lids. The large pot, (at least 4-qt. capacity, 6-qt. isn’t too big), should have a handle on each side for safe handling, not a single long handle like a smaller pan will have. Quality and material are important too, but not as important as it is for your skillet choice, just don’t buy cheap paper-thin pots and pans.
NO Plastic Handles!
A good starter set would include the large pot mentioned above, plus a 2-qt pan and a 1-qt pan. The ideal set-up would be a nesting set. (they all fit inside each other – like above)
Recommendation: Dedicated camping pot and pan sets are great to have because they are designed with the camper in mind, and that’s what Gus has because they pack so well, but like the skillets above, if the majority of your cooking will be done on a camp stove, and you only camp once or twice a year – inexpensive pots from the Dollar or Thrift store will serve you just as well.
Spatula and Serving Spoon: Two main requirements, – long handles and Teflon coating. Metal spatulas and spoons will damage your cookware. They would be ok for stirring your pots and pans but don’t get them, if you have them you will end up using them in your Teflon or cast iron cookware sooner or later.
Tip:Get good utensils! They are not expensive and you will be using them a lot. Most cheap Dollar store spatulas and such aren’t worth the weight to carry them in a camping environment. Heat and use will make them more flimsy than they already were. Plus, even though you can get by with just one each – having a couple of each will make your cooking chores a lot easier *See a selection of available camping cooking utensils.
Camp Kitchen Knife/Knives:
One good kitchen knife can handle almost all of your needs. It should have a 6″ or 8″ smooth-edge blade, and a good non-slip handle that would be easy to use with gloves on. If you want a serrated-edge knife, then have two kitchen knives in your camping gear. There are a lot of tasks that a serrated edge just won’t work as well for as a smooth-edge knife.
Tip: Just like the camp utensils tip above – Get good camp knives. You don’t have to have a full set, or the most expensive, but don’t get the cheapest either.
Campfire Cooking Checklist
Several campers have asked me what I take on a normal camping trip. So here goes. **Note: This is my basic pack-out list. Other items would be added for special meals or camp locations that require extra gear.
Where to Buy The Camping Gear You Need:
The logical thought is your local camping and outdoor supply store. And that may be a good choice if you can catch a hot sale. But quality camping cookware and equipment can be pricey, – so go prepared, check online prices first so you have something to compare to.
Amazon.com is a good place to check. They are the most trusted marketplace online, their prices are usually better than anywhere else. Almost every item qualifies for Free Shipping, (for purchases over $25), and their free 3 – 5 day standard shipping is almost always faster than that. Plus, their return policy is as easy as requesting a return.
Also, if they are available to you; yard sales, flea markets, and thrift stores can be good sources for camping cooking gear.
Complete Camping Cookware Sets
The sets listed below are Amazon Wish List groupings with “Good-Better-Best” choices for each piece of cookware, and cookware specific to the camp stove or campfire cooking – just click on the items you want to add to your starter set.
|Camp Cookware Cooking Set – Basics||Nice-to-Have Extras|
See the prices for this cookware:
See the prices for these extras:
Your First Camp Stove?
If you need to get a camping stove too, this camping stove guide will give you the basic information you need to make a good choice.
How to Pick the Best Camping Stove
Here are some examples of the camping equipment discussed above.
Even if you are not interested in buying now, they will give you an idea of the choices you have and the prices you can expect.
You might also like:
- Camping Gear – Campfire Camping Gloves
- Camping Gear – How to Pick a Campfire Coffee Pot
- Camping Gear – How to Pick a Campfire Cooking Grill
- Campfire Checklist
- Campfire Cooking Checklist
- Camp Tools and Accessories Checklist
- Complete Tent Camping Checklist