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Campfire Cooking Kit Guide: Essential Items

Cooking over a fire is a classic camping experience. Here’s what you need to whip up a meal on your next camping trip.

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Chopping fresh vegetables for campfire cookingMarko Geber/Getty Images

Build A Campfire Cooking Kit

Cooking is one of the most important considerations on any camping packing list. You need something to eat, something to cook with and something to eat with. The specifics depend on where you intend to camp and what you intend to cook.

A typical car camping site will usually feature a grill or fire pit ready for use. Backpackers will need to build a fire and carry lightweight supplies. A basic campfire cooking kit should include the following items.

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person cooking food with portable camping stove in naturevisualspace/Getty Images

Fire or Stove

Let’s start with the obvious: A campfire or stove is essential for any camping trip. It lets you cook hot food and boil water for coffee, tea and packaged meals.

You can make a camp grill with some stones, a shovel and a grill grate. You can also purchase a portable stove, here are some of the best options for a camp stove or propane grill. You’ll need firewood, so a hatchet or saw is a good idea too.

Brian Conghalie, founder of, also suggests fireproof gloves and a fireguard. The latter, he says, is “especially important in the dry season to minimize the risk of unintentional fire.”

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Friends starting a campfire while camping at a campsiteKlaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Fire Starters

So you’ve got your firewood and grill. Now you need something to start your fire. A fire starter kit is one option. They usually come with tinder and implements like matches, a lighter or a ferro rod and striker. Conghalie says it’s best to pack multiple fire-starting tools in case it rains or your preferred method fails.

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cooking hot dogs over a campfireMariuszBlach/Getty Images

Cooking Pan

Once the fire’s going, you’ll need to decide how use it. Some foods can be skewered and held over the flames, like hot dogs and marshmallows. Others need a pot or pan.

Conghalie recommends packing a cast-iron skillet. They’re a tad heavy, but as he says, “Nothing quite beats the taste of food — especially meat — cooked over an open fire on cast iron.”

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woman using a spatula while cooking over a campfirepetesphotography/Getty Images

Utensils and Cutlery

A spatula is a versatile cooking tool that’s great for camping. Use it to stir, flip and serve food. A camping knife completes multiple tasks, including food preparation. Cutlery is next on the campfire cooking kit list. Many people prefer to pack a “spork,” a combination spoon and fork, to cut down on cutlery.

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camping utensils and cutlery on picnic tableDaniel Grill/Tetra Images/Getty Images


Cups, plates and bowls are next on the list. If you’re camping solo, you could eat straight from the pan, but a plate feels better. If you’re camping with others, you’ll need serving dishes. Collapsible or stacking cups save space in your camping pack. Be sure to pad these items so they don’t clink as you walk.

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Woman washing dishes in a bin while campingVoyagerix/Getty Images

Cleaning Supplies

You’ll need to clean up after meals, especially if you’re staying for more than one night. To clean your dishes, Conghalie suggests bringing biodegradable soap that won’t harm the environment. Campsuds is one popular choice.

A reusable cloth works great for drying your hands and dishes. It can also pad the dishes in your pack to minimize noise when walking.

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Blue water jug at camp siteMiyuki Satake/Getty Images

Water Container

A water container is another campfire cooking kit essential. It stores clean water for cooking, drinking and washing dishes.

Fred Hoffman, founder and chief editor at IBC7 Outdoors, recommends bringing a water cooler. A cooler lets you carry clean water and keep it cold, instead of using a filter or purifier to clean water on site.

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two people cleaning up their campsite holding trash bagsSolStock/Getty Images

Trash Receptacle

It’s your responsibility to clean the campsite and properly dispose of waste, Hoffman says, so carrying reusable bin bags is a must. You’ll also need to keep wildlife away from your scraps and trash. Odor-proof bags and bear canisters are useful for storing camping food before and after it’s cooked.

Mikayla Borchert
Mikayla is an assistant editor for Family Handyman, specializing in indoor and outdoor gardening, organization and décor. She has one cat and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Minnesota. Outside of work, she likes running, skiing, hiking and tending her balcony garden.