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How to Cook While Camping? Everything You Need to Know

how to cook while camping

One of the best parts of camping is being in nature, far away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Many times it also means not being close to a lot of grocery stores or restaurants.

This idea can prove intimidating for new campers, and the question of how to cook while camping comes across my emails quite frequently. 

If you have the same question, don’t worry. It’s not as difficult as you think. In fact, I and my team made some fabulous meals at campsites using only a campfire or a small portable grill. 

Here I’ll give you my best tips and tricks for cooking while camping and other ways to make eating on your next camping trip a success. 

What Do You Need To Cook While Camping?

cooking while camping
Cooking While Camping – Courtesy of Unconventionalemma @ Flickr

If you’re driving by car or RV to your camping destination, you’ll want to make sure that you pack certain things to make your meals more enjoyable.

Cooking and eating food outdoors makes it taste infinitely better than the same meal prepared and consumed indoors.

Fennel Hudson, Outdoorsman and Countryside Author

Here’s a list of my recommended items for campsite cooking.  

A Table and Chairs

camping table and chairs
camping table and chairs

Yes, you do not necessarily need these items for cooking, but they will make your life a lot easier when it comes time to eat, and it will save you from having to prepare food from the trunk of your car.

So many good options exist today that you can find ones that pack and set up quickly and don’t take up a lot of room in your trunk. 

We recommend you look over these outdoor folding chairs for heavy persons that my team tried and reviewed because they are well built and would keep you for longer.

Camp Stove & Fuel

Even if you plan on cooking on a campfire, you’ll need to be prepared for a fire ban. The best way to cook while camping is a camp stove so you can have hot food at your campsite regardless of the conditions.

Just don’t forget to pack the fuel as well. 

Portable Grill

portable grill for camping
portable grill for camping

Use a portable grill if you want to avoid using the standard provided grill at your campsite, which may not be clean or could be rusty or damaged.

Most of these grills fold flat and are easy to pack and transport.  


Bring at least a pot and a frying pan to your campsite. These two items will allow you to cook most things necessary.

If you’re feeding a larger group, you will probably want to pack a few more. 


A cooler is essential to keeping food cold while camping, especially meat, dairy, or vegetables. It is also helpful for ensuring you have cold beverages on hand. 

Cooking Utensils and Accessories 

Of course, you don’t want to be caught having food and not having anything to eat it with. Make sure you have enough utensils for everyone in your group and that everyone has the basics.  

Coffee Maker 

Many options exist to make a cup of coffee while camping. Use a percolator if you want to make coffee for a larger group. I like bringing my Aeropress with me because it’s so easy and makes a great cup of coffee. 

What To Cook For Camping?

what to cook for camping
Courtesy of Kitty Terwolbeck @ Flickr

A few good items you bring on your camping trip will provide a variety of delicious meals. Here are some of my recommendations for food to cook while camping.

  • Eggs 
  • Pancake Mix /Maple Syrup
  • Cereal 
  • Bread 
  • Vegetables 
  • Canned Meat and Fish (tuna, chicken, salmon) 
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly 
  • Dry Soup Mixes 
  • Pasta 
  • Potatoes 
  • Ground Beef 
  • Boneless Chicken 
  • Beans 
  • Condiments (ketchup, mayo, mustard, etc.) 

Of course, this list is just a basic list of things that work for camping and cooking, and you can expand upon it as needed, according to your preferences. 

Easy Camping Meals 

cooking on a pan on pitfire

Here are a few ideas for some easy meals that work well for cooking outdoors. 

  • Foil-Wrapped Sweet Potatoes —Sweet potatoes taste great when cooked in foil over a campfire. For a delicious and easy meal, top them with beans, chili, or chicken. 
  • Breakfast Egg Sandwich —You can make the entire sandwich in a single skillet. Just fry the eggs, toast the bread in the skillet, and add other toppings like cheese, bacon, or avocado. 
  • One-Pot Pasta —Many pasta dishes only require a single pot or skillet to make. Cook the pasta and then add sauce, veggies, or pesto for an easy, filling campsite meal.
  • Campfire French Toast —French toast is easy to make in a skillet, and you can cook pieces one by one. However, if you’re feeding a crowd, there are also some great recipes for turning a whole loaf of bread into delicious french toast at once.  

How To Cook While Camping Without Fire

solar cooker for camping
Solar Cooker

Suppose you find yourself at camp needing to cook without fire (i.e., you forgot your camping stove, and there’s a fire ban).

Or, if you’re backpacking and need to camp but can’t start a campfire, you can still prepare foods using flameless food preparation techniques. 

Here are a few methods to cook while camping without fire:

  • One such way is to use something called a portable cooking bag. These bags allow you to cook food with a chemically-heated pouch.

Some quality heat packs can reach a temperature of 203 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain the heat for about 20 minutes. 

  • You can also purchase a solar cooker to use the sun for cooking your food at the campsite. This method will “slow cook” the food, so you can only use it in an area with unobstructed sunlight for several hours. 
  • Some people also find success with mixing vinegar and baking soda. If you place the solution in a plastic bag with a thin piece of metal, it will generate heat that you can use for cooking without fire. 

These methods work best for reheating food rather than cooking it from a raw state. 

Our Tips and Recommendations 

As always, my team of experienced travelers compiles their own tips and recommendations for cooking while camping. Here are a few more things to consider. 

  • Remember to bring some of your favorite spices with you. These can perk up any type of food and make it taste less bland. 
  • A griddle can help prepare breakfast in the morning, especially favorites like bacon or pancakes for a crowd. Here are a few of our favorite best portable camping griddles that we personally tried and tested.
  • Bringing a grilling table for your portable grill will help keep your supplies handy and prevent you from bending over while cooking. We’ve tried many of these over the years, and if you don’t own one yet, go ahead and take a look.


Is It Safe to Cook While Camping?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to cook while camping and many campers do it safely every day. Just make sure to bring the right equipment and be prepared for any fire bans by taking along a camping stove and fuel. 

What Food Should I Bring for 3 Days of Camping? 

For 3 days of camping, you should consider bringing snacks and on-the-go meals, also eggs, potatoes, meat (like chicken, beef, and bacon), vegetables for salads, granola bars, bread, and dry pasta.