9 Best Camping Cooking Gear [Open Fire & Outdoor Equipment]

Nothing says camping adventure more than outdoor cooking. From iron skillets to portable coolers, get the most out of your campfire cooking with these eight best essential bits of gear and equipment.

Best Camping Cooking Gear

Cooking gear is one of the first things I pack for an outdoor adventure. Forget the tent, the boots, the insect repellent – I’m all about the food.

It goes without saying that maintaining energy levels are vital while out hiking or camping, but preparing for outdoor cooking is about so much more than that. It also forms one of the most exciting and beautiful parts of the camping experience.

And if you’re going to be cooking while outdoors it’s important to get it right and do it properly. No one wants to be nursing a bag of Doritos the entire time (I hope).

Cooking outdoors without all your creature comforts however is a totally different beast to doing it your home, so I’ve put together my top 8 best camping cooking gear to make your outdoor cooking a cinch.

From key gear to key tips, here’s everything you need to know for the ultimate camping cook-off.

Campfire grill grate

campfire grilling grate over lit fire log coals

A campfire grill grate is an excellent way to infuse your food with smokey flavors and give it the authentic campfire aroma you’re looking for. Using a campfire grill grate will help you cook more effectively over an open fire, giving you plenty of room to work with and more even and consistent cooking temperatures.

Cooler storage

storage for camping trip

Secure and functional food storage can help keep your food fresh and safe, but it also does more than just that.

Camping can leave you exposed to certain animals, namely bears, so it’s important to be able to pack up quickly and securely to prevent enticing one your way. Good portable food storage is the way to go, and fortunately they’re easily affordable and secure.

I like to be organized here and organize food and drink between a couple of coolers. I have one exclusively for water and other liquids (you might even want an extra cooler for more ‘grown-up’ drinks) and then a soft-sided cooler for any food that needs to be kept cool, especially meat.

Beyond this I then like to have a further food box for non-perishable food, which in my case is mostly just snacks!

We recommend: Coleman Cooler

Get a tool box for essentials

OK, sure, it’s not really a tool box but let’s pretend. This is for all your key cooking gear so you have everything in one dependable and go-to place.

From a camp griddle pan to even a tin opener, you should have everything covered.

We recommend: Knodel Organizer

The bare essentials

  • Cooking utensils (at the very least try to have a large serving spoon, chopping knife, spatula, can opener, vegetable peeler and a wooden spoon)
  • A mixing bowl
  • A chopping board
  • Plastic bowls, plates and cups
  • Silver cutlery
  • A kettle or pan for boiling water
  • Medium/large saucepan
  • Garbage bags
  • Paper towels
  • Aluminum foil
  • Washing up liquid and scrubbing pads
  • Matches
  • Pot holder (for over a fire)
  • Tin opener

Get steady with a table

This isn’t always the first thing that people think of when packing for camping, I can’t stress enough the importance of a good table. A reliable surface can help you prepare food as well as have somewhere to eat.

I will admit however that this very much comes down to where you’re camping. A lot of campgrounds have picnic tables, but if you’re going it alone in a dispersed ground then you might not have this luxury.

Some tables can be quite heavy and bulky, even when folded, so only bring one of these if you’re living out of the car. These obviously aren’t convenient to lug around if you’re traveling by foot.

We recommend:​ Coleman Outdoor Compact Table

Your centrepiece: Portable camp stove

I know, I know, we all prefer a natural fire to have going at the center of our camp. However not all shared campgrounds allow them. If fire is a no-go for you then a portable camp stove is the way forward.

frying pan placed on camping stove

Given their relatively small size, portable stoves are actually quite quick heating up and are easily to store away. In fact, even if you are allowed to have a fire going at your camp, I still recommend having one of these as a backup for easy access to hot water for tea or coffee first thing in the morning.

We recommend:​ Coleman Gas Stove

Let there be light: Propane lantern and a torch

So easily forgotten, but one of the most important things you can bring. A lantern will help light up your entire camp, while a torch gives you easy access to light while on the move.

If you’ve ever set up camp in the dark then you’ll be familiar with the brilliance of a lantern.

We recommend:​ LE LED Camping Lantern

Your main cooking tool: Iron skillet

The outdoor cook’s best friend. I don’t think the importance of a simple iron skillet can ever be overstated. It’s one of the most versatile cooking tools out there and should be the centerpiece of your camping cooking arsenal.

Scrambled eggs, bacon, hot dogs, burgers, grilled vegetables… Even pancakes. All of these can be done on an iron skillet.

Look out for a durable one, but ensure it’s lightweight enough to transport around, and also make sure it has a non-stick surface for easy cleaning.

We recommend: Lodge Pre-Seasoned Skillet

camping food in pan with beans and bread

Prepare food as much as possible: Ziploc bags

To keep things as organized and easy as possible, try to do as much home meal prep as possible. Do any meat cutting and vegetable chopping at home, before then portioning into Ziploc or freezer bags and storing in your cooler. This helps save on taking any unnecessary equipment, while helping you save time on meal prep at the camp.

Fan of scrambled eggs? Even these can be prepared way ahead of time. Before you leave home, break and whisk your eggs. Serve into Ziploc bags and store in an airtight cooler container. This will save you space and make things easy when it comes to cooking at camp. Simply pour the mix onto your hot skillet and you’ll have scrambled eggs in minutes.

For firetop cooking fans: Embrace indirect cooking

If you are lucky enough to be cooking over a fire then it’s important to keep in mind positioning. A lot of people make the mistake of placing food directly over their fire. Not only does this put your food at high risk of burning, but it can create hot spots that can result in your food being unevenly cook. With meat in particular, this can be dangerous.

If you cook it over indirect heat to one side, it will cook the food more evenly without scorching it.

Still hungry? Check out more BBQ posts

best campfire grill grate 5 Best Campfire Grill Grates of 2023 - Nothing quite beats campfire cooking, and a grill grate is one of the best ways to cook in the great… ...
best portable grill for rv 11 Best Portable Grills for RVs | Reviewed & Rated - Need the perfect grill for your next camping or tailgating grilling adventure? Here's everything you need to know to help… ...
best star wars grill 6 Best Star Wars Grill for All Die-Hard Jedis - I bet you never knew you needed a TIE Fighter Charcoal Grill until now. These best Star Wars grills are… ...
uuni 3 outdoor pizza oven review Ooni 3 Pizza Oven Review [Uuni Wood Pellet Oven] - The Ooni 3 Outdoor Pizza Oven is one of the best budget pizza ovens out there today. Make perfect homemade… ...
blackstone pizza oven review Blackstone Pizza Oven Review [Outdoor Rotating Cooker] - Easy to use and armed with incredible cooking power, Blackstone's pizza oven has plenty to love. Find out everything you… ...

Sign Up

Get recipes, BBQ tips & regular discounts straight to your inbox!