cooking campfire

Savvy that Sizzles: 7 Tips for Cooking Over a Campfire

If you’re a campsite frequenter, freeze-dried meals brought to life with hot water won’t be enough to quench your appetite for a home cooked meal. Though backpack-friendly beef stroganoff may supply you with enough energy for a strenuous mid-afternoon hike, savoring your food isn’t a luxury you have to sacrifice during rugged camping excursions. Heat up otherwise lukewarm outdoor meals by dabbling in the art of campfire cooking.

Cooking over a sizzling campfire gives food a smoky, rustic flavor that can’t be replicated in a modern kitchen. While cooking over an open flame is entertaining, it does come with some challenges, especially when you’re dealing with the internal temperature requirements of meat and fish. With these crackling campfire tips, your food should be fully cooked, safe to eat, and above all, delicious.

Invest in the right equipment

Using the right equipment matters if you want your food to turn out perfectly when cooking over the campfire. Most kitchen cookware doesn’t work the same over an open fire. You’ll need cooking gear that can tolerate that much direct smoke and heat. 

Manufacturers make the best outdoor cooking gear out of durable materials like cast iron or aluminum. You’ll need pots and pans and plenty of utensils that let you safely move and position your food. Don’t forget dishes to eat on after you pull your grub off the grill. 

Build a safe fire

When you build your campfire, use dry wood that burns slowly and manageably. Make sure your fire is in a pit far from tree branches, grassy areas, and tents. You can also add rocks around the fire to prevent it from spreading outward. 

Bring your tin foil

One of the most helpful campfire cooking materials is aluminum foil. You can wrap individual packages of meat and vegetables for your family and friends, or you can use the foil to wrap up leftovers. Many campfire chefs like to make bowls and other dishware out of foil, too. If you forget your foil at home, don’t think your plans are foiled. Most camp stores carry it in stock.

Avoid cooking on the open flame

If you cook your food over an open flame, it will char and burn. Instead, wait until the fire starts to die down and the logs deliver heat without too much flame. Think of what happens when you put your marshmallows in a campfire. The same thing happens when you put other foods directly over a flame. 

The best way to cook over an open flame is to put food in a cast iron pan. The flame heats the pan, which sends even heat through the pan so that your food cooks properly. 

Prep your food at home

You can save time cooking at the campfire by doing your food prep at home. It can be difficult to prepare food safely at a campground. Chop your vegetables, marinate your meat, and do the rest of your food prep before you pack up to leave. Store your fresh meat and vegetables safely in your cooler in separate, sealed containers to avoid bacteria contamination. 

Use a meat thermometer

If you want to be sure you’ve cooked your meat thoroughly, bring a meat thermometer. Generally, you’ll want your chicken to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees, and your other meats should be about 160 degrees. 

Have sand and water nearby

Campfires can be dangerous. For safety, have a pail of sand and some water nearby. Water will put out any fire that isn’t grease-born, and that’s where smothering the flames in sand can help pick up the slack.

Wrap up

The best way to enjoy cooking over a campfire is to take necessary safety measures, use the best outdoor cooking gear, and prep your food before you go camping. Happy camping, and don’t forget your forks and knives.

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