How To Cook Outdoors: Outdoor Cooking Guide For Camping And Backpacking


Eating delicious meals outdoors is one of the best things about backpacking and camping. Meals just taste much better after spending a long day in the wilderness.

For most people, however, preparing food outdoors tends to be quite complicated. This should not be the case. With a little know-how and maybe some new equipment, you should be able to transfer most of the cooking techniques you use at home to the great outdoors. Armed with the knowledge in this article and camp kitchen essentials, preparing food outside your camping tent should be easy.

Top Outdoor Cooking Methods

As you have probably guessed, there is more than one way to cook your food outdoors. Below, we will look at the 5 top methods you can use to cook outdoor:

1. Over an Open Fire

This first method is pretty straightforward – it is the way our ancestors used to cook. You will be cooking over a direct flame.

If you have been camping for a long time, you have probably used this cooking method with some hot dogs and marshmallows. While “food on a stick” is the simplest way to go about cooking on an open fire, you can always put a portable grill or grate over the fire and char up some veggies or burgers.

Of course, to cook over an open fire, you have to know how to start a campfire. Armed with a fire starter and our guide on how to start a fire in the woods, this should be easy. After starting the fire, you must avoid ignoring it. Be sure to practice campfire safety to ensure that the fire does not end up causing issues.

Once your fire is ready, find 4 rocks, about the size of a softball. Ensure that the top of the rocks is as flat as possible. Arrange your rocks in a square formation around the campfire.

Grab your pan and place it on the stones. Since you are in nature, you should not expect the pan to have a perfect level. Just ensure that it is not tipped too far on one side.

It is worth noting that the heat you need will be largely dependent on what you intend to cook. Unless you want to use a vegetarian camping food recipe that requires a lot of heat, you can always allow the flames to die away before you start cooking.

2. Use Hot Coals

This method is more ideal for foods that require less heat than the direct flame often offered by an open fire. You can use a cast iron dutch oven for baking with the hot coals.

This method should come in handy for campers who want to keep their food warm. For example, you can make sandwiches before leaving home, put them in paper sandwich bags, and then heat them after arriving at the camping destination using the hot coals.

When using the dutch oven, the idea is to place your oven over the hot coals and then put some more coals on top. Another common method is to wrap the food items in foil and then place them in your hot coals – this method is perfect if you haven’t invested in camping utensils.

3. Use a Rocket Stove

To campers and people who like to go backpacking, rocket stoves are the new hot thing. This is for a good reason considering that rocket stoves are extremely easy to build, they burn hot with little fuel and have very little emissions. They are ideal for an emergency or when you need an extra burner for boiling water after you set up your tent.

While there are various ways to build a rocket stove, below, we will show you how to build one using cinder blocks:

Items You Will Need:

  • Three 8″ by 8″ by 16″ standard cinder blocks. These are the most common cinder blocks.
  • One 8″ by 8″ by 16″ open-ended/H cinder block.
  • A grate.

Tools You Will Need

Generally, you won’t need to have any special tools. However, if you intend to open the end of a block by yourself, a hacksaw, a hammer, and a chisel may come in handy.

The Steps to Follow:

Lay one of your standard cinder blocks on the ground, keeping the holes horizontal so that the top is a flat surface.

Place your open-ended block on top of the cinder block on the ground, keeping the flat sides horizontal and its holes up and down.

Set a standard block horizontally along the small end of the blocks already in place. The top is supposed to be even with the 2 blocks already placed in position.

Note: Ensure that the holes are placed in a way that gives an opening into the part of the open-ended block – this will be the combustion chamber.

Place the last block on top of the open-ended block so that one of the holes of the block forms a chimney for your combustion chamber. The block should appear slightly askew from the others.

Place the grate on top of the chimney hole. If this is not done, the pan or pot could block the hole and the stove will not heat as it is supposed to.

4. Use a Solar Oven

The sun is the original heat source for the earth. Hence, using solar energy to cook meals makes sense. Solar ovens are an awesome idea. If you already own one, outdoor cooking should be easy and affordable for you. Below, we have some tips to help you get the most out of the solar oven:

  • Keep the reflective surfaces and the glass clean – The solar oven utilizes reflection to focus the sun’s rays into its cooking box. The cleaner the reflective surfaces, the better the reflection.
  • Track the sun – Consider tilting and rotating the solar oven now and then to keep it facing the sun directly. This will ensure that the oven is heating to the highest potential.
  • Use small containers – These will help you achieve a more even bake.
  • Anchor the base –You wouldn’t want a gust of wind to knock your solar oven after you fill it with apple puree. To avoid such issues, consider anchoring the oven.

The good thing about using the solar oven is that it allows you to bake everything you can bake in your regular oven. You can bake cookies, bread, cheesecake, blueberry muffins, lasagna, etc.

5. Make an Underground Oven

This is a pretty simple method to cook outdoors. To use this method, you will need to use your folding shovel to dig a pit in the ground. You can build a fire directly in the pit and then wait until it turns to coal or you can just move hot coals to the pit from a different fire.

Next, put a grill over the hot coal. You can then wrap your food in aluminum foil, place it on the grill, and then cover the entire thing with soil. Now, all you will need to do is give the food enough time to cook.

Clean Water for Outdoor Cooking


When cooking, water is an essential ingredient. When camping or backpacking, access to clean and safe water for cooking and drinking can be a problem. Below, we have several ways you can use to ensure that you always have access to clean water:

  • Only use water from a reliable drinking water source. For example, if you are camping on a designated campground, you can use water from the standpipe present on the campground.
  • If you prefer dispersed camping, there is a chance that your chosen campground may not have a reliable drinking water source. In this case, you may need to bring water into your campsite using water bricks or any other food-grade container.
  • If you forget to carry water, you can always use the water you find in the wilderness. However, before using the water to cook, be sure to boil it for at least 1 minute. If your camping elevation exceeds 6,562 feet (2,000 meters), boil the water for a minimum of 3 minutes.
  • If boiling won’t work for you, be sure to purify the cooking water with a reliable backcountry water filter. Always do this before adding the water to your pot.

Globo Surf Overview

Without enough food, enjoying the camping or backpacking experience may not be possible. If you intend to camp for more than just a couple of days, you may have to prepare some food on your camping ground.

While outdoor cooking may not be as easy as cooking in your kitchen, it is still possible. In this article, we have shown you some of the best methods you can use. When working with fire outdoors, always exercise caution – keeping in mind that fire is a good slave but a bad master.

More Camping Reviews:


  1. 6 Ways to Cook Outdoors (without charcoal or propane),
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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!