Time spent at the beach with family or friends can be magical enough in itself but add cooking to the mix and it becomes even more so. Treating a visit to the beach like a regular picnic and bringing sammiches from home is fine, but why not make it a truly unforgettable experience by cooking at the beach? There’s something very raw and in the now in harnessing the power of fire to cook your own meal, in an untamed environment like the shore.
If you’re spending several days and nights in a beach setting, camping there, then the cooking is really a must. Here is everything you need to know about the main equipment you will need and the methods you can use for successful cooking at the beach.
Basic Equipment You Will Need
Before we get into the details of how exactly you can create heat on the beach and successfully cook using it, let’s map out a list of essentials to pack. Some of the cooking methods we will present below come with a few extra items required, but the equipment mentioned now will be needed regardless of the cooking method you choose.
A high-performance beach cooler is essential for keeping raw food cold and safe until you cook it. Choose a beach cooler that can keep things cold for a few days and be extra careful if you’re bringing raw meat along. To be safe, cook the meat in the first 1-2 days of camping, and make sure it’s thoroughly cooked (not even medium-rare).
You will also need a few tight lid containers for storing other ingredients or portions of the cooked food for later use. Make sure every dish container closes airtight, to prevent future soiling or contamination.
Basic cooking tools
Think of what you will use to stir and handle your food while it’s still in the cooking dish. Regardless of what method you will use for cooking at the beach, you’ll still need to move the food around or turn it from one side to the other.
You should bring along at least 2 of the following: stirring spoon, spatula, cooking tongs, a small ladle. If you plan on making something liquid, like a soup or stew (it’s not impossible, not even on the beach!), then a ladle is more than optional, it’s mandatory.
Serving dishes and eating equipment
Also, take into account the number of people in your group and bring plates, forks, spoons and such enough for everybody to have one. Add paper napkins and at least one large serving platter to your list.
Once a dish is cooked, you will need to put it on something after you remove it from the heat, so that everyone can help themselves to a serving. In most cases, a dish can’t be served from the same place it’s cooked in, as you will see below.
Cooking foil: you will use it either directly in the process of cooking at the beach, or at least as a convenient wrap for food and ingredients.
The Main 5 Methods of Cooking at the Beach
The simplest and wildest way to cook your food in the great outdoors is to get a fire going. The flames can be used minimally, maybe just for a few things like roasting marshmallows, but the true potential of the campfire is unleashed once it turns to embers. Only then the heat is strong and stable enough to ensure cooking conditions.
It can take up to 40 minutes for a campfire to turn to embers if you use firewood. Alternatively, you can bring along coal and an igniting liquid to help speed things up.
Once you have the bed of embers ready, you can place any number of cooking equipment on it to actually have something to cook on. Here are the main types of equipment to use:
- Grill: Simply place a grill over the embers and start using it the regular way. Depending on the shape of your grill, you may need to secure it in place with some rocks. The safest option is to bring them along with you from home because the rocks you can find on a beach contain a lot of salt and may explode when heated.
- Dutch oven: A large cast-iron pot half-buried in embers is the ideal cooking medium for any number of dishes, from steaks to vegetable stews and even soup.
- Wrapping food items in cooking foil: Alternatively, you can just use cooking foil to wrap up veggies (especially potatoes) and bury them in the embers. Expect it to take about 2 hours or more for the potatoes to be completely cooked. You can spice them up afterward with cheese topping, butter, and salt, or various sauces.
B. Camping stove
The cheat’s version of cooking at the beach is the camping stove. Basically, it allows you to set up a mini-kitchen at the beach or wherever else you may be camping. Make sure your portable stove is well-stocked with fuel and that you protect it during the drive to the camping spot.
After you get the stove installed, you can use it pretty much the same way you use your actual stove at home. You can even bring along a frying pan and whip up some delicious pancakes, why not?
The last method is also the most challenging, resembling a Hawaiian luau fire pit setting. You need to dig a deep hole in the ground and burn a significant amount of firewood (or ready-made coals) in it until the hole gets filled with lasting embers.
The size of this hole depends on what you plan to cook in it. During a traditional luau party, Hawaiians prepare a whole roasted pig this way, so you can really go big with this method. Still, you can only prepare a smaller whole and use it for a whole roasted chicken or turkey, or for cooking a stew in a pot in a similar way as you would prepare it in an oven.
After the fire pit is filled with embers, wrap up the food to be cooked in something that will protect it from getting burned. You can use cooking foil (multiple layers), banana leaves, and so on. Then, place it on the luau and make sure you keep turning it every 30 minutes and checking if it’s done.
For big items like turkeys, you may also need to bury them in the embers for a couple of hours. Remember that a pig can stay buried in embers for two days in a luau to come out perfectly roasted. For regular small items, just use the firepit as a stove.
What to Cook at the Beach: A Few Ideas
Here are only a few things to spark up your imagination if you feel a bit stuck on what to cook at the beach. These are things that can be easily cooked on a beach campfire, but with a bit of perseverance, you can successfully cook at the beach almost any dish that you would normally make at home.
Appetizers: Teriyaki chicken skewers, roasted corn on the cob with butter and salt, vegetable skewers (all of these on a grill), grilled mushrooms, French fries (in a Dutch oven).
Main courses: Vegetable stew (or your favorite mix of veggies, done in a Dutch oven), pasta with a canned tomato-based sauce and grated cheese (boil the pasta first in a crockpot or Dutch oven, pour away most the hot water, then return to the heat and mix in the sauce and cheese right before serving), whole roasted chicken (if you use the pit method).
Desserts: Blueberry or plum cobbler (in a Dutch oven), fruit skewers (on a grill), marshmallows for s’mores over a campfire, pancakes (if you bring along a camp stove and a frying pan).
Globo Surf Overview
Cooking on the beach can definitely be a challenge, but it can also be very fun. Once you step out of the comfort zone of a conventional kitchen, your success in preparing a cooked meal outdoors will enhance the experience and make it unforgettable. Other equipment such as sun hats, beach bags, beach blankets, and beach balls will be useful while on the beach.
More Beach Reviews:
- Beach Games
- Sun Protective Clothing
- Beach Ball
- Tanning Oil
- Board Shorts
- Beach Activities For Kids
- How To Remove Self Tanner
- How To Tan Fair Skin
- Beach Day Essentials
- Sand On The Beach
- Outdoor Cooking Safety Rules, St Genevieve County Health Department.