Best Camping Cookware For Open Fire Cooking

Cooking on an open fire is a lost art. It’s a lot of fun, and the crowd’s always impressed when you pull it off. Whether you’re grilling over the coals, frying on cast iron, or watching the rotisserie go round and round, you need the right cookware.

Cooking outside around the campfire is where the action is. And there’s a few keys to building a good fire to get the job done right. We cover everything you need to know about open fire cooking as well as some tips to make it simple and safe.

The days of hotdogs are in the rearview. It’s time to open up the camp food menu to imagination. Let’s make your next outdoor cooking adventure one to remember.

Campfire Cooking
ID 22042490 © Val Armstrong |

Cookware Ideas For Open Fire Cooking

There are a bunch of great ways to cook on an open fire, and they all produce delicious results. Having the right tools will make any meal you crave a reality. Here are my favorite ways of cooking on an open fire.

Adjustable Pit Grill

Grilling over a wood fire adds flavors to your foods that a propane grill never could. The goal is to avoid burning your food over the hot flames and ruining your meal. That’s why an adjustable pit grill is such a great option.

A pit grill is one of the best cookware surfaces for grilling over an open fire. What’s great about pit grills is that they are a safe and stable cooking surface that can adjust to the size of your fire.

Having an adjustable pit grill like the Adjust-A-Grill Camping Grill will let you move your food up and down to adjust to the heat. For any foods you’re cooking, an adjustable grill provides the flexibility you need.

Adjust-A-Grill Camping Grill - Makes Outdoor Cooking Easier and Safer
  • Complete temperature control
  • Solid heavy-gauge steel construction
  • 16" x 16" grilling surface 24" Stake

The other great feature about this grill is it can be rotated or removed completely to stir, flip or remove your food from the fire. Having this ability will make cooking over an open fire much safer and more convenient.

The 24″ stake can be driven into place before a fire is started and left in position without the grill. Which keeps it out of the way until it’s time to cook. The 16″ by 16″ grill has a locking handle that you slide down the stake to your perfect height. You can do it preloaded with food or not.

Remember to always use gloves whenever handling open-fire cookware. It includes a canvas storage bag making the Adjust-A-Grill the perfect open fire grill.

Rotisserie Grill

If you prefer the laid back approach of cooking slow and steady over a camp fire, there’s a motorized rotisserie spit in your future. This is the ideal way to cook full chickens, roasts or even your fresh catch using an integrated basket.

Campfire Rotisserie
ID 78987501 © Melodyanne |

A reliable kit like the Grizzly Spit Rotisserie can run for 20 hours on two D sized batteries. Being wireless means there’s no dangerous cords around the fire to trip over.

Grizzly Spit Rotisserie
  • 2-26" vertical support rods
  • 1-36" Polished steel support bar
  • 2-spit forks

The 26″ vertical support rods give plenty of length to be driven in to the ground while still allowing good height above the fire pit. This gives good support for the 36″ steel spit to hold multiple items at once across a wide fire pit.

Used in conjunction with a rotisserie grill basket like the OneGrill stainless steel flat basket there’s no limits to camp fire cooking. Baskets like this are available from online retailers like Amazon or from camping stores.

OneGrill Stainless Steel Universal Grill Rotisserie Spit Rod Flat Basket (Fits 5/16 Inch Square, 3/8...
  • Premium 100% 304 Grade Stainless Steel Construction Provides For a Lifetime Of Rust Resistance, Worry Free Operation & Unsurpassed Material...
  • The 304 Stainless Steel Material Properties In This Basket Naturally Provide Additional Protection To Keep Your Equipment Safe, Clean, &...
  • Versatility Provided By 4 Thickness Settings Allows For Angular Configurations For Cooking Of Uneven Thicknesses Of Fish, Hamburgers,...

Using a rotisserie basket like the OneGrill on your spit provides 14 x 7.5 inches of cooking space. Grill Baskets will allow you to cook potatoes, corn, and many other sides to go along with your main meals. Baskets can also be used to cook smaller cuts of meat or fish and some are even designed for french fries.

Dutch Oven

Cast iron Dutch Ovens are great for cooking over open fires. Usually placed on a stand or grill, these covered pots can cook for an army of hungry campers.

Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Deep Camp Dutch Oven - 12 Inch / 8 Quart
  • 8 QT. DEEP CAMP DUTCH OVEN. The Lodge portable “camp stove” is the pot that does it all. The flanged lid holds hot coals and inverts for...
  • PRE-SEASONED COOKWARE. A good seasoning makes all the difference. Lodge provides pre-seasoned cookware with no synthetic chemicals; just soy...
  • MADE IN THE USA. Lodge has been making cast iron cookware in South Pittsburg, Tennessee (pop. 3,300) since 1896. With over 120 years of...

Placed on a grill, nestled directly in the fire or Hanging from a tripod via the integrated handle, these heavy duty pots distribute heat well and prevent any hot spots. They also retain heat keeping food warm long after the cooking is complete.

Ranging between 2 quart and 10 quart capacities there’s a dutch oven to fit the needs of small and large groups.

Cool evenings around the camp fire are a perfect opportunity to simmer a big pot of chili or stew. Even hot beverages like apple cider and hot chocolate can be boiled up in a dutch oven.

Tripod On Campfire
ID 49018300 © Ross Rheinbach |

Tripod Stands

Tripods like the Camp Chef Dutch Oven Tripod are a cool way to elevate your cookware above an open fire.

Whether it’s used to suspend a dutch oven or simply to hold a grilling rack, tripods keep your cookware off the ground and positioned directly over the fire.

Camp Chef Dutch oven Tripod - 50"
  • Cook with old-fashioned style directly over a campfire
  • Made of durable steel
  • Includes: Adjustable chain and storage bag

You won’t be alone if it gives you that feeling of the old Wild West. Tripods have been used for centuries as a sturdy way to cook over an open fire.

Cast Iron Frying Pan

Whether using a tripod stand or pit grill, there’s no better cookware option than a cast iron pizza pan. Large pans like the 13.5″ Cuisinel cast iron pizza and baking pan are perfect for cooking bacon and eggs in the morning, grilled cheese for lunches and pizza for dinner.

Cuisinel Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Pizza and Baking Pan (13.5 Inch) Natural Finish, Enhanced Heat...
  • PREMIUM CAST IRON – Better than a standard stainless-steel baking pan or silicone pizza pan, cast iron offers better heat distribution and...
  • HEALTHIER COOKWARE – A smarter alternative than other non-stick cookware, the natural surface is better for cooking, grilling, baking,...
  • VERSATILE COOKING SURFACE – Great for the oven, stove, BBQ grill and even an open campfire, you can cook all kinds of cookbook recipes and...

Have some fun around the camp fire by moving your menu past boring hotdogs and hamburgers. A high quality pre seasoned cast iron pan will allow you to bring extra excitement to camp fire cooking.

With sturdy handles and plenty of real estate for frying up your favorites, large cast iron pans are a “must have” around the camp fire.

Aluminum Pans And Foil

Wrapping food in aluminum foil or placing it in foil pans is a great way to keep the ashes from mixing in with it. This is a great technique for chopped vegetables, baked beans, or just keeping foods warm once cooked.

Aluminum pans and foil are inexpensive and reusable making them very handy to keep around the camp kitchen.

Check out the full guide to making the best camp fire coffee get your morning cooking adventure off on the right foot.

Building A Campfire For Cooking

A cooking fire should be focused around creating hot coals and embers rather than big flames. To create the perfect cooking fire, get the fire started 30-40 minutes in advance to create a hot bed of coals to cook over.

Bed of Coals
ID 10565150 © Nathanphoto |

Soft wood like pine will burn hot and fast but not make the long lasting coals needed for cooking. On the other hand hard wood like birch and maple burn slowly but take some time to get going.

Mix it up starting with smaller soft wood in a teepee style to get the flames large and hot. Add in some hard wood once the flames are established to start creating a bed of coals.

After 20 minutes of solid burning, collapse the teepee down flat but don’t stack the wood too tight, allow plenty of airflow around and between the logs to promote good combustion.

Fire needs oxygen to burn efficiently, smothering it will only kill it. Once the coals are red hot place a few more logs across the top. These will sustain the fire through the first part cooking.

Shaping Your Fire

Shape the coal bed and fire to the dimensions and location of your grill that will be placed over top. If your grill is rectangular then make your coal bed the same. If you are using a round grill then build a circle of coals beneath it.

Feathering out the coals at one end is a good way to create a cooler area to keep food warm or if some foods require being cooked at a lower heat. Cooking on an open flame provides a less even heat than a standard barbecue so it’s a nice option to rotate food around the hot spots.

Supporting Your Grill

If you plan to use a grill over your fire that doesn’t have supporting legs there are a few options that will work.

Grill on rocks
ID 172686391 © |

Firewood and Logs

Using a few pieces of firewood stacked on either side of your coals will work well to support your grill. Stacking logs 8 to 12 inches above the coal bed will give enough separation to prevent burning while also leaving space to add more wood to the fire.

Logs are a natural option because they tend to be readily available around a fire pit. The stacks should be level with each other to stop food from rolling or sliding off the grill.

Keep in mind that the logs will eventually burn so your cooking time will be limited by the size of logs and intensity of the heat from your fire. Using 2 stacks of firewood works well for rectangular grills, but if your grill is circular you’ll want to space out 3 stacks of wood evenly around the grill diameter.

Bricks And Stones

If you have bricks, blocks or stones available around your fire pit they can make great grill supports. They won’t burn like firewood so they should last your entire camping vacation.

The difficulty with rocks and stones is that they can be heavy to transport. Rocks and stones can also be a bit unstable if they aren’t flat, and it can be difficult to get the stack heights even with each other.

Utensils and Tools For Safe Campfire Cooking

Grilling Gloves

Using gloves that are specifically made to withstand the high heat of grilling over open fire will protect your hands from being burned.

Grilling gloves should be flexible and breathable enough for you to comfortably cook in. Like these affordable non slip and cut resistant gloves from Amazon, they should also provide a good grip on the palm to help grab the hot handles of your cookware.

932℉ Extreme Heat Resistant BBQ Gloves, Food Grade Kitchen Oven Mitts - Flexible Oven Gloves with...
  • PREMIUM QUALITY - Our heat insulated oven gloves consists of 3 layers of different materials and functions. First layer non-toxic silicone...
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Long Handled Utensils

Having long handled utensils will allow you to keep a safe distance from the fire while managing the cooking. After a few seconds of stirring or turning your foods, the heat from the fire can start to become uncomfortable. Being able to separate yourself from the heat will improve your cooking experience and results.

The utensil handles should can be wood, heat resistant plastic, silicone or any other material that won’t transfer the heat. Metal isn’t recommended as it can get can hot quickly, especially in the case of a stirring spoon. You’re at higher risk of burning your hands if your metal utensils don’t have insulated handles.

Having a loop from the handle makes it easy to suspend your cooking tools off the ground. Running some string, twine or even a hook or carabiner through the loop will allow you to hang them from a chair, tree, rope or other nearby stand.

The utensils you choose to bring along on your camping trip will depend on the types of food you decide to cook but here is a list of some popular ones to keep on hand.

Steel Tongs

Steel tongs are a great addition to your open fire cooking collection as they give you a good grip for rotating and removing your food. They also come in handy to grab foil pans out from the flames. They come in different sizes typically ranging from 9 to 17 inches inches in length.

Go for the long handled tongs to make cooking a more comfortable job.

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Long-Handled Spoon

Having a spoon with a long handle is helpful to stir any foods you plan to cook in a pot. There are many different styles made from stainless steel, wood, and aluminum. It’s best to avoid anything plastic because it can melt in the extreme heat of the fire.

Spatula Flipper

Having a steel spatula to use with a frying pan will make flipping eggs, pancakes and burgers a breeze. Because open fire pans are typically made of cast iron, there’s little concern over scratching the finish with metal utensils.

Same rules apply, get one with a long handle and plenty of surface area. A professional quality wood handled flipper is surprisingly inexpensive, and can be used with a pan or right on the grill. Double fisting with a flipper and tongs is a perfect strategy.

New Star Foodservice 38200 Wood Handle Flexible Grill Turner/Spatula, 21-Inch
  • Quality brushed stainless steel, w/securely riveted smooth wooden handle
  • Large turner spatula face for managing medium to large portion food
  • Extra long-handle provides safe distance cooking control

Basting Brush

Having a dedicated brush to lather up your dishes in marinade and sauces over the flames can make an ordinary meal mouthwatering. Especially when it comes to rotisserie cooking, brushing on seasonings throughout the cooking process will only improve the finished product.

Oil Sprayer

One of my favorite grilling tools is an aerosol free oil sprayer. It works great at coating the grill with a thin layer of oil to prevent the food from sticking. The oil comes out as a fine mist making it easy to apply to the surface of the grill without wasting or over applying oil.

Because I can choose any type of oil, I like to change it up with different flavors that leave a hint of garlic or herbs on my food. Customizing the oil also allows me to reduce the calories in my cooking and grill with a more health conscious oil.

A good quality stainless steel sprayer like the Binseni oil sprayer is durable enough to be around the camp fire without worrying about broken glass. It also comes with a cleaning brush and funnel and can be used with vinegars and thin liquid sauces like soy and fish sauce.

Sprayers like this are ideal for keeping your cast iron pots and pans seasoned properly. After washing, applying a thin layer of oil to your grill will help prevent rust and corrosion from developing between uses.

Head Lamp

Using a head lamp for camp fire cooking is the best way to shed light on your food while keeping two hands free for stirring and flipping. Your headlamp doesn’t require any expensive features and will make your cooking easier as the day transitions to evening.

Late night food prep and transferring food from the fire to the table is a lot easier to do in the dark with a head lamp. Locating your tongs in the dark can be a tough task without a light as well.

You’ll want a head lamp that can adjust up and down, this will stop your neck from getting cramped while cooking. The Everbeam H6 Pro is rechargeable via USB. It’s also motion activated making it essentially hands free. Using it in red light mode will be less stressful on the eyes and to any nearby pets or wildlife. Being waterproof and projecting out to 400ft is a bonus.

Everbeam H6 Pro LED Rechargeable Headlamp, Motion Sensor Control, 650 Lumen Bright 30 Hours Runtime...
  • ⚡ SUPER BRIGHT & 5 LIGHT MODES – 650 lumen LED light source that reaches a tested 126 m / 413 ft distance. Two brightness levels and an...
  • 👋🏻 MOTION SENSOR, THE WAVE SWITCH - Simply wave your hand in front of the headlamp to turn the light on or off when it's on Sensor...
  • 🕙 LONG RUNTIME, BUILT IN 1200 MAH RECHARGEABLE BATTERY - Up to 10 hours runtime in white light, and 2.5 hours on high brightness. Red...

Meat Thermometer

Using a meat thermometer for the foods on your rotisserie or that you’re baking in a dutch oven is the most effective way to ensure they’re fully cooked. A visual inspection can be difficult with the back lighting of a fire.

Fire Management Tools

Steel Grabber

Adjusting the coals, adding firewood and turning logs is a requirement of open fire cooking. Rather than using your bare hands, there are a few handy tools that can save you from the intense heat and flames.

Log tongs are perfect tools to make adjustments to a camp fire while cooking. They give you the dexterity to make fine adjustments while also keeping your hands and arms away from the flames. At 26 inches in length log grabbers like the Epica Fireplace Tongs are an inexpensive and convenient way to perform fire management safely.

Epica Fireplace Tongs, 26" Long, Log Grabber
  • PICKS UP HEAVY PIECES OF WOOD EASILY: The smooth open and close action and strong grabbing force makes it easy to get a strong grip on...
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  • FOLDS UP FOR STORAGE: Although this set of fireplace tongs is incredibly long, you don’t have to store it fully extended. It quickly...

Fire pokers are a simpler way to manage a fire though a little more crude. With some practice a simple poker can do most of the minor camp fire adjustments required.


Having a fresh supply of oxygen to the fire will make sure the coals are producing even heat. Blowing over the coals or fanning them with a piece of cardboard is a common way to stoke up the fire but using a set of bellows won’t singe your eyebrows.

A set of bellows can gently provide a breath of oxygen to exactly where it’s needed. If cooking over a fire pit with two heat areas it’s handy to stoke the hot side while leaving the cooler side alone.

Gently blowing with the accuracy and precision of the Bofan campfire bellows will also prevent ash from getting stirred up onto your food.

Cleanup Tools

It requires something a bit tougher than the standard wash cloth to tackle camp fire cookware. Having the right tools will make the clean up process much easier and save some elbow grease.

Stainless Steel Grill Brush

A good quality brush to clean the food and grime off your camp fire grill will help prevent mold and bacteria growth as well as rust and corrosion from building up.

The best time to clean a grill is while it is hot. Giving a scrub with a brush before placing your food on the grill prepares the surface for cooking. After the food is removed, a second brushing will clear off leftover food before it gets a chance to bond to the grill.

The Alpha Grillers grill brush is made with corrosion resistant stainless steel bristles and has an 18″ long handle to distance your hands from the heat. Having a built in scraper on it for the grill is perfect for removing any burnt on residue.

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Stainless Steel Cast Iron Chainmail

Stainless steel chainmail is the recommended tool for cleaning cast iron pots and pans . Using a high quality product like The Ringer cast iron chain mail is the original. It has rounded edges to remove the baked on grime without ruining the pan’s seasoning or scratching the surface.

The Ringer - The Original Stainless Steel Cast Iron Cleaner, Patented XL 8x6 Inch Design
  • PATENTED XL 8X6 DESIGN FOR DURABILITY. We don’t use just any chainmail. The Ringer uses premium grade never rusting stainless steel that...
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  • TOUGH ON GRIT, GENTLE ON FLAVOR. Wash off the grit AND preserve the flavor with soap-less, detergent-free grit removal. You don’t need to...

Get Cooking

Cooking over an open campfire can be a rewarding experience and result in some incredible meals. Having the right gear and designing the fire correctly will help guarantee the best results.

For the best results, cook over hot coals rather than flames and keep your grill elevated between 8 and 12 inches from the fire.

Use heat resistant gloves and long handled utensils to protect your hands from the heat. And be sure to treat your grill and cast iron cookware after cleaning to protect and extend its lifespan.


Beau is an electrical engineer with a knack for DIY repair and construction. When he's not tinkering with his projects he's on the road travelling and enjoying an exciting lifestyle with his young family.

Recent Posts

Open fire cooking is the real deal for making a meal while camping. With different ways of cooking on flames such as using a cast iron dutch oven, getting a grill or rack, tripod stands, or a rotisserie you can master cooking dinner on a live wood fire and experience the outdoors. Learn what the best cookware gear and essentials are for open fire cooking.