Campfires are a fantastic way to enjoy being outside even after the summer sun goes down. Whether you’re in the beautiful great outdoors or the comfort of your backyard, campfire cooking over an open flame with your children is the perfect way to teach them useful cooking skills while having a load of fun.
Cooking over hot coals and open flames has a certain magic to it – the sounds of crickets, dark midnight blue sky, and smoky sizzle of crispy bacon or thick-cut steak all make the experience so much more fun than cooking in your kitchen at home.
Campfire cooking is made easy with a few simple tools and ingredients. Read below for our full guide to learn how to use basic campfire cooking methods and try out a few of our favorite smoky recipes.
How to: Methods of Cooking Over a Campfire
There are a few different ways to try cooking over an open flame, depending on the tools at hand and the food you want to make.
Method #1: Open fire cooking
The most basic campfire cooking method is excellent for unprepared campers that don’t have much equipment. Use a skewer or a stick, place it through your hot dogs, sausage, or marshmallows, and heat them in the open fire until done to your liking.
Favorite foods for campfire cooking
Any food you can skewer is excellent for this campfire cooking method.
Here are our favorite foods to cook over the fire pit:
- Bread brushed with garlic butter or maple syrup and cinnamon
- Bacon; fold into a ribbon and skewer
- Sliced pineapple or peaches
- Hot dogs
- Meat (or tofu, if you’re meat-free) and vegetable shish kebabs.
- Marshmallows, for smore-making!
Method #2: Open fire cooking – aluminum foil
This method still involves placing your food directly in the campfire, but this time it’s wrapped in aluminum foil for protection from dirt, ash, and other wood particles. You’ll need some long-handled tongs or another tool to get the food out of the hot campfire when it’s done cooking.
Favorite foods for aluminum foil campfire cooking
You can wrap almost anything in foil packets to cook in the hot coals. These packets can be prepared easily ahead of time for your next camping trip, with the meat, vegetables, and sauces all in just one convenient pouch.
Here are our favorite foods to cook in aluminum foil:
- Loaded baked potatoes
- Cheesy asparagus
- Lime shrimp and corn
- Italian sausage and sweet red pepper
- Salsa verde chicken with black beans and rice
- Sweet berry (or any other fruit) crisp
- Philly cheesesteak
Method #3: Campfire grilling
Grilling is the perfect way to barbecue over the hot coals of your campfire. Get a portable grate, place it on the campfire, let it heat up, and you’re good to begin campfire cooking. You can cook food just as you would with a regular barbecue, so feel free to toss just about anything on the grill as you sit around the fire- hot dogs, hamburgers, bacon, vegetables.
Favorite foods for campfire grilling
The grill is great for campfire cooking all of the barbecue classics.
Here are some of the best foods to cook on a campfire grill:
- Hot dogs, hamburgers, steak, marinated chicken, and sausages
- Shish kebabs
- Grilled corn on the cob
- Tofu steak
- Grilled potato slices
- Shrimp, salmon, and other fish
- Spicy grilled broccoli crowns
- Grilled watermelon slices
Method #4: Campfire cooking with cast iron
Cast iron pots and pans are incredibly durable and handy for cooking on your stovetop at home or the fire pit during a camping trip. We love them so much because you can toss them directly into the hot coals for easy campfire cooking.
You can find the cast iron version of almost every cooking tool – from a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven to a pie iron or griddle, there is something for every campfire cooking need.
Be careful taking the cast iron out of the flames. You’ll need to handle the cast iron with an oven mitt or to avoid getting burned.
Favorite foods for cast iron campfire cooking
You can place your Dutch oven or other covered cast iron pieces directly in the fire, but an uncovered cast iron skillet needs to sit on a portable grill so that ash and other debris from the hot coals doesn’t fall into your meal.
Use your cast iron for campfire cooking these favorites:
- Pie iron pizzas and grilled cheese
- Chocolate skillet cake with ice cream
- Pull-apart garlic knots
- Peanut butter smores dip
- Jalapeno cheddar cornbread
- Crispy mac and cheese
Final Notes and Safety Tips: Cooking over a Campfire
Whether you’re using a stick, aluminum foil, a campfire grill, or cast iron, there are plenty of options to cook up some super simple or more elaborate meals for your family.
Remember, when you’re cooking over the open flame with kids, you need to practice fire safety by:
- Supervising children near the fire at all times;
- Never handling hot foods or tools without safety equipment like long-handled tongs and oven mitts;
- Keep a big bucket of water nearby in case of emergency;
- Putting out the fire completely before leaving the area.
We hope we’ve helped make your next campfire a little tastier!