When I chat with friends who are interested in getting into camping and RVing, without a doubt, one of the things they mention that is the most stressful about planning a trip like this is the camp cooking.
This Ultimate Guide to Camp Cooking shares easy tips, hacks, recipes and gear from outdoor and camping experts. You’ll find ideas for dutch oven and grilling, plus recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and camp coffee. We hope these simple ideas help you prepare delicious meals with confidence for your family.
While we have a lot of resources all about cooking inside your RV, like using an Instant Pot in your RV and how to use an RV oven without burning your food, we don’t have a lot of info on cooking outside.
So, what did we do?
We went straight to the experts and boy is our final product a doozy!
From camp cooking experts to representatives from some of the best camp cooking gear on the market, we can’t wait to share everyone’s tips, hacks, products, recipes, and recommendations with you.
We truly hope this resource will help you feel confident and prepared as you leave on your camping trip, as well as give you the tips you need to prepare some astounding meals your family will love and devour.
Your Ultimate Guide to Successful Camp Cooking
To make this as easy to navigate as possible, we’ve broken it down into different topics under camp cooking. Here’s what information you’ll find below:
- All About Camp Cooking Gear
- The Best Camp Cooking Hacks & Tips
- Camping Food Ideas & Recipes
- Camping Meals Done for You
Let’s chat camp cooking gear first shall we?
All About Camp Cooking Gear
BBQ Grills | Camping Stoves | Solar Cookers
You can’t always rely on campgrounds and RV parks to have a grill for you to use or one that you want to use. So if you’re planning on grilling while you’re camping, bringing your own is your best bet. Here are some of the best and top-rated ones that are the perfect size for grilling up some grub at your campsite.
The GoBQ® Grill is a revolutionary ultra-portable charcoal grill made from fireproof fabric. It folds up like a camping chair to fit in a backpack or be carried over your shoulder and can be stored in a drawer…PERFECT for Campers and RVers who must conserve every inch of storage space possible!
To see the price and more specs on Amazon, click here.
Credit: GoBQ® Grill
When you’re investing in a camp stove, you want it to be small enough to bring with you, but reliable enough to get the job done at the same time. Plamen shares why this stove is small but mighty.
“The Biolite CampStove is as big as a kettle pot and weighs about 2 lbs. It can easily boil a quart of water in less than 5 minutes, and it comes with a fire starter, so you don’t need to worry about carrying one.”
Have you ever heard of a stove that cooks your meals and charges your phone? Yep, me neither!
“Biolite figured out how to recycle unused heat while you’re cooking. They found a way to capture the energy through a heat probe. Heat is then converted into electricity that you can use to charge your electronics or power the internal fan to make your fire burn even hotter. And excess energy is stored in the internal battery, so the next time you pull out your stove, you might already have some reserves available,” says Plamen.
Head on over to Amazon to see the price, specs and more reviews.
“The Primus Gravity III stove is an ultra-lightweight, super-fast stove that can boil water in 3 minutes. It folds up to pack light in a backpack or works great for people who just want a backup plan in their RV in case they find themselves in the middle of nowhere and want to conserve their power. We have been using the Primus on camping trips for a decade, and love it,” says Johnson.
For more information, check out this product on Amazon.
If you’ve read many posts here on TREKKN with product recommendations for RVers, then you’ve probably seen us gush over our love for our portable fire pit. We had so many great nights around that fire pit while we were full-time RVing.
What if you want to bring a fire pit and a grill with you, but you just don’t have the room for both?
UCO Gear has got your back with its Flatpack portable stainless steel grill and fire pit.
Having a solid fire is important for your camp kitchen, which is why UCO’s Flatpack Grill is a must for RVers and campers. The Flatpack is a super portable option that takes just seconds to set up and allows you to elevate your fire away from the elements. It’s made of stainless steel for durability and easy maintenance.
The sides serve as a windbreak for grilling in windy conditions, and the sturdy base provides extra stability. The Flatpack weighs 3.7lbs. and comes with a canvas carrying case.
UCO also offers a Mini Flatpack Grill, which weighs only 2 pounds and measures 9″ x 6.75″ .
I love finding out about products that are unlike anything I’ve seen before and the FireDisc Cooker tops the list of unique camp cooking products for me.
Influenced by plow disc cookers from past generations, the FireDisc Cooker is an on-the-go grilling essential and has taken outdoor cooking to the next level.
The entire FireDisc system consists of two stand sections that nest together without tools or hardware plus the disc itself, which sets onto the stand. It takes mere seconds to assemble and disassemble, and the three pieces lay flat for easy transport or storage.
FireDisc’s heavy-duty, powder-coated, high-polished, tempered ultra-high carbon steel construction ensures the cooker will last and provide versatile outdoor cooking performance for generations. It operated on a readily available 16-oz propane canister and adapts to a 20-lb propane tank. It fires up fast, cooks for plenty of people, seasons like a cast-iron skillet and cleans up quickly with just water.
They also have a fantastic store front on Amazon featuring their product line, including outdoor cookers, accessories and recipes.
If you’re looking for a more sustainable way of cooking your food, solar might be perfect for your needs.
He shares, “The SOL COOK All Season Solar Cooker not only heats food for you outside when camping, but also provides a more sustainable way of cooking by saving electrical energy. It is also reasonably sized and durable, with a lightweight design which folds down easily, so it won’t cause you space or weight issues when traveling in your RV.
However, don’t let the size of this portable solar cooker fool you; it cooks a wealth of food when the sun is shining. The All Season Solar Cooker may be light, but it is still stable in the wind, so you won’t have to worry about your food blowing over when the weather is a little breezy.”
To find out more about this solar cooker, head over to Amazon.com here.
It’s perfect for lunches on the trail, snacks on the go, and meals at the campground. This dishwasher-safe, microwave-safe, and freezer-friendly kit is leak-proof and lightweight (8oz).
The kit includes a lid/plate and bowl with rubber grips, Switch Spork, multi-functional shock cord tether, and a Camp Cup with measurement lines up to 12 ounces. The curves of the bowl are designed to match the sides of the Switch Spork, so you are guaranteed to never miss a bite.
When you’re done with your meal, you can collapse the camp cup, store it inside the bowl and plate, then tether everything together using the shock cord.
General Cooking Gear
What are some other items you should pack along for your camping trip?
Outdoor Expert Tyler Weathers, from Trail Blazer Survival School in Greenville, SC recommends this list of useful tools for camp cooking:
- Heavy-duty aluminum foil
- Dutch oven
- Cast iron skillet
- Quality set of grilling utensils (tongs, spatula, chef’s fork)
- Cooking grate (to place over a fire)
- Seasonings and/or sauces (keep a small ziplock bag of salt and small bottle of hot sauce in the cooking pot you take camping)
- Pan spray or olive oil (makes cleaning up pots and pans much easier)
- A good quality cooking pot with a folding handle
The Best Camp Cooking Hacks & Tips from the Pros
Now that you know about some of the best camp cooking gear around, it’s time to learn about some general hacks and tips from the pros. I learned quite a bit of new techniques and ideas from their responses and I think you’ll glean some gold nuggets as well.
Dutch Oven Cooking & Fire Building Tips
Outdoor Expert Tyler Weathers, from Trail Blazer Survival School shares some of his best tips:
- Learn good fire-building techniques. A fire is built in stages – from tinder to kindling to fuel – and needs oxygen, fuel, and heat to burn. The better you can build your fire, the easier it is for you to cook and regulate its heat. Go ahead and learn this step first, and your camp-cooked meals will be much more enjoyable.
- You can cook almost anything over a fire using heavy-duty aluminum foil. It’s simple and makes clean-up much easier.
- A dutch oven allows you to cook pretty much anything you would cook in your oven at home over a campfire.
- To get an even heat, place the dutch oven over your fire or coals, and arrange hot coals on the lid as well. This is an especially important technique when using a dutch oven to bake sweet treats.
- The easiest way to gauge the heat of your fire/coals is to use the five-second rule. If you can hold your hand about 6 inches above the fire/coals for five seconds, your fire is about the same temperature as a stove on “medium” heat.
Whipping Up Naturally Healthy Meals
Will Hatton, the founder of The Broke Backpacker, where he gives valuable information on hitting the road on a budget, shares some tips on eating healthy:
The outdoors are the most amazing way of being one with nature, so whipping up some naturally healthy meals should not be a problem.
What I’ve found to be helpful is:
- Set of mess tins – these will last you a long time if you look after them properly!
- Long-lasting foods – if you’re a fussy eater, go with what you know you’ll be able to eat over the course of a weekend or longer. I find tinned foods such as hot dogs, beans and soups are a great way to fill up with energy.
- Learn the area – If you’re camping out in the forest, there’s a high chance you might come across some wild berries (not talking pokemon here) or mushrooms. Do your homework and once you know your stuff, finding your own food can be exciting!
- Look after the environment – just because there are no bins in the wild, doesn’t mean you can’t do your part to help look after the planet. Clean up after yourself, carry a bin bag and collect any rubbish you might have left behind. Also, don’t forget to wash up your tins as mentioned above.
Make Camp Cooking Easier
Sonny, camping and outdoor expert over at Wonderful Wellies, shares some interesting tips and tricks you might not have heard before to make your camp cooking experience a bit easier:
- Tip 1: Crack your eggs into a plastic water bottle before you leave. It keeps them safe, and they are ready to squeeze out as soon as you need them.
- Tip 2: Pour a spoon of coffee into a filter and tie it with dental floss. You can then use it as a coffee bag when you want a single cup. It makes good coffee with no leakage into your mug.
- Tip 3: The bacon bag is a trick that does actually work. Take a paper bag and line the bottom with bacon for that delicious fatty nest. Crack a few eggs into it and then use a stick to hold it over the fire for about 7 minutes. Open the bag, and you have both breakfast and a plate!
- Tip 4: Pack your cool box to the top and freeze as much of it as possible before you leave.. This will help it last longer, but a full cool box is also more effective at maintaining a low temperature.
Camping Food Ideas & Recipes
Now it’s time to talk about my favorite subject when it comes to camp cooking and that’s the recipes and food hack ideas. And thanks to some camping and outdoor experts, we have some really good ones to share.
Camp Cooking Hacks
Use chicken thighs, not breasts – “For meals that call for chicken, use chicken thighs instead of chicken breast. Chicken thighs are much more resistant to drying out and harder to burn on a fire.” – Outdoor Expert Tyler Weathers, from Trail Blazer Survival School in Greenville, SC
Make a campfire omelet – “Cut the top of a large green bell pepper off, hollow it out, then stir in eggs, cheese, precooked bacon, or any of your favorite omelet ingredients. Place the top back on the pepper and wrap it in aluminum foil. Place the pepper in the fire until the is cooked. You will end up with an amazing omelet that comes with its own edible bowl.” – Tyler Weathers
Make campfire seafood boil – “Shrimp, crayfish, and mussels are some of the easiest foods to cook at a campsite, even for absolute beginners. Just put the seafood in a pot and add an IPA beer until all ingredients are partially covered. Squeeze in half a lemon and add a big scoop of garlic butter, then place it over a fire/coals (use the 5-second trick), stirring occasionally.
When the shrimp or crayfish turn red/pink they are ready to eat. When the mussels open, they are ready to eat as well. This usually takes 5-7 minutes. It’s really that simple!” – Tyler Weathers
How to make squeeze bottle omelets – “This takes a little bit of prep work, as you need to find some re-usable plastic bottles in your house, then pour in an omelet mix with a funnel. You can add salt, pepper, even little bits of cheese and bacon into a squeeze-bottle. Then when it’s time to cook, you just pour them over the skillet and voila! Beats carrying around crates of eggs that will break easily, trust me, cleaning egg yolk in the wild is not a fun experience.” – Bob Hoffmann, an avid outdoorsman, and founder of BonfireBob.com
Bring seasoning straws – “Cooking out in the wilderness doesn’t have to mean cooking bland, boring food. Whether you are backpacking through the woods or you are just tight on space, it can be tempting to leave the spices and seasonings at home in exchange for the extra room in your bag. You can solve this problem by sealing up one end of a straw with a lighter and filling it up with spice and then sealing the other end. Repeat this process for all the spices you want to bring and you can whip up some delicious food without taking up lots of space.” – David Adler, Founder, and CEO of The Travel Secret
Camp Cooking Recipes
Backpacking French Toast
Amanda, who you can follow on Instagram here, shares that the key to successful meals while camping is making as much as you can before you leave on your journey and we definitely agree with her on that!
Here’s her recipe for backpacking french toast:
“For backpacking, it’s a bit heavy, so my suggestion is to have it on the first morning or whenever you have a layover day.
We ended up having it our third day in or something because of various extenuating circumstances that will come up backpacking and my boyfriend was not too pleased with having to lug part of it around – ha!
But the meal was amazing. I pre-measured out the right amount of powdered eggs in a quart-size plastic baggie, as well as brought enough sprouted cinnamon raisin bread (you can use your favorite bread, that was mine) for one or two slices per person you’re cooking for.
We rehydrated the eggs (I wrote on the baggie how much water was needed for simplicity), added cinnamon/sugar mixture I had also pre-measured previously. We were able to marinate the slices of bread right in the quart-sized bag we had rehydrated the eggs in for less mess/less trash to pack out.
Pan-fried in the coconut oil we had brought. I had brought a little travel shampoo bottle with jelly and one with some REALLY good maple syrup, and voila. Best breakfast for when you have some time to sit and enjoy it.”
Gina, from NomNews.com did a segment with WZZM TV13 all about camping and RVing food hacks. Here’s one she shares about making cinnamon rolls on the grill.
“The easiest way to cook cinnamon rolls is to take a skewer and wrap a cinnamon roll around the skewer and grill (like a marshmallow). Or you can place the cinnamon rolls slice inside of an orange that has been halved and the insides have been removed. Simply place the halved orange onto some heavy-duty aluminum foil and add a cinnamon roll inside. Grill until the cinnamon roll is no longer doughy.”
You can see all of her tips here.
Prepared Camping Meals & Coffee
Prepared Camping Meals
If you’re looking for a super-easy way to pack some camping food, one of these prepared meals might be perfect for your situation.
RealEats is a chef-designed, ready-to-eat meal delivery service that uses non-processed, always fresh, nutrient-dense ingredients. Meals arrive in single-serve packages and can be prepared in six minutes or less – all you need is a pot and boiling water. The chef-curated, healthy, farm-to-table meals stay fresh for up to seven days when refrigerated.
RealEats may quite possibly be the perfect hack for campers that want to eat real, nutritious food but don’t want to deal with the hassle of packing cooking tools and ingredients and preparing food outdoors.
Each RealEats meal is expertly crafted with attention to nutrition, freshness, and deliciousness by celebrity and Michelin-star chef Aliya LeeKong using real ingredients from RealEats’ carefully selected network of local farms in upstate New York. Popular menu items – all of which are dietitian-approved – include Green Goddess Chicken, Miso Salmon, and BBQ Brisket. Campers can select breakfast, lunch or dinner meals.
It is more important than ever before for today’s consumers to know what is in their food and where it comes from, which is why RealEats is proud to source many of its ingredients from small farms in the prominent Finger Lakes agricultural region of New York, located just around the corner from RealEats’ culinary facilities.
The company is also committed to reducing its carbon footprint by using recyclable or recycled materials in their packaging and through the unique vacuum-sealing format that reduces food waste naturally without preservatives.
Images and Information via RealEats
Mountain House Meals
What are Mountain House Meals? Alex Juel from Mountain House shares:
It’s a great product for any camper but is especially a great intro to basic camp cooking for beginners. It’s pre-cooked so you just add boiling water.
For anyone looking to turn our entrees into fancier meals, they wrote an article with some great tips which you can read here.
Camp Chow Dried Foods
Paul Johnson, Founder of NorthOutdoors shares his favorite prepared food for camping:
Our favorite [camping hack] has to do with using dried camp food. It doesn’t sound good, but it takes virtually no room to pack, and it almost keeps forever.
Our favorite brand is Camp Chow, available from a local place in Northern Minnesota that caters to people doing long canoe trips, where packing light and having nutrition is essential.
They know what they are doing. You can get anything from pasta to breakfasts, and it is impressively good when prepared. You simply boil water, mix the hot water with the dehydrated food, and you have your meal. It shouldn’t be tasty but it is.
Is there a topic more important than coffee when it comes to camping? I don’t think so.
Amy Segal-Burke from Alpine Start shares why this coffee is perfect for campers and travelers, what they offer and where you can find it:
Image credit: Alpine Start
Are you ready to start planning that camping trip? We truly hope this camp cooking guide has given you some ideas for making sure you can confidently plan meals and feed your crew while enjoying the great outdoors.
We would love to hear from you. Be sure to share your camp cooking tips below in the comments.
Julie specializes in helping you whip up delicious meals in your tiny RV kitchen, as well as RV organization tips and helping fellow RVers make their RV feel like home. Her favorite RVing spot is in Banff National Park in Canada where yes, the water really is that blue and the people really are that nice.